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Travellers on a budget often consider charter flights, which are cheaper than scheduled airfares. Charter flights, though, are not as readily available as scheduled flights.
Instead of purchasing their ticket from the airline that runs the flight, travellers deal with travel and tour companies when buying charter flights. These companies charter or lease flights for special vacation packages that often include hotel and other extras. These travel packages are usually scheduled during peak travel periods and especially during the summer. In fact, many charter flights are available only during the summer between May and October. Others operate during the winter holidays from November to April catering especially to skiers.
Charter flights differ from flights offered by budget airlines in that the tour operator does not own any aircraft. Budget airlines operate similar to regular airlines but with less amenities and other cost-cutting measures in place to lower airfares. Charter flight operators utilize aircraft from other companies instead. For example, companies like Monarch Airlines, Air Manchester, Citelynx, Hangar 8, Thomas Cook Airlines, Titan Airways, SaxonAir, Air Scandic, and First Choice Airways are commonly used in the UK for charter flights.
A scheduled flight operates on routes according to a set schedule regardless of the number of passengers available. They are similar to public modes of transportation like train or bus services that pick up passengers on a regular basis. Because of the variation in passenger traffic, the scheduled airlines must compensate for aircraft with fewer passengers by raising the price of the ticket.
Charter flights, however, are able to offer cheaper fares because they book flights during peak season and at peak departure times. One characteristic of these flights is that they get cheaper as the departure date approaches as the tour operator wants to ensure the plane is as full as possible.
One disadvantage of charter operators is that they may cancel the flight if there are not enough passengers. When a flight is canceled, it can take much longer to find a replacement flight since the operator does not have scheduled flights available. Charter flights also tend to have fewer frills and may not provide the same quality of service as found on scheduled flights.
Some websites that allow cost comparison for charter and other low cost flights from the UK are:
• First Choice