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Flying Low-Cost airlines … still a bargain?

Flying Low-Cost airlines … still a bargain?

I really do love traveling, but have never been a fan of low-cost airlines… simply because I always had the impression that there would be no Service and everything you did expect from a flight was extra and quite expensive.

low-cost airlinesI then discovered SkyEurope which was the only flight between Manchester and Vienna (well technically Bratislava- but its only 40mins away!) . Sadly this Low-Cost Airline no long exist! But i have to admit that with the rise of low cost airlines the air travel market was disrupted, it broke the monopoly of traditional airlines and thanks to the stronger competition, airfares dropped in price. However, it’s not as straight forward as it sounds! While yes, you can make great bargains by flying cheaply with low cost airlines, you still need to be smart, flexible and have a hawk eye.

I recently needed to book a flight to Hamburg with Easyjet and found it wasn’t as straight forward and user friendly as expected. You can find discounted airfare rates, but you will have to be a seasoned traveller, to spot the tricks these low-cost airlines use.

Additional costs

low-cost airlinesSince 9/11 air travel in general has affected the travel market and all airlines in one way or another experienced increasing difficulties in maintaining their costs at a certain level. Thus many airlines filed for bankruptcy, many merged and lots of smaller ones vanished completely ( case in point SkyEurope). Low-cost airline found the changes t even more so difficult to sustain the costs and introduced additional costs in almost every aspect of air travel: Chose a seat, board first, extra baggage, food and drink, payment, etc.

If you found a great discounted airfare deal, think again and don’t let it get you excited just yet… You select your flight and then you get the first surprise: Insurance and the cost for check-in luggage has been automatically added to your airfare price. Fair enough, it does say on the website, that the additional cost as been added for “your convenience”… but why are they assuming I want this? Its not even displayed visibly, so that it is easily overlooked. Many people may be using the website for the first time or are in a rush and lack experience and so end up for a service they don’t need or want. If you do not want insurance or do not want to check in any luggage, don’t forget to untick them!

Tips:

  • No matter what … take your time to read the notes carefully and even take the time to read the T&C’s – you might need it at some point in your travel.
  • Even if you have found a really cheap flight with a low-cost airline, “compare” the price. Due to the deregulation and competition from low-cost airlines, major airlines will be forced to lower their prices on selected routes. There might also be an offer or sale on with a major airline, which could only be marginally more expensive but you get more Service from it!

handluggageHand luggage
Most passengers will have different sized hand luggage, as obviously they have been bought from different shops and so does not have a standard size. This is were the real challenge lies. Low-cost airlines apply their own luggage policies: 1 piece of hand luggage, while there are no weight limits, they need to be smaller than the standard sizes allowed on major airlines. Again this is something that is stated on their website. However not many people actually read the dimensions of the hand luggage, because why would you start measuring your hand luggage, that you have been using in the past and has always been ok? This seems to be some kind of trick from the low-cost airlines to make money. As most standard sized hand luggage will be to big to carry on, many passengers will be forced to check it in and pay the additional cost – and it doesn’t exactly come cheap!

Be a smart traveller and either buy a hand luggage according to the dimension stated on the website or pre-book check in luggage to save a a bit of money online!

credit cardsCredit card payment
Many airlines charge a small fee, if you are paying with a credit card. Swiss air for example have introduced a fee of £4,50 depending on which airport you are departing from. I wouldn’t say I agree with this fee, as it didn’t cost anything previously, but its minimal for what you are getting (Service, free check in luggage, Food & Drink!).

Different with a low-cost airline. You found a cheap airfare and have booked it, you click through to the payment page and ta-daaa: the “cheap” airfare just increased! It depends what payment card you are using, but it can cost you up to £10 to book the flight. It’s insane when you think you could get a single flight for £20 but have to pay credit card fees have the airfare price! Unfortunately most low-cost airlines don’t provide cheaper or free payment alternatives 🙁

Departure BoardI think low-cost airlines are very useful for travellers on a budget, who are not fussy and really don’t need anything else but a seat on a plane. But I strongly believe that any company, and this case low-cost airlines really should be more transparent about their costs. If they play fair in the long run customers will build more trust!

I have to say though, I do visit the websites of low-cost airlines every time I want to book a flight, but rarely ever follow through with a booking. Sometimes the price difference between a low-cost airline and a major airline is just too minimal to give up on luxuries like an in-flight meal, free check-in luggage and overall great service

Maybe its just the snob in me talking? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments…

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