How often do you fly on low-cost airlines? Do you find them worth the experience and price? Low-cost carriers are often a go-to option for some travelers, however, many travelers still prefer full-service carriers over budget airlines for their trips. Although you may find budget airlines, commonly referred to as “low-cost airline carriers” or “no-frills”, affordable, there are many things you need to know about such commercial airliners and how well they go with your travel needs.
In this blog, we are going to give you a detailed review on low-cost airline carriers. Also, we will do a quick comparison between budget airlines and other types of airliners in order to get a better overview.
What is a Low-Cost Carrier?
A low-cost carrier generally refers to those commercial airlines that offer low fares, fewer services and amenities and sub-standard comforts in order to minimise their overall operating costs.
Their operating costs include everything, from aircraft maintenance to providing services to passengers and paying their staff and crew. Their costs also include paying airports for using their vicinity for operating flights.
Thus, from the above definition, we understand that low-cost carriers are basically airlines that mainly focus on reducing their operating costs as much as possible. So, you will often find low ticket prices when booking and limited services throughout your trip. Sometimes, they are also called budget airlines for the same reason.
How are Low-Cost Carriers Different from other Carriers?
Generally, low-cost airline carriers are different from other types of commercial airline carriers, such as ultra-low-cost carriers, regional airlines, and full-service airlines. These are the different types of commercial airline carriers in the aviation industry that we know about today.
Let’s see how they differ with each other.
We have already defined low-cost carriers in the above section. Because of their reduced operation costs, low-cost carriers generally serve short routes and do not have hubs and alliances. They usually operate out of secondary and tertiary airports, both within a nation and overseas.
In short, these commercial airline carriers will provide travellers with only the basics, and if passengers request for extras, they will need to pay for it. Also, they do not usually have many cabins.
Ultra Low-Cost Carriers
An ultra-low-cost carrier is an airline that although offers very low fares, they, in fact, charge for almost all services and amenities – from the airport to in-flight. A few examples of ultra-low-cost airline carriers are AirAsia, EasyJet, Spirit, and more.
This type of commercial airline carrier is closely related to a low-cost carrier, in that it will reduce the cost of flight tickets, but will charge additional fees for services and amenities. They too, do not have many cabins.
Regional airlines only operate short-distance flights within a country and without offering any in-flight services to passengers. American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express in the United States are examples of regional airline carriers. At present, there are a lot more regional carriers that operate in different countries around the world.
Such airline carriers may also be referred to as commuter flights.
Full-service airline carriers are those that fall in the category of mainstream commercial airlines. These airline carriers serve both domestic and international routes, offer complimentary and premium services in-flight and at airports, have more cabins (economy, premium economy, business, and first-class), more space, reclining seats, and much more.
However, their ticket prices may not be as cheap as those of low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers. This is well understood because of the various services and comforts that travelers get when flying on such airlines.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Low-Cost Carriers
Like all other things, there are, of course, certain benefits as well as drawbacks of low-cost airline carriers.
There are not many benefits to travelling with low-cost airline carriers.
The main benefit of flying on a low-cost flight is that it offers low fares. If you compare their ticket prices with other airline carriers, such as full-service airlines, you will see that budget airlines offer lower fares than others.
Thus, this is the only major benefit that we can see here.
On the other hand, let’s also take a look at a few drawbacks of travelling with a low-cost airline.
Advanced Seat Selection Fees
When you purchase a flight ticket, the airliner will assign you a random seat, unless you make a preference in advance. However, this advanced seat selection may also cost you additional fees.
When you are checking in at the airport, you may need to pay a certain fee, which is not the case if checking in online. Since, their main strategy is to minimize all operating costs, having ticket agents will also require airliners to pay wages to their staff.
Checked Baggage Fees
Budget airlines will charge you fees for checked baggage. However, the only exception is with Southwest Airlines which does not charge any fees to travelers and permit two checked baggage for free.
Carry-on Bag Fees
Most budget airlines will charge a certain fee for a carry-on bag that you are allowed to take inside the flight and put it in the overhead bin. However, here again, some low-cost airlines may not charge you for bringing along a carry-on item that you can easily put under your seat.
In-flight Premium Services
Flying on a low-cost airline carrier can cost you during your trip. For example, airlines usually offer complementary services in-flight, which include, Wi-Fi, entertainment, meals, snacks, alcohol and non-alcohol beverages, etc.
But, if you are travelling on a budget airline, you will have to pay for such services.
List of Low-Cost Airline Carriers Around the World
Here is a list of a few popular low-cost airline carriers in alphabetical order from all over the world.
- Air Arabia
- Jetstar Airways
- Lion Air
- Norwegian Air
- Pacific Airlines
- Pegasus Airlines
- Philippines AirAsia
- Wizz Air
In addition to the low-cost airline carriers listed above, there are more that operate throughout continents.
Are Low-Cost Airlines Really Cheap?
Honestly speaking, after taking into consideration ticket fares and all the additional fees charged for services and amenities at airports and in-flight, these budget airlines may arguably not be cheaper than we expect.
If you only consider the ticket prices being low, you may think that the airline is offering very low costs for your travel. However, if you broaden your calculations, it will seem that you are actually paying a lot of money for the trip. These costs could be equivalent to the overall airfare and services that are offered in full-service airline carriers.
Low-cost airline carriers are mainly known for their reduced airfares. However, the fact that these budget airlines do not offer free or complimentary services, both in-flight and at airports, may put some travelers off.
On the contrary, if you are not very concerned and just want to get to your destination by paying less price and not worrying about in-flight services, then traveling in a low-cost airline carrier would be great, although the experience might be limited.