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I have been flying with Wizzair, Ryanair and Easyjet for some time already and have found that there is really a lot to be learned about how to achieve the lowest prices. It was not uncommon for me to buy Ryanair tickets for €20 Euros and come next day to find out that they are for €10. Or to fly home on the 23rd of December for €50 with Wizzair even though the starting price was €100 for all flights around Christmas.

Some of my strategies include buying in the middle of the week and having a diversified set of credit cards to avoid currency-exchange/booking charges (e.g. Mastercard Prepaid for Ryanair). What tricks do you use?

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I was thinking about scraping ryanairs every night site to get ticket trends but it is of course against their terms of use. –  froderik Feb 12 '12 at 9:56
    
Not always midweek. Flying out of the business-oriented London City Airport (LCY), tickets tend to be cheap on Saturday mornings (it's closed for 24 hours from Saturday lunch times). Not Ryanair prices, but competitive and a decent experience. (Not necessarily returning to the same airport. I've done LCY->AMS/AMS->LGW, LCY->ANR/BRU->LHR, coming up LCY->ZRH/FCO->BHX and probably another that I forget.) –  Tom Hawtin - tackline Feb 14 '12 at 13:11
    
I'm not sure about the site policies. Let me know if it's too general. I think my explanation and examples should make it clear why this is not an overly broad question. –  Szabolcs Mar 13 '12 at 8:26
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aside, Kayak DOES search RyanAir (I just checked with a London to Oslo flight), and fairly sure it does WizzAir (indeed a quick google reveals it does). It doesn't always catch their specials tho - same with any airline :/ –  Mark Mayo Mar 13 '12 at 8:53
    
Have a look at travel.stackexchange.com/q/2250/101 and see if you can let us know why yours differs? To me it feels like a pretty close match. Also a glance at travel.stackexchange.com/q/77/101 may give you some solutions. –  Mark Mayo Mar 13 '12 at 8:54

2 Answers 2

  • Ryanair allegedly shows different prices to based on your previous visit / search history to give you the illusion that cheap tickets are running out. Clearing your cookies or visiting the site in incognito / private mode can show you the truly cheapest price they have.
  • Flying out in the middle of the week is a good strategy for almost any kind of air travel. Of course, that's not always possible and sometimes you do have to fly on weekends. On those occasions, try to structure your flights in such a way that you catch the flights with low load factors. Say there's a football match in Germany on a Sunday and you're flying out of London. Then you can be certain that flights to that city on Friday / Saturday to that city will be expensive, and the same for flights returning from there to London on Sunday. This is just an example but it's valid for many scenarios. Which direction of travel sees more traffic on any given date? Then avoid that day and choose something else.
  • Following the above point, learn to do a 'broad search' for flights. Sites like SkyScanner, Kayak's Explore and many others can show you trends in where flight prices are heading. Both SkyScanner as well as Kayak show fare graphs of price trends (on Kayak, this is available under the link 'Fare Graph' after you have searched for a flight.)
  • Mixing airlines, i.e., flying one airline one-way and another on the return journey. This is valid mostly for low-cost airlines since with them, it doesn't matter whether you book one-way or return flights - the price will always be the same. (With full-cost airlines, one-way tickets get charged a premium; return flights are cheaper.) So for instance if you know both Ryanair and Easyjet fly a particular route, add them up individually to see whether booking separate one-way tickets with them is cheaper.
  • Sometimes, it is worth checking fares on standard airlines too and not just low-cost ones! This is especially true closer you book to the date of departure. Low cost airlines can sometimes be costlier than discounted tickets from a full-service flight (once you factor in that you'll be paying extra for luggage as well as booking fees).
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+1, especially for the last point. –  user766 Feb 13 '12 at 13:48
    
I really didn't know the first point (one can find more ryanair tips in the comments of the first link), I don't know if legal/still used but I'll definitly try to go on Ryanair in "porn-mode". Thanks for a good answer for a good question. –  Josay Feb 13 '12 at 21:05
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I've also noticed (wasn't able to prove this) that checking Ryanair's site on the weekend gives you lower prices. Several times I've decided not to fly because the price went too high when I checked it on a business day, then rechecked it when I had nothing to do on the weekend and it was significantly lower. –  Alan Mendelevich Feb 24 '12 at 13:59
    
Ticket price change based on websites has been reported to happen. There was a lot of discussion some time ago about this kind of practices. Currently afaik that is not being used by any company. If you want to check if there is price adjusting based on visits just ask a frient to do the same simulation as you're doing. –  nsn Feb 28 '13 at 18:14

I've faced this same problem before. I spent 5 years in Europe, and traveled quite extensively. Navigating RyanAir's website can only get you so far (literally). Once I learned about other cheap airlines, I tried to figure out the best way to ENSURE I was finding the cheapest flight.

I wish I could tell you "use Kayak" or something, but as far as I know, there is no catch-all tool. The best tip I could give you is this:

Choose your destination, look up all the airports within an acceptable distance, and navigate the airport's website for what airlines it serves. From there, you can start down the path of identifying those airlines that best suit your needs, and your pocket book. Remember, a lot of destinations have multiple airports, and most cheap airlines serve the "b" and "c" airports.

For example: want to head to Berlin? Searching Berlin's 3 airports for airlines they service will lead you to AirBerlin. A large percentage of AirBerlin flights are very comparable in price to RyanAir, and they flight to a ton of destinations. If you are like me, you've heard of RyanAir, but not of AirBerlin, so mission accomplished.

Another tip: When you are on an airport's website, look for transfer busses that get you into the city on the cheap. For instance, flying RyanAir into Frankfurt actually lands you about an hour's drive from Frankfurt. There is a bus that will take you into Frankfurt proper for just a few Euro.

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Could you give an example why kayak is not enough to catch all the flights? I have been using this website religiously to buy my flights, probably I've done it wrong. –  dresden Apr 12 at 12:16
    
@dracc: sure, try searching Kayak for a multi-city flight along this path: BOG -> CTG -> PTY -> BZE -> SFO. As of June 2nd 2014, Kayak's cheapest flight is $1790, while Taca's is $1630. –  Dan Dascalescu Jun 3 at 0:53

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