Are Budget Airlines Worth It?

If you’ve flown any time in the past ten years chances are you’ve set foot on a budget airline. But is it worth the low price?

For budget travellers and holidaymakers trying to keep costs down, budget airlines are a life saver. But, if you’re looking to travel relatively stress free, have hold luggage or fly into an airport close to the main city you might be considering your options.

Norwegian Air have just launched several new routes from London including one to Singapore and another to Buenos Aries.

pic: TommyOlssen

A flight to Singapore on the 15th January 2018 returning on the 29th January comes in at just under £400 with Norwegian, excluding hold luggage and inflight meals. These are additional £50 – so £450 all in.

However, on the same days you can fly economy on British Airways for £482 with all the premium airline trimmings.

Yes, its a £32 saving and Norwegian are one of the better budget airlines with WiFi available (for an additional fee). But, British Airways service is worth paying the extra for, especially considering you get all included meals and hold luggage.

In Europe, Ryanair are the dominant budget airline, offering flights for as little as £5.00 each way to some destinations.

A flight from London Stansted to Bordeaux on the 8th November 2017 is currently £5, with the return on the following Monday also £5, so a round trip of £10! However this doesn’t include any hold luggage and if you’re not based in North London, Essex or the home counties, you might find a schlep to Stansted a pain.

Conversely, British Airways fly from Gatwick for a round trip of £59 on the same dates with hold luggage and a snack included in flight (even though it’s only an hour and a half in the air).

Although budget airlines are often the cheapest flight option (not always!) they may not be the best deal when you start to add in hold luggage and inflight meals.

Where budget airlines may win though is by serving more obscure cities. Ryanair for example has revitalised tourism in many European destinations, especially smaller cities. Cities like Timisoara, Gdansk, Verona, Trieste, Lorient and Girona have all seen a surge in international visitors thanks in large part to budget airlines.

pic: JanClaus

And this is where budget airlines win: they serve more obscure cities and routes that the major carriers don’t (or don’t serve fully).

In Asia: AirAsia, Tiger, IndiGo, Bangkok Air and SpiceJet have made international travel accesible to the masses and have opened up routes between cities which normally didn’t have a good air connection.

There is a time and a place for budget airlines – especially for more obscure destinations. Booked in advance, a budget airline can also be a good alternative to a long bus or train journey – especially in countries like the USA, UK, Australia and France.

So, next time you spot a headline grabbing flight deal, have a quick look at the alternative. It may not be the best deal…

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