Project manager Brian Whelan used a price comparison site and discovered that buying a flight from Manchester to the popular Greek island, enjoying a 10-hour stopover, and then flying to the Irish capital was the most affordable travel option between the two cities.
He tweeted a screenshot of the cheapest options, with Manchester-Dublin via Crete advertised as costing just £21 with Ryanair.
“How did we create a world where the cheapest travel option from Manchester to Dublin is a 10 hour stopover in Crete?” he tweeted, quickly garnering more than 1,000 likes.
The journey with the lowest price took 11 and a half hours in total, compared to the direct flight time of under an hour.
How did we create a world where the cheapest travel option from Manchester to Dublin is a 10 hour stopover in Crete? pic.twitter.com/HbBb1p3VKw
— Brian Whelan (@brianwhelanhack) September 18, 2021
Flight prices vary according to demand, depending on what date and time passengers want to travel, and research by The Independent has found plenty of good deals on direct UK-Ireland services.
However, on some dates, strange combinations of flights with one or two stops come out as being most cost-effective.
For example, departing tomorrow, 21 September, the cheapest Manchester-Dublin option is via Girona, costing just £19 and involving a 24-hour layover in the northeast Spanish city.
The second cheapest option includes not one but two stops – the Balearic island of Ibiza and East Midlands in the UK – taking 24hr 40 minutes and costing £22.
It’s not the first time a traveller has discovered that a circuitous flight route is cheaper than other transport options.
In 2017 a student who wanted to visit Edinburgh found he could stop off in Szczecin, Berlin and Glasgow on the way for the same price as a return train ticket from London.
Appalled by the “absurd” cost of the train fare, 20-year-old William Stein started to look at other transport options. Even booking five weeks in advance with a young person’s railcard, the London School of Economics student found that the cheapest train tickets cost more than £80 when using rail fare comparison site Trainline.
Flying direct was also fairly expensive, but then Stein hit upon a much more cost-effective way of getting to Scotland – flying via the Polish city of Szczecin. This option cost him just £21.95 one way; flights from London Stansted to Szczecin cost as little as £5 with Ryanair.
“It is so bizarre,” Stein said. “I knew, of course, the UK is more expensive than other places but it made me think the rail companies are charging so much for these trains, and wonder how much profit they are making.”