Travelling by plane is a popular method of transit thanks to its speediness and efficiency, however, all too often passengers find themselves faced with unexpected costs. As the budget offering of airlines increases, as does the need to pay for additional things such as check-in and packing. Luckily the experts at The Points Guy UK spoke with express.co.uk to offer their ultimate guide to saving money while you fly.
Exchanging your travel money
Customers can get caught out when exchanging travel money, not only due to fluctuating exchange rates but also due to admin fees charged by certain bureau de changes.
“When exchanging your money, remember that offers the worst exchange rates so either change your currency before you get to the airport, or use a card that offers 0 percent foreign transaction fees for both purchases and ATM withdrawals,” suggests Nicky.
Travellers are always advised to keep an eye on political developments both at home and in their destination country and these can impact the rate of exchange.
Exchanging money in advance of a major political development can bode well for travellers.
Additionally, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis always recommends planning in advance and opting for a credit card designed specifically for overseas spending.
“If you normally spend abroad on debit or credit cards, while the providers get near-perfect rates, most add an up to three percent‘ non-sterling exchange rate fee’ on top – meaning something that costs £100 costs you £103,” Lewis says.
“Yet specialist overseas credit cards don’t add that fee, so you get the same near-perfect exchange rate as the providers – smashing bureau de change – in every country, every time you go away.
“Just ensure you pay the card off in full each month to minimise the interest.”
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Even at the airport, additional costs can appear seemingly from nowhere.
“Another thing to keep in mind when booking last minute is to familiarise yourself with the airline’s fare and other policies so you don’t show up at the airport and get hit with an outlandish fee just because you weren’t aware of the protocol,” says Nicky.
“For example, low-cost airlines charge extortionate fees to print a boarding pass at the check-in desk.”
Passengers flying with Ryanair can face a charge of up to £55 if they do not check-in using the airline’s app before arriving at the airport.
If the departure airport isn’t in the UK, the fee is €55 (around £48).
If you have checked in but have forgotten to print your boarding pass, you are charged a boarding card reissue fee of £20.
Furthermore, passengers who hope to avoid a random seat allocation will also have to fork out at the airport.
Ryanair, Jet2 and easyJet are all renowned for making passengers pay to select their seats, plus an additional fee is required for seat upgrades including more legroom.
Hand luggage and checked bags
Unsurprisingly, most airlines carry their own policies surrounding hand luggage and checked baggage allowance.
Passengers who hope to check bags or who go above the permitted hand luggage maximum can face eye-watering costs.
Luckily, Nicky has his own top tips for making sure you stay well within your packing limits.
“Always be fully aware of baggage limits and charges. Think ahead, because it’s always so much cheaper to pay for extra bags or weight ahead of time than at the airport.
“Have the right size bag for the cabin. EasyJet and BA allow a wider bag for example than most airlines. Don’t get caught out by this if you make a connection,” he states.
“Travel as light as possible, wear heavy coats or jumpers and only take mini toiletries that are suitable for your length of trip.
“Downsize on items to really maximise weight and space.
“Swapping big over-ear headphones for small earbuds, and large coats for warm down jackets that can be stuffed into tiny spaces can make a big difference when space is at a minimum.”
Experts from The Points Guy UK also point out some additional hacks to help passengers with strategic packing.
Packing cubes are fabric compartments that can be slotted into a suitcase and help divide up the contents in a more organised fashion.
“Packing cubes can help you carefully pack your suitcases and travel better in a number of ways,” say the experts.
“Whether you’re an expert traveller or packer or someone who rarely goes on holiday, packing cubes can benefit everyone.
“But they can be especially helpful if you want to fit as much as possible in a carry-on. Using compression cubes when travelling on low-cost carriers with size limits means you can put in all your clothes then zip the compression cube, which will shrink it into a more manageable size, allowing you to fit more in.”
Ultimately, it all comes down to planning, as the experts conclude: “Having a seamless airport experience is sometimes beyond our control, but organising ahead of time, coming prepared and having all the right items with you will help you get through your airport experience like a pro .”