Fri, May 28th, 2010 - By

Budget airline tips

Here are some tips to help you avoid hassle and/or extra cost when flying with budget airlines.  It is possible to get really cheap fares, most likely to be available if you fly midweek in low season but you have to be aware of the potential tripwires.

Ryanair Boeing 737 (EI-DAP)

Card payment fees

If you book more than once a year with budget airlines, look into getting the appropriate card to avoid card payment fees which can be as high as £5 per person per flight with Ryanair. With many of the low cost airlines this is a Visa Electron card.  However with Ryanair, it’s now a Mastercard prepaid debit card.

Priority boarding fees

Before you pay an additional fee such as Easyjet’s Speedy Boarding, check out if you’ll be walking or getting the bus to the plane.  If it’s a bus there’s not much point in forking out for this as yes, you’ll be called first at the boarding gate and get on the bus first but will you be first off the bus and onto the plane?

Speedy Boarding

Two leg journeys

Be aware that budget airlines only offer a point to point service, this means if you have a two leg journey, even with the same airline, the airline takes no responsibility for you catching your onward flight.  Therefore if you are delayed for any reason and miss that 2nd flight, you’ll have to buy a full price ticket to reach your final destination.  That may not even be on the same day as some destinations only have flights once or twice a week.  If you’re at one of these Ryanair special airports miles from the city itself, there may be very few other carriers operating out of that airport.

4  Luggage Size and Weight

Check the size and weight of your hand luggage.  The permissible case dimension sizes vary between airlines and very often there is a luggage gauge at the boarding gate and if your luggage doesn’t fit you’ll have to pay an inflated price for it to go as hold luggage.  When I flew on UK domestic flights with bmibaby, I had my hand baggage size checked at the check in desk and at the boarding gate.  So don’t assume you can get away with a larger bag.  Most budget airlines strictly enforce one piece of hand baggage only, so won’t let you have a handbag, laptop bag, or even a carrier bag with purchases from the airport shops. You also need to check the maximum weight allowed for your hold luggage, as this varies between airlines and you don’t want to have to pay excess weight charges of up to £20 per kilo.

Work out the total cost of flights and transfers

Do compare the total price for the flights charged by a budget airline once all the extras are added.  Then also consider the cost and time of journeys to the departure airport and from the arrival airport to your final destination.  A cheap looking flight may end up costing more than you think when you factor in all the extras charged on the flight plus transfer costs.

Ensure you take your online check in boarding pass to airport

If you have checked in online for your Ryanair flight, do remember to take a print out of your boarding pass to the airport with you as Ryanair will charge you £40 to reprint this at the airport.

Images used in post from andresrueda, rvm_71

Karen Bryan

Say hello to the first of our guest bloggers who’ll be keeping you informed and entertained, while Sue is on maternity leave. We’re delighted to welcome Karen Bryan to the blog and we’re sure you’ll find her posts useful and inspiring.

Karen Bryan is the founding editor of the UK based, multi author Europe a la Carte Blog which features Europe travel tips about the best places to visit in Europe.

Posted : Friday, May 28th, 2010 at 15:10
Category : How To...
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2 Responses to “Budget airline tips”

  1. Malc says:

    As it is often a good idea to book with budget airlines well in advance, sometimes around a year before travel, but booking so far in advance does slightly increase the risk of not actually being able to take the flight when the time comes and we all know that means complete loss of all money paid. So just book the very basic fare initially and then a week or two before you travel add on any extras like hold luggage, select seat, priority boarding if required. That way you get the seat at the earlybird price but keep the ‘extras’ in your own bank for a year or so, and you don’t loose the ‘extras’ if you have to cancel.
    If for any reason you are not travelling on a booked flight, do not cancel it. that only gives the airline a chance to resell it, and there is always a chance that the airline will cancel your flight for weather or volcanic ash and then you can apply for a refund!

  2. Karen Bryan says:

    Marc – thanks for your great tips. I know I’ve booked a couple of cheap flights that I haven’t been able to use. I never book any of the extras, it’s just me and my carry on bag, so I know I’ll only lose the money I paid for the basic flight if I can’t make it.

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