One way flight, Edinburgh > Dublin, walk-up or buy in advance?
April 8, 2019 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Middle of May, we fly from USA to Edinburgh for a few days. Then to Dublin for a week, then home. We have booked all the flights except for the one-way from Edinburgh to Dublin. Is it a must to book ahead, or can we leave our selves some flexibility in scheduling without paying a lot more?
posted by conscious matter to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Looking at a random day in May right now, a nonstop Edinburgh to Dublin flight is as little as USD 29 on Ryanair and USD 44 on Aer Lingus, the only two airlines which fly this route non-stop. You'd pay a bit more to reserve a seat, check a bag, etc.

You won't save anything buying closer to the date and in fact, you might end up paying a lot more if you buy last-minute - fares for today, April 9, are USD 50 on Ryanair and USD 117 on Aer Lingus.

If I had time, though, and anything more than a small carry-on, I'd take the train and ferry and enjoy a day watching the world go by. This is, at its most expensive, GBP 54.50 for a walk-up fare you buy on the day, and GBP 43.50 or GBP 49 for a fare bought in advance. An exhaustively detailed page on the journey and how to book at Seat 61 here. A video the same guy made here.

Essentially, you order your tickets online. Then in Edinburgh, collect your tickets at a ticket machine in Waverley Station before you travel. The train travels south through Scotland and England in the morning; you change trains twice, at Crewe and Chester. At Holyhead Station, which is integrated with the ferry facility, you check in for the ferry, are bused aboard, and then cross the Irish Sea, arriving at Dublin Port in the evening. Buses take you from the port into the heart of Dublin.

The stations along the way will have shops and cafés and the train from Edinburgh to Crewe, at least, will have some sort of catering, probably a trolley service (of course, you can also cater your own picnic!). Your bags will fit somewhere as well - over your seat or in an end-of-the-carriage luggage rack. Toilets also will be present.

The specific ticket for this trip, a SailRail ticket, is usually purchasable on the day (though the allotment of railway seats to ferry passengers is obviously not infinite and they can sell out during peak travel times), and come in two varieties: Advance and Single. Advance limits you to a certain itinerary/set of trains; Single lets you take any permitted rail route to Holyhead.
posted by mdonley at 10:01 PM on April 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

FYI in Scotland (and rest of the UK) there is an early May bank holiday on the 6th and Spring bank holiday on the 27th. I would expect prices for both these weekends to increase.
posted by teststrip at 10:40 PM on April 8, 2019

Ireland has the same May bank holiday, and I too would expect the prices to go up. I live in Dublin and would never book at the last minute unless maybe my job was paying for it.

Just to add to mdonley's comments: when comparing flight prices, check to see the bags included. None will include a checked bag but Ryanair are now charging for cabin baggage too.
posted by carbide at 1:10 AM on April 9, 2019

To save yourself money: book now. The likes of Ryanair are very good at filling up their flights and those who book last pay the most.

Having said this - EDI to Dublin is a quite a cheap route - not very long and with competition between a couple of carriers. So, the chances of you getting totally burnt on a last minute booking - are pretty low.
posted by rongorongo at 2:01 AM on April 9, 2019

Always in advance. Plane tickets in the UK (and I would guess Ireland) and especially budget ones, get more expensive the closer you get to the date of travel and often sell out. Like, you could probably but two tickets at today’s price and only use the one you want and it would still be cheaper than buying right before you fly.

(I don’t know exactly what you mean by “walk up”, it’s not a common term here, but if you mean actually buying tickets at the airport, I’m not sure there’s anywhere you can even do that at Edinburgh Airport, I’ve literally never heard of anyone doing that).
posted by penguin pie at 2:36 AM on April 9, 2019

Response by poster: mdonley, SailRail looks great and relaxing. Many thanks to you and all who answered.
posted by conscious matter at 8:55 AM on April 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you do wish to go by train, then be aware that there are a couple of options: the one that mdonley suggested above but also Edinburgh >> Glasgow >> Stranraer >> Belfast >> Dublin - as described in a bit more detail here. That would definitely not be a speedy alternative - Google tells me about 10 hours versus a 7 hour drive or a 1 hour flight. But it also be interesting. There are also some slightly shorter bus variants.
posted by rongorongo at 9:08 AM on April 9, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks again to mdonley for pointing us to Seat61 and SailRail. Unfortunately the Edinburgh-Holyhead-Dublin run only works overnight and involves 3 train changes every few hours, so not restful and too dark for views. The Seat61 site is a wealth of good European rail travel info, and we're putting it in the back pocket for a later trip.

Cheers, all.
posted by conscious matter at 1:10 PM on April 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We just booked an afternoon flight via Aer Lingus. A tinch pricy but convenient and timely. Thanks again to the hive.
posted by conscious matter at 7:50 AM on April 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

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