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Low cost airline tickets

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Spending less with the "no frills" carriers




The low cost airlines and the tendencies in the modern air travel market


Today, the modern air travel market's economic segment is dominated by the presence of the "budget carriers" or "no frills airlines". The low cost airlines are highly popular in Europe and North America and are gaining popularity in the rest of the World as well, particularly in Asia.

This "new bred" of airlines dates back to the 1970s, when SouthWest Airlines has appeared. The American carrier has inspired most modern low fare airlines that operate around the World.

Air travel was too expensive for most travelers, even the economy class flights had too high fares and those with modest budgets rather chose road or railway travel over flying.

SouthWest Airlines had the ideal "recipe" for cutting operational and this way, being able to offer cheaper fares to travelers. The company had tremendous success. It has attracted millions of clients and has posed strong competition to the "old-type" of airlines.

Other airlines, such as EasyJet and Ryanair have followed SouthWest's idea and have earned high profits from the business.

By drastically reducing operational costs, the fares get cheaper. With fares more accessible, a larger number of travelers can afford to fly. Often, low cost air travel gets cheaper than road or rail travel.   


Flying cheap with low cost airlines


Today, student flyers, senior travelers and others with low budgets constitute the main client basis for these carriers.

Low cost airline tickets on short and medium ranges can be as cheap as a fast food meal's price and, on longer ranges, like on routes between Los Angeles and New York, the prices can be smaller than that of a taxi trip from one end of New York to the other!

In many cases it can even get cheaper or you might not need to pay anything at all! Because, some companies (like WIZZ Air, for instance) offer free promotional flights, especially when starting to operate on new routes. 

Plane tickets can be extremely cheap, with prices multiple times lower than those of the conventional carriers. But in order to travel cheap, you know how to book them.

Low cost airline tickets often cost as much as the usual tickets sold by ordinary carriers, the key to low prices lies in the way you book the tickets.

Be aware of the facts that most budget airlines don't include taxes and fees into the published price of their tickets. Because almost always, they sell their tickets online, you might be in for a surprise at the end, after completing the travel details and when you're just about to pay... Prices jump way up high! An you might loose your interest and ask yourself why that airline calls itself "low cost"...

Patience and smart search is the key to finding cheap airfares, therefore we recommend you to try different dates for your trip. You will see more variations than in the case of ordinary airline ticket booking. Low cost tickets vary depending on a much larger variety of factors. You might need to pay 350 $ on one day for a ticket, but the next day, it may cost 35 $ or less (all taxes and fees included)...

Another major disadvantage of flying with such carriers is the fact that they vary flight departure times whenever it is convenient to them. Therefore, don't be surprised to find that most low cost airlines don't operate on a strict schedule. They do this, because operating on airports on certain dates at certain hours costs less. Whenever they get a cheap "gap", they fill it with a flight. Evening and night flights are often cheaper, so search for late departures to get the best fares.

Tickets for "no frills" flights are usually one way. Therefore, you have to book separately: you select a ticket to reach to get to your destination, then you will select another one for your return flight. Often, the price of the 2 one way tickets is higher than if you would buy a single round-trip ticket from a "conventional" airline. You'll have to "puzzle" with the one way alternatives: hunt separately for departure and return fares and combine them.

Low cost airfares are displayed on most low fare airline sites, but those are in fact the special deals. Most of the time, prices are just as high as in the case of the flag carriers. Note that the prices you see published are just rare airfare discounts, most flights cost more.


Destinations of low cost airlines


Most low cost carriers are intracontinental. This means that they are serving routes within the same continent.

Basically each continent has its own low cost carriers.  

If you're seeking ways to find the cheapest tickets possible to short and medium distances, then the budget airlines should be the first place you should check. But, on long routes, such as those between Europe and North America or Asia and Europe, you will have fewer choices. Several carriers are experimenting flights between Europe and the USA, but due to the long distance, it's difficult to them to achieve low costs that could compete with the major "conventional" airlines (such as flag carriers like Air France, American Airlines, Delta).


Types of low cost airlines


"No frills airlines" that orientate towards minimum costs


These airlines reduce operational expenses as much as possible. By eliminating paper operations and doing bookings exclusively online, the low cost airlines have boosted the online travel industry. Costs are drastically cut by eliminating free meals, putting more seats into their airplanes, flying to secondary airports, asking multiple additional fees, such as those for luggage.

The "no frills air travel" can give a headache to those who are used to comfort, but it's the best way to shrink expenses on flights.

It's ideal for students and those who travel in groups      


Hybrid carriers


The hybrid low cost airlines offer cheaper fares than economy class ones, but they offer better services than most low cost airlines.

JetBlue is perhaps the best example for the hybrid strategy. You get to sit in a leather seat and watch your own TV screen in front of you, you get free snacks and you can reserve your seat in advance (unlike in the case of SouthWest, which gives you a seat assignment at the airport only). 

Hybrid low fare travel means better comfort and still, low prices...

So far there are very few such carriers in the World, but we'll probably see more of them in the future.


The disadvantages of low cost airline flying 


No free in-flight meals are offered, in the best case all you get is snacks, such as chips or pretzels

Many low cost airlines operate on secondary airports, which are generally further and have poor services

Seats are cramped, space is even less than in economy class

Generally you have to pay for the weight of your luggage (unlike on conventional economy class flights, where you can usually carry 20 kgs for free)

Usually you cannot reserve in the seat that you'd like in advance, you will get a seat assignment at the airport or occupy it yourself when entering the plane

There are almost no scheduled flights at all (these airlines fly whenever it's convenient for them, without strict schedules)

  You will pay for one way flights in most cases, there are few possibilities for obtaining round-trip tickets

There are few possibilities for connecting flights and, different flights are mostly uncoordinated, unlinked (that's why you cannot switch airplanes easily)


If you want to fly with budget airlines, you'd better be aware of the discomfort and poor additional services.

Most low cost airlines operate on secondary airports, rarely on major ones. These airports are located very far from the destination city and often have poor rail & road connections. For example, if you fly from Frankfurt to Barcelona, you might pay just a few dozen Euros, but when you have to take a cab or a bus from Barcelona's Girona Airport to the city, the 100 km way will most probably cost you more than the flight!

You will rarely find connecting flights when traveling with low cost airlines and stopping over. Don't plan complicated routes with these carriers, they are less reliable, they often arrive late, flights are often postponed or canceled, there are less compensations for travelers. 

Low cost airlines usually sacrifice traveler comfort and in-flight services in order to reduce the prices of tickets.


Useful related resources


Fly Low Cost Airlines

Fly Low Cost Airlines

Search engine allowing you to search for low cost airlines according to origin of departure and destination.

Addition: November 20, 2009


Low Cost Airline Guide

Low Cost Airline Guide

With the simple search tool of this site you can find which budget airlines fly en route you wish to travel within the UK and Europe.

Addition: November 20, 2009

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