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How to get cheap flights on European budget airlines

Skyscanner gives you the lowdown on getting the best deals from Ryanair and easyJet

Two of Europe’s most popular discount airlines – Ryanair and easyJet – offer some amazing deals, but if you don’t plan ahead you could pay more than you bargained for. Here are Skyscanner‘s top tips for getting the cheapest flights.

1. Book well ahead

The closer you get to take-off, the more expensive seats become; so it really pays to book as early as you can. Both Ryanair and easyJet offer seat sales at the same time they release details of flights for upcoming seasons, such as summer or winter. These sales can begin 6 or even 10 months before the flights commence.You could keep checking their websites but it’s much easier to allow them to tell you when the sales are on- sign up for Ryanair Sale Alerts through their website and easyJet’s AirMail.

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2. Choose the best flying time

Tickets are usually cheaper if you fly during the weekdays rather than on weekends. Peak holiday periods are usually more expensive too, so consider flying during other periods. July and August are the peak summer months. Flying in peak periods usually mean that you will have to pay more for checked bags during these months too.

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3. Travel light and check your bags in online

Both airlines make a lot of money from passengers who want to check their luggage into the hold or who have hand luggage that is over size. If you need to put a bag in the hold then Ryanair will charge between £15 and £25 for a bag weighing 15kg or less, depending on the season. If your bag weighs more than the limit, you will be charged an extra £10 per kilogram. During the peak summer season the airline allows you to take a 20kg bag for £25 each way. If you decide to check in a bag at the desk you will be charged up to £40 extra for a 15kg bag or £50 for a 20kg bag. easyJet allows you to take a 20kg bag onboard but charges you between £11 and £21 per bag if you check in online, £30 at the check in desk, or £45 at the gate.

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4. Watch that hand luggage

easyJet allows you to take one small bag or suitcase of any weight into the cabin. If it’s 50 x 40 x 20cm, or less, including handles and wheels, the airline guarantees it will travel with you in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you. If it’s larger than that but under the maximum cabin bag size of 56 x 45 x 25cm (including handles and wheels), it might be put in the hold if the flight is busy- you won’t be charged for this though. It also allows you to take onboard a standard-size duty free bag.

Meanwhile, Ryanair allows you to take a small bag weighing less than 10kg onboard, as long as it measures 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. It also allows another small bag of up to 35 x 20 x 20 cms.

Be warned: both airlines strictly enforce hand luggage sizes (and weights if applicable). Ryanair will charge you 50 Euros or £50 to put your hand luggage in the hold if it is oversize or over weight; easyJet will charge you £45 if it is found to be oversize at the departure gate.

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lugage can cost you on Ryanair and easyJet

5. Just sit anywhere

While on the websites, you will come across other ways that Ryanair and easyJet will try to use to make you pay more money. Both airlines now allocate you with seat numbers but if you want to sit next to someone special, or want to sit next to the window, you might be tempted to pay extra.

Ryanair charges £5 if you prebook a regular seat, or £10 for a ‘premium seat’, which either is close to the front of the plane or has extra legroom. Easyjet charges between 5 and 18 Euros. If you want to get on before everyone else on a Ryanair flight then Speedy Boarding will cost you another £2. With easyJet you get speedy boarding when you reserve (and pay extra for) a seat online.

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Ryanair offers cheap flights if you plan ahead

6. And forget about all the other extras

It will cost you even more if you want to want to recieve a SMS with your flight details, food or entertainment onboard, sports equipment, a baby seat or a musical instrument.

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Use Skyscanner to browse Ryanair flights and routes and easyJet flights and routes. Find the lowest prices and most convenient Ryanair and easyJet flight times.