Airline guide: choosing who to fly with

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When you’re booking flights for your next holiday, price is probably going to be high on your priorities list but there are a few other factors that are well worth considering when you choose your airline.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to find your flight for less, but some airlines have hidden costs that can quickly add up.

Make sure you know some basic facts about each airline and have a good idea of what selections are available before you book your flights.

What to consider when choosing an airline

Budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet have managed to make a name for themselves in recent years, thanks to their low prices. Budget airlines are well known for offering a cheap price upfront but then adding extras such as booking fees, charges for hand luggage or credit card fees However airlines like Easyjet are very transparent about their extras and their website is excellent. Traditional airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic may charge a little more initially, but the price includes everything from checking in to a generous baggage allowance and likewise they both have very clear websites with all the information you require for your flights. It’s always worth looking at the prices of at least 3 airlines on your travel route and comparing their prices and products to ensure you are receiving the best deals.

Have a look at the Daily Mail’s list of eight ways airlines overcharge and’s guide to budget airline costs to find out which small mistakes could end up costing you a lot. What’s more, little things such as ear plugs, eye masks and pillows are often offered free of charge on a traditional airline but only come at a cost for a budget carrier.

Scheduled airlines sometimes tend to be better when you’re planning a holiday that requires a flight transfer at an airport as they will normally book your luggage right through to the final destination for you. On a traditional airline, you’re also more likely to be able to find direct flights and journeys at premium times. All airlines often offer cheaper tickets for flights that are at somewhat inconvenient times. This means it’s up to you to weigh up whether you’d prefer to pay more for a hassle-free flight or whether you’re happy to make a few sacrifices to your comfort to enjoy a cheap journey. The Financial Times offers a good, short summary of pros and cons of different carriers. Its also worth remembering on many airlines now its much cheaper to book economy tickets as early as possible from the date of departure as they will usually cost less. Book nearer to you date of departure and they normally cost more.

Eating and drinking during your flight

You might also want to consider how long your flight is and whether you’re likely to be hungry during your trip. Some airlines provide generous meal choices during your flight and will offer complimentary snacks and beverages if you’re flying over meal times on long haul flights over 6 hours. The majority of budget airlines avoid offering food as part of your ticket price and instead expect you to pay for items from their menus. For example, carried out an airline survey that found some budget airlines were charging seven times the price you’d pay in a shop for food and drink.

For a guide to the best and worst of budget airline food, read Tim Hayward’s food blog on The Guardian. Of course, you could also save yourself some money by buying food and drink when you have passed through security.


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