What are low-cost airlines, or how to fly on a budget?


Low-cost airlines or low-cost airlines are generally defined as airlines that offer tickets at very low prices. Very low prices" means possibility to fly from one country to another for a couple of tens of Euros. In official language, "a low-cost airline is a business model of an airline company, which is focused on maximum cost optimization and not including additional services in the ticket price in order to minimize the fare"

What do such airlines save on? On everything that does not threaten flight safety, namely:
1. Airport. Everyone who has ever flown a low-cost airline knows that it takes several more hours to get to the nearest major city after landing. The reason for this is the airport taxes. Parking and service at a large airport costs the airline a huge amount of money. To avoid such costs, low-cost airlines fly to nearby, smaller cities. In addition, they also save on airport infrastructure: often passengers are not met at the ramp by a bus, and the "sleeve" costs money, so passengers simply walk to the terminal.

2. Staff. Often the same staff perform different tasks. You may meet them at the gate, then on board, offering to buy snacks and drinks, and at the end of the flight see them cleaning the cabin. Fewer people - lower wage costs - lower ticket price.

3. No airline ticket offices and online ticket sales. When you arrive at the airport, you won't find 20 check-in desks and a line of an hour and a half. Rather it will be 1-2 desks or a separate island, where you can check your luggage. The sale of tickets, as well as check-in is done online. If you have not done so in advance, then you will be asked to pay on the spot. The price may be more than the cost of the ticket itself. See point 2 for the reason of all these restrictions: no check-in counters, no need to hire people. And you already know the rest of the chain.

4. Luggage transportation. Flying with a large suitcase? Pay. Flying with 2 suitcases? Pay twice. Lowcost, as a rule (not all, of course), fly short distances: a couple of hours and you are enjoying a French croissants. So why do you need heavy bags?

5. Entertainment and food on board. Two amenities you can forget about with a low-cost ticket. It's all bookable at the booking stage or can be bought directly on board, but the price can equal the cost of the ticket itself, so it's recommended to stock up on gadgets and food on your own and before boarding the plane.

6. Choosing your seat. Want to fly cheap? Fly where you are told to. And if you want to choose your own seat on the plane then pay. If the fee is not paid, the check-in system will give you a random number of seats. This is not critical if you are travelling alone, but if you are flying in a group the system will randomly assign you seats.

7. Lack of comfort, single class of service. "Uncomfortable and cramped" is all about them - about low-cost airlines. To recoup the cost of the flight, you need to sell as many tickets as possible. And in order to sell as many tickets as possible, you need a large number of seats. How can this be achieved within the airplane industry? Reduce the distance between the seats. So if your knees rest against the backrest of the seat in front of you even on a regular airplane, you will feel quite uncomfortable on a lowcost airplane.

8. New aircraft fleet. A new aircraft is more economical than an old one: it consumes less fuel and does not need major repairs. The low-cost airline fleet is constantly renewed: after 2-3 years of operation aircraft are sold to other "regular" airlines.

9. Nonrefundable tickets. Another important feature of low-cost airlines. 99% of all low-cost airlines sell only non-refundable tickets. So if you change your mind or can't fly - your money will not be refunded.


- Call the call centre.
- Check-in at the airport.
- Lack of a printed boarding pass.
- Charges for baggage or carry-on baggage exceeding
Excess baggage or carry-on baggage fee.
- Changes in the reservation.
- Seat selection.
- Meals on board.
- Entertainment.
Fees may vary. Look for details on the website
of the lowcost carrier you are planning to fly with.


1. Airport of departure-flight. One of the most important points in my opinion. As mentioned above, lowcosters rarely fly from major airports. For this reason, be sure to research how far away the departure/arrival airport is and how much it will cost to get from there to the main point of your trip (applies to both time and money).

2. Buy tickets in advance. The higher the occupancy of the plane, the higher the cost of the ticket. So buy your tickets in advance.

3. Online check-in. Always check-in online and print out your boarding pass. There may be no self-check-in kiosks at the airport. If this is the case, you will need to pay a pretty penny (sometimes more than the price of the ticket itself) in order to check-in online.

4. Baggage. Lowcost airlines always have a detailed description of what they charge for: laptop bags, umbrella umbrellas, strollers, backpacks, etc. Familiarize yourself with this list and if in doubt about any of your luggage items, it is better not to take them at all, or pay online in advance. You will have to pay two or even three times more for checking in and paying for your luggage at the airport.

5. Meals. Need a meal on board? Book and pay for it in advance. After all, the cost "on the spot", as we already know, can be several times higher.

6. If you are not sure about your plans - don't buy. Or be prepared that you will not get your money back in case of cancellation.

1. If you have only hand luggage and no baggage.
2. If you do not plan to bring back kilos of Parmesan, avocado, vegetable oil and other souvenirs for all friends and colleagues.
3. If you don't care who is flying next to you.
4. If not having a TV with movies and games is not a problem.
5. If the main condition is cheap and comfort comes second.
6. If you are not afraid of having to travel dozens of kilometres from the airport to the nearest large city.
To sum up we would like to give one piece of advice: low-cost airlines - it's cheap and affordable. But when buying a ticket forget about conventional service and comfort. Here you are on your own: you found it, checked in, printed it out, weighed it, paid extra, bought food, got on board and got from the airport


1. Ryanair - Europe's largest low-cost airline originating from Ireland.
2. Wizz Air - the second largest low-cost airline after Ryanair.
3. Air Baltic - Latvia's national company. Not a low-cost airline in its pure form, but prices for economy class tickets can be so low that they are well worthy of this name.
4. Vueling - Spanish low-cost. One of the few that fly to major airports with developed infrastructure, which is undoubtedly convenient for passengers.
5. Aegean Airlines - Greek airline. Unlike many other low-cost airlines, you won't be charged for check-in at the airport (there are self-check-in and boarding pass printing kiosks).
6. Smartwings - a Czech low-cost airline flying from Prague throughout Europe.
7. Norwegian Air - the best low-cost airline in recent years, based in Norway. Known not only for punctuality but also for having wi-fi on board. Flies to Europe and North America and by the way, at a very good price.
8. Iceland Air - Icelandic airline, which can only partially be called a low-cost. The main feature is the 7-day stopover in Iceland when flying from Europe to North America.
9. Volotea - Another Spanish low-cost airline. Main focus of flights to France, Italy, Spain and Greece.
10. Easy Jet - A budget airline from Britain. Operates domestic and international flights to Europe (flies to a record number of cities in Spain, Italy and France), the Middle East and North Africa.
11. Transavia - Dutch low-cost. Since the company is from Holland, then the main flights are either "from" or "to" this country and its capital.
12. Meridiana - Italian low-cost airline with which you can fly not only within Europe but also in Africa and South America. It is possible to take up to 23 kg of luggage on company flights.

  • The author of the article

Olga Melnikova, onlineexpo expert, creator of travel diary "Manyways_book


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