Today’s big Q: which budget airline is the okayest in the market?
Oh, if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me how I can afford so much traveling! Well, I’d probably be making enough to buy myself first class plane tickets every time I travel.
We’re all poor
No, let me rephrase that. We’re not rich enough to afford expensive flight tickets every time we travel. Most people have never (and will never) experience the luxury of traveling first class. And that’s okay.
Luckily, nowadays air travel has become insanely cheap. Therefore, anyone can book a flight to anywhere at a super-low cost. Who needs a comfy chair that transforms into a bed on a flight? (I do!)
For almost every combination of locations in the world, there’s at least one budget airline that can take you from A to B for a just few dollars.
I’m telling you it’s crazy; you can score return tickets from London to Paris for only €9.99, from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur for just €46 and from Reykjavik to Boston for the awesome price of €140! With such irresistible prices, how can you say no?
What’s the catch?
I feel I should get one thing straight. The prices of those low-cost airlines may be attractive, but the service they offer can vary from merely descent to garbage.
Flying with a budget airline is nobody’s first choice.
However, there’s the obvious advantage, the low cost, that outweighs the long list of disadvantages. So, sacrificing a bit of comfort and/or dignity is no big deal, when you save money on the ticket, to spend on something else later.
I personally grew to hate most budget airline carriers, for various reasons. I even swore to myself that I wouldn’t use some of them again. Karma is a bitch, though, and soon I had to break my oath and cave in.
Budget traveling is part and parcel of every digital nomad’s lifestyle
Unless you’re an uber-successful entrepreneur who owns a 7-figure business, you’re likely to try a budget airline at least once. I’m not saying every budget airline will be your go-to choice, every single time you travel. To the contrary.
But as you can imagine, frequent traveling requires a lot of money, so if you ever get the chance to save (and later splurge), trust me, you’ll grab it! Then you’ll do some super-smart packing and you’ll be ready to go.
There’s nothing wrong with doing it once in a while, if it suits your needs. It’s solely up to your judgement.
The popular budget airlines
Ryanair is a dominant budget airline in Europe and flies from anywhere to anywhere. Pretty much. It probably covers all european countries and serves big and small city airports.
It may seem like an attractive choice, but it can be a total nightmare, since it has a million hidden fees. If it could, it would charge the air you breathe inside the cabin. Nevertheless, its ticket prices remain unbeatable in the market.
Like in every budget airline, checked baggage is not included in the price. Frequent light travelers of the european region like it. The rest of the world doesn’t.
Ryanair’s biggest competitor is probably Easyjet. Everything that applies to Ryanair also applies to Easyjet.
No checked baggage, no free meal or other in-flight perks, no comfy blankies. Everything looks cheap and the whole flight is only bearable. Depending on the duration of the flight, you also have to endure the duty-free shop or lottery-that-nobody-wins, with the attendants going back and forth, yelling in your face.
The biggest pitfalls of traveling with Easyjet are the inconvenient flight times for many european cities and the extremely uncomfortable seats.
Moving to the american region, I think SouthWest is the #1 budget airline, that serves the US, Central America and the Caribbean.
It’s a descent carrier, much better than the above, and a good choice for short-haul flights.
It slashes its prices regularly, so finding a bargain is not uncommon. I envy those based in the US because of that.
I wish I could say it’s the safest choice after a recent incident that caused a woman to lose her life during a flight. Besides that, there seems to be a ton of other incidents that came to light recently, which make me cringe a little bit and not envy US folks anymore. Oh, well!
Another european budget airline, not as popular as Ryanair and Easyjet, but steadily growing.
Flybe serves smaller airports and some big ones and generally offers a very good service. What’s good about this budget airline is its customer service. The carrier has clearly invested in it and taken considerable care of assisting its customers. I haven’t met a single person who had something negative to say about the Flybe service. Kudos!
The uber-low cost ones
Looking for extremely low prices? Check!
JetBlue covers destinations across the entire american continent at ridiculously low prices.
Remember that trip to Aruba you’ve been postponing for so long? Why the hell haven’t you booked it yet?
The flight experience is surprisingly good. You get comfy seats, good in-flight entertainment and complimentary snacks. What else could you ask for? I can answer that: free checked baggage. That’s what you could ask for. Unfortunately, you’ll need to pay a little extra for 50 pounds (~22.68kg).
Eurowings is the low-cost Lufthansa and operates across Europe. However, unlike Lufthansa, I dislike Eurowings, mainly because every single flight I booked with it got cancelled. Ouch! Eurowings is the king of delays and cancellations; quite unreliable, in my opinion.
I’m surprised it’s still operating. Next.
It’s shocking how many low-cost airlines exist in Europe! Wizz Air is another one of them.
The aircrafts are tiny and uncomfortable, but luckily, the flights are usually short. So what if you get crammed in a narrow seat for a couple of hours, big deal!
The best thing about them (I mean besides the low prices) is the kindness of the crew. All the rest is garbage; yes, they’d charge the air you breathe too, if they could.
I used it once a long time ago and I was very pleased with the service. Compared to other, more established low-cost carriers, it seems to do a pretty good job.
Now I hear it’s lost its way a little bit and left many unhappy customers poorly served since then.
One last thing to note is that it doesn’t cover many destinations, all of which are european.
The transatlantic ones
I was talking to a friend about a recent long-haul trip with Edelweiss the other day and he was shocked that I called it a budget airline.
Seriously, it offers real good prices for transatlantic flights, that’s why I chose it for a trip to Central America. Little did I know!
I received the worst, most unprofessional service. The trouble started from the moment I set foot at the check-in counter, where the officer informed me that my flight didn’t exist!
Guess what, it did exist and I did fly. But the overall flight experience was mediocre to bad. You really get what you pay for.
I had thought Norwegian Air was Norway’s national carrier. Boy was I wrong! It’s simply another european low-cost airline, similar to the aforementioned.
The catch here is that it operates flights to the US at a ridiculously low cost and that’s why it tricked me into trying it.
Overall, it’s a bad choice for long-haul traveling, but okay for shorter trips.
Iceland’s gem, WOW Air, can take you from Reykjavik to San Francisco for less than €400! No, it’s not a tacky promo. I just googled it.
I used WOW in the past, because its prices were extremely low. What I received in return was nothing out of the ordinary. Average in-flight service, a lot of hidden fees, a crammed plane full of people who, like me, believed the hype. I didn’t enjoy the flight and it was looong.
Bottom line: avoid low-cost airlines for long-haul trips. The many many hours you’ll spend in-flight are not worth the price. Do it for your comfort.
Hola Mexicana! Volaris offers a comfy option for your travels across Central America. I loved the attendants’ service and vibe, and I would recommend you try it hands down.
However, as a standard budget airline it has some cons, like no free drinks or free checked bag, if you travel outside Mexico. Passengers used to be allowed to check 1 bag, but Volaris recently changed its policy and customers need to purchase checked baggage. Ugh!
To make things worse, Volaris only allows small-sized carry-on luggage, like backpacks or laptop cases. Double ugh!
I always thought that Transavia is the answer to KLM’s sky-high prices. Another european budget airline, which is only okay. I can’t fault this carrier, but I can’t compliment it either.
Transavia has quite an old fleet, which puts me off a little bit. The planes are generally clean and safe, though. Well, for that price, don’t expect miracles.
On the other hand, expect to pay for checked baggage, and allow quite a bit of time in the baggage reclaim.
One thing I never liked about Transavia is that the crew didn’t smile. I’d never thought something like that would bother me, but it did.
AirAsia is the world’s Best Low-Cost Airline. No seriously, Skytrax awarded this airline for 9 consecutive years.
I don’t really know if it deserves its title; the Skytrax pros have better judgement than me. What I do know is that it’s a pretty descent airline that covers destinations across Asia (duh!) and Australia.
If you think about the size of Asia, though, the flights from one place to another could be quite long.
Well, even during long flights you don’t get to eat for free or watch movies. And of course you’re not allowed any free baggage. You want to eat? Pay for that. You want to bring your stuff. Pay for that, too. You want to watch a movie? Bring your iPad, there’s nothing onboard to entertain you.
On the bright side, the service you get to receive is excellent, the crew super-friendly and the seats quite comfortable.
Lately, I haven’t been traveling with low-cost airlines. However, if I had to fly with one again, it would definitely serve a short trip. Like I said, avoid budget airlines for long-haul trips at all costs! *no pun intended*
It really depends on where you are and where you want to go. JetBlue is cool for trips across America, EasyJet offers countless options for pretty much any city in Europe and AirAsia is a descent choice in the Asian market.
Tell me your choice!