How to Enjoy Flying on a Budget Airline

Without moaning about how rubbish it is!

Ryanair seatsTo get the most out of a budget airline, you need to match your expectations to the fare you paid. The penny dropped for me when someone said…..

“which bit of ‘no frills airline’, did you not understand”

I realised I was complaining about services I had not paid for, I simply expected too much!

I’ll teach you how to enjoy flying on a budget by:-

  • Explaining what you can expect from a no frills carrier
  • Explaining what you won’t get unless you pay extra charges
  • Talking about why you should be happy to fly no frills
  • Offering some suggestions about when you shouldn’t use budget carriers…..

Why the negative attitude dude?

I bet that you complain about the service you receive when flying on a no frills or budget airline. Yes? A little bit? Come on, admit it, you moan non stop about the whole caboodle!

A certain Irish based airline, often receives the dubious honour of the worlds most hated airline. Now, flying with ‘The worlds most hated airline‘ is not a very positive attitude to take with you on your travels, apart form the fact that it is grossly unfair.

Exceptions apart, the main service on a budget airline is similar to flying with any other carrier, i.e. a seat on a plane! It’s just that you are buying less of the additional services that you have come to expect as standard from a regular carrier.

Complaining about the LEVEL of service on a no frills airline is like buying the cheapest tickets for the concert or theater and then complaining that you are sitting too far back to see anything. Or ordering a ‘light bite’ meal and complaining that you are still hungry. Its as illogical as it is stupid and totally unfair on the budget airlines, who don’t pretend to do anything other than fly from A to B and thats that.

I reckon, (psychology spot coming) that you moan because you’re embarrassed to be seen flying no frills, so you make a fuss to let everyone know, that you ‘normally’ fly regular carrier and that this level of service is waaaaay below your standards. There, I have said it. Discuss……comment form is at the bottom 🙂

The no frills business model.

Many parts of the modern flying experience were spillovers from the early days of flying when planes were much slower and the type of journeys undertaken were much different to today.

Many airlines originally catered for the businessman or well heeled travellers, so a high standard became the norm. It should also be pointed out that the fares reflected this high level of service. In fact, the cost of flying only relatively recently came within reach of an average wage earner. Aircraft became bigger and more efficient, the ground infrastructure improved and a more prosperous society meant that more and more people were flying for work and pleasure. Although more people than ever were flying, a comfortable and relatively expensive service was still the norm.

Enter the no frills airline business model that reckoned that there were lots of people who would take advantage of cheap airfares in exchange for a simple service. This had the effect of enabling people to travel much more often and to places that may have been previously ignored. Some argue that the cheap fares offered by the no frills airlines enables people to fly, who previously could not afford to travel by air, thus lowering ‘standards’.

cabin max the biggest hand luggage

The no frills service is a bus in the sky, albeit with strict security. You get a seat (for now!), a hand luggage allowance and taken close to your final destination and that’s it. Anything else you need or want is extra, hence the no frills tag. To keep the main fare low, budget carriers put profits from the extra fees paid by some passengers towards the airlines operating costs. Thus allowing great advertising opportunities for low fares.

Are you being ‘cheated’? No, it is just that psychologically you are expecting a certain level of service that just doesn’t exist on a no frills carrier. Nothing is ‘hidden’ in the fare structure and you are taken through it step by step as you book. You just need to be aware of the rules and how the fares are calculated to get the cheapest fares. (See tips below about reducing the cost, such as using maximum carry on luggage like the cabin max backpack bag or similar)

Flying with budget or no frills airlines you can expect…. (varies  and might not all apply to all carriers)

  • Flying to regional airports rather than larger, more central airports.
  • A long walk to reach departure gates as the closer gates are taken up with the original, regular carriers.
  • No allocated seat. Lots of budget airlines use a first come, first seated policy.
  • No complimentary meals.
  • No complimentary drinks.
  • Inflexible tickets. You book:you fly. End of deal.
  • Inflexible policies. Gates close X mins before flight, means that the gates close X minutes before the flight. You arrive z minutes before the flight; you don’t fly.
  • No free baggage allowance, putting baggage in the hold incurs an extra cost.
  • No extra cabin baggage allowance for cameras, laptops, children’s equipment etc.
  • Strict size and weight restrictions on cabin baggage or hand luggage.
  • Smaller cabin space and non reclining seats.
  • No storage space on the seat in front of you.
  • Often boarding via the aircrafts own steps rather than a wide roll up stair set.
  • Budget carriers offer a point to point service and offer no guarantee for onward journeys or connections.

What you DO get flying with budget or no frills airlines….

  • Free generous hand luggage or cabin baggage allowance, often 10kgs or more within a strict size limit.
  • Much cheaper fares, often half the cost when compared to a regular full service carrier and cheap special offers.
  • Simple and efficient service ideal for straightforward point to point flights.

When you should NOT book with a budget or no frills airline….

  • If you need a flexible ticket.
  • If you need a service that offers a high level of personal attention.
  • If you need high levels of customer service.
  • If you have special needs or requirements.
  • Special trips or occasions.
  • Large groups or families who want to sit together.
  • Longer trips.

Tips to make the most of a budget or no frills airline…

  • Plan well in advance and ensure that your travel plans are firm before booking tickets.
  • Read very carefully the carriers terms, conditions, rules and regulations.
  • Especially the baggage allowance which seems to cause more questions than anything else (and yes, the hand luggage allowance DOES include the bloomin wheels and handle!)
  • Book the ticket when you have plenty of time and a quiet environment to allow you to carefully check each step of the booking process.

Tips to reduce the cost of flying with budget or no frills airlines….

  • Read the rules! again, read the rules! No, still more….READ THE RULES!
  • Consider whether you really need to put a bag in the hold.
  • cabin max the biggest hand luggage for ryanair

    Biggest cabin bag

  • Buy a flight approved cabin bag that maximises the use of the allowed cabin baggage space, such as the specially designed Cabin Max backpack bag at 44 litres that will go into a 55cm x 40cm x 20cm space.
  • Don’t use some of the services (change your tickets, food, priority boarding etc)
  • Subscribe to your local budget carriers website to get early news about special discounts and offers.
  • Fly at unpopular times and on unpopular days as these are usually cheaper.
  • Take your own snacks or food with you (no liquids though)

Tips for enjoying flying with a budget or no frills airline….

  • Acknowledge that you are saving money by buying less services.
  • Don’t complain about the lack of services, you have not paid for them.
  • Try telling others who complain: “Which bit of no frills fares did you not understand?” It works, believe me….
  • Be super thankful that you are able to visit all those fascinating places for peanuts and on a modern fuel efficient aircraft 😉

Come, on. That wasn’t so bad was it? Go on, crack a little smile, it will be good practice for the next time you book with Ryanair!

I hope that I have helped you understand why you shouldn’t be gritting your teeth when taking advantage of super cheap fares with budget and no frills airlines. I also hope that you now see the service for what it is, a cheap, simple, point to point travel system.

Stay well and happy traveling!


9 Responses to How to Enjoy Flying on a Budget Airline

  1. Ian says:

    Agree that Easy Jet are a much friendlier bunch. Ryanair’s reputation is in danger of becoming a self fulfilling prophesy I think. The public image is getting so bad that Ryanair will have to do better than the others just to ‘catch up’.

    I am flying to the UK next week, just me and two small kids…….wish me luck!
    Thanks for stopping by Marie!

  2. Marie says:

    I understand what you’re saying but I still will never fly with Ryanair again, just because it’s ‘no frills’ does not mean people should be treated like cattle, and that Ryanair do not have to follow international aviation law! Easy Jet and others are head and shoulders above them.

  3. Ian says:

    Small world as they say! Lucky you re your flights, we have not been here long and after two years on one salary in New Zealand, plus the costs of setting up again here in sunny Asker we are, how can I put it….having a tiny cash flow problem, i.e an awful lot seems to be flowing out lol!

    So, prob no trips for us for a while and especially when I have all this lovely work to do at home……..

    Thanks again for calling in and I bet that you are (as am I), looking forward to spring now, I can almost feel it!

  4. Patrick Cross says:

    Just down the road from you Ian…… in Slemmestad.

    We’ve already booked 4 coming flights for this Summer. 2 for us to UK and 2 for my mother to us. Her August flights (peak school holiday time in UK) only cost 525 NOK. Will cost more in her train fare from Cardiff to Stansted.

    All the best – PATRICK

  5. Ian says:

    Hi Patrick,
    Exactly, you and I are in a similar situation and have had similar experiences. I used to pay more than £120 just for me, flying BA in those days.

    Same with the destination, I wish they went to the midlands (we head for Newark near Nottingham), still it’s less than two hours.

    Looking at their good financial performance lately, it doesn’t look like anything is going to change any time soon, thank goodness!
    Thanks for calling in Patrick!
    p.s. Where abouts in Norway are you? We are in Asker.

  6. Patrick says:

    I’ve been living in Norway for 10 years and regularly use Ryanair for quick flights into UK. As said good planning helps. Always travel light and gave up priority boarding after they changed the rules. Have used Ryanair since they first started flying to Norway in 90’s. Had a few “teething” problems but if you’re savvy to their website changes/rules you can get a great deal. 3 of us into UK never costs more than £100 (that including their credit card fees). Shame they don’t run the Birmingham flight anymore as my destination is normally Cardiff (parents) and getting stuck on M25 sucks after an easy transit into UK. Long may they continue.

  7. Pingback: Ryanair's cabin baggage policy. - Page 11

  8. Ian says:

    Like you say, it is all about choice isn’t it Trevor? I make loads of flights between the UK and Oslo in Norway. With Ryanair sometimes, all 4 of us can travel for what I used to pay for ONE BA ticket when I first started visiting my then girlfriend in Norway.

    And lets not us forget that flying with the big carriers is not a guarantee of a smooth journey with no delays or problems.

    Pound for pound flying budget is the cheapest way of getting around, cheaper than the train sometimes!

    Glad that we have discovered the simple secret….read the rules, follow them and keep quiet!!

    Thanks for stopping by Trevor,
    Take care now

  9. Trevor Bridge says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been travelling regularly between France and the UK for years on ‘no frills airlines’ (usually the Irish one) and, provided that I stayed within their well published rules, have had no real problems. By far the majority of flights have arrived on time and I have saved a lot of money. The only problem I have had was with BMIbaby who cancelled flights between Bordeaux and Manchester whilst I was at the airport, put me on a far later flight and bussed me between Birmingham and Manchester on a crowded M6. This has happened to me on flights in both directions and fellow travellers told me this was not an uncommon occurence. If the flights are underbooked they cancelled the Manchester flight and put everyone on the Birmingham one. I voted with my feet and stopped using them – especially as they didn’t reply to me when I asked them about this.

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