European Low-cost airlines provide a very popular way to get around Europe for dirt cheap, and are safe and reliable, similar to Southwest Air in the US. Don’t be scared off by the the low-cost carriers hilariously flaky names like Baboo, Ryan Air, TranSavia the fantastically misnamed EasyJet!
But as your mother always told you, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!”
What You Give Up with a Low Cost Fare
- You’ll get an uncomfortable seats that doesn’t even recline.
- You pay for your luggage (even carry on!)…
- …but it has to be maddeningly small and lightweight.
- You are not allowed to carry on a briefcase and a purse, which is super annoying.
- You can’t get even a sip of water without paying.
- And you even have to pay to pay (10€ credit card fee)!
…But the toilets are still free, yippee!
The Two Biggest Low-Cost Airline Traps to Avoid
Check-in Luggage: You can pay to check one bag, but if you choose to pay extra for a second bag… don’t be fooled, it doesn’t give you any extra weight, it just means that you can put the same kilos of stuff into two bags instead of one. If you show up with an extra bag or extra weight you pay through the nose… and could easily end up doubling the cost of your cheap ticket! To avoid such scenes I use this awesome tiny travel luggage scale which I got in the US, but you can also find them in the UK.
Carry on: Normal airlines allow you a carry-on and a personal item, so your briefcase and a purse, for instance. Not Low Cost: You are allowed only one very small carry-on, so you have to be able to cram your purse into your briefcase, or pay 50€ on the spot. ‘Doesn’t matter if the purse and briefcase are smaller than a normal rolling suitcase: the rule is the rule. And now your carry on must fit under the seat; if you want to put it in the overhead bin, you have to pay extra! Extra, extra, EXTRA!
With Easyjet, if you pay extra for priority boarding (Speedy Boarding), you also get a little more wiggle room on luggage, so this can be a good way to go.
Here is a ridiculous solution to this ridiculous rule: the BIG-Pocket Travel Jacket which you can load up with laptops, books, boots, whatever, and if you are wearing it, none of it counts toward you luggage or weight limit! Obviously this jacket is kind of a joke, but I admit I wear my coats with the biggest pockets and do load them up if necessary.
How to Find Low Cost Flights in Europe
The Nice airport has the largest hub of low cost airlines in France, and by booking early you can fine discount flights within Europe for 50€. Big travel search engines like Expedia and Opedo don’t include low-cost airlines! Best to use Google Flights which includes them all, so you get the best fares from the majors as well as the low cost airlines, plus tips on whether a day earlier or later would make a difference.
Or check out the search engine dedicated to low-budget carriers: WhichBudget.
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