Our very own Ben Bradshaw, self-proclaimed aeroplane and travel geek who also holds a private pilot license, shares his top tips for travelling in comfort and how you can save money on your next flight….
USING AIR MILES. Utilising your air miles and points is a great way to save money when you travel. Check what the price of the standard fare is via the airline’s website before using your points – often you may only pay a little less but will still have to pay part cash and use a large number of miles. Often the best way to use your miles to get the best value out of them is to upgrade to the next cabin.
CODE SHARING. Code sharing is when two or more airlines share the same flight. If you have a preferred airline to travel with, I would recommend that you always check if they’re code sharing with another airline; otherwise, you may turn up for your flight and find that you’re flying to your destination with an unexpected airline!
RESEARCH FLYING FROM OTHER AIRPORTS. If your heart isn’t set on flying from your nearest airport, it’s worth checking how much it would cost to fly from a different destination/airport. For example, a recent search with an airline showed that flying from Newcastle via London to a US city was nearly £400 cheaper than going directly from Heathrow. Often this is due to tax, so if you have time and train fares aren’t crazy prices, it’s worth an extra hop up north to save on the ££! If flying further afield, some airlines choose to fly via other cities e.g. Amsterdam which is another option to save money on your airfare.
RESEARCH THE AIRCRAFT. I’m sure it isn’t something that most people think about when booking a flight, as surely all aircrafts are pretty much the same? Not so. Just like anything, there are shiny new aircrafts and, to put it kindly, not so shiny aircrafts, flying the same routes. If, for example, there are 4 flights a day but 3 are operated by an older 747 and the other by a new A380, it’s definitely worth picking the newer aircraft in their fleet as it may have WI-FI, a better In-flight entertainment system and newer seats etc. Airlines will state what aircraft is operating when you book your flight (although this can change last minute due to operational reasons).
WHAT TO FLY ON. Again, not something you necessarily think about when booking a flight, but I would recommend taking note of the type of aircraft you’ll be flying on. Aircraft to look for when booking include Airbus A380, Airbus 350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The Dreamliner claims a cleaner and healthier cabin environment due to innovation in the way the cabin air supply is circulated. I have flown the Dreamliner a few times now and must say that I certainly feel less groggy post flight!
WHERE SHOULD YOU SIT. Seatguru.com offers updated seat maps of aircrafts and highlights the good seats and the seats to avoid. For example, in economy, some people think picking a bulkhead seat (the dividing wall between cabins) can offer better legroom but often it can be restricted, have less storage space and it’s where the bassinets go for babies. So if you prefer not to be right by a crying baby, best avoid!
MEALS. If you are keen to get your meal asap on a long-haul flight so you can sleep, pre-order before flying and select a special meal (i.e. vegetarian or low fat etc). Airlines now offer a decent range and most will hand these meals out before they bring around the trollies with all the other meals, ensuring you fuel up and get that all important shut eye!