Is It Really Cheaper to Book the Cheapest Flights?

Cheap Flights?

We will have soon travelled from Stanstead Airport three times (Norway, Denmark and our upcoming trip to Slovakia).

As I tot up these uber cheap flights I am asking myself is it actually the bargain in which it seems?

Well firstly I will admit I am a Yorkshire Woman who stereo typically loves a bargain and any flight above £50 gets me shouting how much.

Ryanair flights from Stanstead absolutely draw me in with their bargains, but everything just adds up so quickly.  So I decided to do this page to actually put onto paper if it is worth travelling so far to an airport (172 Miles) just to get those lovely cheap flights?

172 Mile Journey South

So firstly as just mentioned the journey for us down to Stanstead is 172 Miles which our car does at 30mpg (average) and if diesel is at the current price of around £6.00 per gallon this gives you a total of around £68.80 in Diesel.  This would rise would there be slower traffic burning off more fuel.

Compare that with a to and from to our closest airport Leeds/Bradford which is a 36 Mile round trip and would cost just around £7.00 in diesel.

The Hotel @ Stanstead

For our first trip from Stanstead to Norway we didn’t need a hotel as it was en evening flight which was great.  We shot straight down the A1 on a Friday afternoon no problem at all.

Our second to Denmark however was at 7:05am (Read more here) so we needed to be going through customs etc at 5ish and really didn’t want to be setting off from Leeds at Midnight and going without sleep, so we checked into the Hilton.

We weren’t with the kids on this visit so the price was £67.20 for both of us whereas now getting quotes for our upcoming family trip with them the price for the same hotel is £105.00.

Were we to fly from Leeds or Manchester we definitely would not book a hotel.

However I do try and make the hotel part of the whole trip as it is a treat.

Car Parking

Parking compared between Leeds and Stanstead are pretty similar, but still a fairly large cost if you haven’t considered it earlier.

I’ve calculated it at around £8 per night so for our upcoming trip this would be £40 to add onto the cost.

The only way you can avoid this is getting a friend or relative to drop you at the airport and pick you up – which is possible if you live closer and will cost nothing if you are in and out in one hour.  Read more here.

Finally, the Extras

Ryanair is renound for the extras with Michael O Leary once saying your seats will be free if he starts charging people to spend a penny (i find him hilarious btw).

So you must consider everything wisely before booking.

Ryanair have now removed access to the overhead lockers if you haven’t paid £6 priority and you will get charged at the airport to put it in the hold.

Also when travelling with children you cannot complete the booking without buying designated seats – so is around £6 per adult extra.

There is a charge for everything so meticulously go through the permutations on the website to figure out the cost.

Our upcoming trip worked out at £136.42 for four people return with 2 x bags and seats paid for.


My final point is that money aside Stanstead offers a much wider variety of flights and Michael does tend to love getting airports in ever wackier places than my local airport which does appeal to my reckless adventurous side.


So to conclude our upcoming trip to Slovakia is going to cost around £562.79 (Flights, Parking, Diesel, Slovakian Hotel & Stanstead Hotel).

This equates to £140.69 Per Person for five nights in total.

The question is could I have managed to get £140.69 per person from Leeds or Manchester?

Well the quick answer is no, neither offer a flight to Slovakia – but for arguments sake had I being insistent on travelling somewhere new and cheap from either of these two airports lets see what I could have got.

Leeds offered Amsterdam at £79.00 per person to fly, which would take the total trip to £575.79 when reducing the diesel costs and requirement of a hotel airport.

Manchesters trip I would have chosen for us would have been Oslo which was priced at exactly the same as our Slovakian flights which would have taken the total trip to £395.75 when reducing the diesel costs and requirement of a hotel airport…..except it wouldn’t!

Accommodation in Oslo is very expensive so it would bump the hotel/airbnb up by around £100.00 – and as I have already been before I know the cost of food & drink in Norway is pricey which too would increase the cost of the trip.

Also going back to my variety paragraph – we have already been to Oslo (See here) and I wanted somewhere totally different.  So once again you are back at around the same figure.

Get Booking Those Flights!!!

I hope that offers some sort of mad light and reasoning to it all – more for myself actually….call it mathematical therapy….

Yes, the flights to Slovakia probably a little more expensive and inconvenient than journeys from our closest airports….

But that is the glorious fun of it all!

Fran x


About Frances Stoner 29 Articles
Mum of "The Traveling Family UK" - here there and everywhere - love life and living. I enjoy the odd (bucket of) wine and love trying new food. My kids drive me mad but keep me driven. My husband comes up with the ideas - I execute them - and him. Oh and my babies forever! Love them!


  1. “I wouldnt give Micheal ‘feckin O’Leary the reek off ma pish”. (Brian). He buys the cheapest dawn slots for departures, from the busiest airports, and, if you compare ‘like for like flights’ with other carriers, he comes nowhere near in terms of convenience, experience, or overall (fully accounted) cost. Ryanair certainly don’t want customers to do ‘the bottom line’, ‘cos if they did, Ryanair would be out of business.

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