Now that you have decided when to visit Ireland, the next step is to secure your plane ticket.
Whether you prefer direct flights, getting the cheapest airline tickets, or need seats grouped together, you'll find the flight tips you need for your Ireland vacation below.
Flight Tips for Your Ireland Vacation
Let me begin by saying that I am not a ‘flight hacker'. I don't play with miles or points as they can be restrictive and difficult to use. (My own opinion- I have friends who love accruing and using points.)
The tools I use are, by no means, the only online flight research options available, but they are the ones that consistently work for me.
Finding the Best Deals on Your Flight to Ireland
Ireland airfare can be expensive, especially if you're not flying from a major hub like New York, Boston, or Chicago. I use a few different tools to help me track flight prices:
This is my go-to and where I always begin my flight searches. I set airfare alerts for any route I may fly to help me keep track of rates. Another helpful tool is the flexible dates search, allowing you to see flight prices 3 days before and after your preferred travel dates.
How to set an Airfare Alert in Kayak (Instructions are based on desktop version of the software)
From the Kayak Flight page create an account (top right) then search for a flight below by inserting your preferred airports and dates.
Your options are shown by cheapest flights, best flights, and quickest routes available.
To the left of the results, at the top of the column, you will see the ‘when to buy' advice and the option to set a price alert directly below. Simply click the Price Alert button to set the alert.
If using the Kayak app search for your flight then click the bell icon at the top of the your screen to set the alert.
Be Aware of This Before Booking with Kayak
When looking at flight deals on Kayak you need to know where those deals are coming from. Often it is a 3rd party consolidator like JustFly, CleapOair, or Kayak itself.
I very rarely book with these sites- for one simple reason. If anything at all goes wrong before or during your flight, these flight consolidators are your travel agent. Often the airline can not help you. So if you miss a flight, need to re-book, or are issued a ticket with a mistake on it, you must go through the company that handled your initial booking. And that can be a trying, and sometimes costly, experience.
Instead, I will find the best deals then go directly to the airline's website to complete the booking. If the airline is listed as the best deal then I will click through via Kayak as I don't have to re-do the search.
I love this site. I recommend signing up for fare alerts from your chosen airport(s) to Dublin and Shannon. AirfareWatchdog will alert you when fares drop or sales happen. This is a great way to monitor flight prices.
The only downside is that you can not set a multi-city alert in Airfare Watchdog. So if you want to arrive in Dublin and depart from Shannon you would need to watch Arrival Deals and Departure Deals, which you can also set from the same page. Unfortunately you would get every deal for the airport you choose to watch, not just flights to your airport.
How to Set an Alert with AirfareWatchdog (instructions based on the desktop version of the software)
In the top navigation bar of the website click My Alerts and enter your email.
In the alerts page you can then watch a route. I recommend setting alerts for multiple routes.
An example: from my Midwest home I set alerts for Des Moines to Dublin, round trip; Minneapolis to Dublin, RT; Chicago to Dublin, RT; Des Moines to Shannon, RT; Minneapolis to Shannon, RT; and Chicago to Shannon, RT.
Remember this When Monitoring Routes with AirfareWatchdog
You can't set travel dates in AirfareWatchdog, so it will send a notification every time it finds a good deal. Sometimes these deals are limited or sold out by the time you click through. Often they are not for your travel dates. But I do find this to be a great resource for monitoring prices and helping you understand if you are getting a deal on airfare.
Aer Lingus is the National Carrier in Ireland. As Ireland tourism has expanded the airline has added new US gateways and international flights. Create a profile to receive their promotions and offers.
With Google Flights you can track prices and monitor both a date grid and price graph to help you find the least expensive dates to fly as well as see price trends for past and future flights. You can even check flights into nearby airports.
As when using Kayak, flights are often offered through a 3rd party consolidator. I recommend booking directly with the airline whenever possible.
Use a Search Engine
Search ‘flights to Ireland from (your airport)' in Google or Bing for quick fares.
A Good Travel Agent
If you aren't comfortable booking a flight online, or if you are booking for a group, a good travel agent is invaluable.
Often your travel agent will have access to special rates or consolidator pricing. And if you use a travel agent you have someone to handle any issues that may arise.
While a travel agent does charge service fees, they can be worth every penny in convenience and peace of mind.
Save or Share These Tips!
Before You Book Cheap Flights…
Many airlines offer multiple classes of seating. Basic Economy, Main Cabin, Premium Economy, Comfort +, Business Class, First Class… The names vary by airline and it can be difficult to know what you are getting.
Before you book the cheapest seats on the flight be sure you know what your purchase includes- and doesn't include. Often the basic economy seats don't include the ability to select your seat in advance or baggage.
Another thing in the fine print… the cheapest seats are often 100% non-refundable. So if you need to make a change or postpone your trip you won't be eligible for flight credit.
Read the terms and conditions and know exactly what you are getting before you purchase your flights – often the cheap airlines are not the best option
When to Purchase Your Flight to Ireland
I find that the ‘sweet spot' for purchasing flights to Ireland lies between 6-8 weeks prior to leaving. 56 days, according to this flight study my Momondo.
For many, that is cutting the purchase a bit too close for comfort so be sure to use the trackers from Kayak or Google to help you plan when you book your flights!
Tips to Help You Get the Best Airfare to Ireland
Unless your dates are set in stone, these tips may help you snag lower airfare.
- Be Flexible. Check a few days before and after your preferred travel dates; ticket prices can vary by a hundred dollars or more.
- Don't lock yourself into one carrier. Unless you're using frequent flier miles, or wanting to add to your miles, check all your options. Note: If you are planning to build your FF miles be sure your airline grants them if they book you on Aer Lingus. The last time we booked via American Airlines they put us on an Aer Lingus flight but did not credit the miles. Check partnerships.
- Discounts for Children. If you're traveling with children be sure to mention it; their flights can be discounted with certain carriers. You would need to call or book with a travel agent to take advantage of this.
- Book Round Trip. Multi-city flights or one-way bookings are generally more expensive.
- Considering Ireland vacation packages? Get my tips on how to choose the best Ireland vacation package for you.
Do you have a question about booking flights to Ireland or general Ireland vacation question? Please ask! Use the comments below and I will be thrilled to answer it!
How far will you drive to save money on flights? Tips to help you decide & save money on Ireland airfare.
Choosing an Ireland vacation package seems simple enough. You find a deal you like- be it self drive or guided- and make the purchase. Done. Ireland vacation booked and ready.
But it may not be so simple. Airline transfers, car rental, accommodations… they all play a role in the success of your vacation to Ireland.
“Do I need travel insurance for an Ireland vacation?” It's a question I receive often, and one that doesn't have the same answer for everyone as it has to do with risk, as well as figuring out the coverage you may already have.
A flight delay or cancellation is never fun but a little proactive action + a positive attitude can keep a bad situation from turning worse.
Long flights can be intimidating for families- especially if young children are in tow. No one wants to be “that family” on an 8 hour flight. A little planning, a bit of preparation and the right tools can make your flight enjoyable for everyone involved.
For many of us the flight to Ireland is long, includes at least one layover, and takes place overnight, ensuring a bright and early arrival on the Emerald Isle. While the majority of travelers to Ireland think quite a bit about what to pack, not as many think about where to pack it.
Unlike many international airports with many multiple terminals, the Dublin airport has two, aptly named Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Terminal 2, which opened in 2010, serves Aer Lingus, US carriers Delta, US Air, American Airlines, and United as well as Eitad and Emirates. All other airlines will arrive in Terminal 1.
If your Ireland travel plans include exploring the western coast, be sure to consider arrival or departure from Shannon Airport. Smaller than Dublin Airport, and less busy than even Cork Airport, Shannon Airport is a welcoming spot for arrival, and a relaxing departure point at the end of your Ireland vacation.