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Your Best European Discount Airlines

If you’re planning to travel by air you have a choice between European discount airlines and the regular airlines such as British Airways and Air France.

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Easy Jet, Ryanair, German Wings, Air Berlin, Norwegian and Transavia are the bigger discount airlines, however, there are many more…

The fares of the new European discount airlines are usually based on a one-way ticket. They are much lower than the regular airlines, however, if you plan a round trip the savings may be less.

You can usually only book low-cost tickets online by credit card. You don’t need to print a ticket, just bring the confirmation number along with your passport to the check-in counter and that’s it…

Ryanair is eliminating its ticket counters so check-ins have to be done online…making things a lot more confusing and expensive. (Easy Jet is far more customer friendly)

An excellent safety record

Contrary to public opinion, most European discount airlines have excellent safety records.

They are, however, a lot more restrictive…and you really have to check all the small print very carefully before you click OK to have your credit card charged.

What’s included in low cost flights and what’s not…they’re not all the same

  • Baggage

    A few European discount airlines include some luggage but many charge you extra - by the bag or by the pound.

    On my Easyjet flight from London to Amsterdam it automatically calculated one bag…that was OK for me. But you have to watch out if you only have hand luggage and are not checking any other bags.

  • Taxes and fees

    Look at what’s included and what's not. Recently I flew from Amsterdam to Nice on Transavia, the discount airline owned by KLM. The cost was 50 Euros for the fare….plus 55 Euros for taxes and fees.

    Many discount airlines now charge you for credit card fee, too.

    But it was still a lot less expensive than KLM or Air France. Usually on discount airlines there are no reserved seats, however, with some you can pay extra for “early boarding…”

  • Food and drinks

    These are not included, but you can buy them on board. For a short flight lasting a couple of hours you really don’t need anything or, if you do, you can bring it with you…

    There’s also no in-flight entertainment...bring your own if you need it...or a good book.

  • What airport are you leaving from and arriving at?

    Be careful from which airport you depart and at which one you arrive. (Some airlines, but not all use small airports far away from the major cities. Be extra careful looking at the departure and arrival airport)

    Often smaller and more distant airports are utilized…and sometimes even “less expensive parts of an airport”…meaning “long walks” to far away gates. Since airports charge different gate fees for distant gates, I experienced this at both London Gatwick and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. (You need more time to get to the gates)

  • And don't be late!

    Make sure you check in on time because they don’t wait for you if you’re late. Check-in desks shut promptly for each flight.

    So book as early as you can to get a better rate and…be on time at check-in and the gate!

  • To get the best prices…be flexible

    To secure a lower price, fly mid-week, early in the morning, late at night or during the low season.

    Try to make use of sale prices, which often appear on the airline’s Internet site three to five weeks prior to departure.

A good web site in Europe for discount airfares

BudgetAir.co.uk and Opodo are excellent information and booking sites for European discount airlines.

It applies the rules of the European Commission and displays all taxes and fees. Many discount airlines hide these extra fees and hope to create a perception of offering a lower fare.

So…what’s the best and simplest way to book your low cost European discount airlines?

  • Decide on your final itinerary first and see where you may need flights.
  • Then check the Wegolo site and see what the best prices are. Sometimes flying from a nearby city is less expensive. A second option is Opodo.com.
  • Look at the rules, exact departure and arrival city…at times airports are far away from the city they list.
  • Optional…check with RailEurope and see what the train fare would be and how long it takes.
  • Decide what is more important for you…time or money…

Even with all the restrictions, it’s often a lot less expensive to travel this way, but you’ve got to look out…make sure you know what you’re in for.

The final decision is up to you.

Travel consultants generally don’t book discount airfares in Europe.

If they did you would pay a fee…eliminating the benefits.

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