So you’re planning a trip and you’re considering budget airline travel to get you there? I’ll be the first to say, I’m with ya! Listen, I’m all for luxury. But I’m also for saving a coin in the name of travel.
In this budget airlines travel guide, I will share with you 5 tips to survive your next flight in an effort to help you decide if budget airlines are really worth it.
Budget Airline Travel Guide
Let’s start by defining what a budget airline is and understanding why budget airlines are so cheap. Budget Airlines or Low-cost airlines are airlines that offer low fares in exchange for eliminating many traditional passenger services. In exchange for this, in order for the airline to make up for lost revenue from reduced ticket prices, they will charge extra fees for things that are typically standard on traditional airlines.
How to find the best cheap flight
My Tennessee Titans were playing in London and that was something I wanted to experience, but how? Because as much as love luxury, I am not giving these people all my coins. Bring on all the budget travel tips!
Let the search begin! I searched all over… looked high and low… for a ticket that I was willing to pay to see the Tennessee Titans attempt to beat their opponent in a game of football. (Yes, that was shade. All non-titans fans, keep your comments to yourself. )
After checking the prices on nearly every airline in the world, I came across WOW Air. I had heard about WOW before, but I was a bit nervous. WOW has since gone out of business, but the tips in the travel guide apply to flying with any budget airline. I’ve heard horror stories about budget airlines and I didn’t particularly want to be the subject of said “horror”. But, after doing TONS of research on the airline, I took the chance and purchased the tickets.
When selecting the best budget airlines, it is imperative that you take the time to prepare and do your research before your flight to ensure you have an enjoyable experience.
Budget Airlines hidden fee
Reading is fundamental. And it’s essential when preparing to travel on a budget airline. Budget airlines make their money on additional fees that are typically standards on traditional airlines. For example, on international flights on a traditional airline, your meals and beverages are included. However, this is not the case with budget airlines. If you didn’t bring your own shacks, the airline is charging you, shawty.
Fees for snacks
Everything has a fee! So it was important that I had enough snacks for my flight when leaving the US, so I could keep my coin. Also, I chose an overnight flight so there wasn’t much snacking going on. On my way back to the states, I did purchase food but surprisingly, it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be. On average, it was about $15 USD for a personal cheese pizza, a mini can of Pringles, and a soda.
Next up is luggage. On most traditional airlines, you are allowed at least one personal item and a carry-on for free. Again, this is not the case with budget airlines. Typically, you are allowed one personal item that fits under the seat. Anything that goes in an overhead bin you will have to pay a carry-on bag fee. It’s best to pay that fee at the time you purchase your airline ticket. If not, the price of the fee usually increases if you wait to pay it at the airport. You can end up paying $100+ USD one way for a carry-on bag if you’re not careful. And ain’t nobody got time for that! In addition to the general carry-on requirements, there is a weight requirement for your carry-on. So once again, do your research in advance.
Selecting your seat
Now, let’s talk about seats. If you have a preference for where you sit while flying, then you might want to pay to choose your seat. There is a wide range of seat options depending on the size of your seat and the amount of legroom provided. However, If you just want to get there and don’t care about where you sit, then go for the free option and allow the airline to choose your seat for you.
Because I was traveling with someone and we wanted to sit together, I paid $12 USD one way to select my seat.
Initially, I ended up paying $100 RT for my carry-on luggage. I said “initially” because… well, we’ll talk about that next.
Checking in and boarding
Let’s get to why I kept saying “initially”. Learn from my mistake, ALWAYS check-in online. Especially when dealing with smaller airlines. When they tell you to check-in at least an hour before the flight is scheduled to leave, usually it’s because the people checking you in are also the people who are at the gate assisting you with boarding. If you arrive at the check-in counter too late, you run the risk of the counter being closed. What does that mean? You miss your flight! How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what happened to me. I missed my flight! Had I checked in online, even if the counter was closed, I still would have had my boarding pass to go through security. I would have had to sprint to the gate, but my chances of making my flight would have been much greater than not having my boarding pass at all.
Because I missed the flight, if I wanted to get back home to America, I had to purchase another airline ticket. When traveling internationally, a missed flight isn’t as forgiving as it is when traveling domestically. There’s no re-booking on the next available flight, Boo. You have to purchase an entirely new ticket. Moral of the story: don’t miss an international flight!
Is budget airline travel worth it?
For this trip, WOW air just made sense. For my ticket, bags, seat, taxes, and fees, I initially spent $472.35 USD for my round trip ticket from Washington DC to London which was purchased a little over 30 days in advance. That’s an awesome price considering we had a stopover in Iceland that allowed us to spend time exploring Iceland without having to pay for a round trip ticket there. I’ll take it!
Even with all the preplanning and additional money spent, I would still choose to fly a budget airline again!
Have you ever flown a budget airline before? Share your experience below.
Until next time, pray fervently and travel often!