Low cost airlines Save money and stretch your travel budget further
During the last decade, things in the airline business have changed dramatically. Low cost airlines have come into being, removing the stranglehold of the large, established carriers who dominated the skies and the booking agencies.
Not just marketing hype. Flying low cost airlines can save a fortune
Now, the no-frills budget airlines have moved in. Southwest Airlines was the model on which most low cost airlines have created themselves. Their success is testament to a market hungry for great deals and more budget to spend on destination and less on getting there.
Ryanair was the first low cost carrier to hit the European market back in 1991. While the concept was not new to the US market, it was definitely something different to the European market sector.
The airline business is notoriously a fiscal danger for investors. A very high percentage of new airlines fail. Even today, National carriers are heavily subsidized by the tax payer and few can boast a breakeven or profit. So, the concept of opening a low cost carrier carried both appeal and a high risk to any operator.
The Southwest model proved to be a successful one and Ryanair followed the same track. Soon, EasyJet followed and then came the likes of Wizz Air and Transavia, Flybe, Jet2com, Eurowings and many more.
Find low cost airlines by region:
Aside from price, what's the difference between a low cost carrier and a mainstream airline?
Low cost airlines operate on very slim profit margins. They look for volume. The busier the flights, the more profit to be made. How does that translate for the consumer?
Basically it means that any service provided, beyond flying you someplace will be at an extra cost. If you can travel with carry-on luggage only, forego the drinks and dinners, you can fly at the ticket price.
However, if you have luggage too large to be cabin luggage, you have to pay. If you want a meal or drink, you pay. If you want to watch a movie – you probably will not have that option, but, if you do, you will pay for headphones.
More extra costs..
Seat selection will come at a cost. Window seat and aisle seat at a premium. Leg room, even more. When embarking the plane, expect to be boarding a bus at a large airport. To keep costs lower, the carrier would be paying for a jetway a fair distance from the main terminal. I have had 15 minute bus rides to get to the plane from the terminal.
In many cases, to keep their costs low, the carrier may be flying out from a smaller airport which could be some distance from the city you are traveling from or to. Also, unless the carrier is a well established big fleet with many routes operation, your choice of traveling days may be limited.
How safe is a budget airline?
First of all, the question that may come to mind is, what am I trading off for saving on airfares? Probably, you may think low cost airlines would be cutting corners on your safety and flying with less inspected equipment and inexperienced cabin crew and pilots.
It’s a legitimate thought. However, happily, no aircraft can fly in regulated airspace without meeting the requirements of the flying authority of that country. Most noteworthy, be it the FAA or the European counterparts, safety is not an area that a budget airline can get away with going short on.
The real equation in the calculation of safety is, aside from regulated standards, the low cost carrier cannot afford to get careless with safety. One accident could completely wipe out the business entirely.
Low cost airlines in Africa
Budget airlines in the Americas
Low cost carriers to save with in Asia
- 9 Air
- Beijing Capital Airlines
- Colorful Guizhou Airlines
- China United Airlines
- Jiangxi Air
- Lucky Air
- Ruili Airlines
- Spring Airlines
- Urumqi Air
- West Air
No frills, low cost airlines in Europe
Certainly, taking an overview of the low cost airlines, they basically can offer you a really good deal. If you’re a frequent flyer, you will certainly score if you are on a tight budget. For the infrequent traveler, going on a vacation to a specific destination, you need to look at the deal more carefully.
Maybe, as I have stated, there are drawbacks to low cost air travel. The less you pay, generally, the less pleasant the convenience. However, that said, it surprises me that all that I have read in lists of air travel tips and tricks, the low cost carrier is seldom mentioned as a HUGE money-saver.
Facts to consider
- The value of your trip can depreciate fast as you start to reduce your costs with a low cost airline.
- When booking, make sure you have a reasonable deal for both ways. Many operators will offer you a “steal” one way but when you have to pay separately for the return flight, you may find that the savings are limited or the ticket is more expensive than a major carriers return airfare. You must do some online comparisons and calculations to ensure that you are getting a good deal.
- Certainly, if you fly frequently and book early, your savings can be from 40%-75%, maybe even more, when compared to a mainstream airline.
- Always look at where you are flying to. Your ticket may say Paris but WHERE in Paris. Ryanair fly to Beauvais Tille in Paris and you will need to cost in the price of getting to the city center.
- Due to the hidden fees you may be practicing “fools economy’, thinking the deal is good until you find out the extra, unforseen costs.
- Also, bear in mind that because the low cost airlines pay less for their airport positioning (far from the premium terminal), you could be doing a lot of walking. The walk to immigration and passport control can feel like miles sometimes.
- The aircraft are usually designed with more seats on the frame then you would find in a mainstream carrier. Therefore, leg room will be at a premium.
- Refunds are generally not offered and so that needs to be factored into your budget with insurance etc.
- The fewer routes on offer may make a planned stay shorter or longer to facilitate a flight – this may mean the cost of extra hotel nights or a reduction in the days you wanted to spend at the destination.
On the plus side, the many special offers that are presented to bulk up the occupancy in any given flight may be a really attractive offer.
- Consequently, the aircraft are generally newer than the main carriers with all the latest gadgetry (which you may have to pay extra for)
- For those looking for just a one way ticket, this might be a real advantage when booking with a low cost airline.