The wonderful world of airfares

Exams are over! It’s that wonderful time of the year when the weather is guaranteed to be awful, people are guaranteed to be either drunk or swearing they’ll never drink again in their lives (and go out anyway) and daytimes are guaranteed to be filled with a confused sense of emptiness now that it isn’t wholly occupied by revision and eating fish fingers every day because that’s the only thing I’ve got left in my freezer and if I go to ASDA I might just kill someone in a fit of stress-induced rage! Ah, to be a student! As I’m sat here it’s absolutely tipping it down outside and I’m really bored, so I thought I’d impart some of my nerdy plane knowledge on you, my highly limited yet surprisingly geographically-widespread audience.

still haven’t found out where I’m going yet (hint hint, Saxony!) but as August grows ever closer I need to start thinking about my flight over there. The trouble with living that far east is that direct flight options from the UK are limited to flying with Ryanair to Leipzig and not much else. That’ll be great if I’m anywhere near it but Leipzig is right in the western corner of Saxony which isn’t ideal if I’m somewhere like Görlitz or Hoyerswerda in the east. Going to Berlin with either BA, easyJet or Ryanair is another option, but that then involves hauling 2 massive suitcases all over the east German railway network to get to where I need to be. Dresden is a much better choice because it’s central but the problem is there’s only 1 direct flight from the UK, with CityJet from London City which is a right pain in the arse to get to because it’s in Central London.

The best option then is Lufthansa, from Birmingham and via Frankfurt. Happy that I’d found a decent solution I checked some airfares – you can imagine my reaction when this came up!

There used to be a picture of the quote that they gave me here, which was €1000 for a one-way ticket!

And here’s the bit of nerdy plane knowledge: airlines go weak at knees when they spot someone booking a one-way ticket because they’re a license to print money. As someone moving on their year abroad, you’re not price-sensitive Brian and Debbie from Essex looking for 2 weeks on the Costa Del Sol on the cheap, you’re looking for a reliable method of getting you and all your things from A to B (and not back again after 2 weeks of being culturally inquisitve), and the airlines know it. There are exceptions, but generally one-way tickets, especially with more than 1 flight like Birmingham-Frankfurt-Dresden, are a lot more expensive. Here’s how you beat them at their own game:

(There used to be 2 pictures of the quote that Lufthansa gave me here but it seems someone in the powers-that-be had other ideas!)

Buy a return. I’ve speculated a random date in June 2014 when I might be coming home at the end of my year abroad and hey presto, the result is a good £500 cheaper. And with this kind of fare, changing the flight back to the UK if you decide you want to stay a bit longer (or indeed come home as quickly as possible!) only costs €60 which still leaves €440 in your pocket and not in Lufthansa’s. So the moral of the story? Play around, see if a return is cheaper than a one-way, see if different departure airports throw up different results and generally make the airlines drag your money from you kicking and screaming! They will sometimes be really sneaky at trying to get more money out of you than would otherwise be the case, and it’s up to you to catch them out and beat them at their own game.


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