5 Things You Should Know About Budget Airlines in Europe

Posted on 08. Apr, 2013 by in Europe Travel, Travel Tips

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, most of them), 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.

budget airlines in europe

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 fidelity 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 (my favorite is Skyscanner) in order to go through every possibility and get the best possible deal.

Be Flexible

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.

What are your golden rules when it comes to flying budget airlines in Europe? What was your best, or worst experience?


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17 Responses to “5 Things You Should Know About Budget Airlines in Europe”

  1. Andrea

    08. Apr, 2013

    We flew EasyJet recently and I did not love the airport experience - no toilets at baggage claim in their terminal and nowhere to sit at the gate…I know it’s cheap but they could at least put some chairs in the cattle holding area…

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      15. Apr, 2013

      Yes, low-cost airlines are always located in the least fancy part of the airport. That’s one of the downsides to cope with.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Yenny Lee

    13. Apr, 2013

    I must admit: Europe couldn’t convince me that it has budget airlines; but now I am!!! There are lots there and this post helped me figure out how to maximize their existence! haha! Thanks!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Billy

    26. Apr, 2013

    Bookmarking this for my next trip.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Simon

    26. Apr, 2013

    Budget airlines have so many loopholes that it’s easy paying far more than you initially budgeted. So many traps! Thank you for writing this, it’s going to be very useful.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Olivia

    26. Apr, 2013

    God I hate Ryanair. I agree with you on this - they’re the worst of them all!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Vivian

    26. Apr, 2013

    I wish people would stop whining about budget airlines. You get what you pay for. If you want a comfortable and positive experience, go with the main airlines and be prepared to pay FAR more.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      26. Apr, 2013

      I completely agree. But sometimes too much is too much.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Georgia

    26. Apr, 2013

    I’ve had great flights with EasyJet. Being based in London, they’re easy for me to use (pun intended) and they fly just about everywhere.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Roma

    26. Apr, 2013

    Skyscanner is a god-sent website. it’s my go-to tool whenever I want to buy a flight.

    Reply to this comment
  9. AlphaSquid

    01. Nov, 2014

    Flew Air Europa from Barcelona to Miami in late Sept. 2014.Changed planes in Madrid. Both legs used A330-200 with 2-4-2 configuration. Not an empty seat in the house. A personal pizza and an 8-oz can of Spanish beer cost $10 euros (about US$13.50) on the short leg. The walk to the departure gate at Barajas seemed as long as the BCN-MAD flight. Discount carriers usually don’t pay for boarding space at the gate. They bus you to the plane somewhere on the tarmac. A minor inconvenience I’m willing to put up with. So you get off the bus, climb 2 stories to the cabin, take your seat, and wait for things to get going. The kicker is this: until the cabin doors are shut and the engines turned on, you sit in stifling, stuffy air without slightest ventilation. Very uncomfortable.

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