How to: Travel with Budget Airlines

Dear Karen,

 Flying with Vueling recently. As long as you know what you are getting, it isn't that difficult to prepare yourself properly. 

Flying with Vueling recently. As long as you know what you are getting, it isn't that difficult to prepare yourself properly. 

I travel fairly often with those super-cheap airlines that everyone is worried about travelling with because they have all sorts of extra fees, but I manage to do just fine! In fact, I am always surprised when people don’t actually seem to know what they are doing or are shocked when they find out they’ve done something wrong. I am a firm believer that reading the directions is key to successfully getting through these situations, but in case you are unsure of what you are looking for, check out these top tips for traveling with budget airlines (such as RyanAir, EasyJet, Vueling, etc.).

Note: If you’re not sure where to get the best flight for your buck check out our post about how to find cheap flights!

 

1.) Know what you are purchasing ahead of time

My number one tip for flying with cheap airlines is to research what you are getting into before you buy. It might seem odd, but the budget airports in some cities are located a fair distance (and expensive bus ride) away from where you actually want to go. By researching the specifics of the trip you are taking, you will be more prepared both for buying your tickets and once you are getting ready to set off on your travels. Some of the things I always check out are:

  • The location of the airports in comparison to the cities you are leaving from/arriving to. And how to transfer from the airport to the city center. 
  • How long the flight is and if there is any kind of layover.
  • What the taxes and additional fees are for the flight (for example, if you have checked luggage, plan to eat onboard, or want to book a specific seat).

Pro-tip: Don’t necessarily think that budget airlines are less expensive than higher class ones if you count in luxuries such as booking a seat or getting a meal. Make sure you consider all of these factors before thinking that the cheapest option is the best.

 

2.) Check the luggage specifications

This is probably the easiest thing you can do that will save you the most hassle at the airport. If you can only bring on a bag that is a certain size or weight make sure you know it before you arrive at check-in (you can always find this on the website—worse case scenario would be to Google carry-on specifications for the airline)! Also make sure to check out if you are allowed one carry-on and a handbag/laptop case OR if you have just one bag! If you prepare your baggage according to the rules given to you ahead of time, you will not have problems when you get to the gate—potentially saving you both time and money and definitely making life easier.

Pro-tip: I usually travel with a 30 liter backpack (from Decathlon—not sponsored but open to it) and almost never get questioned for size and weight. At the same time, I only travel with a handbag/laptop case when I KNOW I am allowed to.

 

 Consider splurging on emergency exit seats for more room! 

Consider splurging on emergency exit seats for more room! 

3.) Consider “upgrading”

I know you are most likely travelling with budget airlines because you don’t have much money to spend on flights, however, sometimes paying extras is more expensive than actually just upgrading your ticket. Make sure you research the different upgrade options before choosing which one is right for you, but often times, if you are travelling with extras, it can be worth your while.

For example: If you are travelling with a checked bag and two carry-on items, you want to board first, and will probably have a snack during the flight, upgrading to the equivalent of ‘business class’ (usually around 20€) will mostly likely be less expensive than just checking your bag.

 

4.) Make sure you bring your ticket

Although, as far as I know, RyanAir is the only company that will charge you if you don’t check-in, print your ticket out ahead of time and bring it with you. Having your ticket is something I always recommend. Not only can you skip the check-in line at the desk (going straight to bag drop or security), no one will evaluate your bag until you are ready to get on the plane. Now, if you are completely disorganised and haven’t packed accordingly, this means that you might end up paying an even higher fee than you would have previously. However, in many cases, you can offer to drop you bag at the desk—many budget airlines run out of space in the cabin and accept bag drops—and you won’t get your bag weighed.

Pro-tip: While I know a lot of people who say they have never gotten their bag weighed at check-in, I know people who have and, subsequently, have had to pay the 50€ to check it. If you get to the gate there is seldom a scale to weigh bags.


 

Those are my four top-tips for travelling with cheap airlines. What do you think? Do you happily travel budget or have you had problems?

Sincerely,
Spain