‘We all love getting a bargain but, when flying with low cost airlines, are we really making that much of a saving? When you actually break it down, sometimes you can and other times; not so much. These are the things to look out for before getting too excited about grabbing yourself a cheap flight…’
The Time Factor
I’m using Ryanair as my example for this because, from experience, they often list destinations on their website that are 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, knowing that we’d be flying in to a regional airport that wasn’t, in fact, in Stockholm. 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, which is 107km to the west of the city and actually in Nykoping which, quite obviously, ISN’T Stockholm.
When you consider the price of your flight and the cost of the transfer, it can stack up. This aside, however, it’s often not the price that’s the biggest deal: it’s the additional time spent getting back and forth. 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, 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…), a little extra for flying 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 and 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 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 tends to alarm onlookers or 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. If you don’t fulfil this criteria, leave me the HELL alone…’
My complete introversion aside, being allocated a random seat on a budget airline is not a consideration for me. However, it clearly will be for tons of families and friends and the cost can be quite considerable once you’ve added up all the extra seating costs. However, even on budget airlines, you will often find people like me, who care not about where they sit and are more than happy to swap seats so that you can 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 an awesome game of musical chairs the minute 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, like seats, are rarely much of an issue for me – unless I go long haul for more than two weeks – but I am aware that there are lots of people around the world that aren’t complete slobs on holiday. I don’t why, but I just know it’s true. Most low-cost airlines will allow you the regulation size carry on luggage, but the majority will charge you extra for putting something in the hold. If you happen to go with Easyjet and only have hand luggage, they often force you to check it in regardless, quoting ‘no more space’, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of why I opted to fly with them in the first place, but I digress…. Interestingly, they’ve just announced that they’ll now be giving passengers the option to check in their hand baggage for a small fee.
‘As they currently take mine off me for free, I’m not sure I’ll be taking them up on that particular offer…’
I’m sure checking hand baggage will come in handy for those passengers who don’t want to carry stuff on the plane and you’ll still be able to take on your necessities, so you won’t be without entertainment if you decide to go down this path. However, it does mean hanging around at the other side for your luggage along with everyone else and this completely defeats the time saving aspect of flying hand baggage only.
If you need to take hold luggage with a low cost carrier, it’s likely to cost you around £20 and above and, 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 very far away from the place you actually want to be because they offer cheap flights. However, the cost of then getting to your city of choice can be rather pricey. They recently dropped me off at Brussels Charleroi where I had to hop a bus for 45 minutes in order to get to the south of the city. I then had a 20 minute walk to my AirBnB. Don’t get me wrong; the flights were inexpensive, but it cost almost £60 to transfer husband and me back and forwards from Brussels itself. I could have flown directly to the main airport for that, if I’d bothered to check the transfer options before we booked. Always check the expense of airport transfers before booking flights as, sometimes, the more expensive flight turns out to be the same price and way less hassle than the so-called budget version.
Also – if you’re going to Brussels, please book your bus tickets online before you go as the saving is massive compared to rocking up at the ticket desk and buying them.