The obvious answer to this question seems to be very easy. Duh! Of course cheaper the air tickets, better they are. But the correct answer is: it depends.
I know. ‘It depends’ does not say much. That is why I am writing this post to explain what it means in this context.
Air tickets are the most mysterious part of travel planning. There are so many articles available online telling you the timings and day of the week to get the cheapest tickets. Is there one? I am not sure. I have never found any significant differences between them on Tuesdays or Thursdays. But that does not mean we cannot avoid the hidden costs.
Cheap air tickets generally come with some additional costs that are opaque at the time of booking. These hidden costs add up making your budget trip not so economical anymore. Most common ones are:
Check-in luggage charges
Cheap air tickets do not include check-in luggage most of the times. Depending upon the duration of your travel, you might or might not need it. So, while buying the tickets, always check if they include luggage or not. But first, ask yourself do you really need the big check-in luggage? If no, go ahead to next point. We travel mostly without our check in luggage (except for the yearly India trip, of course ). We don’t need a big luggage for short trips, be it Freiburg, Salzburg, Reykjavik, Rome, Krakow, Lugano or Nice. Anywhere. But if you do, check the costs for the check-in luggage and calculate if it is still the cheapest option to buy this ticket and pay additionally for the luggage or is there some other better option available.
Most of the big cities have more than one airport. For example, Frankfurt has two airports. The big international airport and a smaller (Frankfurt-Hahn) airport outside the city. Frankfurt-Hahn airport hosts some cheap ticket airlines, like Ryan airways etc. While the fare itself could be very cheap (like 30-40 Euros, one-way flights, even lesser sometimes), the hassle is not worth it. It takes about 2-2.5 hours to reach the airport, which of course costs additional bus/train tickets (sometimes even taxi/cab if public transport is sparse). Often, the destination airport for such airlines is also secluded, which means, additional few hours to reach the destination. So, always add these costs for better estimates (after a quick google search) to your total travel costs. Don’t forget to consider the duration of the journey. A journey of 8 hours, instead of 3, is a big bargain and might not be worth the little money you save, especially for a weekend trip.
This factor could be important depending upon how long your flight is. For a flight duration of 1-2 hours, it is okay. But if your journey is longer, you might need refreshments, which are not included in cheaper airline tickets. You will end up paying for expensive flight food/snacks, adding up to the travel costs. Our flight to Reykjavik was about 3 hours and it was still okay. We stuffed ourselves at the airport already as the flight was 3 hours late. We slept immediately after boarding the flight (even me! 😀 I never sleep when traveling), still dreaming of the beautiful ice caves we left behind.
Small budget airlines do not have multiple flights to all its destinations every day. Sometimes there is just one flight to that small airport in 2-3 days. Even if you have that connection on your flying date, there are still some risks you should think about carefully. Sometimes flights get delayed or have some other operational issues. If the flight is delayed or canceled, the airline might not have an extra airplane and you might either get stuck there for a while. If your journey is not flexible (which is often the case for weekend travelers like us), you might have to buy a new expensive ticket on the spot for some other airlines. So, consider all these possibilities before booking the flight. Read some reviews online.
Timings of the flight
I avoid late night flights. But most of the air tickets are cheaper as they fly at odd times.
- When I am new to the destination, I might have to hire a taxi if it is late at night and public transport is scarce, adding extra costs to my trip. We had to do that in Rome. All the tips I am mentioning here, are learned from personal experiences.
- When I am reaching somewhere late night, I cannot do anything in the city but I, of course, am still paying for the accommodation for that night. I would rather take an early morning flight (as we did for Nice and Reykjavik) so that I utilize the day (though outdoors) I am paying accommodation costs for. So, prefer to not take late night flights or add that extra night of accommodation costs while checking the air ticket prices.
So, these are my checklists to avoid hidden costs when booking an air ticket. How did you find the list? Have you started saving money for your travels? What special measures do you take to make your trips budget-friendly? Leave your amazing tips in the comments below 🙂
I work very hard for the little money I earn. I am sure you do that as well. Though I love traveling and new adventures, I DO NOT like throwing away my money for some pointless expenses. I don’t want you to do that as well. Travel is not free, but it does not have to be uselessly expensive. Smart travel is a real thing! Subscribe on And there she goes again for more advice related to all your travel questions. Do you have an unanswered question? Write back to me and I will answer that for you.
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