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With domestic flights for under $20 on Spirit and Frontier Airlines and $99 transatlantic flights on Wow Air, more travelers are considering budget airlines. Is saving potentially hundreds of dollars worth no food, entertainment or baggage allowance on these discounted flights?
There’s a lot to consider before booking your ticket, but the bottom line is that if you aren’t one who regularly flies business or first-class, budget airlines may be worth it. Read on for the reasons.
You’ll Save Money Even if You Have to Pay Fees
If you can’t travel with only a carry-on, pay the checked baggage fee on Wow Air. You’re saving so much money on the fare that even with this fee, you’ll still spend less compared to other airlines that allow one free checked bag.
Be sure to travel with an eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones to tune out the many ads and in-flight sales pressure from flight attendants. If you consider the savings, you’re basically being handed hundreds of dollars to sit through a couple sales pitches.
You Can Bring Your Own Food and Drink
Most budget airlines charge you for everything onboard, including water. And, as you can imagine, the prices are not fair. Pack meals from home, just don’t bring any dressing or liquids that exceed TSA’s three ounce rule. Bringing your own food is typically a healthier and tastier option anyway.Bring an empty, reusable water bottle and fill up at one of the water stations in your terminal before boarding as well.
Not Selecting Your Own Seat Can Be a Blessing in Disguise
If you’re traveling with family or a large group, you have to understand that you may not be able to sit together. However, this may be true even if you are able to select seats ahead of time. In fact, you may have more luck choosing your seats onboard, though you may not get your first-choice window or aisle seat or be near the front of the plane. Just remember, all seats are technically the same, so it isn’t worth it to spend money on one.
The Seat Dimensions Are Basically the Same
In most cases, an airplane seat is an airplane seat–meaning budget airline seats are the same size as other airline’s seats. You may have less legroom, though, because budget airlines tend to fill the cabin as much as possible. The seat pitch on Ryanair, EasyJet and Spirit is smaller than other airline seats by about an inch. But, the seat width is basically the same–about 18 inches. You most likely will not notice a one-inch difference. Especially, if you’ve saved a significant amount of money.
Safety Isn’t Major a Concern
Budget airlines use the same planes as major airlines. Budget airlines simply curb costs by choosing the same type of plane for their entire fleet. Safety is always the number one concern for every airline.
The most recent airline safety rankings by the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre ranked EasyJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Ryanair—some of Europe’s largest discount airlines—much higher than American Airlines. EasyJet also ranked above Southwest and Delta.
Delays seem to be a regular problem for these airlines, though. Spirit is known for late take-offs and Ryanair often must compensate customers reporting ridiculously long flight delays.
Bottom line: A discounted flight doesn’t mean a miserable flight. It basically all comes down to whether or not you’re a high maintenance traveler. If seat selection and slightly less legroom aren’t a big deal to you, it comes down to baggage and food fees. And a bit of nickel-and-diming is nothing compared to the potential of hundreds of dollars in savings.
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Shannon McMahon, SmarterTravel.com