Travel Cheat Sheet: Know Your European Budget Airlines
Theologian St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page” — keep in mind he lived from 354-430 AD. Thousands of years later, this statement continues to ring true, and travel is easier than ever. In celebration, we’ve rounded up some of Europe’s low-cost airlines to help you get ready for your next vacation, should you decide to hop the pond.
The U.K.’s largest airline, easyJet serves more than 30 countries and generally ranks quite highly with travelers. Though fares on easyJet are a tad higher than other low-cost carriers in the region, you’ll find that you’re often paying for access: Unlike many budget airlines, easyJet typically flies to primary airports in its cities, rather than secondary airports that are often 40-75 minutes outside of a city.
Flies: Throughout the U.K. and between several major European cities; Moscow and various cities in Eastern Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Jordan, and Egypt
Germanwings is — you guessed it — a low-budget airline based in Germany. Owned by Lufthansa, Germanwings is a budget airline with choices: Travelers can choose the fare (Basic, Smart, or Best) and perks they’re interested in. Adventurous travelers can also choose an option called “Blind Booking,” in which they select a Germanwings base airport and then select a “type” of destination (e.g. Culture, Party, Shopping, or Snow And Ski). Germanwings emails customers their destination after this roundtrip purchase; tickets purchased this way are often priced lower than those booked the usual way.
Flies: Primarily Germany and the U.K., but also Morocco, Turkey, and other European countries, including Greece, Spain, and Iceland
Would this list be complete without RyanAir? Probably not. If you’ve tried to travel — and save money while doing so — in Europe, chances are you’ve found yourself on a RyanAir flight. Fares on this airline may be some of the lowest ($15 one ways, anyone?), but be prepared to sacrifice some comfort and shell out cash for amenities you’re otherwise accustomed to. Even weighing your bag to ensure it’s not overweight can cost you.
Flies: Primarily Western Europe, Morocco, Cyprus, and the Canary Islands
4. Wizz Air
Wizz Air — full name Wizz Air Hungary Airlines Ltd. — is the largest Hungarian aircraft fleet, serving more than 32 countries. While Wizz Air wins points for destinations and scheduling, it loses majorly for almost everything else from a consumer standpoint. Consider this: You must pay even to place a call to the company’s service center, and you pay for carry-on bags that go in the overhead bin.
Flies: Germany, the U.K., and Ireland; primarily concentrated in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Latvia, Serbia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Croatia
Vueling, the second largest airline in Spain, is one of the fastest growing. Like Germanwings, Vueling offers three fares with varying perks and wins points for options, though, unfortunately, not for service. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to travel cheaply between European capitals, Vueling might be your airline. It currently serves more than 100 destinations.
Flies: Primarily Spain, Morocco, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Norway, and Russia