Budget airlines revolutionized the air industry with low fares by adopting a completely different way of working to the traditional airlines. By ditching expensive overheads like free food and drink, only using the same type of airplanes to minimize maintenance, training and repair costs, and flying to airports with cheaper landing fees, the budget airlines have passed on huge savings to their customers. This business philosophy has been adopted by pretty much every budget airline around the world.
By selling tickets electronically online or via telephone, the budget airlines’ marketing costs are much lower too – no travel agent commissions to pay or paper tickets to print and post. Virtually all budget airlines use a system of dynamic pricing on their tickets, which means their prices change continually based on demand. Usually the further ahead you book a budget ticket, the cheaper it will be. Sometimes you can get last minute bargains on empty flights, but usually the closer you book to your departure day, the less of a bargain it will be.
You can get the best value from budget airlines by being prepared in advance:
- book your ticket as far in advance as possible to save money
- check the exact location of the destination airport and how far it is from the city you want to visit – and how to get there from the airport
- know your baggage limits and pack accordingly to avoid excess charges
- take a packed lunch with you (but leave the liquids at home)
Here’s a quick run down of the pros and cons of flying with budget airlines:
The main reason why budget airlines are popular – you get there just as fast as a much more expensive, full priced airline for a fraction of the price
– Quick and convenient to book online
Selling tickets online is not only good for the airline but also much more convenient for the customer too – a couple of clicks and you’re done
– You only pay for what you want
Food and drink are not free on budget flights, which is no problem on short hops. On longer flights, budget airlines provide blankets, entertainment sets and hot meals all for a fee. If you’ve thought ahead, you can save on all of these costs.
– Frequent special fares with virtually free flights
Budget airlines run frequent promotions where they slash their ticket prices even further for a limited time period. Budget Airline Guide provides notification of these offers to make sure you don’t miss out.
– Airport can be difficult to get to and from
Budget airlines fly to more obscure airports to lessen landing fees, but the side effect can be that the airport can be a couple of hours journey away from the actual destination, eating up savings on air tickets for taxis and buses.. A new trend is the building of terminals specifically for budget airlines at existing airport locations – both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur have recently opened Low Cost Carrier Terminals that provide basic facilities and still let passengers take advantage of the existing travel services into the city.
– Possible delays from turnaround
Just like a bus route, budget flights go back and forth on the same route several times a day. As the day progresses, small delays can accumulate into running an hour or more behind schedule.
– Restricted baggage allowance
Most budget airlines allow 15kgs of luggage, but are becoming more and more strict about their limits and will charge without exception for any excess baggage. Be aware of an airline’s stated baggage allowance.
– No transfer between flights – point to point only
If you’re trying to make a connection to another flight, don’t expect a budget airline to transfer your bags for you. You’ll need to collect them and check in all over again, as if for two separate flights. By only flying “point to point”, budget airlines avoid the need for the complications of transferring passengers
– Minimal compensation if canceled
Don’t expect hotel accommodation at the airlines’ expense if flights are canceled for whatever reason. Budget airlines provide the absolute minimum of compensation as stipulated by international aviation laws.
– No seat allocation
Most budget flights let everyone pile on to the flight and sit where they want, which can be a little stressful but apparently helps the plane load faster. Some airlines have now introduced an optional seat allocation service which incurs a small fee when booking.