Tips and tricks for flying lowcost
Plan your trip
Look for promotions
- Most airlines have special offers almost all the time. These offers are usually valid only for specific destinations and for specific dates (or days of week). If you are flexible on dates, check "what is on sale now", to get the best price! If there is no discount on your desired route and if your dates are flexible, you can wait for 2 to 4 weeks for a promotion on that particular route.
Avoid school holidays
- Many cheap airlines take advantage of school holidays to increase their prices, as they expect to have a larger number of passengers than usual. During these periods a late booking (1 week before departure) may result in your paying more than the price of a ticket with a regular airline. It is therefore advisable to avoid these periods, if possible.
Fly on workdays
- As many passengers prefer to fly on week-ends, week-end tickets sell first. If you don't book your trip well in advance (2-3 months beforehand) you may notice, for example, that Thursday flights are cheaper than Sunday flights. Some low cost carriers have special promotions on the flights during the week.
Book well in advance
- The cheapest tickets sell first. The policy of lowcost airlines is to sell cheap tickets at first and to gradually increase the price as tickets are bought. Usually, if you buy your ticket 2-3 months in advance, you will probably get the best price.
- On LowCostRoutes.com you can find the list of all the airlines flying from an airport/city to another. This way, you will know exactly which low cost airlines offer cheap flights on your route and you will be able to compare their prices and schedules in order to choose the flights that suit you best.
Consider secondary airports
- Secondary airports (smaller airports or airports that are further away from the city center) usually have lower airport taxes, which translate into lower ticket prices. When comparing the prices of flights that depart from 2 different airports you need to also take into account the price you pay for transportation to and from the airport (shuttle bus, train ticket, gas, etc).
An indirect flight
- If there is no direct flight on your desired route and you have to change planes in order to reach your destination, you should take into account three very important "details".
Escort for unaccompanied minors
- First of all, you will have to buy your flight tickets separately, as if they were for two separate journeys. It may therefore happen that the sum you pay for the two flight tickets, especially if you buy them shortly before your flight date, be almost equal to the price you would pay for a direct flight with a regular line. Check and compare prices well before buying!
- Moreover, when you arrive at the airport where need to change flights, you must collect your luggage yourself, as if your journey were over. Afterwards, you need to leave the airport security area, check-in for the second flight and go through the security check once again before boarding the second plane. Be extremely careful, as this could sometimes take more than 3 hours!
- Last but not least, if your first flight is late, the next one will not wait for you, even if it is operated by the same airline. That is due to the policy of low cost companies which states that flights are independent from one another. Low cost airlines are not responsible for your losing the onward flights, no matter what.
- Some low cost airlines offer escort services for unaccompanied minors - usually aged more than 6 - for a 50 EURO fee per flight. Children are entrusted to a specially trained adult who deals with the border crossing formalities, takes care of the children during the flight and safely delivers them to the person waiting for them at the end of the journey. Obviously, it is not possible for under-age children to travel on indirect lowcost flights, because it is not the escort's job to check children in for the onward flight. However, the escort will collect children's luggage after a direct flight. In order to know what the requirements for minors to travel alone are, inquire with the Border Police.
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Check the real ticket price
- When you search for flights, some airlines show you the ticket price without taxes (like fuel fee, airport taxes, government taxes). Before choosing a flight, check the full price (inclusive of all taxes), which has to be displayed on the page where you are requested to enter your card details.
Should I buy my ticket online or through a travel agent?
- Most travel agents also sell tickets for lowcost flights. A travel agent usually buys a large number of tickets at once, so that he may have some discount on the total price. But he adds a commission to the initial price. So if you buy your ticket through a travel agent you may pay a higher final price for your plane ticket. It's always a good idea to compare prices before buying your ticket. However, keep in mind that the cheapest tickets sell first, so don't waste too much time comparing!
Do I need Travel insurance?
- Some low cost carriers offer you travel insurance by default. This insurance covers you for the duration of your flight/trip. If you already have a comprehensive health insurance policy, you are probably covered much better than you would be with the travel insurance offered by the airline. In this case, there is no point buying travel insurance together with the flight ticket.
- Lately, some bargain airlines started selling "reserved seats" on the plane. However, the seats are all quite similar and even if you don't reserve a seat when you book your ticket you will still be able to choose your seat when you board the plane or you will be assigned one at the check in desk. So you can easily avoid paying extra money in order to reserve your seat.
Pay by debit card
- All cheap airlines charge customers a payment handling fee, which covers the costs they incur when accepting Credit Card payments. The fee may vary depending on the card circuit (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Diners, etc) or the card type (Credit Card or Debit Card). Most of the time, if you pay by debit card you will be charged no payment handling fee or you will pay a lower fee than when paying by credit card.
Check the cancellation policy
- Usually, if you choose the lowest fare you will not be allowed to freely modify you flight details later on (change dates or passenger names, etc). If you think that you might need to do this, you should consider buying a more flexible (but also more expensive) ticket.
Estimate your luggage well
- As cheap airlines are trying to minimize their costs they usually have a restrictive luggage policy. - You can board the plane with only one piece of hand luggage (usually not heavier than 10kg and with maximum dimensions of 55x40x20cm). For detailed information on hand luggage allowance check the website of the carrier. - If you plan to also take hold baggage with you, you will need to pay for it online (when you book your ticket) or at the airport. Keep in mind that it is cheaper to pay for your checked-in luggage online than at the airport.
Use online check-in
- Most lowcost airlines now offer passengers the possibility to check in online for their flight. In most cases you can check in online only if you have no hold luggage. However, some airlines do have a special bag-drop desk for passengers who wish to check in online and to take hold luggage with them. By checking in online, you will avoid queuing in order to check-in at the airport (and you will probably also save some money).
- The price of the tickets for lowcost flights increases with the number of tickets sold. So it may happen that there is only one ticket left at the lowest price (e.g. 30Euro) and that the others cost more (e.g. 40Euro). If you buy two tickets, you will be paying the higher price multiplied by the number of passengers (in our case 40*2=80Euro, instead of 30+40=70Euro). Always check that the total price for the group is not higher than the initial price per person multiplied by the number of people in your group.
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Re-check your flight details
- Low-cost airlines may (rarely) decide to change the departure/arrival airport (to another airport in the same city) or to reschedule flights. You are usually informed of these changes in advance, via e-mail. However, it is recommended that you re-check your flight details a couple of days before departure.
Weigh your luggage at home
- Avoid excess baggage charges by weighing your luggage at home and trying to stay under the weight limit (15 or 25 kilos per checked-in bag, depending on the airline). If you exceed the weight limit, you may be asked to pay 10-15E per extra kilo. If your luggage is overweight and you can't leave anything else at home, it may be a good idea for you to take a hand baggage. But be careful: you need to check the weight limits for your hand luggage too!
Verify delays online
- Usually, if one low-cost flight is late, it causes all the subsequent flights made with that particular airplane to be delayed. This is due to the fact that low-cost airlines prefer to have short waiting times (between 25 minutes and 2 hours) between flights. So if the flight before yours is late, your flight may even have a 1 or 2-hour delay. You can check the estimated departure/arrival time online, either on the website of the airport (for most airports) or on the website of the airline (for all major airlines).
Food and drinks on the plane
- One of the most important "features" of low cost flights is that the airlines do not offer free food and drinks on the plane. Food and drinks are sold on board, but they are quite expensive. If you travel on a low budget you should take some sandwiches from home. But remember that you cannot carry any liquids in your hand luggage past the security check!
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At the airport
Get to the airport earlier
- Plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. Low-cost airlines will not wait for passengers who are late, as regular airlines do. Check-in opens 2 hours before departure and closes strictly 40 minutes before departure.
Need more leg room?
- Many low cost airlines have a free seating policy, which means that you can choose your seat when you board the plane. The seats situated near the emergency exits have more leg room than the others, so if you are tall or have long legs, you will probably prefer to sit there!
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