Two decades on are Low Cost flights still good value for money?
“Cheap flights, cheap flights, it’s obvious to see,
There must be extra charges when the flights are 50p”
– Fascinating Aida 2010
Low Cost carriers manage to keep prices down by taking advantage of the earlier, and often cheaper, departure slots at the airports. They also split out the various components of a booking, charging passengers extra for everything other than the seat itself. This is actively promoted by the Low Cost carriers as giving us back our freedom of choice and to some extent they are right. The itemisation of in flight services allows us to decide whether we would actually like to pay the extra for a coffee which we may or may not eat rather than the cost being automatically added to the ticket price. Also, in most cases having to get up early and missing out on a lemon scented face towel is well worth it for the money you can save.
However, other ways in which the Low Cost airlines cut costs can be less appealing and this is where booking with the traditional scheduled carriers can have benefits. The first that springs to mind is baggage. Unless you are only escaping for the weekend you will probably want to take a suitcase and adding this onto a Low Cost flight can increase the end price significantly, whereas on scheduled airlines baggage is included as standard. With over twenty years experience savvy online bargain hunters such as our selves have learned to expect these added extras… haven’t we?
The airlines’ constantly changing rules, regulations and terms of business can be hard to keep ahead of. Taxes are thankfully now included in the advertised price, but many Low Cost carriers do not allocate seats for free, then there can be charges for online check in, printing of boarding passes, extra leg room and flight changes do seem to be more common when flying with a Low Cost Carrier. These are a few of the potential pitfalls that passengers must look out for, but if you have done your research, book well in advance and have the luxury of being flexible about when you can fly you can still grab some great deals. To stay ahead of the game online bookers must learn to adapt to the continually changing market and to avoid any nasty surprises always, always remember to read the Terms and Conditions, even if you have flown with the chosen carrier in the past.
Though scheduled carriers often cannot compete on price they do feel they offer a superior service and are fighting back, a good example is scheduled carrier SAS who are having a Sale this week. At the time of writing (17-Aug-12) searching Manchester-Copenhagen on September 17th for a week return is £139 with SAS (which includes 23kgs of baggage), the same route and dates with the cheapest Low Cost carrier is £120, which then jumps to £143.58 once you have added 20kgs of hold baggage. To highlight this SAS have launched a banner campaign highlighting that fact that they do not charge extra for baggage, seat allocation or online check in:
Though this is an interesting example it isn’t always the case, Low Cost carriers dominate the market in some of our most popular destinations and even with all the extras beat the scheduled carriers hands down on price. There are still some great deals out there, we just have to spend a bit of time finding them.