There is no doubt that life has become more expensive in recent months, as Europeans see the energy crisis inflate most basic expenses.
Whether or not the holidays are affected by the same global factors, however, is a more complex question. Although some airlines and travel insiders are warning that rising fuel costs will soon be passed on to passengers, this is not yet the case in all areas.
Like more and more European countries are simplifying their entry rules – and people’s confidence in a stress-free stay is growing – growing demand is expected to drive up ticket prices. But until fliers fully return to their pre-pandemic numbers, some carriers are still trying to entice people back into the skies with cheaper deals.
And with good reason. According to a recent Skyscanner survey, more than half of German participants and 36% of Britons consider cost one of the most important factors when booking a trip abroad in 2022.
As we satisfy our wanderlust this year, here are some key ways to make air travel more affordable.
When is the best time to book a holiday?
If you’re high on a summer vacation booking, it’s best to take the plunge now, according to one of the biggest travel search engines.
“For travelers to the UK, prices for international flights for the summer have been falling steadily since the start of the year, but with growing demand for the summer months ahead, prices are expected to rise soon to new”, explains Evan, British director of KAYAK. Day.
Over the past two weeks, searches for summer travel on the site have exceeded pre-pandemic levels by around 6%, he says, suggesting a rebound is well underway.
“In previous years, we’ve found that around six weeks in advance is the optimal time to find great international flights for the summer, and that still seems to match what we’re seeing this year.”
By that math, it’s probably best to book this week if you’re planning a mid-June getaway.
But due to the complex way airlines price their tickets to try to maximize their profits, there is no winning formula. As cheap flight guru Jack Sheldon Explainairlines have targets for how many seats to sell on each route on a certain date, and will lower or raise their prices accordingly.
The general rule is that it is better to book earlier – especially for short-haul flights when the cheapest seats are freed up immediately. This means planning at least eight months in advance. But as Jack’s Flight Club users know, there are plenty of last-minute bargains to be had if you’re up for it.
How are holiday prices affected by the war in Ukraine?
Airfares could fluctuate more sharply this year due to the high cost of oil, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Rising oil prices are putting increasing pressure on tariffs, but the cost of oil is not the only factor; it’s that airlines are more likely to pass on some of these potential fuel cost increases to shoppers if travel demand continues to grow as it has,” a spokesperson for the airline said. Kiwi travel technology. This growing likelihood is another reason to book flights as soon as possible.
“Rising fuel prices have been an ongoing trend over the past 18 months due to capacity bottlenecks and a recovery in consumer demand,” the company adds, “but the war in Ukraine has accelerated the inflationary trend”.
Some airlines are more affected than others, according to Kiwi. Low-cost airlines generally have a more modern and fuel-efficient fleet than their steeper competitors, allowing them to better absorb fuel costs. That said, fuel represents a larger percentage of their cost base than for traditional airlines.
Of course, flights aren’t the only major expense on vacation. Car rentals and hotel stays could also be more expensive this summer, depending on the local situation. If you are plan a trip to the United Statesnote that domestic airline fares are up 24 percent depending on the Bureau of Labor Statisticsin a context of exceptionally high inflation.
Why flights might not be as expensive as you think
Some low-cost airlines, including Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air, have “covered” their fuel costs – meaning they have pre-ordered fuel at a capped cost for the next few months. This helps protect passengers from soaring oil prices – at least until next year.
“We are seeing travel providers continue to support the return of travel with competitive rates,” Naomi Hahn, vice president of strategy at Skyscanner, told Euronews Travel.
“As demand begins to match supply, it’s important to know how to weigh your options and adapt your plans to get the best price – whether that’s flying out a day or two earlier, to hop on a train to a nearby alternative airport or explore an alternative destination that’s a fraction of the cost.
Top tips for saving money on flights – from a Skyscanner expert
Hahn shared with us some other travel tips to make your flights more affordable:
- Configure price alerts. This will ensure that you are the first to know when prices drop with additional discounts or an additional offer. You can mark a flight you’re interested in and Skyscanner (or your search engine of choice) will email you whenever the price goes up or down.
- Friday is the cheapest day to travel. Flight prices are all based on supply and demand. Because some dates are more popular than others, prices vary. On average, save up to 25% when traveling on a Friday and up to 51% when booking four weeks before departure.
- Be open-minded about where you’re traveling. “In 2020 and 2021, new destinations grew in popularity as the corridors brought to light surprising gems,” says the vice president of strategy. “Exchanging your usual Costas break for Croatia might be an unexpected treat.” On Skyscanner, you can let the algorithm decide with a search for ‘Anywhere’, which will present a range of options based on your travel dates, all ranked by price.
- Mix and match flights to save €€. Not just a summer fashion trend, mixing up the airlines and airports you choose to fly with and from can significantly reduce costs. Fares don’t have to be booked as returns, Hahn adds. Flying with one airline and returning with another, or flying from one airport and returning at another, can help you save money.
Which European destinations are cheaper than last year?
Unexpectedly, recent data from KAYAK shows that flight prices to several major European destinations are actually significantly lower than last year.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Airport, serving Spain, the largest island in the Canary Islands, saw a surprising price drop of 65% last month. The average price of a return flight from London is just £46 (€55) the week of April 18, although Tenerife is a hotspot for Brits.
Second on the list is Milano which, despite having works of art to rival Rome and Florence – not to mention the catwalks you can see on the streets every day – is consistently cheaper than other major Italian cities.
According to the KAYAK site, plane tickets are available for £4 one-way from London, and cost you an average of £12 in April. That’s a 46% drop from the same week in 2021.
Keep in mind, however, that Milan Malpensa has seen some of the most flight cancellations from all European airports in the last chaos at UK airports.
Paris, Edinburgh and Malaga was also among the top five destinations with the biggest drop in flight prices, suggesting there are still plenty of deals to be found if you shop around.
You can find the cheapest current deals on KAYAK’s explore page by searching all destinations for a particular month and departure location, and toggling the budget filter down. By this metric, Venice and Vienna are two of the cheapest destinations from London in August.