10 Jan A Guide to Low Cost Airlines in Europe
If you’re traveling around Europe, flying can often be one of the cheapest options for getting from A to B because of the number of low cost airlines offering cheap fares.
I feel very fortunate to come from the UK because there are so many different countries right on my doorstep, and no-frills airlines are making it more and more affordable to get there. I found it to be a lot more expensive flying internally within North America and Australia, so I feel lucky to be able to fly to places like Paris, Milan and Krakow for cheap.
Flying low cost airlines in Europe is one of the cheapest ways to get from country to country, and can often be cheaper than trains or even buses. It’s common to find flights to major European cities for less than €100, and I have found flights for as low as €10. Even with taxes and fuel charges added on, they are value for money.
Sometimes if I get itchy feet and I don’t mind where I go, I’ll simply use comparison sites to find the cheapest destination to fly to!
Low Cost Airlines I have Flown With:
Jet2.com- Jet2.com is a low cost airline based in the north of England. I often fly Jet.2 out of Leeds Bradford Airport or Manchester Airport because those are the two airports closest to my home. I’ve always liked Jet2. You get 10 kg hand baggage allowance and you can pay £7.99 to get a generous 22 kg baggage allowance.
Ryanair- I previously wrote about my disastrous story flying with Ryanair, but they do offer some very cheap air fares to cities all over Europe. Ryanair’s rules are very strict, so make sure you go over the fine print and the T&Cs with a fine tooth comb before you book a flight.
Wizzair- Wizzair favours the colour pink and flies primarily to places in Eastern Europe. I flew from London Luton to Wroclaw in Poland with them.
Easyjet- I have flown Easyjet the most on my travels. I like the way you can search for fares over an entire month and they fly to a wide number of destinations. The fares shown on their website include all the admin costs, so you know what price you are going to pay. I have also changed my flight bookings before with no problem.
Vueling- Vueling is based in Spain and I found some dirt cheap flights with them from Nice to Barcelona and Barcelona to Venice. For a fee, you can check-in a bag weighing up to 23 kg which is plenty.
Monarch- I once flew with Monarch from Manchester to Faro in Portugal for £35 which is less than it would cost me to take a train to London!
Tips for flying low cost airlines in Europe
Travel light- Low cost airlines like to sting you in other ways, by charging for things like baggage. If you want to keep the costs down, travel with just the free hand luggage allowance.
Pay for your checked bags online- If you need to check-in a bag, pay for it online in advance. The price often goes up if you pay at the airport on the day.
Watch your weight- Be aware of the exact baggage restrictions for the airline. Each low cost carrier has different bag dimensions and weight restrictions. Just because your bag is the right size/weight for one airline, doesn’t mean it will be OK for another. If you play by the rules, then you’ll be fine. However if your bag is oversized or overweight, you may end up having to pay some hefty excess baggage fees. Read the rules and you’ll be safe.
Remember to print your boarding pass- If you check-in online you must print your boarding pass. I always print two copies just in case i misplace one. If you don’t print your boarding pass, you may be charged a fee for printing it at the airport.
Be on time- If you need to check-in for your flight or drop a bag at the baggage drop, make sure you know exactly what time check-in closes. If you have already checked-in online, make sure you know what time the gate closes and give yourself plenty of time as low cost airlines are often at the furthest gates. Low cost airlines do not wait, so if you’re late, it’s likely you will have to pay for a new flight.
Pack your own lunch- In-flight food is rarely free these days unless you’re traveling on a long-haul flight. Pack your own sandwiches and snacks so you don’t have to pay for it on-board.
Check which airport you are flying into– Don’t just assume that you are flying into the city’s main airport. Some of the low cost carriers fly into airports that are further out of the city, so check which airport you are actually flying to. For example, Barcelona only has one airport- Barcelona El Prat (BCN)- but your flight might be going to Barcelona Reus (REU), which is about 100km from Barcelona.
Don’t be afraid to book your return flight with a different airline- Use a flight comparison site to find the cheapest flights both there and back. It may be that the cheapest option is to book your outbound flight with one airline, and your return flight with another. Don’t be scared to mix it up!
Book in advance- As a general rule, it is cheaper to book in advance. Fares to increase rapidly nearer the time of the flight. Obviously you can still find some great last minute deals and bargain sales, but try to book as far in advance as possible.