How to Find Cheap Flights to London
With 15 million international tourists visiting the city each year, it's surprising how hard it can be to find cheap flights to London. But while we can't make any discount guarantees, there are a few strategies you might not have tried beyond the standard web search.
So you've done your Yapta or Kayak search and gotten a fair idea of what cheap flights to London look like. Persistence and flexibility are key here. Leave yourself a few days plus or minus leeway and be willing to take late night flights (those red-eyes everybody hates) and depart midweek (the cheapest flights are on these days), and you may find some surprisingly fortuitous fares. If not, check back in a few days or a week and see if tickets have gone up or down in price. It's important to leave plenty of time if you want to maximize the likelihood of getting really cheap tickets to London.
Time of Year
Keep an eye on the time of year if you're flexible. The best months of the year to get cheap flights to London are typically November, the first half of December (before the Christmas season kicks in), and the following January-February. Obviously, this puts you square in Winter's crosshairs, but London is rich with things to do and cosmopolitan enough that shouldn't be a problem.
Student, Youth, and Senior Discounts
Most major carriers (Southwest, American, Delta, United) offer discounts to senior citizens between 55 and 65 and up in addition to whatever deals you might be eligible for if you have AARP membership. Check for cheap tickets to London online first, then call the airline to ask for their senior rate and compare the two.
For students, websites like Student Advantage and Student Universe cater specifically to the college crowd, selling cheap flights earmarked for student travelers at a reduced price. Most will ask for verification that you're enrolled in an institution of higher learning, but Student Universe offers discounts regardless to anyone between the ages of 18 and 25.
Last Minute Tickets and Standby
By giving yourself plenty of lead time, you always make it easier to look for last minute ticket deals. These are fly-by-night offers that pop up with various airlines as they try to fill seats right before the departure date. There's no promise that you'll find a cheap flight to London that you can take, but it's worth keeping an eye out regardless.
Waiting for standby, on the other hand, is always a risk, especially when one is talking about international travel – the place where potentially long waits meet heavy luggage. But if you have the time and patience to spend, you can reap some serious benefits. Check with a standby agency to see about vouchers and potential seats on upcoming flights to London.
Photo by Stuart Window via Flickr