Low-cost airlines (also known as no-frills, discount, budget or low cost airlines) are airlines that offer generally low fares in exchange for eliminating many traditional passenger services.
Usually these airlines make short flights (up to three hours) in a particular region and don’t offer intercontinental flights. If you travel within Asia, Europe, North and South America, Australia, you can save considerably on flights. Sometimes airfare is totally zero, but fuel surcharges and additional fees are added to the final cost of the ticket. Total price for the 1-2 hours flight without luggage often is about 30 EUR.
In general the difference between traditional airlines and low-costers is just the the level of comfort and convenience. From the point of view of safety, they are all have the same checks.
What Allows to Reduce the Cost of the Ticket?
Ticket prices can be reduced due to the following:
- Only economic class, no business class.
- No on-board meals.
- Using of non-major airports. It significantly reduces the cost of airport charges.
- Using of a single type of aircraft, which reduces training costs and maintenance of machinery.
- Direct flights, no need to carry luggage from one flight to another one.
- Fast preparation of the aircraft for takeoff. Again, a simple reduction in costs at the airport. Some planes have up to 6 flights a day, and they spend more than 10 hours in the air.
- Sales of tickets through internet services. No need to maintain a network of sales offices.
- The minimum set of optional equipment on the plane. There are no entertainment video panels, headphones, magazines. There are no even pockets on the chairs in some planes, which speeds up the cleaning after the flight.
- Increasing airfare when the plane is almost full, which motivates to buy a ticket in advance.
Additional expenses may occur during ticket purchasing:
- Payment for luggage.
- Service fee for purchasing tickets online.
- Payment booking a particular seat in the cabin.
- Additional insurance for the flight.
- Transfer from / to the airport.
So it’s better to be careful and check the total cost at each stage of the process.
Most Popular Low-cost Airlines
- Europe: Ryanair, easyJet, Air Baltic, Air Berlin, Germanwings.
- USA: Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin America, Frontier Airlines.
- Asia: AirAsia, Tiger Airways, Spring Airlines.
- Australia: JetStar.
- South America: GOL.
Full list of budget airlines are available on Wikipedia page.
The Requirements for Handheld and Luggage
In conclusion, I would like to say that the low-cost airlines are more demanding of handheld and luggage. Better to follow all airline requirements, otherwise it could cost you too much. In my practice (Ryanair) I managed to slip with a pretty big bag into the cabin, but they didn’t allow even one extra kilo in the suitcase, so I had to pull out some stuff and to take them with me into the cabin.
Read more about carry-on baggage here.