What Budget Airline Should You Fly?
Would you be willing to live without cabin service on your next flight if it meant paying hundreds less in airfare?
More and more Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) around the world are betting your answer is a big, fat “Yes!”
From the United States to Thailand, from Europe to Australia, ‘No Frills’ airlines are offering bare bones flights without in-flight services like food, drinks, or entertainment. What they lack in amenities they make up for in low costs, which are often 50-70% cheaper than traditional airfare.
Here are some of the world’s top LCCs, including which frills they’ve stripped away and how much you can expect to save:
Even though JetBlue is the fifth largest airline in the U.S., it’s an LCC of the highest degree. This low-cost carrier boasts in-flight DirectTV, cushy seats, and lots of legroom, and is still able to offer astoundingly low fares. I’m talking $99 from NYC to Houston, or Chicago to New York for $58 one-way.
Ryanair is Europe’s top LCC, offering dirt cheap fares between major European travel destinations: Dublin to Bristol for 10 euros, or Paris to Barcelona for 9.79 euros. Yes, it’s basically like taking a bus in the air, but Ryanair lets you add extras if you want ‘em. Reserve your seat for an additional 15 euros, or take advantage of mobile check-in with their smartphone app.
Based in London, EasyJET offers super cheap fares all over Europe, as well as a smattering of destinations in Africa and the Middle East. You only get one carry-on bag included in your fare, but it’s easy to upgrade using their EasyJet Plus, FLEXI far, and Extra Legroom options.
LCCs in Asia, like Bangkok Airways, VietJet, Jetstar, and Cebu Pacific, regularly offer one-way flights for under $30. You can fly Bangkok Air from Bangkok to Siem Reap for $28, or Vietjet from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang for $59. Most Asian LCCs offer in-flight snacks and meals for purchase, and allow one carry-on bag for free.
LCCs don’t just operate within individual countries or continents, either. Indian airline Jet Airways offers midrange and low-cost flights between Toronto and New Delhi, Mumbai and Newark, and New York and Chennai. Other LCCs are expanding services between Europe and Africa, Europe and Asia, and North America and Asia.
The best part about flying an LCC is that you almost always have the option to pay for the amenities you miss the most. At the same time, you can pass on the extras you don’t want and keep the fare as low as possible.
This type of highly individualized, customized travel is becoming the norm throughout every area of the industry, and is reflective of the budget sharing economy that is beginning to dominate hotels (AirBnB), transportation (Uber), and now airfare.
With Low Cost Carriers giving big, expensive, corporate airlines a serious run (er, fly?) for their money, it’s only a matter of time before air travel between the world’s most distant destinations becomes affordable for all.
Before you know it, we’ll be having breakfast in Chicago, popping over to Paris for dinner, and spending the night in Singapore, all for under $300.
Rebekah Voss is a freelance writer and the Founder of TheHappyPassport.com, an inspiration travel site for solo female travellers.
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