How to find the cheapest Airfare?
To find the cheapest airfares for a particular route start searching Flight4 now. You can compare airfares from over 400 airlines and from several major UK flight consolidators. When you have found your flights simply click to book direct with the airline or supplier.
Which airline should I choose?
There is usually a selection of airlines for most routes, when planning your trip you will have to decide whether you want the cheapest fare available or whether you must travel on a particular date. This may affect your choice of airline. For airline ratings and reviews go to Skytrax.
What's the difference between Scheduled & Charter flights?
There are basically two types of flight to choose from – Scheduled or Charter. Depending on the airline, standards of service vary for both charter and scheduled flights. On a charter you have less choice as to when you can travel. Schedule services give you more choice.
On a charter the aircraft carries more passengers to keep the price down so you tend to have less leg-room. On a charter the booking conditions allow the operator to make changes to your flight, even right up to the last minute. When you fly on a charter your contract is not with the airline itself but with the tour operator who ‘charted' your seat. On a schedule airline your contract is usually direct with the airline. If you are on a package holiday you may have no choice to which airline you fly.
What type of ticket should I buy?
Budget airline tickets. These fares vary from airline to airline, in general the more in advance you book the cheaper the airfare. Usually the rules and restrictions on all fares for flights are the same, in that you have heavy penalties if you wish to amend or cancel your itinerary. Usually all tickets will be strictly non refundable no matter what price you have paid.
Charter airline tickets. Charter (seat only tickets) vary in price depending on the time of year, the day of the week, or even the time of departure. Usually there is only one price for a particular flight, except for last minute seat sales, this is because most seats on charter flights are sold on a ‘use it or lose it' basis. On a charter fare you commit yourself to the flight and if you decide not to travel you cannot usually claim any refund from the airline or tour operator.
Scheduled airline tickets. Scheduled airlines offer a wider range of air fares depending on how flexible you wish the conditions or validity of your ticket to be. Like charter flights the fares vary according to the time of year or day of the week you wish to travel but unlike charter flights there are usually many different fare types on any one service. The main advantage of scheduled services is the wide choice of routings, the flexibility and the range of fares available.
The most expensive fare is usually known as the ‘full fare' and is usually fully flexible. These fares allow you to change your reservation without any penalty or extra charge (except for a nominal administration fee). This ticket may also be ‘endorsable' which means you may be able to use the ticket on different airlines. The cheapest scheduled fares are often totally restricted. You might not be able to change the reservation even if you are prepared to pay and you will not get your money back if you cancel. Between the most expensive and the cheapest fares there will often be a great range of other fares to choose from. As a broad guide, the lower the fare, the less flexibility you will have in making changes. Most of the cheaper fares require you to include at least one Saturday night within your itinerary.
How safe is the money I have paid for my flight?
You have to pay for your holiday & flights in advance, so it's only right you are aware how safe your money is if a company fails.
The sales and advertising of air travel in the UK is regulated by law for the financial protection of air travellers and any travel firm selling flights or air packages must legally comply with the Civil Aviation (Air Travel Organiser's Licensing) Regulations 1995. (ATOL's).
For detailed information on how to protect your money click here for the official ATOL website.
If your scheduled ticket is not covered by the ATOL scheme (that is, if you buy your ticket directly from an airline or if an agent gives you a ticket immediately on payment) you may wish to consider other ways of ensuring your money is protected if the airline fails. You can protect your money by buying a travel insurance policy that includes cover for scheduled airline failure (not all general travel insurance policies do). Or, if you use a credit card you may be able to claim your money back from the credit card company, however restrictions apply so check with your credit card company.
Should I choose a non-stop, direct or connecting flight?
For longer journeys you may have many airlines to choose from and there can be big differences in their fares. Very often the cheapest deals will involve a number of stops or change of aircraft or both.
When deciding between airlines remember that ‘direct' dose not necessarily mean ‘non-stop'. On a direct flight you should not have to change planes. But the plane may well stop to pick up fuel or other passengers so the journey might be much longer than on a non-stop flight.
Sometimes you will be offered a route where you will have to change aircraft. This is called a connecting service. If you are offered a reservation on such a service check with the airline or travel agent that you will have enough time to make the connection between your flights.
What if I have special needs
If you have any needs for which you think an airline might have to make special arrangements, you must discuss your requirements with the airline or your travel agent as soon as possible. You may find that your choice of airline will be based on which one can best meet your particular needs. Airlines sometimes charge for special services so check before you book.
Examples of Special Needs for which airlines might have to make special arrangements are:
If you are physically disabled and may need help getting around airport terminals, on and off the aircraft or moving around
.. inside the cabin. Oxygen and or special medical equipment needed during the flight must be advised to the airline well in
.. advance of departure.
If you are buying a ticket for an unaccompanied minor (you will need to check the age limit with the airline concerned).
If you will be travelling with babies or very young children (particularly if you need a cot).
If you have special dietary needs.
When is the best time to travel?
On many routes the price you have to pay will depend on when you want to travel. There can be big variations in prices for different seasons and smaller variations for travel on different days of the week.
In general airlines offer their lowest fares on days and times of the day with the lowest demand, generally Monday - Thursday and late morning through to late afternoon.
If you can be flexible about your travel plans you may find that you can save quite a bit on the fare.
What do I need to know about baggage?
If you are taking a series of flights ask your airline or agent about the allowances for each flight. Allowances between airlines can vary quite a lot with budget and low cost airlines having the greatest restrictions. Sometimes you baggage allowance will be determined by weight or sometimes by the number and size of bags or it can be a combination of the two. Nowadays it's best to check the baggage restrictions and conditions direct with the airline before or during your flight reservation.
Make sure your bags are strong and in good condition. For hold luggage, lock the bags and put a strong strap around them. When you check-in your baggage you should be given a receipt for each bag.
The receipts are the sticky labels that the check-in staff stick to your ticket folder or passport. Keep these receipts safe as you may need them if your luggage goes missing and you need to make a claim against the airline or your travel insurance.
Baggage security and check-in procedures can be complex and can change at short notice, check with your airline or agent for updated information.
What is LAGS? LAGS stands for Liquids, Aerosols and Gels and are connected with rules that restrict the amount of Liquids, Aerosols and Gels (LAGs) that passengers may take on board in their hand luggage on international flights, to protect against the threat of liquid explosives. Such rules took effect in the European Union and the United States of America, and South Africa which started enforcing these international aviation safety regulations on 01 June 2007.
What are e-tickets and why should I use them?
Electronic tickets (e-tickets) . An e-ticket confirms your airline ticket purchase without requiring a paper record are now offered by the majority of airlines based in the UK. The booking record and e-ticket sale is held in electronic form in the airline's computer system. An e-ticket offers the following advantages:
- It allows you to travel without a paper ticket, eliminating the worry of losing your tickets or leaving them behind.
- You do not have to wait for your ticket to arrive by post.
- E-ticket reference numbers can be used to save time at self-service check in machines now offered by some airlines to avoid queuing at check in desks.
About in-flight catering & special meals
If you have any special dietary requirements ask before you book if the airline can provide the meal you want. Order your special meal in advance: if you wait until you check in you will probably be disappointed.
If you are a diabetic, it's a good idea to take some food with you in case there is a problem with the meal you ordered or a delay in the meal service.
Many airlines provide free soft drinks. Some also provide free alcoholic drinks - but check before you book if it's likely to influence your choice of airline. Some airlines do not provide alcohol at all – usually for religious reasons.
What is the check-in procedure?
Always be aware of the latest check-in time for your flight. This is usually printed on your itinerary, booking confirmation printout or e-ticket. Remember that the check-in time is the latest time for getting to the check-in desk not for joining the back of the queue. If you miss the check-in deadline, your place on the flight may go to someone on the waiting list and you will have very little or no claim against the airline. With some airlines you can check in for your flight online before you set off for the airport. Some airlines charge a fee for using the airport check in desks. Always read the check in and security procedure for each airline you fly with as they may have different procedures.
If you have already made a request for a particular seat the airline may not guarantee to provide it to you. So whether you have already requested a seat or not, the earlier you check in for your flight the more likely you are in getting the seat you want.
At the check-in desk you will usually be asked questions about your luggage. These are security checks and you should answer the questions carefully.
Security procedures at airport check-in can often change at short notice, they can take longer than you think and at times be complex, check with your airline or agent for restrictions relating to what you can and cannot take onboard with you.
Remember, give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, arriving slightly early for check-in will be a lot less stressful for you and your party.
What happens after I have checked-in?
After you have checked in for your flight and you have been issued with a boarding card, proceed to Security and Passport control. Keep your passport and boarding card handy, you may have to show them several times before you board the aircraft.
At the main security checkpoints before you reach the departure gate, you and your hand luggage will be checked. You will be asked to walk through a security gate and you may be frisked. These checks are to protect everyone. Once you have passed theses checks you will not be allowed back into the main terminal building.
Once through passport control and security you will arrive in the departure lounge. Remember that most airports do not announce flight departures over the public address system. Always look for, and keep an eye on, the flight indicator screens. The indicator screens will tell you when and to which gate to go to.
Remember it is your responsibility to get to the gate on time.
Remember, due to lengthy security checks at some airports you may experience long waiting times to clear some security check points, especially during the main holiday season. Always prepare to arrive early for check in especially during popular travel times and during the main holiday seasons.
Where do I find research into in airline quality and customer feedback? To find the best research in quality of the worlds airlines, airline ratings and customer feedback go to www.airlinequality.com for in depth information and feedback on the worlds airlines.
What about destination information?
Click on the Flight4 destination information guides to find vital information about travelling to the city or beach resort of your choice, visiting its most interesting highlights, or even lesser-known places that can easily be missed. The F4 Travel Guide will help you learn about upcoming events, sightseeing, shopping, local transport facilities, accommodation, nightlife and much more.
Alternatively checkout the Flight4 Tourist Board Listing. Tourist Boards are a great source of information and are usually the best way to find in-depth details on: sightseeing, entertainment, places of interest, local culture and customs, nightlife, accommodation, dining out tips and lots more.
Learn the explanations behind some of the less obvious terms used in the airline industry and the airline reservation process.
What about transfer information on arrival?
For airport transfer information simply select your city from the travel guide section, then scroll down to Airport Information.
How to book UK Airport Parking. For the best deals and the widest choice on UK airport car paring go to the Flight4 discount car parking page for details.
How to book UK Airport Hotels. For the best deals and the widest choice on UK airport hotels go to the Flight4 discount airport hotel page for details.
How to contact airlines direct. Go to the Flight4 airline listing.
I am a nervous flyer, where can I find details on airline safety records and airline fleet ages etc? Air Fleets (www.airfleets.net) shows the average age of an airline's fleet and their safety records. Also check out Skytrax for airline customer feedback, rating and forums.