What are your top priorities when searching for flights to travel the world? Comfort, reputation and perhaps the most important aspect of all, cost! We are seeing a rapid growth in economy airlines around the world that are becoming more and more popular primarily because of their competitive advantage. Let’s be honest, we all love saving money especially if we can have a good experience that justifies the cost savings of flying with these low-cost airlines.
Europe has been a hotbed of low-cost airlines for quite some time with the likes of Easyjet, Ryanair, and Monarch providing flights around continental Europe for low prices. Of course, these companies offering low fares don’t come without negative media so we wanted to take a look at some of the best economy airlines around the world that have either dodged the negativity or provided great service to some of our travel blogging friends who have flown them in recent years.
Before taking a look at some specific airlines around the world, we want to share a few of our pros and cons of flying these so-called ‘cheaper’ airlines.
Benefits of Economy Airlines
We are all looking to save a buck or two when it comes to traveling, especially if you are a frequently flyer. The mass influx of low-cost airlines has made this a viable option for many flights around the world, so let’s take a look at some of the key benefits that these types of airlines bring to the flight industry.
- Low Cost – The cost itself is a huge competitive advantage! For many travelers, this is the only aspect that holds them back from traveling more frequently. Now that we have so many economy airlines offering cut-price deals, well this has created opportunities for many people!
- Early Booking Equals Cost Savings – Directly related to the overall concept of saving money is the benefit of booking early. Low-cost airlines frequently offer low price fares for the early adopters rather than last minute deals that tend to be more expensive.
- New Planes – Have you ever noticed that a lot of mainstream airlines tend to have dated planes, whereas the newer economy airlines are showcasing brand-new 787 Dreamliners and other modern models?
- One-Way Tickets – Low-cost airlines tend to offer one-way tickets without having to pay large fees for not having a return ticket. This is definitely beneficial for travelers who want more flexibility and the ability to book return tickets when they want to.
Drawbacks of Low-Cost Airlines
Flying low-cost airlines is a no-brainer, right? Purchasing a $100 ticket versus the equivalent $400 on a more reputed airline is surely something you should do 99 times out of a 100. Of course, there are always going to be doubters and with good reason because flying a low-cost airline is not always a perfect experience.
Here are some of the negative aspects that we have experienced first-hand along with others that have become common reasons why people choose to opt against economy type airlines.
- Hidden Fees – Possibly the biggest drawback is the dreaded hidden fees! All too frequently, low-cost airlines introduce you to a base rate but the reality is that once you have checked in, paid for your seat, printed your boarding pass, paid for your luggage and arrived at your destination…well, it may not be quite as low-cost anymore!
- Poor Scheduling – Be prepared to be an early-bird with low-cost airlines frequently offering flights before 6:00AM or late night flights given that the majority of peak times are already taken by mainstream airlines.
- Customer Service – Low-cost airlines frequently have stricter policies that lead to an apparent lack of customer service. The hidden fees for rebooking flights may also have a negative impact on customer service or at least the overall impression portrayed by gate agents.
- Baggage Restrictions – Passengers are all too often restricted to carry-on luggage only when using low-fare tickets, especially when you hear about the extortionate rates for checking in bags with economy airlines. Be prepared to check the exact measurements and weight of all your bags (checked and carry-on), as gate agents for low-cost airlines tend to be sticklers for ensuring the baggage guidelines are met to the exact number.
Ok, so we have established some of the pros and cons of flying these airlines but I am sure you are ready to hear about which global economy airlines are the best of the best.
Cebu Pacific Air
When it comes to low-cost airlines in the Philippines, nothing can beat Cebu Pacific Air. They always hold “seat sales,” when one can book domestic flights, return, for $10, and international tickets for as low as $20. I have bought several tickets that cheap, e.g., from Manila to Kota Kinabalu and from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, and there was nothing I could say against it. Even the food is delicious (paid separately, of course).
It’s a no-frills airline and there were times when my flights were delayed or cancelled (sometimes for no reason at all), but they are generally okay. You can also choose your seat for free if you book via the kiosks in the airport or over the counter.
Given how inexpensive their flights can be, if bought in advance, I would always choose it over other airlines in the Philippines for its price alone.
Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer shares her experiences about why Cebu Pacific Air is such an awesome airline to fly with.
We’ve flown AirAsia a number of times from China to Thailand, Japan to Korea, Korea to the Philippines and all throughout the Philippines itself. Though a low-cost airline with carry-on restrictions, we found them fair when it came to gauging overweight baggage compared to other airlines and since we often travel with only a carry-on in Asia, AirAsia became our preferred economy airline.
You may not always have a lot of leg room and you’ll definitely have to pay for checked luggage, seat options, and meals, but the flights usually have an unbeatable price, there are different seating options for more comfort and the flight routes are generally short enough that it doesn’t end up being an issue in the end.
If you do end up shelling out some cash for an in-flight meal you’ll also find different menus for each route allowing you a taste of the cuisine you’ll experience at your destination!
Thanks to Carolann and Macrae from One Modern Couple for sharing their experiences about flying with AirAsia. After such negative media attention in recent years, it’s nice to hear some positive experiences about this Asian airline!
Qantas, Australia’s national airline, has a little brother known as Jetstar. This airline is Qantas’ budget affiliate and is now just as famous as its big brother within Australia. I have used Jetstar countless times quite commonly on the route from Adelaide to Bali as well as shorter domestic flights.
- Value for money – Adelaide to Bali one way can be as cheap as $200AU
- Direct flight – lots of airlines flying from Adelaide to Bali are no longer direct
- No entertainment provided
- Any beverages and food on the airline cost money
I feel the cons provided above are stock standard for budget airlines and something I can live with easily. I come equipped with entertainment to pass the time i.e. a book or use it as a time to write blog posts. Also, I come prepared with food for domestic flights to keep costs down and purchase food at the airport for international flights as it is cheaper than on the airline.
I can’t complain about Jetstar and wouldn’t hesitate using them again.
Lauren Jessica from The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo shares her opinions on why Jetstar are a feasible airline to use for flights in and around Australia/Oceania. We are looking forward to flying Jetstar’s new 787 Dreamliner in First-Class when we head from Singapore to Melbourne at the end of 2016!
On our recent trip to Vietnam, we had originally booked flights with Jetstar Pacific. After having multiple flights cancelled and delayed, I made the last minute decision to change airlines and fly with VietJet Air.
VietJet Air is a budget airline flying within Vietnam and are very cheap! The flights were booked very last minute/same day and we still paid approximately $50 (AUD), when I originally looked at flights they were under $20 (AUD)! The planes that we had both ways appeared to be relatively new aircraft and we had an Australian pilot on the way to Nha Trang.
I do have to mention that they are prone to delays but to be fair I think every airline in Vietnam is. Allow yourself plenty of time, you will be required to get a bus out to the tarmac to board your flight. Once you start moving it is very swift from that point. Gate changes are frequent, so always be prepared to check the board while waiting.
Personally, I think they are a great value airline and would happily fly with them again.
Thanks to Sally Lucas from Our 3 Kids V The World for sharing her experience of flying with VietJet Air from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang.
Tigerair Australia is a budget carrier that flies within Australia and to Bali also. If you are expecting champagne and caviar, you will be out of luck. With Tigerair Australia, you pay for what you want. We flew with Tigerair from Sydney to Cairns. We read the fine print, so we only arrived with allowed baggage, and we arrived on time.
The cost is a big factor, and flights are not cheap in Australia, so Tigerair Australia was a bargain. The flight departed on time, arrived on time, and our baggage was waiting for us on the carousel. Undoubtedly this is because they have a quick turnaround, but I couldn’t fault Tigerair Australia.
Thanks to Paula and Gordon from the Contented Traveller for sharing their experiences and opinions on Tigerair Australia, another Australian low-cost airline that you should consider the next time you head ‘Down Under’.
I travelled with JetBlue a few years ago while in the United States – we took a flight from Boston to LA. I’m not going to lie, almost seven hours on a budget airline didn’t fill me with excitement – but JetBlue totally surpassed any and all of my expectations. The main reason for this was the incredible staff and their attitude.
Immediately, I was pretty entertained to see that they served actual BLUE dyed crisps to match their brand, which the staff served by throwing to passengers. The light-hearted approach they took and the fact that they all seemed to actually ENJOY their jobs was totally infectious – for once, passengers were talking to each other and the flight flew (literally) by.
I would totally recommend them as a viable economy airline in North America!
Thanks to Lucy Hemmings from Lucy’s Miles Away for sharing her experiences flying JetBlue in USA.
Over the last few years, we have flown a variety of airlines domestically around the States but Southwest Airlines has definitely been our preferred choice for a number of reasons. In terms of routes out of our local airport, Southwest isn’t ideal but if you are flying out of one of their hubs such as Baltimore this is undoubtedly a huge positive.
Two free bags, free cancellation up to 10 minutes prior to departure and open seating are just a couple of examples why Southwest is such a popular choice amongst US travelers. But Southwest Airlines are now diversifying their routes overseas and now offer a variety of international destinations on their growing portfolio.
I love everything about Southwest Airlines and their customer service is second to none, at least from our experiences. They are readily available to talk to on Twitter or over the phone and always seek to improve your customer experience if you encounter issues. If you read our post a couple of years ago on the top 5 reasons to fly Southwest, you will know that we have been avid fans of this economy airline for quite some time!
From Southwest Airlines to Cebu Pacific Air, there are more and more global economy airlines becoming prevalent factors in the airline industry. It’s not all doom and gloom when you think about low-cost airlines, as many stereotypes suggest.
In fact, from the experiences we have shared above thanks to our travel blogging friends from around the world, many of these airlines should be considered ahead of mainstream airlines that have saturated the market for many decades.
What are your favorite economy airlines around the world? Feel free to share your positive and negative experiences of budget airlines.