Tips for How to Fly Cheap Without Getting Screwed Over

1. Don’t guess how much your bag weighs

This is a great tip even if you’re not flying with a budget airline – always weigh your bags before you leave to avoid being stung with excess baggage fees at check-in, especially if you’re flying with carry-on luggage only.

You can do this by putting your luggage on bathroom scales at home, or better still, purchase an electronic luggage scale so you always know exactly how much your luggage weighs. There’s no point in snagging a bargain ticket price if you end up forking out for excess baggage.

2. Triple check the spelling of your name

This one’s important! If you’ve got a spelling error in your name, you’ll have to pay for a name change on your tickets, and if you read the fine print of your airline’s policy, this is often a very steep fee. You may end up paying the cost again of your ticket, so to avoid your bargain fare turning into an expensive nightmare, make sure you triple check that all your details are correct when purchasing your fare.

3. Double check which airport you fly from or to

You might have found a bargain flight into London, but don’t assume it goes to Heathrow Airport! London, like many cities around the world, has more than one airport, so always double check which one your flight actually lands at. Some budget airlines are able to offer incredibly good deals because they fly into smaller airports, and you may find yourself further out of the city than you anticipated.

4. Ask yourself if you need to pay for your seat selection

Pay-as-you-go fares of budget airlines are great in that you only pay for what you want, but it means there’s an extra fee for just about everything else! If you’re six foot tall, or use the bathroom frequently, then it’s probably worth forking out the extra fee to choose an aisle seat. If you don’t mind where you sit though, then skip this step and let the airline choose. However, you might find it’s worth paying a little more to secure the seat of your choice.

5. Shop around

If you’ve found a great fare, but it’s considerably more than what you expected once you add in all the extras, don’t assume it’s still the cheapest fare going. You may find that more premiere airlines have similar prices, and possibly more comfort, so shop around and see what other airlines are offering. (However, even despite all the additional fees you’re paying, budget airlines are still often the cheaper option.)

6. Double check for automatic add-ons

Often when you go through the booking process, airlines will automatically add on things like seat selection and insurance, meaning the additional costs is automatically added to your total cost. Go through the booking process slowly and carefully, and make sure you unselect anything you don’t want to pay for.

7. Pack your own food

Budget airlines don’t usually offer meals in the ticket price, so one way to keep the cost down (and not pay through-the-nose for average airline food) is to bring your own food. Most airlines allow it, so pack a few snacks in your carry-on to tide you over until you land and can enjoy a proper meal. Remember to pack an empty water bottle (a full one won’t pass the liquid restrictions of carry-on) so you can fill it up once you’re past security and stay hydrated on the flight.

8. Wear your bulky clothing

To avoid going over the limit of your carry-on bag, make sure you wear the heavier, bulkier items of your luggage, and layer up. Remember, you can always take them off once you’re in the plane. Coats, scarves, bulky shoes and hats should be worn when checking in, rather than packed in your bag, where they will take up precious space – and weight!

9. Pay for any extras online

If you do want to pay extra for certain things like seat selection or checked baggage, make sure you do it online prior to check-in, as it’s almost always going to be more expensive to pay for it at the airport.

10. Avoid booking a flight with a short layover

While airlines endeavour to deliver passengers in a punctual fashion, the reality is often very different. If you’ve booked two separate flights and have a short stopover before the connecting flight, but your first flight is delayed, you may miss the connecting flight; unfortunately, most budget airlines won’t pay for a new ticket. Allow yourself a longer layover so that even if your flight is delayed, you’ll hopefully still make your connecting flight.