How to travel with budget airlines in Europe
If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, you know how I feel about budget airlines in Europe: I love them (well, ), and I wouldn’t travel any other way.
I flew countless times with low-cost airlines from every corner of Europe – Edinburgh, Barcelona, Berlin and more – and while there have been irritants, I would say that I’ve had great many experiences so far. In my humble opinion, flying upscale airlines just isn’t worth it for short flights.
I will always choose to spend my precious pennies once at destination rather than on getting there. A comfortable plane ride won’t get me that delicious desert or that museum ticket.
You get what you pay for
That goes without saying. A 30 euros plane ticket won’t get you champagne, a blanket or free movies.
What you will get, however, is a short flight to a beautiful city you’ve always wanted to visit. Yes, it will likely be crowded, and barely comfortable. They are called no-frills airlines for a reason. But the way I see it, the average European flight-time is so short anyway, I can’t justify the expense of an upscale airline. If you want luxury, try Air France or British Airways – but be ready to fork out much more than the equivalent of a night out at the pub.
Follow the rules
I wrote about this before: the golden rules of avoiding those pesky budget airline fees everyone talks about. After being on a few budget flights, they just come naturally, and don’t even require much planning anymore:
- Travel with carry-on only;
- Print your boarding passes;
- Check-in online;
- Bring your own snacks;
- Don’t ever buy the useless “Priority boarding”;
- Pay with a debit card when possible.
Getting to/from the airport
That is perhaps one of the most important thing to look out for when buying a cheap ticket. Some budget airlines won’t fly into Europe’s biggest airports because it would be too expensive for them. Having to go on a two-hour bus ride outside the city to a mysterious airport isn’t unheard of. Make sure you factor that in before your next purchase – this distance can significantly increase the cost and decrease the efficiency of your chosen flight.
Don’t stick to one airline
Budget airlines, by opposition to regular airlines, don’t have loyalty programs. It therefore isn’t to your advantage to stick to one airline. If cost really is the most important factor of your flight research, make sure to use one of the many flight comparison tools in order to go through every possibility and get the best possible deal.
The one thing that I dislike about budget airlines is their flight schedule – more often than not, flights will be ungodly early or late, meaning that you may have to sleep at the airport (whether on the floor, or the hotel, depending on your budget!). But again, from where I stand, the low price of the ticket far makes up for these downsides.