Budget airlines: what you need to know

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Once upon a time air travel was only for the rich, powerful and glamorous; over the past few decades, though, that’s slowly changed. So much so that nowadays there’s a plethora of so-called ‘budget airlines’ offeringcustomerscomparatively cheap flights. Thanks to theserelative newcomers to the air travel industry, it means you can now snag some great deals, but equally you should be aware that what may appear to be a very cheap fare could escalate in cost quickly. How should you approach searching and booking with such airlines then? Well, this blog post offers you a quick guide…

So what exactly is a budget airline?

First and foremost, budget airlines (also referred to as discount airlines or low-cost carriers) usuallyoffer fares that tend to be cheaper than many of their competitors because they only include a charge for the flight itself. In order to keep prices down then, they strip things back to basics – rather like how a low-cost supermarket will do so. Where they can make extra cash out of customers, though, is by charging for everything else they offer beyond the simple flight. For instance, nothing else is included in the basic price – food and drink or a blanket on board; choosing where you sit;hand luggage over the weight-limit;printing out your boarding pass and even checking in are highly likely to accrue additional and – in some cases – unexpected costs.

95628628Whether you can fly without these extras, of course, is up to you. If you like your creature comforts (if you’re the sort that loves getting upgraded to first class whenever possible), then budget airlines probably aren’t for you. Alternatively, if you’re looking to travel for business or leisure on a budget, then you no doubt can and flying with a discount airline will probably suit you well.

Go online and stay aware…

Among goodbudgetairlinetips is to try and do as much as you can online. As mentioned, checking-in will probably cost you if you do it in person, but it’s unlikely to do so online. Booking your ticket over the phone may also incur a fee, so be advised to try and do this on the ’Net too. And if you’re looking to book, order or buy any other ‘non essentials’, such as a meal on your flight, definitely aim to do this online to avoid additional costs. Of course, should you be staying in a nearby hotel before you fly– taking advantageof, say, London Heathrow hotels deals – then you might well be able to purchase an inexpensive meal there instead of relying on in-flight dining.

As well as extra costs, it’s a good idea to be canny about exactly what you are paying for. Is air tax included in the airfare that’s caught your eye? If, after a little investigation, you discover it’s not, you’llprobably find that the tax has beenadded to the basic cost of the flight.

Also, when you’re booking online, have you been given the option to ‘untick’ any boxes? Go back and check. If you’ve missed doing so, it’s likely you’ve effectively opted yourself into additional services and additional costs – it’s possible on some budget airline sites you’ll be opted into purchasing travel insurance unless you actively opt yourself out. Note too that usually when you book a discount airline flight, costs for luggage (to go in the hold) will be additional. Often these lie somewhere in the region of £30-£40 one-way.

… And always read the fine print

Already it may have occurred to you, while reading this post, that given there’s a strong likelihood travelling via a budget airline will incur extra costs on top of the basic flight price, you’d be well advised to check all your booking’s Terms and Conditions. What sort of things should you look out for? Well, definitely verify yourcheck-in time – beware that, if you’re a frequent flyer, it may be earlier thanis usual for ‘more expensive’ airlines. Low-cost carriers really do live up to the slogan ‘if you’re late, we won’t wait’. Also, don’t assume you’ll be able to change your ticket for a few extra pounds; it could be the airline insists you buy a whole new ticket.

Having said all that, though, there’s no question that flying low-cost can be a great mode of transportation for those looking to travel for leisure or business and wanting to do so on a budget. Undoubtedly, their growth has helped open up air travel to more consumers– who also fly more frequently – driving up the airline industry’s competitiveness and increasing the number and quality of deals available. So happy browsing and booking – just look out for what you are and aren’t paying for!

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