Today, I want to teach you two ways to search for cheap tickets within a Budget Airline company. This will help you to save money the next time you fly. It’s important to note that these companies are mainly designed for people who simply want to fly from point A to point B without any amenities or without carrying much luggage at all.
But if you are the type of person that wants to be served a meal, wants something to drink, wants TV entertainment, wants a special seat, wants priority boarding, or needs to carry a large bag, then maybe Budget Airlines aren’t the best option for you. Most likely the cost of your Budget Airline ticket will be equal to, or greater than, that of a Mainstream Airline ticket.
There Are 2 Ways To Find Cheap Flights On Budget Airlines
- Search Manually on Budget Sites
- Search Flight MetaSearch Engines
Budget Airline VS Flight Meta Search Engines (then & now)
In the past, there were so many flight meta search engines who were deliberately not listing certain Budget Airline companies in their search results. This was usually related to some type of commission dispute. Budget Airlines generally wanted to keep their fares very low, and so they were unwilling to pay large commissions to flight meta search engines. This resulted in the search engine company preventing the customers from seeing these flights.
But over the years, I think that more Budget Airline companies have realized the amount of business that they have been missing out on. Many have chosen to put their available flights into the meta search engine companies and pay a commission.
Why do I believe this? Because:
- I cannot find much new information through Google on this specific topic. There were a lot of ongoing battles several years ago, but fewer today (at least publicly).
- I see so many Budget Airline flights available within the meta search engine results today. Many of which weren’t, only a few years ago.
Right now, it appears that most search engines display the vast majority of all of the airline companies, including the Budget Airline companies. I can only imagine that this now results in a slightly more expensive plane ticket. But generally, still not as high as the mainstream airline companies.
What’s strange, is that I cannot seem to find many instances where it is cheaper to purchase the plane ticket directly through the Budget Airline company website (and I’ve searched a LOT). The price is almost always the exact same price on a flight meta search engine, or even slightly cheaper on the meta search engine (which seems crazy).
This leads me to believe one of three options:
a) Almost all Budget Airline companies have raised their prices slightly, in unison, to cover the commission for the search engines. Maybe there is some type of organized alliance between the majority of them. This seems strange, but logical.
b) If the prices are slightly cheaper to purchase through an online search engine / travel agency, it is maybe because the travel agency will handle the customer service for the majority of the problems experienced by customers. The Budget Airline is willing to pay the commission because now they do not need to expand their own internal customer care department. It appears to be a win-win for both sides.
c) Or possibly something else entirely different. I can only speculate. But option ‘b’ seems the most logical to me.
So, with all of this being said, today I want to teach you how you can find cheap flights on Budget Airlines whether you search yourself, or if you use a major flight meta search engine. Let’s begin.
1) Search Cheap Budget Airline Flights Manually
Generally, Budget Airlines fly short distances. Most of these companies travel domestically, and those that do travel internationally, do not travel too far from home.
Determine your origin and destination. Let’s assume that you want to travel from Barcelona, Spain to Munich, Germany (a one way ticket) on November 1st. You will need to look at Wikipedia’s list of budget Airlines. Then, you need to find a Budget Airline to make this happen.
Sometimes the Budget Airlines aren’t so “budget-friendly”.
As you may have noticed, in this scenario, it appears to be the exact same price to purchase a ticket directly through the Budget Airline or use a meta-search engine.
2) Search Cheap Budget Airline Flights Meta Search Engines
I have done a lot of searches. Seriously, a lot. And the vast majority of time, the flights found on the meta search engines were the same price as (or cheaper than) the Airline’s website (see above photos). In addition, the majority of the Budget Airline flights are displayed within the results of most of the flight meta search engines. So knowing this, you might as well just use the search engines to do the work for you.
Will you potentially miss out on a better deal by not looking directly at the Airline website? Possibly. I am sure that there are a few companies that are not listed within the meta search engine websites. But I could not find a current list on the internet that identified which ones.
Definitely feel free to go through step one and look at the price of the desired flight on each site. But now, I want to show you one specific checkbox that you must not overlook while using a meta search engine such as Kayak.
Search engines automatically show the flights to the major airports. Why? Because these plane tickets are usually a higher price which then yields larger commissions for the search engines. Often you must manually select “nearby airports” in order for the system to search for the Budget Airline flights. Don’t forget to overlook this! Below are some examples.
Note: it’s important to know that sometimes the Budget Airlines fly to smaller and more inconvenient airports.
Note #2: Another way to find cheap flights is by using a mistake-fare service.
CONS of Flying On Budget Airlines
Saving money with budget Airlines is a great thing! However, there are a few CONS that you may want to be aware of when using them. Here are a few examples:
A) Everything Costs More
When you pay for a Budget Airline ticket, you only get one thing, an airline ticket with a seat. Nothing else. If you want anything else, you must pay more money – period.
It is very rare that a Budget Airline offers to check in a bag for free. Usually you must pay extra. And usually it isn’t very cheap. I once paid the same price for my bag as I did for the plane ticket. Not kidding. Often you can save money by paying the luggage fee at the time that you purchase your plane ticket. If you wait until you arrive at the airport, sometimes the price is doubled. Yes, you read that right. Doubled.
When you pay for a Budget Airline ticket, generally you are only paying for the flights from point A to point B. Food and drinks are extra. As we all know, airplane food is not cheap. Be sure to eat at home or in the airport before you leave, to save money.
TV / Entertainment
A few years back, I had the option to pay additional money in order to have access to the TV that would be on the seats in front of me. I declined. I noticed that about 15% of the passengers on the plane we’re using the TV and everybody else had the TV shut off because they did not pay the extra fee.
If you want a special seat, you will probably need to pay a special price.
Do you want to enter the plane before everyone else? Then you need to pay more money. Luckily, I never want to board the plane first. I want to be the last person on the plane. This way, I don’t have to deal with all of the crazy people during the boarding process. I get to avoid everybody bumping shoulders and getting hit in the head with bags and elbows. No thank you. I want to board last.
Booking / Checkin / Cancellations
Some companies will charge a booking fee, check in fee, and obviously a cancellation fee if needed. The prices vary depending on each company. Always read the fine print before you click the buy button.
There’s nothing quite the excitement when the stewardess tells you that there is Wi-Fi available. It’s like the feeling of a child on Christmas morning! Then once the plane reaches elevation, you turn on your phone and connect to the Wi-Fi only to receive a message that says You must pay an obscene amount of money to have access to Wi-Fi for the next 5 hours. Crazy. No thank you. I think I’ll just simply take a nap, instead.
B) Special Currency
You probably won’t believe this story: Once I got on a plane while I was in India and I asked for something to eat when we got the proper elevation. The stewardess told me that I needed to pay in US currency. What?! I am flying on a plane that is owned by and Indian company. I am flying from an Indian city to another destination within India. Why do I need to pay in US currency?
She said “I’m sorry but those are the rules, we are not allowed to accept Indian currency”. I literally couldn’t believe what she just said. This was after she poured my drink, by the way. Luckily a man two seats away overheard my conversation and he switched Indian rupees for US dollars and then I was able to pay the stewardess.
My guess is that this particular scenario doesn’t happen very often, globally. It is quite possible that you will need to have local currency in order to pay while on a plane. I think this was just a unique scenario. Weird.
C) Must Use Their App
Some companies require that you download their app to check-in. If you fail to do so, they will charge you additional money. Plain and simple. Just download it and then delete the app after you are finished if you choose. If you don’t, they will probably send you all kinds of marketing messages.
D) Inconvenient Airports
Sometimes you will save money on a cheap flight but unfortunately, the airplane will land at an airport far off the beaten track. Some planes will land more than one hour away from the main airport. Obviously you will know this before you purchase the ticket (it shouldn’t be a random surprise). It will be listed on the search engine website.
Just make sure you know the specific airports that you need to fly out of and arrive in. In addition, be sure that the taxi charges to get you from the ‘far away airport’ to your hotel isn’t too expensive.
I’m sure there have been many people who have gone to the wrong Airport during their flight check-in because they had no idea that there was a second airport nearby for the Budget Airline companies. Look carefully!
So, Can I Actually Find Cheap Flights with Budget Airlines?
Absolutely. You just need to do a bit more research / homework before you buy a ticket. You need to be aware of the airports that you need to fly out of and will land in. You need to be aware of how much extra money you will spend to check-in your luggage. You need to determine if you want a meal while on the plane or not, etc.
If you travel with a minimalist mindset, you should be just fine. You should be able to save money by traveling on Budget Airlines.
But if you need to bring very heavy luggage or can’t live without watching TV for 5 hours, then your ticket will probably cost the same amount as that of a mainstream Airline. So, simply do your homework before you purchase a Budget Airline plane ticket.