We get this question on a daily basis, so we thought it would be a good idea to put together a nice long post on the best ways to get cheap airfare to London.
Traveling to London from the USA is an expensive trek, not matter what class you travel. But there are things you can do to get a cheap ticket to London from the USA.
Depending on what major airline gateway city you’re in, expect to pay between $700-$1500 for a roundtrip ticket to London in economy class. There used to be days when you could fly to Britain for $4-500 – but those days are long gone mostly due to increased government taxes (UK taxes mostly) and fuel surcharges.
So, time to get out a pen and a legal pad and find your cheap ticket to London!
Bumper Season is your Friend
The most expensive time to travel to London is the summer. The summer season starts in about Mid-way and continues until Early September, other than the 2 weeks around Christmas, this will be the most expensive time to travel to London. So, don’t go this time of year. Summer is a bad time of year to spend in London anyway – for various reasons (too hot, too crowded, etc).
So, the first step in planning a trip to London on a budget is to not go in the summer and plan your trip for the late Winter/Spring or the Fall/Winter. London is beautiful in the springtime as well as the fall.
Not choosing to go in the summer will save you 50% or more on your airfare.
Wait for a London Airfare Sale
If you’re patient about booking your trip, subscribe to email updates from your favorite airlines and travel websites, they’ll notify you when there’s a sale on tickets to London.
Usually you can expect a London Airplane Ticket sales on the following times of year:
- After Christmas/New Year’s in January
- Late spring/Early Summer
- Before Thanksgiving or Black Friday
If you can, fly direct to London from your nearest Gateway City. Many people say you save money by being more flexible with your itinerary, but the added inconvenience of having to connect in another city doesn’t really save you any money and in some cases can cost you even more.
Some people like to fly the major European carriers to their hubs in Continental Europe (like Paris, Amsterdam, etc). Unless you’re flying for free using airmiles, this is not the way to go and will only make your travel time to London longer.
Yes, I know in some cases you can save a few bucks by travelling with connections, but the savings don’t usually outweigh the time costs in taking advantage of them.
Airlines offer the cheapest airfares during the middle of the week, with Wednesday being the cheapest day to travel. So, we try to plan our trips to start on a Wednesday and return on a Wednesday. But you can also book cheaply on Tuesday or Thursday. Travel gets more expensive the closer you get to the weekend.
Monitor Airfares Constantly
We use services like Yapta and Airfare Watchdog to keep an eye on airfares for certain times of year. They’ll trend airline prices for you and notify you when prices go down and there’s a good deal to have. Best of all, these services are completely free.
Check with your favorite airline first
If you have a preferred airline for flying to Britain, then by all means check with their website first and price out your trip. It costs nothing to do this and its easy with most airlines. We prefer to fly British Airways, so we always check with them first.
This is a great way to set a baseline for how much your trip is going to cost. Get the cost of your ticket(s) and then move on to the next step of searching other airlines. Be sure to write down the price as you can compare later once we get more airfares.
Also, some airlines give you a discount if you book with them – for example British Airways offers a $20 discount if you sign up for an account on their site. So check their website for any special deals.
British Airways has a handy cheap airfare finder that lays out airfares of the year.
Try out Hipmunk.com
Hipmunk.com is one of the newer airfare comparison engines and it has a bunch of great ways to plan a trip. You can browse airfares by the cheapest or you can browse by agony (number of connections and travel time).
Usually you can find the cheapest ticket pretty quickly and then you’ll be sent to book directly with the airline or one of the major online booking engines.
Hipmunk also has a hotel booking engine as well to help you find a nice hotel at a good price. Once you’ve got a couple good prices, write them down with the other airfare you collected.
After checking Hipmunk, check out Kayak.com which is another comparison engine. You may not find anything good since Hipmunk uses a lot of the same sources. But it’s always a good idea to check both sources. You might find a golden nugget.
Be sure to write down any more airfares you find that are good.
CheapOair.com is another great source for good airline deals. They often have deals that are unpublished anywhere else. Sometimes they’ll even have a ‘mystery airline’ with a crazy cheap price. The downside is that you don’t know what airline you’ll be flying until much later and sometimes you need to act quickly to snag the deal.
CheapOair.com also regularly has coupons to give you a discount when you book.
Do a quick Google search and see if you can find a coupon or a discount code for any of the airlines or travel booking sites you found. Most airlines won’t but you never know. Some of the major travel websites like Orbitz, Priceline or Travelocity might have a coupon.
Time to really Compare
Once you’ve written down all the best airfares and airlines you could find, it’s time to compare. Which one is the cheapest and least painful?
That’s your ticket!
Once you’ve found the right ticket – it’s time to take the plunge and book your trip. Oftentimes, if you’d found a great deal, you should take advantage of it right away because the next day it could be gone. We’ve lost out on many trips to London because we waited to long to book.
Do you have any London planet ticket booking tips? Let us know in the comments!