Buying tickets on a budget airline can be a great way to save, literally, hundreds of dollars on airplane tickets. However, while most people will be dazzled by the low, low ticket prices, they’ll fail to notice the dozens of quirks that can make budget airline travel challenging.
For starters, travelers will encounter hefty baggage fees. Most budget airlines allow only one (very small) carry on bag with no complimentary checked bag. Fees vary from airline to airline, but are often upwards of $50 for each checked piece of luggage! Plus, many budget airlines charge by weight, so going over the allotted limit will result in extra fees as well. Curtail this problem by packing everything into your carry on. It’ll be tight, but if you minimize clothing to essentials and opt to buy toiletries at your destination, you’ll be able to make it work.
Another annoying surprise that many travelers discover on budget airlines is that there generally aren’t any complimentary food or drinks, which means that packing your own will be essential. It’s especially important to bring water, which most likely won’t be provided on the flight (or will cost you a few dollars.) Other creature comforts that definitely won’t be provided: pillows or blankets. Thankfully there are a plethora of compact blankets and pillows available that roll up tightly and pack well in carry ons.
Don’t expect TVs or in-flight movies, either. While this may not be a problem if you’re taking a quick local flight, it can make for some serious boredom if you’re going to be traveling for three or more hours. Make sure to download a movie on your smartphone and take a look at how to fashion a first-class entertainment experience with nothing more than a phone and a ziploc bag.
But while you’re enjoying your state of the art entertainment center, do be mindful of your seatmates as space is limited. Space is tight on budget airlines because they’re attempting to fill the plane with as many seats as possible in order to reduce costs, which is also why there are no upgrades available and why most customers will be assigned seating once they arrive at the gate. To give yourself a sense of privacy amongst all the other passengers, plug in some noise-cancelling earbuds and throw on an eye mask. You’ll still be surrounded by a lot of people, but it’ll help you to relax and feel more centered.
Once you arrive at your destination, you may find that the airport is located miles from the city center, often in a small rural community. Though airlines will provide transportation to and from the city, the added time can be a big detractor for some customers. Check to see if this will negatively affect travel before booking because most budget airlines do not allow customers to change flights.
At the end of the day, though the inconveniences of the budget flight can add up to some real frustration, careful planning can help to ensure that your travel experience will be a pleasant, peaceful, and affordable one!