Budget airlines have been increasingly popular with frequent flyers due to cheap flight fares across the world. In the past, taking a flight abroad was considered a luxury. However, the budget airlines saturated the travel industry and have thousands of routes at their disposal.

With airlines including Ryanair, EasyJet, Air Asia and Scoot being a common choice for passengers, you have to wonder how these airline companies manage to maintain low cost fares consistently. Well here are some details on how they are able to retain cheap flights.

Quality

Five star treatment on a budget airline is a fairy tale. Do not expect to receive great quality from budget airlines. Treat a flight on Ryanair or Wizz Air as if you are taking the bus or tube to work. It is basic.

If supreme flight quality matters to you when flying domestically or internationally, I would avoid booking with a budget airline. Due to quick turnaround times, airplanes may be subject to inefficient cleaning and tidying and hurried seating of passengers to ensure flight take off is on time

The quality of seating can be poor as seats can be uncomfortable and due to the airline packing in a lot of seats to maximise space and have more passengers. Leg room is cramped and passengers will need to pay for greater space. Passengers that are tall or pregnant may opt to use other airlines to have sufficient seating room.

Regarding entertainment, budget airlines will have no inflight TV screens or will a few screens for passengers to view the safety video. Because many of the budget airlines operate on short haul flight routes, flight entertainment is not required and thus saves money.

In terms of food, it is normally overpriced and of substandard quality. Free meals are non-existent on budget airlines and the companies do generate a lot of revenue from inflight refreshment sales.

Airport locations

A lot of the budget airlines regularly fly to secondary or tertiary airports of a city which could be close or extremely far from the city centre. Passengers will have sort out transfers via train, coach, taxi or car hire to travel to their destinations.

Flights to specific airports of a major city is another determining factor to why budget airlines keep fares low. For example, Warsaw Modlin Airport is 40km away from the city centre however flights are more affordable to this airport than Warsaw Chopin Airport, which is located in the middle of the city.

Operating at the smaller and less congested airports reduces expenses than basing at major inner city airports that command higher airport fees to land airplanes.

Baggage

Budget airlines are known to have strict baggage allowances to enable efficient space to be used on the airplanes. The airlines are known to favour passengers with only cabin bags and normally charge a separate bag fee if flyers wish to board the flight with hold luggage.

Even with hand luggage, some of the airlines are harsh with the restrictions, outlining specific measurements of the maximum dimensions and weight. Any bags outside the dimensions and weight will be subject to fees.

Some airlines also charge higher rates for hold luggage during peak seasons, which can increase the flight costs.

Direct routes and faster turnaround times

Low cost airlines waste no time in utilising airplanes to its maximum flying capabilities, as the frequency in flights per day is much greater than other airlines. So if a flight lands at Barcelona at 12pm, the same plane is quickly spruced up and readied for the next departure within a few hours.

The airlines want to fill their seats as much as possible so they often provide multiple flights on the same day allowing passengers to fly at favourable & flexible times. Budget airlines do fly at abnormal times like 6am or 22pm. However they’re normally cheaper and quieter time options that some passengers do take.

Due to having direct routes, i.e. no stopovers and layovers, this allows the budget airlines to specifically dedicate airplanes to certain destinations, reduce time transferring passengers to busy hubs and avoid schedule longer flights.

Low cost flights are normally non-refundable and non-transferrable so if your flight is cancelled, there’s little provision the airlines would do for you unless valid travel insurance is presented and reimbursement is applicable.

The following post is on booking and flying with budget airlines.

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