When booking a flight with a low-cost airline (such as Ryanair or Easyjet) you will probably recognize this: you book a relatively cheap flight, but suddenly the airline asks you if you want to upgrade several features like luggage and seats. Of course, you love to have a good seat and an early check-in for that little of an additional cost. However, at the checkout you are surprised. The price of the cheap flight you booked turns out to be doubled! WHUT?!
If you recognize this or part of it, it might be good to read on. Because I am going to explain how to avoid the temptation of saying yes to additional costs.
How do low-cost airlines work?
First of all, you need to know how low-cost airlines work. They obviously promise the lowest prices on the market, but the question is how can they make money on a €20 flight?
Well, they do it by upselling you several extras. Those extras you are so attempted to buy! Seat of choice, priority check-in, extra baggage, drinks on board… Low-cost airlines only make money on those extras, not on their plane tickets themselves. So they actually rely on people spending way too much!
But we don’t want to spend more than the basic ticket we need! So here I am going to explain to you how to resist those extras.
How to resist spending more money on those extras
Choice of seats
One of the first things a low-cost airline is going to ask you after purchasing your ticket is whether you would like to book a seat of your choice (for an extra fee) or to let the airline pick a seat randomly when checking in (for free).
Does it make a difference to choose a seat? Well, yes. Actually it does. In the case of the low-cost airline Ryanair, seats at the aisle will be smaller than seats in the middle or on the side. Moreover, seats at an emergency exit always have more leg space as well as seats in front. Those will obviously be more expensive.
So, it is up to you to consider whether or not to book a seat you prefer or with extra leg space. However, considering you are booking with a low-cost airline you probably have a short flight. Thus, do you really need that window-seat or that extra space?
General fees for choosing a seat will probably be very low, starting at €3 with Ryanair. But remember, a lot of small amounts make a big sum at the end!
These days, a standard ticket with a low-cost airline is very basic. You know, very, very basic. This involves that at some airlines hand luggage is restricted to a small bag each, which means you have to pay extra to bring even a small cabin suitcase.
This, of course, makes sure the airline has more income and that there will be more space for luggage in the cabin since fewer people are bringing a bag.
Fees for a small cabin suitcase start from €15, but sometimes you can also combine it with a priority check-in. (More about this in the next paragraph.) Ask yourself if you really need that suitcase or in the case you bring two suitcases, if you really need that many. I can tell you that everything I need for a weekend abroad fits in a backpack, which you can take on board for free!
Bigger suitcases will come at a larger fee, of course, but will be similar to other airlines.
What does priority check-in actually mean? Well, it means that you can board the plane before everyone else with a regular ticket. Since business class does not exist on planes of low-cost airlines, you can go first.
But beware! Last time I flew with Ryanair about half of the passengers had a priority ticket! This means two things. First, the airline certainly managed to upsell to a lot of its customers. Second, the priority check-in was no priority anymore since half of the people had such a ticket. I can tell you the queue for priority check-in was very long…
Thus, next time you are seduced by a priority ticket with the promise of fast boarding, think about how many people will buy it too and whether it would be better to just wait those extra minutes on a comfortable airport chair instead of in a queue.
Drinks on board
The absolutely very low-cost airlines won’t even offer you a free drink on board. No, you have to pay for it. But is it worth it?
Of course, you can think, I might get thirsty on the plane, why shouldn’t I? But before you board the plane consider keeping an empty water bottle in your backpack through the customs inspection and refilling it at the airport. Most airports have potable water available. And water is still the best drink to quench your thirst!
Lottery/perfumery/liquor on board
When the drinks have passed you think they cannot sell you more, but this is wrong! They absolutely can! In the case of Ryanair they will come with a car where you can buy perfumery, liquor and… even lottery tickets! Of course with the promise that profits will go to charity. But is it really?
When on a plane, would you really want to spend your money on high-end products (that probably cost more than the plane ticket itself!) such as perfumery and liquor or on lottery tickets? I would rather not…
Car and hotel bookings
Low-cost airlines won’t just offer you flight-related products but will engage in selling you other travel-related extras such as booking a car and a hotel. In case you haven’t already booked a hotel or car, this can be beneficial because they will often offer you a discount on the normal price.
The same line of thought goes for hotels and cars: consider whether you actually need it. Are you planning to book a hotel or Airbnb? Which one will be cheaper? Do you need a car to drive you around or can you just take public transfer everywhere?
The conclusion on low-cost airlines
Thus, the moral of this story, think before you buy! This is of course very useful in every situation. Low-cost airlines will try to upsell you way too much stuff you don’t need, so be aware of that!
If you are interested in more budget advice, read one of my other blog articles about comfortable budget travel.
Any extra tips or thoughts you want to share? Do not hesitate to leave a comment or share this article with friends who need it!