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Budget airlines are a great way to book cheap flights to get around the world without spending half of your travel allowance on airplane tickets.
In recent years, the rise of budget airlines has driven the competition to drop prices to compete with their rivals. This is great news for travellers since we get to benefit from the changing industry.
Before you go booking your cheap flights, there are some things to know to ensure that your budget airline of choice doesn’t result in travel disaster.
How to Get Cheap Flights with Budget Airlines
Doing a quick search on Google Flights or Skyscanner may introduce you to the array of budget airlines available. This depends on your destinations of course.
Budget airlines usually give you the lowest rates when it comes to air travel and are usually what you get when sorting your options by price.
What are Budget Airlines?
These airlines are mostly European but the trend is slowly making its way to North America.
Europe is able to have the majority of budget airways due to the proximity of their countries. Major European cities are much closer than North American cities making it easy to supply cheap flights.
Popular European budget airlines include Ryan Air, EasyJet, and Veuling, but there are so many others.
The demand for budget airlines in North America is growing, and some airlines are answering. Canadian budget airlines that have popped up over the years include Flair Airlines (formerly NewLeaf), Swoop and Primera Air.
Tips for Travelling on Budget Airlines
Budget airlines are able to offer cheap flights by keeping things pretty basic. A lot of the luxuries seen in regular airlines are cut altogether in order to save on the costs of air transportation.
Since budget airline tickets are so low, they tend to charge for a variety of extras, but planning ahead will make sure your ticket doesn’t skyrocket.
Watch Your Luggage Allowance
One way budget airlines make their money is by charging for baggage. Usually, you will be allotted one small carry-on and anything beyond that you’ll have to pay for.
The size of your included carry-on varies by airline and some are strict on the measurements. The weight of your luggage must be also kept under their requirements and anything overweight may be charged.
Be sure to check the limits of your airline and plan accordingly to avoid any extra charges. Travelling with a small carry-on isn’t as hard as you think.
Now not all airports are strict, it really depends. Some airlines at certain airports won’t even look twice at your bag, while others will ask that you place your carry-on on a scale. But I’d avoid taking risks – it could ruin your whole adventure (and your budget).
What if You Have to Carry that Big Suitcase?
If you absolutely have to travel with more than a carry-on, be sure to decide this beforehand. Adding extra luggage when booking your flight is usually cheaper than adding it on this spot.
This is also the reason you want to make sure your carry-on complies with baggage restrictions as they may charge it as a checked bag.
When you get to the airport, simply follow the signs at your airline to check in your luggage as usual.
Bring Your Own Entertainment
Cheaper airlines don’t usually have onboard entertainment like you would find in regular airlines. Even on longer flights.
Some airlines do offer things like iPads or movies but they come at a cost. Avoid extra charges and boredom by preparing ahead.
What to bring?
Download that TV series or movie you’ve been dying to watch, and jam pack your phone with your favourite songs.
If you’ve been procrastinating on work, being stuck thousands of feet in the air for hours may just motivate you to do so. Might as well bring it.
Lighter laptops like a MacBook Air or Chromebook are perfect for travel. And you can always store extra content on a small flash drive if you don’t have enough space.
Carrying a book can add extra weight, so opt for a few ebooks instead. And if all else fails, make sure you’re comfy so you can at least get some shut-eye.
Food and Water Are Extra
Most airlines will offer meals (or even snacks on shorter flights) along with your ticket. That’s not the case for most budget airlines.
While food is available on board, they’re available at an additional cost. And a lot of the choices, no matter how basic, are usually marked up.
Cheaper airlines will allow you to carry whatever food you have with you. We even managed to carry a whole leftover Denny’s meal so if you plan ahead, you’ll be covered.
Water, tea, and coffee will also cost you extra. You can bring an empty portable water bottle with you through security and fill it up before boarding to avoid extra costs.
Confirm the Airport
Some budget companies choose smaller, less crowded airports that are out of popular areas to get cheaper airport rates. Funny enough, these airports become more popular as more travellers commute to these airports for cheaper rates.
This isn’t always the case, that’s why it’s super important to confirm the airport you’ll be departing from.
For example, your itinerary may say Paris, which to many, usually means Charles-de-Gaulle Airport in Roissy. But Paris also has airports in Beauvais and Orly, both way outside of Paris.
Finding yourself at the wrong airport can mean major delays and mega costs if you have to hoof it in a taxi.
Cheap Flights Don’t Mean Old Planes
Budget airplanes do not mean ‘shitty’ airplanes. In actuality, many of the planes owned by budget companies are the newest in the passenger airplane market.
Even though newer airplanes are much more expensive than older models, they are much more cost effective when it comes to things like fuel, maintenance, and passenger capacity.
And with tickets flying off the websites of budget airlines, it’s easy for them to afford their costly fleet.
Budget airlines run frequently, and many with shorter distances, so they’re able to rack up a lot of passengers in one day, meaning more money in their pockets, and cheap flights for travellers!
Bring Your Own Boarding Pass
Another way budget air companies cut costs is by forgoing the printing of boarding passes.
Many airlines, budget or not, offer paperless passes as an option, but only cheaper airlines will charge if you don’t go paperless.
This usually means printing your boarding pass beforehand (which can be a challenge if you’re on the go). Thankfully, airlines are keeping up with technology and offering boarding passes available on apps.
Most of these apps can connect to your smart wallet and other travel planning apps so you can have your passes in a convenient place. This is handy when you’re making connections.
What tips do you have for travelling on budget airlines?