Your Guide to Budget Airlines

Posted By Trav


There are tons of ways to save money on travel. Tons of ways to “hack” travel.

And one of the best ones are budget airlines.

Budget Airlines are a lot like the airlines that you might already be familiar with like Delta or United, with a couple of major differences. There are a lot of surcharges.

These airlines usually get a bad rep because of these fees, because people feel they’re being nickel & dimed, but in reality you can save a lot of money by going with budget airlines, even with the fees.

Today Heather interviews me (oh how the tables have turned…) on some of the best strategies for booking budget airlines, what to look out for, and how to price compare them to the more standard airlines.

We fly budget airlines all the time, and hopefully after this, you won’t be afraid to either!

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In This Episode:

  • What are budget airlines?
  • The big American budget airlines.
  • How to figure out the relevant low-cost carriers for your trip.
  • Why Wikipedia is so amazing.
  • The best budget airlines by region.
  • Restrictions that come along with budget airlines.
  • The best time to book.
  • Alternate airports.
  • How to compare prices between budget and normal airlines.

and much more!

Steps to Booking A Budget Airline

  1. Find the budget airlines for the region you are traveling in. Check this page on Wikipedia.
  2. Go to that airlines page and check the flight cost + any extra fees you might incur (checked baggage, meals, etc.)
  3. Go to itaMatrix to find the costs for all the “normal” carriers.
  4. Compare prices and see which you’d rather do!
  5. Double check dates, prices, and airports! Budget airlines often fly into alternate airports.

Links Discussed in This Episode:

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  1. bmau09 says:

    You said that Spirit and Frontier don’t have international service. However, both airlines have service to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Also, Spirit has service to Colombia and Peru. Do you think the $9 fare club is a good deal, and do you have any experience with it?

    Also, I’ve heard that Spirit sometimes charges higher fares if you book online, rather than buying your plane ticket at the airport. Have you ever tried buying a Spirit ticket at the airport? It seems like the best way to take advantage of it (and avoid paying for parking) is to go to the airport with someone else, and have your partner wait outside the terminal while you buy your plane ticket. Or, if your home airport is accessible by public transit, then that would be another way to go about it.

    Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but I didn’t hear you guys talk about Allegiant in the podcast. I believe you are from Philadelphia, and I saw a flight from Allentown to Orlando for $112 round trip (1-25-15 to 2-5-15). I’m originally from the Bay Area, and one time I saw Stockton, CA to Honolulu for $200 round trip. Another time, I saw Oakland to Provo, UT for $85 round trip.

    1. Trav says:

      @bmau09- Wow, all good points. I’ll be the first to admit that my experience with budget airlines is MUCH more vast with those in Asia and Europe than in America, which is why I didn’t know Spirit flew to Colombia and Peru. I also don’t know anything about the $9 fare club (other than knowing what it is), so I couldn’t give you a good opinion on whether it was a good deal or not. My uncle is part of it, and loves it, but I don’t know much about it.

      Never tried the “in the airport” trick, but that’d be interesting, since it’s exactly opposite of most budget airlines (which urge people to buy online). I’ve gone to Air Asia offices before, and it’s always been cheaper online compared to standing in the store with them.

      And no, we didn’t mention Allegiant. Do you have much experience flying them? I’d love to hear more about them, as those are some pretty sweet deals.

      1. bmau09 says:

        I’ve never taken Allegiant before. Right now, flights are bookable for travel dates from now and May 5. I suspect that fares might be lower if you book right when they open up new travel dates. In order to test that theory, I wonder if there’s any way to set up an alert for that.

  2. Bas says:

    skypicker.com is a great website which allows you to find very good deals with many airlines. What I like about this site is you can put a range for departure and arrival to let’s say: find flights from where you live within a range of 200km’s, to a destination within a 1000km’s from bangkok.

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