Why I don’t hate budget airlines

I just purchased two flights on two different budget airlines.  They were some of the cheapest flights I’ve ever purchased.  I’ve flown on one of the airlines before, and had a good experience.  I’ve read a lot of negative reviews bashing budget airlines, and I just thought I would throw in my two cents as to why I don’t hate them, and why I think they’re great.

If you’re wondering what a budget airline is, here is Wikipedia’s definition: “A low-cost carrier or low-cost airline (also known as a no-frills, discount or budget carrier or airline) is an airline that offers generally low fares in exchange for eliminating many traditional passenger services.”  So, as it says, it takes away some of the “frills” of regular airlines.  But, there are some seriously great perks to going with budget airlines.

It is cheap, cheap, cheap.  You will not find cheaper airfare than with these budget airlines.  The base price for a roundtrip ticket from Toronto to Iceland in June was around $220.  That is insane!  If you don’t care where you sit and you’re not bringing a bag, that’s all you’d pay.  Since we opted to pay for seat assignments and one checked bag to share, it came out to be $290 a person.  That’s CHEAPER than what I paid for to fly roundtrip from Columbus to Fort Lauderdale!

It opens up travel options that normally may be too expensive.  If I just wanted to go to Scotland, I’m looking at paying $800-$900 for a roundtrip (RT) ticket from Columbus.  However, since I’m already going to Iceland, I used a tried-and-true European budget airline to see what else is available.  I found $100 roundtrip tickets to Edinburgh from Iceland.  So, I can go to Scotland for $400 RT instead of $900.  Plus, once you’re already over in Europe, trains are cheap and you can get around for pretty inexpensive.

It forces you to pack light.  If you’re still checking 16 bags, this would be a great challenge to see if you can pack less.  Because the more you pack, the more money you’ll be shelling out.  We decided to share one checked bag, and then we each get a backpack.  That should be plenty of stuff for 9 days.  We can always use a washing machine in the worst case scenario.  We’ve never shared a bag like this before, so maybe I’ll be writing an article after this happens about how dumb it was.  But right now, it seems like a great idea!

It’s cheap.  OK, I already said this, but it deserves saying it one more time.  It’s so much cheaper than regular airlines.  It means you can go somewhere you’ve always dreamed of for so much less.  Isn’t that great?

Now, what’s so bad about these airlines?  A lot of people get upset with these airlines because they don’t provide snacks, you have to pay extra for things that other airlines give you for “free”, their customer service isn’t top notch, bags are expensive, etc., etc.  Well, I thought I’d list these common complaints against budget airlines and why I don’t think they’re a deal-breaker.

They don’t provide meals or snacks.  Have you ever had a meal on an American Airline flight?  I’ve never once asked the flight attendant for seconds or the recipe so I can make it at home.  Do you really care if you they don’t provide you with a mediocre microwave meal?  Can’t you just eat a Hungry Man before you get on the plane?  And as for the snacks, you can pack your own.  I always do.  I also pack an empty water bottle and fill it up at the drinking fountain.  Are you really saying you’d rather pay an extra $200 for your airline ticket just to have 4 tiny pretzels in a little bag?  I’m sorry but “I don’t get one of those free crappy meals or a 10 cent bag of pretzels” isn’t a deal-breaker.

You have to pay for a seat assignment.  If you’re flying alone, you really don’t even need to worry about this.  They’ll just give you an empty seat.  Or you will have to pay a little for the cheapest seats. (And if you’re thinking OMG OMG OMG it will be a middle seat!  I sit in the middle all the time and if I “survived” you will too.)  If you’re traveling with another person, you may decide to pay extra, especially if the flights are longer.  But honestly, this isn’t a deal-breaker.  Just read a book or take a nap and see the person when you land.  You’re going on vacation with them, that means you’ll have plenty of time together.

You have to pay for a carry-on bag.  Normally airlines require you to pay for a checked bag, but you get one free carry-on.  Most budget airlines require you to purchase even a carry-on.  They will allow one personal item.  Instead of us each getting our own carry-on, we opted to share one checked bag. It’s half the price and it’s basically the same amount of space we would normally have. We also get a personal item, so you can always stuff more shirts in that if needed.  When doing the math, it was still cheaper to go with a budget airline and pay for a bag than it was to go with another airline.  Maybe that’s not always the case.  It most likely depends on the destination.

Their customer service sucks. Delta isn’t a budget-airline, and I have a lot of experience with them, so it’s my go-to for examples. Last week, I had to call to change my name on an airline ticket and I waited on hold for 2 hours.  I don’t see how spending more money on a flight equates better customer service.  I once heard someone complaining at the Delta desk and they asked for the attendant’s name so they could complain to corporate and the man said, “John Doe.”  My point is, I don’t think all regular airlines have great customer service either.

They don’t provide entertainment (aka TVs).  I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you have a smart phone.  You probably also have access to books, magazines and newspapers (for free at your local library, too).  I know I do.  I’m also an adult and am capable of entertaining myself.  My Kindle can hold so many books to keep me entertained for the rest of my life.  I can also download something to watch on my phone without having someone give me a TV with channels. So, this is a non-issue.  I provide my own entertainment.

So there you have it.  My two cents is that all the reasons not to go with a budget airline are not reasons. I get to go somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.  I get to travel.  And I get to do it at an affordable price. It’s all about expectations.  I wouldn’t dine in at Wendy’s and expect the type of service I’d get if I dined in at a 5-star restaurant.  Aldi is one of my favorite grocery stores and they have a budget-company mindset.  You bag your own groceries.  You gather you own cart, but, you know what?  You save money and you get what you need.  Just don’t expect these airlines to cater to everything you want; you’re getting a smokin’ deal after all!

Have you ever flown on a budget-airline?  

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