Are Low-Cost Airlines Actually Worth It?

We get it. You’re planning a trip, and those ultra-low base fares are really tempting. With everything getting more and more expensive, you figure you may as well save a few bucks on your flight. After all, a budget airline isn’t that different from a normal economy seat… right?

Today, we’ll look at 4 things you need to consider when traveling on a budget airline.


Everything’s not included

Many budget airlines like Frontier in the US and Swoop and Flair in Canada are able to boast such cheap fares because everything, and I mean everything is extra. Choosing your seat, checked luggage, in-air entertainment, snacks, and even carry on luggage comes at an extra cost. If you’re expecting to indulge in many of these things, the cost starts to add up.


Which airport are you flying out of?

Did you know that many low cost carriers sometimes fly out of alternative airports? So, if you plan to fly out of, or land in, a specific city, be prepared to double check the airport code.


Pack light if possible

Speaking of costs for carry on luggage – one thing to keep in mind is that the weight limits for luggage can also be at a lower threshold. Any ounce over the weight limit will result in extra charges!


Check your company’s travel policy

If you’re travelling for work, chances are your company has a travel policy that outlines everything from preferred airline and hotel vendors, to booking economy vs business class seats, and more. Check out the policy to see which airlines your company prefers you use. Chances are, your company wants you to book a fare that has things like seat selection, cancellation, carry-on luggage, and checked luggage included. This makes life easier for you and  them.



A look at the true cost of a “cheap” flight

Sean Cudahy at Frommers did the work so you don’t have to – he booked a day trip from Raleigh, North Carolina to Orlando, Florida on Frontier Airlines to see what the trust cost would be. See his whole journey here, and see below for some highlights.


Budget airlines in the USA: how to save money on cheap flights

Wow. $78 USD looks pretty incredible when it comes to low cost flights.

Budget airlines in the USA: how to save money on cheap flights

As you can see, the very next page begins our journey of paid add-ons. The Perks Bundle, the cheapest option at $108, includes good things like seat selection, carry-on bag, checked bag, and personal item (With just this, we’ve already more than doubled our base fare, by the way). However, you have to upgrade to The Works Bundle to get important things like flight flexibility and refunds. Especially when it comes to work trips, you need to save yourself (and your workplace) the headache, and cover yourself. Meetings might change, and you need to be protected.

Budget airlines in the USA: how to save money on cheap flights

Let’s say you didn’t want a bundle. That’s ok – you can choose your items buffet-style. Still, 1 carry-on item will cost you at least a whopping $54! Surprisingly enough, a checked back is slightly cheaper at $49.

One-Way Prices

As if these prices didn’t seem crazy enough, let’s not forget that these are for one way! If you plan on bringing your luggage back with you, you can double this price.

Now, let’s look at the in-airport experience our friend witnessed. Note that your bag must fit completely within their practice box – even handles, straps, and wheels. If it doesn’t, you’ll be charged extra fees at the gate.

Budget airlines in the USA: how to save money on cheap flights


Budget airlines in the USA: how to save money on cheap flights


See the rest of Sean’s journey here.


Final Word

So, it seems after all, that the low cost flight you see online might actually not be so low cost after all. With seemingly unlimited add-ons, many of which are crucial to a successful flight, the ticket price adds up quickly. If you’re traveling for work, consult your company’s travel policy to see their preferred vendors and stance on picking flights with things like cancellation, seat selection, and baggage included. Finally, if you happen to be one of our amazing clients, you’ll know that on Zii, your company’s travel policy is automatically loaded into our booking tool, making it easy to see what you should book and what you should consider.