Coming from the U.S., I’m always surprised by just how cheap I can find plane tickets in other parts of the world. Particularly, in Europe and Southeast Asia where a high number of low-cost carriers are in constant competition to keep prices low and woo budget travelers.
Though many people have probably heard of some of the largest budget airlines around the world—like AirAsia and the infamous Ryanair—you’d probably be surprised how many there are out there. Particularly, in Europe, where just about every country boasts its own budget carrier. Being aware of what’s available from each region can help you score lower ticket prices; especially, since the budget airlines often aren’t represented on flight search engines like Expedia or Orbitz—you have to go directly to the source.
But, budget flights are exclusively for the Europeans. Here’s a breakdown by region of budget airlines:
While there are so-called budget airlines in the U.S. and Canada, such as JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and WestJet, they usually don’t offer anywhere near to the same deals and promotions as other budget airlines around the world. Nevertheless, these are you best bet for affordable flights in this region.
South America is also limited when it comes to budget airline options, serving only a number of destinations. Gol, based out of Brazil, is probably your best bet with flights throughout the country as well as the Caribbean, Colombia, Argentina, the U.S. and more. For other low cost carriers, try looking at regional airlines in the country you’re traveling in, such as EasyFly in Colombia.
Ryanair and EasyJet, probably two of the most-well known—and cheapest—European budget airlines, are popular choices. Just make sure to be extra careful of their terms and conditions and hidden fees! Also, many countries in Europe have their own low-cost carriers you might want to consider. For example, in Spain there’s Vueling, Iceland has WOW Air, and HOP! in France.
Asia’s budget airline scene has grown significantly in the recent past with many countries having their own offerings and several larger airlines having major hubs in multiple countries. AirAsia and Tigerair provide both domestic flights within countries where they have these hubs as well international flights. You might even find connection from the South East Asian region to New Zealand and Australia.
There are also several different low cost carriers that focus more on affordable domestic flights within the country that they’re based in—though they often have some international flights as well—such as Jin Air in South Korea, Nok Air in Thailand and Scoot in Singapore. The Asian budget airlines tend to not only provide cheap flights, but also great value for the money with some even offering snacks and checked bags for no extra charge. For example, Scoot is owned by Singapore Airlines, which is consistently rated one of the best airlines in the world, and is known for offering more legroom among other perks.
Africa and the Middle East
Air Arabia, based in the United Arab Emirates, has hubs in Egypt and Morocco. It also flies through Africa and the Middle East and offers flights to destinations in Europe, Asia and Russia. Additionally, FastJet, a Tanzanian airline, serves Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Zimbabwe while several countries have domestic carriers, such as Mango in South Africa, offering deals on in-country flights.
Several of the Asian low cost airlines, such as AirAsia and Tigerair fly back and forth to Australia and New Zealand, but Australia also has its own budget offering. Jetstar is a subsidiary of Qantas, which is considered the safest airline in the world by AirlineRatings.com, and flies through Australia, New Zealand east and Southeast Asia, and even Honolulu.
Of course, there’s a trade off when it comes to flying on a budget carrier – while the actual ticket may be a steal, chances are there are a number of hidden fees or basic amenities, including food, baggage, seat selection and even checking in at the airport, added on at a cost. Always be sure to check and make sure you know the airline’s terms and conditions and exactly what you’re paying for.