We receive many comments on our blog from northerners complaining that southerners have far more choice when it comes to airports and that it’s always cheaper to depart from London. Yet southerners tend to respond that demand is so high in their area that flights are often nearly sold out, resulting in higher prices in the end.
So, to put an end to the debate, we’ve done some research to find out who actually gets the cheapest airfares in the UK to five popular destinations.
And after a lot of number crunching* using our flight deals search tool, the results are in – find out if you’re a winner in the airport lottery!
Whether you’re heading to Marbs and Puerto Banus with the jet set, flying in to stay in your timeshare or villa, or simply enjoying the sheer value of the Costa del Sol, this is one of the busiest destinations for British holidaymakers.
As expected by many, Gatwick came out as the cheapest UK airport for this sunshine hotspot, although Birmingham and Leeds Bradford weren’t far behind. Unfortunately for Belfast (£156) and Cardiff (£158), flights moved from there started at above the £150 mark. Interestingly, London Heathrow (£193) was the most expensive place to fly from in the UK – a massive difference of £108 from the cheapest option at Gatwick.
The Canary Islands offer year-round sun and Tenerife is by far the busiest of these, with Brits flocking to enjoy some much-needed warmth. Plus, there are non-stop flights on offer from most UK airports, making it a great-value option for a break.
It’s a fairly close affair between the top three, with two London airports coming out with the cheapest fares. Birmingham was next in fourth, with £184, before the fares started to creep up over the £200 mark for other airports. This time Cardiff fared the worst on fares (£305). At a difference of £141 between the that and the cheapest price for London Gatwick, the cost is almost double.
Spain’s second city is one of the most popular destinations for a city break. Fascinating culture, great weather, a coastal location and, of course, excellent food make this a sure-fire winner for those looking for a cheeky getaway.
Once again, Gatwick reigns supreme for the lowest fares, but it’s not all plain-sailing for London airports. Stansted’s £218 average fare – the worst of the bunch – shows that the southern airports don’t always get it their own way. Between Gatwick and Stansted there was a difference of £133, highlighting the vast differences between airports that serve the same area.
Finally, some good news for poor Cardiff too, which came in joint third with a reasonable fare. Other notable performers in the race to Catalonia were northern airport Newcastle (£121) and Glasgow at £138.
A huge number of flights travel from the UK to New York, with more than 20 each day from London. OK, so some of those passengers are travelling on business, but many more are going to enjoy a slice of the Big Apple on the ultimate city break.
The top three unites north and south once again as two London airports and Manchester show the lowest fares for New York. Glasgow (£497) was next on the list, followed by Newcastle (£539).
Showing the difference between London airports once again, a flight from Stansted (£600) was over £200 more expensive than Gatwick. The most expensive fare, however, was Cardiff (£608), which was £222 more expensive than the cheapest fare.
Dubai has grown over the last decade into a must-go destination. Whether you’re attracted by the bling of high-end hotels, incredible shopping malls, local souks or an indoor ski slope as a contrast to the 40C temperatures outside, Dubai has it for you and more.
Heathrow came top with really low price, but these were achieved with connecting flights via Kiev – not the best option for everyone. Manchester came in second, Gatwick third, Birmingham fourth (£321), followed by Newcastle in fifth (£363). The most expensive fare was from London Stansted (£461), so once again there was huge disparity between London airports. This is a massive £156 more expensive than the cheapest fare we found at Heathrow.
If you have easy access to the six commercial airports operating with London in their title, you have a huge range of choice of departures and often some of the cheapest prices in the UK. At least one of the three London airports we looked at (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted), appeared in the top three for each destination. In fact, Gatwick and Heathrow claimed first place between them every time.
However, the overall average painted a slightly different picture. Stansted actually did the worst, due to expensive fares to Dubai and Barcelona, while Manchester and Birmingham came second and third respectively.
Of course, if you live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, then you are, more than likely, going to pay more. However, as our results show, the cheapest fares aren’t always from the south-east.
For the rest of us, let’s be honest – it is a longer flight to our favourite holiday destinations from most airports outside of the south, which pumps up prices due to extra fuel. Plus, with less competition, flights tend to book up more quickly and so fares rise.
|UK airport||Average price across 5 destinations|
The key to the regional lottery on prices is to compare more than one airport for your getaway. If you can travel cheaply by road, rail or air to a connecting airport then you could slash the costs of your flights. This is especially true for those looking to fly from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The extra effort may just be worth it the next time you book.
And, wherever you live, follow our seven simple tips to get the best deal on a flight.
* How did we work out the price averages?
For each destination we ran three searches using the TravelSupermarket flights tool from 10 airports across the UK on three different departure dates (July 2017, November 2017 and Easter 2018) and took the best price we could find on those dates for return flights with (some included changes, while others are direct). We then worked out an average price from the three fares.
Please note: All prices were checked on June 22, 2017 and are subject to change and availability. All prices for Malaga, Tenerife and Barcelona are hand luggage only, prices for New York and Dubai include one item of checked luggage. All prices are for one person paying by debit card.