Budget airlines
Guest Post

How Budget Airlines Work

Budget airlines, a low cost and discount air carriers, are transport operators aimed at minimum service delivery with flight ticket at a low price. For the last 20 years, they gained popularity all over the world due to their reasonable tariffs and high punctuality in flight execution.

The prices are regulated by the expenditures on flying effort, which means that its level and quality of service is different from what traditional operating airlines have to offer. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of those budget airlines.

Budget airlines
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Why budget airlines are so cheap?

Everything is fair and square, and you can fly for the price of a shy dinner in a Moscow restaurant. You need to know what low-cost carriers save and how to use this knowledge to your benefit.

In short, one can describe the low-cost airline’s approach to pricing as: “we only give the opportunity to fly, you pay for the rest.” The principle is competent and helps to reduce costs; so many traditional airlines began to apply it. For example, airBaltic, the national airline of Latvia, makes such engaging prices for tickets that it can include low-cost airlines easily.

Budget airlines
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In pursuit of total cost reduction, they seem to forget that they have passenger planes. Places in the aircraft of such organizations occupy the subway at rush hour. Delays, problems with check-in and baggage are more the order of the day than exceptions. And the process of filing and consideration of a complaint is so exhausting that it is easier to forget about complaints and not to wreck your nerves.

However, most modern budget airlines still choose a more “humane” business model, similar to the model of traditional airlines.

What budget airlines cut corners?


Airport tax is the maintenance charge for an aircraft, taken from passengers of course. How to reduce the fee and, accordingly, the price of the ticket? Fly by cheaper airports. Which ones are cheaper? Those that are older and away from the city.

For instance, the Hungarian low coster Wizz Air as one of the bases uses the airport Katowice in Poland. And this airport is located 100 km from the nearest fascinating tourist city Krakow. In general, even to the non-tourist Katowice 30 km from there. Of course, public transport is well developed here, and you can leave without problems – but this is extra time and money.

Budget airlines
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

Fortunately, budget airlines do not always have to resort to this option. Often, their bases are old airports, which, to somehow survive, set the minimum airport charges.

Such airports are within the city, and you can reach tourist sites quickly and conveniently. For example, Zhulyany Airport in Kiev, from where Wizz Air flies. Or Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, which remained out of work after the opening of the modern airport Suvarnabhumi and has now become the base for several Asian low-cost airlines.

Another way to reduce the airport tax is to reduce the cost of the infrastructure of the airport itself. Imagine how much are all these buses that carry passengers to the aircraft? And include gasoline, maintenance, the salary of drivers and mechanics here. Air-tee sleeves are a cheaper alternative to coaches, but they also cost money. Therefore, in the central hub of Air Asia, the LCCT terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, passengers walk from the gate to the aircraft on foot.

But all the same, some low-cost airlines choose more convenient airdromes to stand out among competitors. For example, the Spanish discounter Vueling flies only to the main airports at all destinations.

Time and frequency of flights

Not only passengers but also airlines pay for parking at the airport. Therefore, most low-cost airlines prefer to keep their planes not on the ground, but in the sky. Landing, people go out, people come in, take off. And the whole day is like that. As a result, low-cost airlines’ planes “spend the night” only in their hub airports.

Airport tax often depends on the time of arrival of the aircraft. There is a seasonality of its own just as well. Cheaper at night than during the day, at the peak of the tourist season, is more expensive than at other times. And the schedule of most low-cost bills is based on these price fluctuations. Therefore, when buying a ticket, pay particular attention to the time of departure and arrival.

Budget airlines
Image by 8370633 on Pixabay

Aircraft park

There is always a three- and even five-year warranty for new cars. Just because a solid car rarely needs repair in the early years of operation. The same with airplanes.

Budget airlines try to fly only on new aircraft and only one model to avoid expenses on repairing and maintaining a large staff of technicians. After the planes serve 5-6 years, other airlines buy them. For example, according to planespotters.net, the average age of the British easyJet planes is slightly less than five years, and the average age of the aircraft of the national airline British Air is about 13 years. By the way, this gives reason to think about which airlines are safer to fly – low cost or classical.

Another obvious way to save money is to tamp more passengers on the plane. Therefore, low-cost airlines often order airplanes, in which they have more seats than in the aircraft of traditional airlines. Behind the narrow aisles lies another way to make money – to sell tickets for seats with more leg space, which are much more expensive.

A term of sale and return ticket rules

To drive an empty plane back and forth is not profitable. Any airline is interested in its planes being 100% full of passengers. However, in reality, according to IATA, the average global occupancy rate is about 70%, and every airline knows about it. They try not to talk about it aloud, but the prices for air tickets are fixed so that even 70% of passengers ensure the profitability of the entire flight. In other words, buying a ticket, you pay for yourself and another half of the empty seat in the plane.

The other side of this medal is that the airline knows that its flight will almost certainly pay off, but 20-30% of empty seats will remain on the plane. Why not sell tickets to these places and earn more? And so there are regular discounts and promotions at budget airlines and traditional airlines.

Budget airlines
Image by 12019 on Pixabay

Early sale of tickets is another way to save money. You buy a cheap ticket today with a departure date in six months. You are satisfied because you saved. And the company is happy because it will be free to use your money for six months. It turns out something like an interest-free loan.

Moreover, ‘the loan’ in non-refundable. Because most budget airlines do not allow to hand over a ticket, even a simple change in the date of departure or the name of the passenger can cost more than the original price of the card.

However, even with a non-refundable ticket, you can get back at least some of the money. For example, in the case of no-show at the airport, many low-cost airlines, including Air Asia, will refund you (albeit after a month and a half) the amount of airport tax. Besides, most companies have tariff plans for which you can still hand over a ticket. You will have to pay for this opportunity from above, but this is a good option if you are not at all sure of the dates.

Buying a ticket and flight check-in

Here, the same principle of economy operates as in online stores. To maintain stationery offices and their employees is expensive. Therefore, low-cost airlines sell their tickets online on their sites. At the same time, traditional airlines often sell tickets through an agent network, and each agent, of course, makes his mark-up.

Paying staff at the check-in counters at the airport is also expensive. Therefore, you can register for a low-cost flight online for free, while it will cost money at the airport.

To save as much as possible, buy budget airline tickets and check in for a flight online.

Meals on board at budget airlines

There is no low coster, which would feed passengers in flight for free. It is another manifestation of the principle “we give only the opportunity to fly, you pay for the rest.”

Eating on an airplane with short flights is instead a way to entertain the passenger, or at least distract him from the plane. Is it hard not to eat for 2-3 hours of flying? Especially if you had a snack at home or the airport before departure.

Image by funfunfun on Pixabay

In order not to pay for mediocre food on the plane, as if it was a dinner at an expensive restaurant, take something to eat — for example, dried fruits with nuts or a box of cookies. Formally, airlines prohibit taking food onboard. In practice, flight attendants never pay attention to it.

If you are still sure that you get hungry – order food in advance on the website of the low-cost airline. Therefore, it will cost at least half price than when buying at an airplane.

Entertainment on board

In modern aircraft, there are plenty of ways to have fun in flight. A screen in the back of the front chair gives you the opportunity to listen to music, play games or watch movies. For example, flydubai charges for the headphones and each film you deside to watch.

Nevertheless, in the last six months alone, several dozens of airlines announced the repeal of meaningless bans on the use of electronic devices in the aircraft. And you will surely take one or more gadgets with you. Therefore, in order not to overpay – charge your laptop, tablet or e-book before the flight. And do not forget the charger, the new aircrafts already have sockets.

Seat assignment

Low-cost airlines manage to earn even on such trifles as a place in the cabin. A classic airline always gives you the opportunity to choose a location when checking in on the website or to ask a girl at the front desk to put you by the window. Low costers do not provide with such opportunities.

By default, the online check-in system will most likely give you a seat near the aisle. If you want to sit by the window, you have to pay extra. If you buy more than one ticket, the system may scatter you and your fellow travelers in different parts of the cabin. You need to pay extra if you want to sit next to each other. If you need more leg space, pay, and you will be seated at the emergency exit or in the first row.

Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

However, this is not only a feature of discounters; traditional airlines have long been selling space for legs. Low costers have a severe problem with leg space because their planes are usually equipped with seats better.

Low-cost airline aircraft are not always 100% full. Often there are several empty seats, and if you ask a stewardess politely, you will have another position with no trouble. The exception is unoccupied “elite” places at the beginning of the cabin or the emergency exits: you will almost certainly not be seated there. If there is no free space, you can always ask other passengers to switch places.


The most noticeable difference between low-cost airlines and traditional airlines is the baggage policy. If a typical company always includes the transportation of one piece of hand luggage and one piece of checked baggage, the low-cost airline can only rely on cabin baggage. At the same time, the surcharge for a suitcase can be twice the price of the ticket itself.

Avoiding baggage fees is not easy, but possible. To do this, you must be able to pack all things in your cabin baggage, put them in your pockets or put it on yourself. The task is not as difficult as it seems. Cabin baggage is, at best, a briefcase or a small bag. However, the cabin is usually allowed to take luggage with dimensions up to 55 × 40 × 20 cm. And this is a loosely packed 40-liter backpack, with which, if desired, you can even go hiking.

Image by MichaelGaida on Pixabay

The standard weight limit is up to 8 kg. If you subtract the weight of the backpack itself, you will get about 6.5 kg of things. It is a lot. For comparison – a T-shirt weighs about 200 grams, jeans, and sneakers about 0.5 kg each.

Collecting all things for a trip on cabin baggage, remember about the prohibition of transportation of liquids in the plane. Their total volume should not exceed 1L, and the amount of each package is 100 ml. In this case, all juices must be packed separately in a transparent bag.

If you clearly understand that only cabin baggage is not enough – pay for your luggage in advance on the airline’s website. Therefore, you cannot avoid costs, but slash them in half or even more.

As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments down below, or connect with me on my social media channels. I will be happy to assist you as much as possible.

Happy Travels! 

Melisa Marzett is a passionate guest post writer who has been around the blogging community for over 5 years, loves creativity and enjoys reading. If you would like to be kept up to date with her posts, you can follow her on https://www.facebook.com/melisa.marzett or here http://skywritingservice.com

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