‘We all love getting a bargain but, when you break down the time and costs of flying with budget airlines, are we really making that much of a saving…?
When you total everything up, sometimes you can and other times; not so much. These are the things to look out for before getting too excited about hooking up with a budget airline…
The Time Factor
I’m using my favourite of the budget airlines, Ryanair, as my example. This is because they often list destinations on their website that can only loosely be described as ‘in the same time zone’ as where you actually want to go. I flew to Sweden with my sister a few years ago, with the idea of spending a long weekend in Stockholm. We picked up cheap flights and headed off. We knew that we’d be flying in to a regional airport, but we didn’t realise *just* how regional it actually was. The main airport for Stockholm is Arlanda, which is a little less than 45km north of the city centre. The airport used by Ryanair is Skavsta. This is 107km to the west of the city. In fact, it’s actually in Nykoping which, quite obviously ISN’T Stockholm.
It’s often not the price that’s the biggest deal with budget airlines; it’s the additional time. If you’re on a short city break, you can end up eating into the time you should be spending, say, lounging in a pavement cafe with a glass of wine. Instead, you’re humping around your luggage from some far off town, trying to find a bus to drive you across the country to the city you wanted to be in. If you’re short on time (or patience…), paying a little extra for a direct can make all the difference to the enjoyment of your holiday.
I care very little about choosing seats unless I’m going long haul, as I feel I can’t cope without annoying my husband for 12 hours. He feels differently. Anyway, I am perfectly happy in the company of strangers for a couple of hours with budget airlines if it means a cheap flight and I get to where I’m going in one piece.
‘Also – I have ear buds and have a resting bitch face that alarms random people who were even *considering* trying to strike up a conversation with me…’
Don’t do it, people. Unless you have a dog. And you have it in your bag.
My complete introversion aside, being allocated a random seat on budget airlines is not a consideration for me. However, it clearly will be for tons of families and friends and the cost can be quite considerable. However, even on budget airlines, you will often find people like me who more than happy to swap seats to let you keep your kids quiet. I am ALWAYS happy to help anyone keep their kids quiet. Always check out the price of the flights, plus any additional seat costs and compare it before you click. We flew Ryanair to Naples earlier this year and half the flight played a game of musical chairs the instant the seatbelt sign went off. It was good fun, and a bit of a slap in the face for Ryanair’s attempt to make more money. I highly recommend taking part if you get the chance.
Bags are rarely much of an issue for me, unless I go long haul for more than two weeks. However, I am aware that there are lots of people who aren’t complete slobs on holiday. I don’t why, but I just know it’s true. Most budget airlines will allow you the regulation size carry on luggage. The majority will charge you for putting something in the hold. If you happen to go with Easyjet and only have hand luggage, they will often force you to check it. In this instance, they quote ‘no more space’. Carrying hand luggage on the flight is the whole reason I opt to fly with them in the first place Interestingly, they’ve just announced that they’ll now be giving passengers the option to check in their hand baggage. For a small fee, obviously.
‘However, as they currently take mine off me for free, I won’t be taking them up on that particular offer…’
I’m sure checking hand baggage will come in handy for those who don’t want to carry stuff on the plane. You’ll still be able to take on your necessities, so you won’t be without entertainment if this is what you decide. However, it does mean hanging around at the other side for your luggage. For me, this defeats the time saving aspect of flying hand baggage only.
If you need to take hold luggage with a budget airline, it’s likely to cost you upwards of £20. Depending on the size of your party, this can quickly add up. Always check the costs against that of a regular carrier as there’s not always that much difference.
Ryanair has built a whole business out of taking you away from the place you actually want to be. However, the cost of then getting to your city of choice can be rather pricey. They recently dropped me at Brussels Charleroi where I the had 45 minutes on a bus in order to get to the south side. I then had a further 20 minute walk to my AirBnB. Don’t get me wrong; the flights were inexpensive. However, it cost almost £60 to transfer husband and me back and forwards. I could have flown directly to the main airport for that. You know, if I’d bothered to check the transfer options before buying.
Always check the expense of airport transfers before booking flights. Often, the more expensive flight turns out to be the same price and less hassle than the budget version. Also – if you’re going to Brussels, please book your bus tickets online. The saving is around £40 on what you’ll pay if you buy them on arrival.