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I don’t know about you, but as an American, flying NEVER seems like the cheapest way to travel. That’s why when I moved to England, I was so surprised to hear about everyone going on “holiday” all over Europe all the time.
I think this is because America is so large, unless you live on the Canadian or Mexican border, you’re probably pretty far from another country. That’s not how it is in Europe, so people in London don’t think much about going to Prague for a long weekend; it’s just like a person from New Jersey going to Myrtle Beach for a few days.
I’d see Living Social deals for 2 night stays in Switzerland and think why not? When will I ever be in a situation where I could weekend in Europe in such an inexpensive manner again? But how do I get there? Turns out, Europe is prepared for that too.
European Budget Airlines
It wasn’t uncommon to find a one way ticket for £20 to £30. If you weren’t picky about where and when you wanted to go, you could even find deals for close to £10.
When I moved to England for grad school, my dad came out for a few days to help me move in. He’d never been out of the country before, but both of us were on a pretty tight budget. He agreed that if I could put together a weekend excursion for under $500 for both of us for everything, we could go anywhere I wanted the weekend before he headed home. I kept getting stuck on how to get to any of the places I picked.
Until I found Flybe. We had a great experience on Flybe from Manchester to Belfast for the weekend for less than half the cost of the next cheapest way to get there. Between that and staying in a hostel, we came in around $300 for the weekend. Nailed it!
Pros of Budget Flying
- The price
Cons of Budget Flying
- Usually no inflight entertainment
- Often limited or no food service
- Some won’t let you bring hot drinks on board (your guess is as good as mine…)
- Often higher fees for baggage
- Seats don’t always recline and there’s often less leg room.
More Quick tips for Flying on European Budget Airlines
For those who may be a little bit nervous about air travel, easyJet even has a “Fear of Flying” course that lets you conquer your pteromerhanophobia before taking to the skies!
Nonetheless, don’t forget that these are budget airlines, while they often have excellent safety records; they are not built for comfort. They are built for capacity. That’s how they keep prices down. (Do you remember all the hoopla over the Irish airline that was trying to develop a standing room only area a few years ago? Well, even European budget airlines are not that bad yet).
A great website to check out is AirlineRatings.com – they note “low-cost carriers” and list all the amenities for each line. However, be sure to check out each individual airline’s website to confirm they actually are “low cost carriers” – Airline Ratings calls Alaska Airlines a low cost line, but I would not agree with that statement.
So if you’re headed to Europe, check out one of these great lines to see if you can squeeze an extra stamp on your passport once you’re already across the pond!