5 Things You Need to Know When Flying With Budget Airlines – money.andronezia.com

By | March 8, 2023

Finding the lowest fares on budget airlines? Here’s what to know before you order.

Key point

  • Budget airlines offer cheaper flight prices than other airlines.
  • However, the base fare usually only includes seating and personal items, and other additional fees.
  • Route options are more limited, and budget airlines are more likely to experience delays and cancellations.

This is the situation many of us are in — you need to book affordable flights. You open Google Flights or your preferred travel tool and start comparing options. And there, when you sort by price, there are flights that are much cheaper than all the others. What’s the catch?

These fares are usually offered by budget airlines, also known as low-cost or ultra-low-cost carriers. Flying with budget airlines can be a great way to travel cheaply, but there are a few important things you need to know before whipping out your credit card and making a reservation.

The prices you see from budget airlines give you the bare minimum: A seat and an allowance for personal items. Most budget airlines charge extra for everything else, including:

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  • Choose a seat
  • Luggage
  • Checked baggage
  • In-flight drinks and snacks

Be sure to add up all the fees you need, then compare them to the fees charged by other airlines. If you need to carry carry-on bags, and you want to choose your seat, you may find that budget airlines aren’t as cheap as they seem.

Many budget airlines even charge a fee to print your boarding pass at the airport. For example, Spirit Airlines charges $25 at the check-in counter for each boarding pass. To avoid this, check-in online and print your boarding pass at home.

2. Add-ons are usually cheaper if you buy them earlier

If you’re booking with a budget airline, buy all the add-ons you need as early as possible. Prices generally go up if you buy later. For example, adding a carry-on or check-in bag to your reservation is likely to be cheaper if you do this when you book your flight. The price will then be higher if you do it during online check-in, even more at the airport.

3. They are more likely to experience delays and cancellations

Budget carriers record lower on-time percentages and higher cancellation percentages than legacy carriers, based on Bureau of Transport Statistics data from 2021 and 2022. This is not a common occurrence, especially cancellations, but more likely with low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers .

It’s always smart to be prepared for flight problems, just in case. If you’re flying on a budget airline, that’s even more important. Consider purchasing a travel insurance policy. Or, check out travel credit cards that include this as a free perk.

4. They don’t have many routes

The largest airlines have fleets to cover a large number of routes. Their size also means they can offer more routes per day. Budget airlines, on the other hand, are more limited. It means:

  • They may not have direct flights available when the old airline does.
  • They often fly to smaller airports, because those airports charge airlines less money.
  • They may have a much more limited schedule for the flights you want, such as one departure per day or even just a few per week.

This is another reason why budget flights aren’t always such a great deal. If flying on a budget airline will include stops and take 12 hours, while legacy airlines will get you there non-stop in three hours, that’s a lot of extra time to save $100 on tickets.

5. Lines at the airport can be long

Budget airlines are known for having some very long check-in and baggage drop lines, which is not great for the whole air travel experience. Always check-in online, especially as you will avoid the extra cost of having your boarding pass printed at the airport. And if possible, stick to the carry-on. If you need to check bags, arrive early and be prepared to wait a while.

If you are looking for the cheapest flight prices, budget airlines can be a good choice. They work especially well for people who travel light and don’t require the bells and whistles, such as the option to upgrade to first class. But it’s important to know what’s coming so you don’t run into unwanted or costly surprises.

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