Budget airlines have made travel more accessible and while some hardened travelers bemoan them, with a few tips for using budget airlines, anyone can have a decent experience at an affordable price. Using a cheaper airline means foregoing some of the perks of regular airline travel but for most of us, surely, it’s the fact of getting to A to B that is more important than how we get there. Nevertheless, with these handy tips for using budget airlines, you can still get the most out of your cheaper flying experience.
1. Check Your Destination
Budget airlines now fly a huge network all over the world. One of the most important tips for using budget airlines I can give you is to absolutely check your destination – especially if going to another country. You may think you are booking a flight into a major city airport, but due to the airport naming conventions, you could actually find yourself miles from where you want to be. Take London for example. London has 5 airports and you’d be wrong in assuming they are all right close to the city. London Gatwick is 30 miles from central London and London Luton, 32 miles. It’s not so bad because there are excellent transport links, but that isn’t the case for everywhere.
2. Ticket Price
The reason you have probably booked a budget airline in the first place is the cost of your ticket, but please pay attention to the terms and conditions of your ticket before you click the “pay now” button. There might be additional fees in the small print and you also need to be aware of options for transfers and refunds. Some budget fares can be subject to very restrictive T&Cs.
3. More Costs
You’ve found a brilliant ticket to get you from London to Barcelona for £5.00 ($8), yet when you get to the checkout page, you suddenly find your card will be debited with nearly $60 total. This is because of airport taxes of £30 ($50). One of the essential things to check for in budget airfares is whether taxes are included or not. A bit of research might find you a ticket for £25 ($40) including taxes – a much better deal!
4. Check in
Budget airlines are able to offer cheap seats because they have pared down operations and cut out the frills. Some for example do not even assign seating, so another of my handy tips for when flying budget is to review the check in and seating options. If there is no assigned seating, get to the airport early to be at the front of the queue if where you sit matters to you. Also, check if there are any perks to online check in, such as priority seating or queue avoidance.
5. Baggage Allowance
It is absolutely crucial you check the luggage policy of any airline these days, and particularly budget carriers. Many of the cheapest operators’ fares are based on carry-on only. It’s a rude shock when you get to the airport and checking your luggage costs as much as your seat ticket.
6. In Flight
Sticking with the no frills approach, you need to keep pretty low expectations of the services and perks that will come with budget air fares and low-cost carriers. Meals aren’t always included and if offered need to be booked and paid for in advance – you’ll have a fairly dismal selection sometimes too. In-flight entertainment is probably non-existent so be prepared to keep yourself occupied with a TV/movie screen.
7. Keep an Open Mind
Of all the tips for flying with budget airlines, this is the one that can benefit you most. If you know what to expect, have done your research, and accept that your money is buying you a seat to your desired destination and anything else is a bonus, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using low-cost carriers. If you embrace the fact that budget airlines offer a brilliant value for money service within a set of limited terms and conditions, you’ll have many happy, cheap flights.
What are your experiences of budget airlines? Any horror stories or great tales to tell?