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How to score a cheap flight that really is cheap

Discover how you can find the cheapest fares online

So you want to head to Europe for some of that warmth and sunshine they've been getting in spades. You're imagining lazing by the beach at a luxurious hotel with an exotic cocktail. The problem? You're broke. So to avoid spending your luxurious holiday in a backpackers drinking tap water, here's a few tips to nabbing cheap flights and making sure they really are as cheap as they appear.
1. Subscribe for special offers
Airlines and flight centres regularly hold seat sales and send them out via email first. Be the first in the queue to snap up a cheap deal!
2. Be flexible with your dates and times
Flying during peak times like school holidays or Christmas is more expensive. The same can be said for flying mid-morning and on weekends. You'll be amazed at how much you can save by flying on a Wednesday instead of after work on Friday.
3. Shop around
Travel is just like any other product you buy - you need to do your homework to find the cheapest deals. The beauty is you can do it all online and some websites even compare prices for you so get that mouse scrolling!
4. Read the fine print
Some flights can at first appear cheaper than a Starbucks Frappuccino... but that's probably because the airline adds a whopping tax or surcharge at the end. Avoid a nasty shock on your credit card statement and read the fine print before you complete your booking. Do your maths too - sometimes a slightly higher fare can actually work out cheaper because there's less tax added to it.
5. Do you have to fly out from London?
If you're not living in London, then getting there to fly out can be almost as expensive as the flight itself. There are all those extra costs like long-term parking. There's also the additional travel time it takes to get there. Consider flying out from somewhere closer to you such as Birmingham airport. Smaller airports also tend to have cheaper long-term parking and transfer costs too.
6. Pre-check in baggage or leave it behind
Do you really need a whole suitcase for your bathing suit, sunglasses and hat? Save on costs by leaving the baggage behind and taking a larger carry-on instead. Make sure you check the carry-on size and weight restrictions with your airline first. Some airlines are very strict and will seize any chance to charge you more. If you must take luggage, save money and pre-check it in online when you book your ticket.
7. Plane food
Some flights are cheap but sting you for overly priced food on board. To avoid spending £8 on a small tin of Pringles, pre-order your meals on long haul flights. Or bring your own snacks (though some airlines don't let you, so double check first).
8. Don't get fussy about seating
Some airlines charge you extra if you want to sit in the emergency aisle because of the extra leg room. If you can stand it for a short trip, go without.
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