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Thursday 25 June 2009

Who Flew Cheaper?

Recently I noted that the carrier advertising its flights with the strapline “fly cheaper” – Ryanair – was not the least cost solution for a trip I was making. So where was I going, and who came out best?

The destination – Prague – was the easy part. Finding a convenient departure airport in the North West, and relatively sane flight times, was less so. I try and confine myself to day flights, with the airport accessible by civilised means – meaning rail connected, or with a nearby railhead. That, for me, means Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.

Given that Prague continues to be a popular city break destination, it may surprise some that neither Ryanair nor EasyJet fly there from Liverpool. EasyJet fly from East Midlands, but that would mean driving, and the flight times are crap. However, Ryanair fly from Birmingham, with sensible flight times. So, as I posted previously, I was about to book with them when put off by having to pay a ten quid supplement merely for booking with a debit card. That pushed the total to 102.41.

Did anyone else fly that route? Yes, and it was my tiny friend with the seat surcharge, BMIBaby. Initially sceptical – though the flight times were good – I went through the booking and was pleasantly surprised to find the total cost was rather less than Ryanair, at 75.46. Like the in-flight mag says, Yeah Baby!

The only extra was the need to find an Internet cafe in Prague to print out my boarding pass for the return flight, but at a cost of 20 Koruna (about 60p), this was not bank breaking. Also, the aircraft provided was a 500 series 737, rather better than the 300 I flew on to Alicante in March.

I’m sure that Ryanair will point out that they do seat sales and other offers, and that it’s possible to get yet cheaper deals with them, but these were the prices quoted for outward travel on 15 June and return on 19 June. Perhaps the debit card supplement is lower for Ryanair’s own card – but to me such a consideration is irrelevant. There is one straightforward message here: shop around.

And yes, BMIBaby were on time both ways, too.

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