Low-cost airlines are airline companies that offer cheap tickets, at least in comparison with traditional airline companies. They work according to the ‘no frills’ concept and are therefore also called price fighters or budget airlines. This means that overhead costs are kept as low as possible, and extra services such as meals and entertainment are not included in the price. Hand baggage is allowed but must meet specific requirements (dimensions and or weight), for hold baggage you always have to pay extra. Unlike traditional airlines, low-cost airlines tend to fly to small airports, due to the lower airport and handling costs that apply to these airports.
Low-cost airlines are particularly cheap when you book your airline ticket in advance. Tickets will cost less if you book them a few months before your flight than when you buy them two weeks in advance. Low-cost airlines do not offer last-minute tickets. The best known low-cost airlines in Europe are Ryanair (Ireland), easyJet (England), Norwegian (Norway), Vueling (Spain) and Wizz Air (Hungary), they are present in most European countries. Some traditional airlines have a subsidiary that has to compete with these low-cost airlines, for example, Transavia and HOP! which belong to Air France-KLM, and Eurowings which is part of Lufthansa. To give you more insight into flying with a low-cost airline, we have listed the pros and cons below.
Advantages of low-cost airlines
Low-cost airlines are, as the name suggests, cheaper than traditional airline companies. A return ticket Amsterdam – London can easily cost € 100 less, meaning you and 4 friends can save up to € 500.
Low-cost airlines usually fly to smaller airports. This means that parking is going to be significantly cheaper, as the larger airports will charge you more for a parking space.
If the smaller airport isn’t near your destination, you will probably have to rent a car or at least arrange some form of transportation. This involves extra costs, but you don’t have to see this as wasted money. The bus from London Stansted Airport to the city centre, for instance, will give you a good impression of the metropole. This way you will see some of the sights at an early stage.
Disadvantages of low-cost airlines
The service offered by low-cost airlines is less than you will get from a traditional airline. You do not have to count on a meal or drink, and the chairs and legroom are minimal. This does not mean that the service is terrible, but less luxury would be a better description. Low-cost airlines do offer products and services, but always for a fee.
Low-cost airlines often use small airports that are located far outside the city. This is cheaper for them, but less practical for travellers because it takes longer to arrive in the city. Before you book an airline ticket, it is wise to check exactly where you are flying. For example, Ryanair advertises with destinations in Düsseldorf and Brussels, while the airports are located at Weeze and Charleroi.
Low-cost airlines regularly offer tickets at floor prices (for instance € 5 or € 19). Unfortunately, these are not always the prices that you have to pay. Extra costs for taxes, surcharges, payment method and more can increase the price considerably. The increased price also applies to traditional airlines, but to a lesser extent.
* To find out exactly where you stand, it is wise to read the general terms and conditions of the airline company you fly.