What are charter flights?

The aviation industry is a very complex business. And to make sure that you get the best deal on your holidays, it's important to understand some of the basic principles involves. Here we take a look at charter flights, and consider the ways in which they differ from scheduled flights.

The difference between charter flights and scheduled flights

Scheduled flights are those which fly to a regular time table, usually all year round but occasionally seasonal on some routes. You can book these flights directly with the airline or through a travel agent. Examples of scheduled flight airlines include British Airways, Aer Lingus, BMI and Virgin.

Chartered flights are flights that are contracted by a travel agent. They often only operate certain routes during peak holiday season, and can normally only be booked through the travel agent that charters the flights. Examples of charter flight airlines include Thomas Cook and Thomson Air.

Which one is a better option for travellers?

There are advantages and disadvantages of booking either type of flight. Scheduled flights tend to be more reliable - they will almost always operate, even if most of the seats are empty. Chartered flights, on the other hand, are more likely to be cancelled if not enough people book tickets - and cancellation can often occur at the last minute, leaving very disappointed passengers.

Charter flights can offer greater flexibility, allowing you to fly directly to destinations from your local airport. Scheduled flights do not usually offer such choice and you'll often have to fly indirect to get to your destination.

Charted flights tend to be cheaper than scheduled flights, especially when booked in a package with the travel agent. And while scheduled flights tend to get more and more expensive as the departure date approaches, seat prices on charter flights will often stay the same. Some travel agents will also offer last minute bargains on chartered flights.

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