Over the years I’ve worked out a few tricks on how to find cheap flights departing from the UK and I wanted to share them with you in this useful travel hacking blog post.
The UK has hundreds of routes and destinations to choose from, and there are many great flights deals to be found in this country.
One big bonus point is having London Heathrow Airport on your doorstep. It’s the world’s second-busiest airport by international passenger traffic with over seventy million passengers travelling through annually.
You’re bound to find a few cheap flights popping up every now and then, and here is a guide on how to best find them.
Fly from a major UK hub
First of all, let’s focus on the main UK airports as they frequently have the best flight deals.
London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Birmingham airport each have over ten million passengers travelling through every year. This means that you will have loads of flight options to choose from departing from these major UK airport hubs.
Do bear in mind the transportation costs to the locations mentioned above and be sure to pick your local airport to focus on deal hunting.
For example, London Gatwick can be accessed off-peak from London Victoria station using the local trains, such as Southern rail from just over £8 with a topped-up Oyster card.
It’s a lot cheaper than Gatwick Express and a lot faster than the national express bus, so look into affordable options to reach your local airport to save on your overall flight ticket costs.
The Heathrow Express line is considered the most expensive train route in the UK based on distance. Take the London Underground to central London instead and save big.
You might also want to book a hotel for the night before or after your late or early flight as many of the hotels around Heathrow offer affordable options compared to the city centre such as the Hyatt Place hotel.
Be flexible with your time and dates and the world is your oyster
What if I told you that cheap flights are easier to find when you remain flexible?
Be open to trying new airlines and interesting destinations at flexible times in the year.
The more open you are, the better chance you have of finding that awesome deal.
I know this isn’t ideal for those with fixed working hours and I’m afraid that this is just how the cookie crumbles. If you want to find the best deals, you have to be flexible and stay away from major holiday periods.
Stopovers can save you big on flight tickets
From my past flight searches, I’ve noticed a trend in stopover flights becoming more affordable than direct flights.
Many airlines have a preferred home hub destination and flying into this hub can open up more destination connections for the airline.
This allows them to win new business with new customers and offer a larger network at more affordable prices.
This is beating the competition for empty seats and allowing the airlines to offer more value to customers, if you don’t mind the stopover.
Why not extend your stopover and stay for the night
Take Qatar Airways, for example. They offer an expanding aircraft fleet that covers a wide selection of destinations, if you don’t mind flying into Doha airport.
You can even book a hotel and stay for the night adding a stopover destination to your trip for no extra cost. It can be fun exploring a new city for 24 hours and getting some rest between flights.
I’ve one done this with Air China on a 72-hour visa-free stopover in Beijing, China and hiked up to the Great Wall of China before flying to Bangkok, Thailand, my final destination. How fun is that!
I’ve also stopped off in Helsinki, Finland for 24 hours to visit a sauna by a lake close to Helsinki Airport and then done a tour around a chocolate factory. This was done whilst on a stopover from London whilst on a connection flight to Japan. It was nice to relax before such a long flight.
There are loads of possibilities, and stopover flights can be a lot cheaper than direct flights. Have a look around and see what you can find.
Stick with hand luggage when you can
Many airlines are now charging extra for check-in baggage, so it’s a good idea to learn how to travel with hand luggage and save on these added costs.
Do you really need that extra pair of shoes?
Check-in baggage can increase your total flight cost so avoid this fee if you can and travel with hand luggage. I have some packing tips on another blog post to help you get started.
Sign up to frequent flyer schemes
Signing up to frequent flyer schemes is free and doesn’t take a lot of your time. Every flight you take with an airline that is part of an alliance will give you free air miles for each flight.
Over time you can save them up and use them for free flights.
Once you’ve subscribed to an alliance’s newsletter, you will normally be informed about flight sales and deals with selected airlines. They like to inform loyal customers first before the general sale starts, so you get first dibs on the best deals.
I’ve been able to grab some great flight prices by finding out about these deals first as a loyal customer, so choose your favourite airlines you enjoy flying with the most.
These are the three major airline alliances and airlines that I use:
– One World – Finnair (Finland)
– Star Alliance – Lufthansa (Germany)
– Sky Team – KLM (The Netherlands)
Each alliance issues a membership card, and, over time, you can even earn an upgraded status which can help you save on your flight. You only need to be a member of one airline to collect points from the whole alliance, no need to sign up multiple times.
For example, last year I was flying frequently with One World and had my status upgraded to Silver. Now I can check in using the Business class line, check in additional baggage free of charge, get discount on lounge access and use the priority lane. All these services don’t cost me anything extra.
It’s worth the time saving extra air miles for no additional cost.
Last year I also earned a free return flight from Helsinki to Berlin with Lufthansa, a free flight from London to Stavanger, Norway with KLM and a free return flight from Helsinki to Dubai with Finnair. All for free by using my additional air miles.
I’m also a member of Norwegian Rewards which is not an alliance but a loyalty program. It allows you to collect CashPoints from every Norwegian flight, and you can then use those points as credit towards your next flight.
You will also be notified of sales and deals in advance.
It’s worth signing up to your favourite airline’s email list to find out about cheap flights first before anyone else does.
If you don’t fancy Doing all the leg work to get frequent flyer status and all you want to do is access airport lounges, then why not check out the Priority Pass which offers discount lounge access at selected airports for a discounted fee.
Sign up to Jack’s Flight Club
Don’t want to do all the searching? Then sign up for Jack’s Flight Club and let them take care of all the leg work for you.
It’s rather simple how it works – they will alert you straight away by emailing you the moment an awesome flight deal pops up.
They have a team scouring the internet around the clock to find the cheapest flights so you don’t have to.
The best way to bag the best flight deals is to act quickly.
A great thing is that Jack’s Flight Club is free to try out. The free version will limit your notification period, but you can still get one or two nice flight deals to check out each week.
If you love the service (like I do), you can choose the Premium membership option and be notified of even more deals immediately so you can act fast and grab that cheap flight.
I’ve been using the Premium service for a few months now to test it out and I’ve been happy with the results. The best deal that I found was from London to Bangkok with Air China for under £300, and this included meals and check-in luggage, which was an absolute deal!
You can choose from a selection of UK airports to depart from, which makes this a great service for those living in the UK wanting to find cheap flights. I’ve got my account set up to send me notifications for all London airports, and deals pop up on almost a daily basis.
The good thing about the Premium service is that it doesn’t cost that much, and you will quickly make the fee back with the great savings you will make. Happy days!
Be sure to sign up and share with me what deals you’ve managed to find
Thank you for reading my article about how to find cheap flights departing from the UK.
I hope you’ve found many useful tips and tricks to booking your dream holiday in the close future. Happy travels!