Tips for flying with budget airlines

I love no frills budget airlines, because of them I’ve been able to hop on a plane for less than the price of a new pair of TOMS shoes and have some really memorable short breaks. Whether you’re flying Dragon Air, IndiGo or Easy Jet, there are always massive deals to be had if you are travel savvy. You can save yourself money and time, which means you get more to spend on sightseeing and sambucas!

As much as I am an advocate for flying on budget airlines, there are some pitfalls which I’ve experienced over the last ten years which have put a fly in the ointment and left me swearing to all that would listen, that I would NEVER fly with the airline ever again – though of course, their lethal attraction of cheap flights eventually lured me back in most circumstances!

Here are some tips to help make your budget airline journey stress free.

Cash in on budget airline tickets

Book in advance for the cheapest fares. Most budget airlines operate on a supply and demand initiative, therefore if you book your flights 3 months in advance, you’re more likely to grab their cheapest advertised fares, in comparison to booking the week before you intend to travel, in which case you may find yourself paying as much as if you’d booked on the larger carriers.

*top tip* – sign up to newsletters and follow the budget airlines on social media. Some offer lightning deals which are advertised through these mediums.


What to do about the add-ons offered

When you book your flight with a budget airline, the confirmation screen may offer you added extras such as airport transfers, car hire or discounted hotel stays, all via their chosen travel partners. These may not necessarily be the cheapest option for you so don’t just book it because it’s offered to you! Take a few minutes to do your research first, you might find a much cheaper option after a very quick web search.


Things to watch out for when checking in

Many budget airlines require you to print out your own boarding passes and check in online. This is SOOOOOO important! You can check in weeks in advance so I tend to do it the same time as I book tickets, or set a reminder in my calendar to check in and print off boarding passes as soon as the window opens to do so.

If you show up at the airport without your boarding pass, or without checking in, there may be a large fee.

*top tip* – Some airports require you to check in at a self scan or traditional airline desk even if you have already checked in online, so do follow signs once you’ve reached the airport too.


Where to sit on the plane

Now I prefer the airlines where you’re allocated seats (for free!) because then there’s less of a scramble to get on the plane and it’s usually a much more civilised boarding process. If you’re not allocated seats, and you’re in a hurry to get off of the plane, maybe to catch a connecting flight on time, aim to sit towards the front or very back of the plane in an aisle seat. That way, you’re most likely to get off of the plane first.

To nab these seats, make sure you’re at the departure gate early and towards the very front of the queue as they are in high demand!


Hand luggage sizes and checking in

Hand luggage can be a minefield, the rules as to what dimensions your cases can be and whether or not you are allowed a secondary bag seems to vary from airline to airline so if your trip requires you to use more than one budget airline, it’s worth checking your luggage complies with all of them separately, otherwise you may need to check your hand luggage into the hold, which can carry a penalty at the airport.

*top tip* – Check in / get to the departure gate early as if the plane is full, some passengers may be asked to check their hand luggage into the hold (for free).

Hopefully these tips will help you have a smooth trip. Budget airlines can really help open up your travel adventure possibilities and with these tips, I hope you’re able to side-step some of the costly penalties! If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them!

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