What's that thud? Oh, I know, it's your jaw hitting the floor the first time you look for a flight as a family and see the total cost. If like me you will sit there a bit stunned and think of all the other things you could do with that much money. But what can you do when nine times out of ten the cost of the flights is the most expensive part of your family holiday. Last minute deals seem to be a thing of the past so what now? Well, it is still possible to find a flight bargain, even for a family, but it takes a bit of work and likely some compromise in the final result but as a parent you will be used to compromise.
Becoming a parent is great (overall). But does come with some wallet hitting drawbacks and one of them is needing to buy more flight tickets when you travel, which is fair enough as you need more seats but it still adds to the cost. However, to make matters worse once the kids head off to school you face the extortionate school holiday price hikes.
The maths is actually quite simple to suddenly see the increase in your holiday cost. Let's say a flight ticket outside of the school holidays for a long haul flight goes for £500 each. When there is only the two of you that £1000 doesn't seem so bad. But now you need two more tickets so you have to find another £1000 to a total of £2000. Next you are tied to the school holidays and prices can easily take a 50% price hike so your good value £500 is now £775 per person. This gives a total price of £3100! Which means for a addition of two school aged children (2 people) you now pay three times as much as you did originally or to put another way outside of the school holidays 6 people could fly for the same price. Quite frankly this sucks.
So what can you do to find cheap flights? In this article I provide eleven different tips to help you find cheap family flights online and get the holiday you want.
Before starting your search set your budget and be ready to book when the price is at or, better still, below your budget as the deals won't be there for long.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 1. Be flexible about where you want to go
Skyscanner search everywhere
Skyscanner search everywhere
If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, then use something like the search everywhere or anywhere feature in Skyscanner.com and Kayak.com respectively to see where the cheapest flights are heading to. Once you get your flights results you can then filter further on flight times, budget and destinations.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 2. Be flexible about when you want to go
It’s always nice to fly on a Saturday or Friday and give yourself at least a day to recover before returning to work. But often prices are cheaper if you can fly mid-week when demand is lower. Although business travellers will push up the costs on a Monday morning and Thursday evening.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 3. Accept a longer transfer to your destination
While most destinations have one or two core airports servicing them you can often find alternatives a bit further afield if you are prepared to travel. For instance, if you were searching for flights to Orlando you can consider Tampa, Miami, Ft Lauderdale and Jacksonville all as alternative airports with drives ranging from 3.5 hours to 1 hour to get to Orlando.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 4. Take a stopover (or 2)
Often flights with stopovers are much cheaper than flying direct and while they no doubt add to your journey time they do provide some benefits depending on how long you stop for. For instance, they can be a great chance to stretch your legs, maybe clear immigration in your destination country, get refreshed (lots of airports now have pay as you go showers and lounges) and grab some nice food.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 5. Use a comparison site, shop around, and be prepared to take your time
If you were looking for house or car insurance you would probably spend hours and hours looking through comparison sites, like CompareTheMarket.com, for the best deal and you should apply exactly the same methods to finding flights. In fact, when it comes to finding flights you should be prepared to spend significantly more time searching than you would for the others. After all house insurance might cost you a few hundred pounds and by shopping around you might save 10% which is roughly thirty pounds. Flights for a family of four could easily cost you three thousand pound and by shopping around let’s say you save 10% again but this time that’s an impressive three hundred pound or more accurately you house insurance for the year!
The two most well-known comparison sites are Skyscanner and Kayak but there are others and a list is included at the end of this article.
They basically work by collecting deals and fare information from providers across the web and then presenting the relevant results for your search. Once you find a deal you like and click on it you then get taken to a flight or holiday provider to complete the booking.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 6. Sign up for price alerts
Skyscanner price alert
Skyscanner price alert
One added function of both Skyscanner and Kayak are the ability to set up price alerts to your email or mobile phone based on your search. This is a great tool for ensuring you get to hear about flight deals before they have come and gone.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 7. Check prices regularly and be prepared to buy
It is fair to say to get the best family flight deals you need to become slightly obsessive about checking sites. Our recommendation to finding your family flight deal is to carry out your search first thing in the morning and then keep the result up in the background. Then every now and then (once every hour or two) bring the results back up in your browswer and they will be automatically refreshed and you can see the latest flight deals. Remember, to be prepared to buy if they have hit your budget.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 8. Sign up for airline newsletters and reward programmes
Sign up for airline newsletters and reward schemes. This way you get to hear about upcoming sales nice and early and if it suits you earn points through various means that you can spend on their flights. However, reward point flights can be very hard to find in high season so you need to book very early if you have enough points to spend.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 9. Take a look at package deals
Package holiday providers are changing. While you can still get your all-inclusive two weeks in the sun (and there’s, probably, nothing wrong with that). Many now go further and provide a wide range of accommodation for what seems like only a small addition in cost to buying the flight alone. We recommend checking out both Virgin and British Airways holidays for great combination deals.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 10. Fly from an alternative airport
Look beyond the usual big airports in your home country and instead try some smaller international ones. You may have a bit of drive to get there but the saving on your family flight tickets will be worth it.
Tips for finding cheap air tickets: 11. Don’t fly
Wait! Hear me out on this before you click the back button. Airlines are ripping us off with school holiday air fares and while following the tips above will help you find cheap flights for the family there is a longer-term game to play. The price of flights and holidays is high over the school holidays because the demand is high, so through the natural economics of supply and demand they can charge high prices. The way for the consumers to fight this is by taking away the demand and not flying unless the price is right. Therefore, if you choose an alternative to flying and enough people do this the airlines will be forced to reconsider their prices.
Finding cheap family flight tickets: Overall
Deals can still be found but it takes a lot more work than it used to and will no doubt involve some compromise but through applying the tips above and using comparison sites and their tools you can still find family flights at a price you are happy to pay. Be sure to save this site via your browser favourites or on pinterest so you can come back and check the tips list before you start your next fligth search.