Thanks to the take-off of budget flights in recent years, it’s never been easier or cheaper to visit Central America with the whole family.
And, of course, the great benefit of low cost airlines is that you only pay for what you need, so they’re ideal for shorter journeys where you and your family just want to get to your destination without paying for in-flight meals, movies or any other frills.
But there are tricks that will keep you one step ahead and help you avoid paying extra charges. Here are a few tips to get you started:
• Always print out your boarding pass before you jet off. Even if your printer isn’t working, it’s often cheaper to use a library or internet café instead of paying at the airport for not having your boarding pass.
• Only take hand luggage – almost no airlines currently charge for hand luggage, although that may change in the future. Check size restrictions before you travel, but, generally, you’ll be fine with up to 10kg. The good news is that more suitcases are now specifically designed to meet hand luggage limits. But it’s always worth weighing your luggage at home – don’t assume! And be ruthless with your packing.
• If you are checking in baggage, bear in mind that members of the same family can’t always share baggage allowances, and young children don’t get their own baggage allocation.
• Avoid charges by checking in online rather than at the airport. However, some airlines, in-cluding Flybe, don’t charge for checking in, either online or at the airport.
• If you wish, remember you have the option of taking your own snacks and drinks, which will save money, especially for larger families.
• Want everyone to sit together? If seats are unassigned, show up at the airport as early as you can to increase your chances. Booking online and in good time will also get you your places together if seats are assigned at check-in stage. Some families may find that paying for priority boarding is worth the extra expense.
• Sometimes the charges for booking flights over the phone can be quite steep, and the phone numbers given expensive to use. If at all possible, make the most of the Internet, both to book your ticket and to communicate with your airline.
• Think about how you pay – while many airlines now allow you to pay for your flight with a debit card without incurring extra charges, you may have to shell out more if you make your reservation with a credit card. Check before you book.
Probably the best tip, though, is to make sure you have calculated the total cost for your tickets with all applicable fees and taxes and other charges before you confirm your flights, so that you’ve taken all the extras into account.
But, with so many chances now to travel with your family cheaply, low cost airlines can bring you the world with big savings. Equally, there’s now more choice than ever of departure points and destinations, even from places like Britain’s East Midlands airport and other regional travel hubs.
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