To save cost on our travel for our “Gap Year”, we have boarded more than 20 different budget airlines across the world. Travelling on budget airlines definitely saved us a lot on travel fees and these airlines are readily available across Europe and Asia. Budget airlines do cut on service and comfort but not on safety. We usually research ahead to check on any budget airlines we haven’t heard of before just to make sure they are safe. Budget airlines have many extra charges such as for luggage and food and if we were not careful, we would be paying significantly extra. There are few things to be wary of when taking budget airline and as we have travelled on a budget of a whole year, we believe the following are five important budget airline travel tips to take note.
Budget airline travel tips NO. 1 – Every airline has different size carry on luggage
Last year, we chose to travel the world with only 8kg worth of luggage to avoid paying for extra luggage on budget airlines. Although budget airlines are quite cheap, many airlines will charge you the same cost as your ticket fee for a check-in luggage. This can add up to be quite costly especially when we are flying for the year. The bag we used to travel with is the Osprey Farpoint 40. The dimension is 54H X 35W X 23D cm and the weight is 1.44kg. It was the perfect carry on bag and we didn’t have to pay for any extra luggage for the year.
The airline company with the smallest carry-on luggage size we travelled with is Vueling. Although their allowed carry on luggage weight is a generous 10kg, the dimension for the luggage is only 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. Most passenger’s luggage on that flight was extremely flat and they would have easily passed any luggage checking test. Luckily we were allowed on to the plane with our luggage as no one was checking the luggage size for that flight. Another company we flew with, WOW Air only allows carry-on luggage size 42cm x 32cm x 25cm to travel free. We had to pay extra in advance to increase the allowance of carry-on luggage size to increase to 56cm x45cm x 25cm. Every airline’s free carry-on luggage size is different so it is important to check before you book the flight!
- Before booking the flight, type “carry-on luggage allowance” and check the airline’s official website
- Usually in Europe, the allowed carry-on luggage is 10kg and most Asian airline only allows 7kg.
- Non-budget airline is more lenient with carry-on luggage weight and they will usually check in your luggage for free if they are too heavy
- Most budget airline only allows one carry-on luggage.
Budget airline travel tips NO. 2 – Nothing is free, sometimes that includes your boarding pass
Budget airline is cheap because they cut down on all services to save cost. There will be an extra cost for check-in luggage, food, drinks and even picking seats. Also when booking online, there are usually a few pages of add-on sales which tempt you with insurance, transport, and accommodation before you can confirm your booking.
The company Ryanair in Europe is the most money hungry of them all. If we didn’t do online check-in, there will be an extra €45 / £45.
Budget airline travel tips NO. 3 – The budget airline airport can be a lot further away
There were a few times that we booked a flight without researching into the arrival airport because the plane ticket was cheap. Then we realised that the budget airlines arrive in an airport extremely far away from the city. For example, London has 6 airports and the airport we arrived in with our budget airport was so far away, our local friends were making fun of us that the airport is not even in London anymore. Also because budget airlines often arrive at times that are quite early or late, the public transport has either stopped or are quite infrequent. In the end, we were simply exhausting ourselves, wasting time and not saving a significant amount of money.
Learning from our experiences, we will always check the location of the airports before we book our plane ticket and would double-check how convenient it is to get to that airport. There are usually a few budget airlines flying between main cities, so usually with Skyscanner, we would usually be able to find a ticket that is cheap and arrives at a good time.
Budget airline travel tips NO. 4 – What to do when your carry-on luggage is too big
We always get quite nervous when we are flying budget airline as our carry-on luggage is usually slightly bigger than the allowed dimensions. Although our packing list for our one year travel allows our packs to be small enough for almost all Budget airline, Winny began buying extra clothes when she was in Europe. Typical girl. As a result, our backpacks bulges out over most allowed dimensions.
With our slightly larger boarding luggage, we usually arrive at the boarding gate a little earlier and be one of the firsts ready for boarding. We realised that the boarding staff are usually too lazy to pick out slightly larger bags at the beginning of the line as they got so many others waiting to be boarded. Once the plane overhead luggage space is full and there are still people boarding, their luggage will be checked in and if their luggage is oversized, they will be charged. Occasionally we see backpackers walking on board with clearly oversized luggage and get away with paying extra because they boarded early.
However, we still highly recommend checking in that oversized luggage as the extra fees are quite hefty if you get caught. You would never know if the people checking you in that day is having a bad day or not and charge you for your extra luggage.
Budget airline travel tips NO. 5 – Don’t always assume budget airlines gives the best deals
Travelling on a budget airline isn’t always the cheapest, especially when you are travelling with luggage. For example, our recent travel with budget airline Jetstar would have charged AUD$169 and for the same length of the flight, Virgin Australia charges AUD$189. However, if you wanted to add luggage, Jetstar charges AUD$35 extra whilst Virgin Australia includes luggage already. There are many things to consider that would add cost to your ticket price for budget airlines. Check all these first and work out if purchasing a ticket with a budget airline will really give you the most value.