As we mentioned in a recent post regarding finding cheap World Cup airfare to South Africa from Europe, one of the travel tips you’ll hear repeatedly when it comes to looking for cheap flights is to look at all area airports available to you. Most of the time when people offer that piece of advice, they’re referring specifically to the airports at your destination if your destination (it’s especially true if your destination is a bigger city). But when it comes to finding the best deals on airfare from Europe to South Africa, you should be looking at all airport alternatives on both ends of your trip.
In this article, we’re going to look at a few of the main airports in the UK and what your options are for flying from them to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. If you’re not in the UK, or your home airport isn’t covered below, you’ll still be able to utilize the tips listed below. Why? Because most of the airports listed below don’t have direct flights to South Africa! Getting to South Africa could require a bit of creativity on your part, but you might be surprised by what you could save just by travelling in a slightly non-traditional way.
>> Although this article is going to focus on departure airports in the UK, be sure to also read this article about the South Africa airports in World Cup cities to know what your alternatives are for arrival airports, too.
Flying from London to South Africa
The vast majority of travellers coming from the UK to the World Cup in South Africa will likely pass through London at some point – even if they fly from elsewhere in the UK, long-haul flights like the ones to South Africa usually depart from big hub airports. Luckily, in London there are a few to choose from.
- Heathrow – London Heathrow Airport is the biggest airport in the UK and the busiest on earth when it comes to international passengers. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and South African Airways fly from Heathrow to Johannesburg, and South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic also fly to Cape Town. But while you’re likely to find lots of options when it comes to getting from Heathrow to South Africa, you might not find the best prices.
- Gatwick – Gatwick Airportoffers more flights on budget airlines than Heathrow does, but unfortunately doesn’t offer any flights directly to either Cape Town or Johannesburg. You could look at getting creative with your route and flying through a big hub like Dubai from Gatwick, but you’d have to get a spectacular deal on your flight from Gatwick to Dubai to make the hassle worthwhile.
- Stansted – Stansted Airport is even more popular with budget carriers, but not only doesn’t offer flights to Johannesburg or Cape Town – there aren’t even any flights to Dubai! You’d have to do some very creative booking, indeed, to fly from Stansted to South Africa (without stopping at Heathrow first!).
London’s other two airports, Luton and London City, also don’t have services to South Africa. So although they’re aces for budget flights throughout Europe, they’re not going to help you get directly to the World Cup. It’s still worth looking around, however, because if you find a super bargain price on a flight to South Africa from (let’s say) Paris or Amsterdam, any one of London’s smaller airports could get you from London to that hub easily and cheaply.
Flying from Manchester to South Africa
Manchester Airport ranks only behind London’s five in terms of passenger traffic in the UK, but getting from Manchester to South Africa is going to take the same kind of creative thinking you’d use if you were flying out of one of London’s smaller airports. While there are no direct flights to South Africa from Manchester, Emirates does operate flights to Dubai and many airlines (including many budget carriers) serve other big hubs in Europe – such as Paris, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt.
If you find that there are cheaper flights available from another major city in Europe than there are from Manchester or London, then your only hurdle is finding a cheap flight from where you are to that major city. And with the many budget flights from Manchester into Europe, that shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Flying from Birmingham to South Africa
Like Manchester, Birmingham has only one airport – but it happens to be served by quite a number of budget airlines. So getting from Birmingham to places throughout Europe (and many beyond as well) on the cheap is no problem whatsoever. But, also like Manchester, there are no direct flights from Birmingham to South Africa. So once again you have to be creative.
Emirates flies from Birmingham to Dubai, which is a big enough hub that you could get to South Africa from there with ease. And again, if the best deal on an air ticket to South Africa is from a major hub in Europe that’s outside the UK, all you need to do is find a cheap flight from Birmingham to that hub and you’re set.
Flying from Glasgow to South Africa
Scotland’s busiest airport is in Glasgow, which has two big airports serving the city.
- Glasgow International – Despite being Scotland’s busiest airport, Glasgow International Airport doesn’t have any direct flights serving South Africa. Once again, your options include: flying to London Heathrow, flying to Dubai (via Emirates), or flying to another major European city like Paris or Frankfurt. This is, of course, assuming you’ve found the deal of a lifetime from one of those other cities.
- Glasgow Prestwick – Prestwick is exceedingly popular with budget travellers who like to take advantage of how many Ryanair flights come and go everyday, but the list of destinations served from Glasgow Prestwick Airport is dismally short. Again, if you find an exceptional deal from a city like Paris to South Africa, then you should be able to find a cheap flight from Prestwick to Paris.
photo by IsakAronsson