When searching for the best flight deals around, we pride ourselves in taking into account every aspect of a deal and only recommending flights we would take ourselves. Typically, that means few (if any) connections, good quality airlines, and ideally, full-service carriers with meals & bags included. That said, it is undeniable that there is a place in the market for budget airlines – many of which fly direct routes that are either not covered at all by other full-service carriers or simply offer a much cheaper option to popular destinations.
Don’t just compare the budget airlines against the full fare carriers, but check prices against other budget airlines on the same route or from a nearby airport to the same destination. This means you are getting the best deal for the exact same length and location of flight.
Take Advantage Of Their Package Deals
You may or may not already know about this, but some leading budget airlines offer various package discounts for choosing them when you travel. For example, you may be flying up to Scotland for the weekend, and instead of having to deal with renting a vehicle yourself, the airline may include a discounted option for car hire in Edinburgh upon your arrival. These package deals will save you time and money, so be sure to take advantage of any discount relevant to your needs.
Snaffling a ticket up early really does work. The best prices are usually shortly after seats go on sale, with last minute tickets often as expensive as full fare airlines.
Ditch the Hold Baggage
Some of the big budget airlines’ holy grail is finding a way to make us all ditch hold luggage completely and carry just hand luggage. Cram everything you can into your hand luggage (watching those weight limits) and you will save enough to buy yourself a new pair of jeans just to wear on your trip.
Buy a Pair of ‘Budget Travel Trousers’
This sounds a little daft, and perhaps it is; it works though. I have a big pair of baggy combats that a clown would be embarrassed to wear. I can fit three paperbacks in each of the pockets as well as a compact camera, which frees up luggage weight elsewhere.
Fly at Weekends and Off Peak
Typically, the most expensive tickets are on weekdays when businessmen are more likely to be happy to shell out a bit more with the company paying, so check those graveyard times of Saturday night and Sunday when fares are slashed.
Take Your Own Food and Drink
Being mindful of liquid restrictions bring along a packed lunch to save from the exorbitant onboard prices- a fiver for the small beer I had on a recent flight. Boots do their ‘Meal Deals’ at their airport branches if you don’t manage to bring anything – make sure to get an Advantage Card and you can gather points that will help pay for meals in future.
Take the Free Magazine
Some budget airlines have magazines that have mini guides to cities. These can be handy and tend to be more up to date than guidebooks as they have a much shorter lead-in time. The easyJet ones are the most comprehensive, and I am not just saying that because I write their monthly updates on Split and Ljubljana!
Nab a Good Seat
Some budget airlines now offer a premium boarding service. For a small fee (usually less than £10) you can be one of the first to board – Ryanair call it ‘Priority Boarding’ and easyJet ‘Speedy Boarding’. It can work well, but be aware on flights when you are bussed to the aircraft that you might lose any advantage that this premium boarding offers.
The best seats in terms of space are the front rows (not always open) and those around the emergency exits. If you are able to use the exits you can sit here if you can get to them first. If you are travelling alone I often find couples pay for premium boarding, nab the exit row and then stick a bag in the middle seat to deter people. Being polite but insistent has got me into that middle seat quite a lot, and they typically want to sit together, so I frequently end up getting the choice of an aisle or a window!
Know Your Rights
The EU have a passenger charter that all airlines are legally bound by, so it is a good idea to carry one with you. This really helps during delays and cancellations when you know exactly where you stand.
I hope that my quick guide to beating the budget airlines has been helpful, and if it can save one reader a penny off their spends, or make their in flight experience free of any headaches, then this article has been a real success! Don’t hesitate to voice your opinion if you feel like you’re being stung by these companies, you have the right to do so!