Our travel experts are here to answer your questions about booking flights online. And one of the questions that we are currently asked most is: “When will Easyjet and Ryanair release their summer 2016 flights?”
Neither airline displays this information on its website – you either have to experiment by clicking on various dates or you can sign up to their email newsletters. Ryanair displays some months on its website – but when visitors try to book on those dates it merely shows the flights as unavailable with no further explanation. At least Easyjet saves you the bother by not displaying the months.
You can also use this site to find answers to a range of questions about booking flights online. We tell you how far in advance to book flights to get the best fares, and the best day of the week to book flights in order to get the lowest prices.
You may be surprised by the results. For example, did you know that some fares are cheaper in the evening than in the morning, or that flying on a Tuesday is generally cheaper than flying on a Wednesday or Thursday? Also, if you are quoted a fare in December it may be worth waiting until early January because it may be discounted.
There are a number of ways that consumers can be tripped up booking flights online. Many people are unaware that if they book a flight and accommodation separately their holiday is not protected. So if something goes wrong – for example, the airline goes bust or the hotel closes unexpectedly – they won’t get a full refund. Nor can they expect to be repatriated in the event of a disaster (such as the Iceland volcano cloud).
The answer is to book a package holiday, and this can be a good idea if you’re travelling to a popular destination for 7 or 14 nights. In some cases the whole package will not be much more expensive than the price of the flights. Normally, when you book a package holiday, it will be protected in law, so long as your tour operator has an ATOL or is part of a similar protection scheme. You will also get a complete refund if the holiday company goes bust, and if there is a problem with a flight or hotel, they will find you an alternative.
Previously, you would only get this protection if you bought flights and accommodation or car hire as part of a package. But from April 2012 the law was changed so that you’re covered if you buy both elements from the same company within a 24 hour period.
If you’re booking flights with airlines such as Ryanair you will be hit with a premium to pay by credit card. However, it’s a good idea to swallow this extra cost, because – providing the total paid is £100 or more – this gives you extra added protection. Under the Consumer Credit Act, the card issuer is equally liable if something goes wrong, so if the airline goes bust it will provide a full refund of your flights. See our frequently asked questions about Ryanair.
Our experts will continue to add useful articles to this website, and to provide answers to your queries. Subjects covered will be include how to get the best deals from charter airlines, and full-service airlines and how to get upgrades. You can contact us with your questions.
* Mark Hodson is a Sunday Times Travel writer and co-founder of 101 Holidays.