Updated: June 2, 2022 | Has affiliate links

Make the Most of Flying Low Cost Airlines in Europe

Everyone wants to be able to travel through Europe and spend as little as possible. Europe is known for its efficient train and bus infrastructure. But what if we told you there was a way to quickly get from point A to point B that didn’t involve trains or buses? In fact, what if we were to tell you that there are actually planes that cost less than a train or bus? Let’s take a look at some surprisingly pocket-friendly airlines in Europe. 

Over the last 10 years, air travel in Europe has changed completely due to the rise of low cost airlines that connect almost every possible European destination. As a consequence, flying in Europe has really become low cost.

Pisa, Italy - Beautiful aerial view before landing
Flying over Pisa, Italy on an EasyJet flight from London, England

1. Ryanair

As the most well-known budget airline out there, Ryanair has made a name for itself by offering some seriously cheap tickets for a wide variety of places. If you know how to use Ryanair properly, you can even get some tickets for under 10 EUR, something that is hard to beat with other services. Based in Ireland, Ryanair serves most of Europe.

Though the planes aren’t the most comfortable, the flights themselves are short enough that you won’t have to worry about that for long. You also can’t beat the price!

2. EasyJet

EasyJet is a very similar company to Ryanair in the sense that they offer some ridiculously affordable flights for specific travel dates and times. However, Easy Jet flights are typically more comfortable than Ryanair ones, making them arguably more desirable as well. Based in Luton, England, EasyJet serves most Europe as well.

3. Wizz Air

If you’re looking for a budget airline that still offers high-quality, comfortable flights, you should look into Wizz Air. The tickets might be more on par with a train ticket sometimes, but you have the comfort that you’re going to have a very spacious flight that gets you there quicker than other forms of transportation.
Based in Hungary, Wizz Air specializes in connecting Eastern Europe to Western Europe. If you are interested in visiting Eastern Europe, Wizz Air will get you there very cheaply and comfortably.

How to Get the Cheapest Low Cost Airline Tickets in Europe

While prices for low-cost European airlines are cheap, there are a few simple rules for getting the best deal possible on your low cost European flight ticket.

Paris, France - Aerial view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower
Paris, France – Aerial view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower

1. Buy your ticket early

The earlier you book your flight, the better the price you get becomes.  This simple rule works always with low cost airlines in Europe.  On the other hand, the closer you get to your actual flight date, the more expensive your ticket becomes.  So, in order to save a lot of money, buy your ticket as soon as you know your travel dates.  As time passes, low cost ticket prices always go up. This rule is different than my rules for getting cheap airline tickets to Europe.

2. Be flexible

Getting the cheapest tickets on budget airlines is typically achieved by being flexible with your schedule. For example, if you want to go to Rome but want to get the cheapest tickets, try many different dates. Most budget airlines also have price calendars that you can check to make sure that you’re getting the best deal, with some of them even advertising specific times to travel that will get you insanely affordable tickets (i.e. 5 EUR each direction to go to Rome)!

3. Consider upgrading your ticket

EasyJet calls it Plus, Wizz Air calls it Discount Club while Ryanair also calls it Plus. These are preferred programs that bundle services for extra price.  Yes, it costs extra, but the services included might help you save money especially if you have small children (and need to check more luggage) or lots of luggage.

Are There Any Downsides to Using Low Cost Airlines?

Though budget airlines are perfect for booking that last-minute getaway or a fun, romantic day trip, you should be careful of the potentially bad things that can happen when you are using a budget airline.  Here are some simple gotchas when using low cost airlines in Europe.

1. Know where you are actually flying

Low cost airlines in Europe keep their prices low primarily because they fly to and from smaller airports.  For example, instead of flying to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport Wizz Air flies to Paris Beauvais airport.  This is all good and cheap, but Paris Beauvais airport is about one hour away from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. So, use a map and figure out how you get to your actual destination on the ground once you land.

2. Beware of fees

For example, one of the most important things that you need to keep in mind when using a budget airline is that there will always be fees. Want to buy some food on the flight? It will be expensive. What about printing out your boarding pass at the gate? Another fee. Which actions will cost you extra depends on the specific airline you’re flying with, but it’s important to keep this in mind before you book. The reason why the ticket itself is cheap is so they can charge you later for other things like needing to check luggage last-minute.

3. Measure your carry on luggage

Carry on luggage is very convenient as it is free on low cost airlines. However, please read the allowed dimensions and weight for the airline you are considering.  The carry on rules tend to vary from airline to airline and they are very strict about allowing your carry on luggage on board.  If it doesn’t fit, you will pay for it.  So, measure it and be prepared.

4. Read the fine print

This goes along with my previous warning about fees. A way that you can prepare to not be slammed with fees when you get to the airport is to read through the company policies a few days before your flight, if possible. By reading the regulations beforehand, you’ll be able to make sure that you are properly prepared. The two most important things to keep in mind is to make sure that your carry-on luggage fits the required limit before you go to the airport and to check in online! Airlines like Ryanair usually have huge fees for both situations, so you should be aware of the situation beforehand.

5. Plan for flight delays

While cheap, low cost airlines in Europe are not known for being on time.  Of course, even if you take care of everything beforehand, there is always the possibility that your flight is delayed. When this happens, it’s easy to become stressed and frustrated, but you should always take comfort in the fact that the airline will want to get their plane up and running as fast as possible! It’s also important for you to know that if your plane is delayed long enough, you might be eligible for travel compensation!

How Do I Get Travel Compensation for a Delayed Flight?

If you have had a flight that was either arriving or departing the EU and was 3 or more hours late, you can likely receive compensation. The airlines will probably try to give you some voucher or discount in order to satisfy you, but it’s worth noting that you are entitled to far more money under EU law.

The specific law allowing for travel compensation is referred to as the EC Regulation 261, a law from 2004 that requires airlines to compensate travelers who experience significant delays. The maximum amount of compensation you are allowed to receive is 600 EUR and the specific amount depends on the distance you were supposed to travel and how much time it was delayed.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can be compensated for a delayed flight, you should contact Travel Refund. As an organization that specializes in EU flight delay compensation, getting travelers the recognition they deserve.

Should you fly low cost airlines in Europe?

Absolutely!  While it takes some planning and some reading of the many rules and exceptions for each airline, low cost air travel in Europe can really save you lots of money and lots of time.

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