Travelling on budget airlines can save you a ton of money, but with all the extra charges and cost cutting measures it can cost you more in your sanity and you can end up more stressed before you even start your trip! Here are some do's and don'ts you need to know to make your trip as smooth and stressful as possible.
Compare prices on sites like Skyscanner to get the best deal and book as far in advance as possible to get the best prices. Last minute deals are not as good as they used to be.
Avoid the extra charges with the airline, if you're not careful you can end up spending just as much, if not more than other airlines! Instead to make your experience more enjoyable consider spending the money on going in to one of the executive lounges instead of the overcrowded seating areas at the gate. You may even be able to get in for free if have points with frequent flyer miles, a loyalty card, or it maybe a bonus with your credit card. In Aberdeen International Airport I would recommend the Northern Lights Lounge, where there is lovely locally sourced food, coffee machine and a wide range of drinks you can help yourself to. Children under 3 years of age go free, age 3-11's are £15 and adult (age 12+) tickets cost £25. I would recommend to make paying for access into an lounge worthwhile, you need at least an hour if not 2 before your flight boards to justify the cost. Although comparing the price you'd pay for a cup of coffee, a serving of hot food and a couple of drinks and snacks either within the airport or onboard your flight I suspect you'd have little if any change from the £25 price of entry to the Lounge.
Only take hand luggage and check the restrictions with your airline (usually found on their website) so you can avoid the queue at bag drop and breeze through security. With Ryanair you can take a 10kg rolling case (55cm x 40cm x 20cm) plus a handbag or laptop bag no bigger than 35cm x 20cm x 20cm, through security. The case gets put into the hold when you board the plane. As a result our bags were one of the first off the carousel! With EasyJet your handbag needs to be able to fit inside your carry on rolling case, so this makes it a bit trickier to travel light as you will have to pay extra to take two pieces of hand luggage with you. It might work out cheaper to get one 20kg case between your family. We make it a competition who can travel the lightest, so far the lightest has been 6.4kg with enough for a week away! You can read my tips for packing here.
Bring your own food, drinks and snacks, the food on board is not going to be great and will be very over priced. It will be cheaper to buy a bottle of water or other drinks once you are through security and you can bring snacks from home. Or if you have gone into one of the lounges then you can fill up on food and drinks before you go!
Print off or download your own boarding pass before you leave for the airport. Ryanair will charge you to print out your boarding pass! Your airline is likely to have it's own app which will have updates about your flight.
Bring some entertainment. There will be no in-flight entertainment on the flight and definitely no wifi, so make sure you have charged all your devices, have extra battery packs charged and downloaded all the music, podcasts, books and videos you need to get through the flight. Also bring books, colouring in, toys etc for the kiddos!
Bring noise cancelling earphones if you have them, as all the budget flights I have been on tend to have a few inconsiderate people who can spoil the flight for everyone.
Don't pay extra for priority boarding. If you are with the 3 mobile network you can get priority boarding with EasyJet. I personally don't think it's worth paying in the priority lane for boarding as you have your seat already allocated and if you are travelling with small children you are likely to be called forward to board before anyone else anyway. Many airlines separate families when you book tickets to encourage you to pay extra to sit together, but if you are with children under the age of 12, you should have been allocated at least one adult sitting with a child. While it may not be ideal to be separated on a flight, for a short haul flight it's not too much of a problem. You could also try asking nicely if a fellow passenger to switch seats to be with your family, although this will be less likely to happen if you have been placed in a middle seat!
Don't pay extra for emergency seats unless 2 inches makes a really big difference for you! All the seats are very small on these flights, even if you do pay for extra for the couple of inches of legroom! Instead try to make the flight as comfortable as possible with things like a pashmina to act like a blanket, a travel pillow (my favourite is Trtl pillow), flight socks, eye mask, and your earphones!
Don't be late! Prepare for delays and cancellations especially if you have other flights to connect with. If you have to change terminals between flights it can take a lot longer than you expect to get between terminals. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your flight, as there can be strict rules that you will not be allowed on your flight if you are too late. Being someone who always tend to cut these things very close, it can be very stressful if the train to the airport has been cancelled or the queue at security is longer than expected or you get to the airport and someone has left their passport at the hotel!
There are lots of pros for using these airlines and the low cost can make all the difference between being able to travel for a family wedding, or to attend a friend's surprise birthday or not. Just be prepared and think of the fun you'll have once you get to where you are going!
What are your experiences of travelling on budget airlines? I would love to hear your tips in the comments below!