Travel insider: saving a packet on long-haul flights

Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30

When it comes to long-haul flights, we love the shortest route. Nobody enjoys being cooped up in cattle class for longer than they have to be. But did you know that adding one extra stop to your trip could save you hundreds of euro on a transatlantic holiday? Here’s my logic: Right now, Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) has a North American Summer Sale with direct flights starting from ‘ 245 each way – for travel from April 1 to September 30, if booked before February 15. Those are the lead-in rates. Dublin to Orlando will set you back at least ‘ 305 each way, or ‘ 610 return, for example.

By contrast, American Holidays (americanholidays.com) has a family package including return flights and seven nights’ accommodation at the Rosen Inn at Point Orlando from ‘ 529pp in May. That’s over ‘ 80 per person cheaper than the flights alone with Aer Lingus. Why? Because the package uses one-stop flights, typically with American or British carriers via London, Atlanta or New York. Tour operators like Sunway (sunway.ie), Tour America (touramerica.ie) and American Sky (americansky.ie) also use roundabout routes to lower package costs. Direct transatlantic travel is booming out of Ireland right now, and prices are premium for a reason.

Demand is strong, travel is faster and, in Dublin or Shannon, you get the added bonus of US Customs and Border Protection Pre-clearance… meaning less hassle at the other end. But it’s not the only option. The indirect route takes a few hours longer, but the bill can be a heck of a lot lower.

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Fancy hitting Las Vegas for Conor McGregor’s UFC Lightweight title bout on March 5? At the Discount Holidays © Holiday World exhibition last weekend, one tour operator told me that the MMA star had driven a 35pc increase in bookings to Sin City last year, and the signs are good for 2016 too. Tour America (touramerica.ie) and Sunway (sunway.ie) have three-star packages including flights from ‘ 629pp, while clickandgo.com has four-star packages from ‘ 645pp. All prices are based on indirect flights, and do not include fight tickets.

NB: All prices subject to availability.

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Aer Lingus isn’t the only airline with a sale at the moment. Trailfinders (trailfinders.ie) has summer business class seats with Delta to New York from ‘ 979pp, if booked before February 2 (it also has sale prices for American Airlines and BA). It’s not all about the flights, either. Tour America’s cruiseholidays.ie has a family offer bundling return flights to Orlando, car hire, seven nights in Orlando and seven nights on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas from ‘ 1,229pp, based on four sharing (Ref: 504627). The package is available in April.

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