• Teelesia Martin

Bare Fare Flights

The Keys to Traveling on a Budget Airline

Ever wonder about those ad’s you see for $50 one-way flights and think to self, “that’s too good to be true”? Well, it actually isn’t. Ever wonder how some people seem to always be travelling but every picture is in that bright annoyingly yellow airplane (Spirit Airlines)? I’m here to break down the secret of cheap flights with low cost carriers.

In the airline world, there are some carriers who provide a low-cost, no-frills approach, in order to provide that service at that price. These carriers are a big disruption to the standard airline industry because, let’s face it, more people want more bang for their buck, especially budget travelers. It’s hard to ignore an eye-popping $50 ticket price, in comparison to a $120 ticket price to the same place. I am cheap so I feel your pain. However, you have to be careful. These low-budget flights come with low-budget inclusions. In this instance, “you get what you pay for”. The quality of customer service is still great in some cases, but the extras that aren’t normally extras, come at a premium. As with life, there is always a catch! Always be sure to read the fine print.

Don’t get sticker shock

The $50 ticket you see on Spirit Airlines may look good in comparison to the $120 ticket on United, however, you will be responsible for paying for everything including your oxygen, (I swear it feels like it comes at a price). Want to bring more than a purse/laptop bag (aka a carry-on)? Want to request your own seat because you hate sitting in the middle? Are you 6’5 and need more leg room? Do you usually print your boarding pass once at the airport? Do you travel with your pet? Are you that person with your hand out for drinks/snacks once in flight? If any of this applies to you, BEWARE!! All of that comes with an added fee. That $120 United flight is starting to sound a little better huh? When flight shopping, always add those extra fees to the bare price and see which flight will come out cheaper. Note: Budget flights are usually always non-refundable and non-changeable.

Check the In-flight and Layover Times

Budget airlines often take different routes and sometimes add useless layovers. On their airline, you may be in flight for 5 hrs with a 2 hr layover, whereas, another non low-budget airline can have you at your destination in 3 hrs non-stop, for some extra dollars of course. Also be sure to review the layover times. Airlines love to overestimate and exaggerate their punctuality. Look out for those short layover windows with little to no time to reach the next plane. You could be totally screwed if your first flight is delayed.

Read the Baggage Policy

This is your chance to learn how to pack your life into a carry-on. Go search the technique on YouTube. I’m still learning! When travelling low-budget, pack light. Extra bags and checked bags are quite expensive with these airlines. They’re also a lot stricter regarding bag size. Some attendants literally ask you to sit your bag in the sizing box just to be sure they can’t get that extra $60 from you. Oh by the way, both Spirit and Frontier charge about $60-$100 to check your bag at the gate, depending on domestic or international travel. If you absolutely need to check a bag because you always pack more than you wear (me), I recommend purchasing the checked bag online during booking, it’s always cheaper.

Evaluate the Upgrades

Before booking, have an honest conversation with yourself. What do you need to make this vacation enjoyable? How do you prefer to fly? If the flight is a short haul, the seating arrangement and leg room may not be as important. You can eat/drink in the airport or before arrival so that may not be a deal breaker. But on a long haul, you may want to dish out those extra bucks to have the seat of your choice and a drink/snack to make it through the lengthy flight. Overall, this is your chance to ball on a budget if need be. After all, the big ballers are not flying on a low-budget airline. This is your time to shine! Your flight is already cheaper so the upgraded package on a low-budget airline will still come out cheaper than first class with Delta. Go for the plush seats, good food and extra baggage space.

When considering low-budget airlines, assume nothing is free, come prepared. Expect to pay for premium service. If you just want dirt cheap and don’t need those added extras, it’s definitely worth searching these airlines. Soar the frugal skies!


Bring an empty water bottle to fill up at the water fountain before hopping on the plane (free drink). Bring your own snacks (free snacks). For short trips, attempt to fit all your belongings into a backpack (free baggage). Wear your luggage, a few more shirts/pants than normal (free baggage and warmth). Print your boarding pass at home or your local library (free prints).

Have you ever flown with a low-budget carrier? Did you find yourself wishing you didn’t or loving the experience? Got some tips you'd like to share? If you’ve never flew low-budget, by choice, tell us why below!

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