I once found a flight from Copenhagen to London for $16. Yes, $16. “How?” You might ask. Easy; Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air to name a few, are airlines that can get customers to and from various places in Europe for very low costs, it almost seems surreal.
So, what’s the catch? Well, as an American, our version, if that, of “budget airlines” might be Southwest, as it usually is a great value. No cost for bags, relatively spacious seats, comfortable flights, the only restriction is the amount of airports it flies into, and it’s mainly domestic. But, otherwise a very great value for the price paid.
In Europe, totally different story. We bought most of our tickets to and from various cities before we moved to Copenhagen, under the impression that we were getting a great value for all of the flights we were booking! All of our friends who had been to Europe and done the same thing told us it was unbeatable, so we didn’t think twice.
A few things to note about European budget airlines:
- Prices can be anywhere from $50-$250 roundtrip depending on time, dates, locations, etc.
- Boarding processes are very different, it is a free-for-all system, so if you want overhead space to put bags in, make sure you are in the front of the boarding line. There are no boarding groups
- You can pay for speedy boarding, however but you basically are just in the front of the line, you do not get any extra time on the plane to put your items away
- Some airlines (like EasyJet) limit the number of carry-ons, personal bags, etc. to just one. So make sure you read all the rules on your ticket before you board, they will catch you!
- They are VERY strict on carry-on size. We once had to and witnessed one flight attendant make each person put their carry-on in the bag measure box. If it didn’t fit by an inch or two, she made people check them
- The planes are very packed, a lot of people book these cheap flights
- In addition, seats are not as spacious as most planes (I am an average sized woman and my knees almost touch the seat in front of me)
- Oh yeah, and often, the seats do NOT recline…
- There are no complimentary drinks or refreshments–yep you guessed it, not even water
- The boarding process and safety instructions are very monotone and streamline
- You often board within 15 minutes of the incoming flight deboarding, and you usually leave a little after your departure time
All in all, budget airlines really are a “you get what you pay for” service. If you are going on a quick flight (<1 hour) these small inconveniences aren’t so bad, but flights longer than that like from Copenhagen to Croatia should probably be weighed with a pro and con list of comfort vs. price…Everyone has a different preference!
What are your thoughts on European budget airlines?