Beat the budget airline
Flying with a low cost airline may mean cheap flights to your favourite destinations, but it can also mean hidden costs, luggage fees and sitting apart from the rest of your party. Listed below are the top three budget airlines in the UK, and the tips and tricks I’ve discovered to keep costs as low as possible.
They receive a lot of bad press, but there is no doubt Ryanair offers some of the cheapest flight prices to European destinations. Searching right now, I can find flights from London airports to Germany, France, Denmark and Poland all for under £10 each way – bargain! However, these flight prices do not include bags, food and drink or seat selection.
You have two options when booking with Ryanair – either choose between Standard, Plus or Flexi Plus packages, or stick to Standard and add priority boarding on at the next step. Confused? Us too. Stick with it.
The standard is the original fare, nothing extra, so no extra charge. Plus is around £40 more on the standard ticket and Flexi Plus is around £60 more. These allow you seat selection and luggage allowance. Full inclusions detailed below.
If you don’t want to pay for a package and just need a cabin bag allowed on board, consider adding priority. This is much cheaper, at £12 each way, so although you won’t get seat selection included, if all you want is a cabin bag then this is the way to go.
If you haven’t selected a package and have simply paid for priority to get a cabin bag on board, then selecting a seat can cost as little as £4 per flight, but quickly climbs to £13 if you want a seat towards the front of the plane. If it’s a short journey and you are not worried about sitting with with the other members of your party, skip the seat selection offer and let the airline randomly allocate you one free of charge.
If you wish to sit together, still always take the randomly allocated free option at first and hope that they will put you together. If they do not, you are then shown a map of all available seats, and often the will be empty seats next to each of your allocated ones (annoying!). Move one of your party and split the cost of the ticket between you. Saves you both paying to choose a seat in the first place!
The budget airline with its HQ in Hungary is becoming increasingly popular with British travellers, and for good reason. They offer a huge number of cheap flights from London to cities all over Europe, and the flight times generally aren’t bad either.
Wizz Air offer three options when booking, with their package options including seat selection and luggage that can be taken on board and/or checked into the hold. The packages on offer are below, and while the prices vary depending on flights, you can expect to pay around £40 extra for Wizz Go and £55 for Wizz Plus.
Wizz air also offer the option to sign up to the Wizz Discount Club for €29.99 a year, which I have found it very useful when flying several times a year with the airline, and have saved a fair bit of money above and beyond the €29.99 fee. They list their benefits online as the following:
- guaranteed minimum discount of €10 on each flight on all fares from €19.99, anytime during your membership
- min. €5 discount on baggage purchased online
- the discounts also apply to the reservation of the member’s travel companion (within the same booking as the member, maximum one more passenger per booking for a Standard Membership and up to 5 passengers for a Group Membership)
- get informed about member-only promotional offers via email before others and get access to additional discounts after you subscribe to WIZZ Special Offers
easyJet offer slightly more in their standard ticket costs, including a cabin bag for each passenger, which takes the stress out of worrying about which ‘package’ you need to select. You have the option to upgrade to Flexi ticket, which allows changes to flight dates and times, plus checked 23kg bags, fast track security along with some other additions, but unless you are wanting to check a bag it really isn’t necessary.
If you haven’t selected the flexi ticket option, you will either be asked to choose and pay for a seat or to have one randomly allocated upon check in. Seats at the front of the plane are usually around £13.50, with seats towards the back going down to around £6.