I’m a budget traveller, I’m not embarrassed to admit that. Keeping to a tight budget has allowed me to travel to some amazing places and reach countries that otherwise I could only dream of.
Cheap flights with low-cost airlines have been key to my travels. Now that I live in Spain I take advantage of multiple cheap flights around the country and also fly back to London a couple of times a year.
There are some downsides to flying with the low-cost airlines. Of course, I would love to always fly first class, skipping the line, flying in luxury and drinking free champagne. But that is not going to happen, unless I win the lottery!
I accept low cost flights for what they are, cheap & basic, just getting you from A to B as cost effectively as possible. Most people aren’t keen on budget airlines and to be honest some of them can be really cheeky with hidden extra costs and last-minute flight cancelations.
But the thing is, we need these budget flights. Without them we wouldn’t be able to travel easily around Europe for such little money. They are making travel accessible for everyone.
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Low cost airlines are big
- Ryan Air fly to 33 countries!
- Easy Jet carry over 30 million passengers per year!
- Iberia Express have flights to 31 countries in Europe!
- Vueling airline has doubled the number of passengers carried since 2012!
- Air Europa has a fleet of 52 aircrafts flying across Europe!
- Norwegian Air fly into 14 airports in Spain!
Lets face it, low cost airlines are not going anywhere soon and they most certainly are not going to change their ways when business is doing so well.
So why fight it, let’s all sit back, relax and enjoy the cheap flights.
I have a few things up my sleeve that I always do to help me survive a low cost airline flight. Follow these tips and I promise you too will be having a more fun, stress-free and comfortable low cost flight.
My 9 tips for surviving a low cost flight
1. Check the baggage rules
The first thing that will help ease the stress of going to the airport and surviving your low cost flight is to make sure that you have packed accordingly. Check the rules and restrictions your airline has in place for baggage. Annoyingly each airline has a slightly different set of rules. So don’t assume your cabin bag is ok, find the exact measurements and weight on your airlines website to be sure.
If you are traveling with just hand luggage, check out our post on how to pack light – Tips for packing only hand luggage. Be aware that you may only be allowed to take one bag onboard the flight.
2. Make sure you have your boarding pass and passport
Remember to check into your flight beforehand. Some low cost airlines allow you to do this 1 month in advance and some only 24 hours. Nearly all of them require you to do this before you get to the airport even if you are checking in bags. Be sure to either print your boarding pass or download it to your phone. Most low-cost airlines have apps that you can download to your phone or tablet via the app store. This does makes things easier and is handy for accessing your flight info, checking in and showing your boarding QR code. Also keep your passport safe and easy to grab out of your bag with a cute passport holder.
3. Allow time to walk to the gate
Once you’ve been through security, grab a coffee and browse through the airport shops but don’t get too distracted. Make sure you check the boards for your flight info and updates. More often than not low cost airlines have departure gates that are quite far away. Know which gate you are heading to and allow enough time to walk to the gate. You certainly do not want to get all stressed and sweaty running to the gate as it closes. Also don’t wait for boarding calls, most airports don’t do them now.
4. Be prepared to check your hand luggage bag at the last minute
When you get to the gate keep in mind that lots of low cost flights can only take a certain number of bags in the cabin. Because it’s easier and cheaper to fly hand luggage only, nowadays most people do. Unfortunately, the smaller planes just don’t have space for everyone to have a wheelie suitcase as carry-on. So, it helps to be prepared for the fact that they might ask you to check your suitcase at the last minute.
5. Take your own water bottle
In flight drinks are expensive and you are traveling on a budget, remember. Don’t get suckered into buying drinks on board but it is important that you stay hydrated during the flight. I always take a re-usable bottle to fill from the water fountain just before checking in at the gate. This stainless steel water bottle is great. Don’t forget you can’t take liquids though security so you must fill it after.
6. Take your own snacks
Budget airlines have pretty terrible in-flight food options and again they can be really expensive. However, having a bite to eat on the plane can really help pass the time and make your journey more comfortable. It’s not much fun flying on an empty stomach. Snacks are allowed to go through airport security so if you want to be really thrifty make something at home. I usually grab a sandwich from an airport café or a cheeky bar of chocolate.
7. Google the flight time beforehand
It really helps if you know what to expect before settling into your seat on the plane. The night before or the morning of your flight give it a quick google just to check how long the flight will take.
8. Get as comfortable as possible
Before its time for take-off get as comfortable as you possibly can in your seat. Let’s face it there’s never much leg room and the chairs are not very comfy. So, do whatever you can to make things a little better. I always take a jumper or scarf on-board to wear incase the air-con is up too high. If you need to have a nap one of these inflatable pillow sets really help.
9. Have your own entertainment with you
The last thing you need to survive your low cost flight is some entertainment to help pass the time. A good book, a tablet pre-loaded with the latest Netflix shows or your phones music collection and a decent pair of earphones. I like to take all three!
Low cost airlines that I have flown recently and the pro’s and con’s
PRO: Quite comfortable seats, very cheap flights
CON: The online check-in really pushes you to pay for upgraded seats, must print boarding pass, often delayed, infamous for cancelling flights
PRO: Let you check in 30 days ahead, really easy to use app, ok on-board food options, good inflight magazine
CON: Gate often announced late, only 1st 90 bags fit in the cabin, really strict with 1 bag per person only
PRO: Efficient boarding, gate announced approx 1 hour before flight, all passenger bags fit on-board, let you have cabin bag plus small hand bag
CON: Very little leg room
PRO: Fairly comfortable seats, decent leg room, room for most cabin bags
CON: Limited in-flight food options, you can only check in 24 hours before flight
I hope these tips will help you to survive your next low-cost airline flight. If you’ve found this post useful, please save it or share it using the icons below.
If you regularly travel on budget flights and have some tricks to make life easier let me know in the comments box 🙂
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