We’re often asked how low-cost airlines manage to offer cheap fares.
The broad answer is that they reduce overheads – but just how that’s done can vary greatly.
Most low-cost airlines have streamlined booking by selling tickets electronically or over the phone only – and by charging for things like food and drink on an ‘as needed’ basis.
There are also usually luggage fees, some restrictions on hand luggage and often charges for seat selection and use of a credit card to pay for it all. And, it’s wise to ensure you are within the luggage limit – and to check for any other taxes before agreeing to buy a ticket.
Newer, fuel-efficient planes
Interestingly, many low-cost airlines also reduce their costs by other general management factors that help create savings.
For example, budget airlines often have newer planes than the traditional carriers.
Increasingly, these newer aircraft are more fuel-efficient – a key factor.
And low-cost carriers, typically, have one type of plane only.
RyanAir, for example, flies only Boeing 737s; Easyjet uses only the A320; and Scoot has a largely Boeing Dreamliners.
Pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and ground staff, therefore, need only be trained on one type of plane.
Low-cost carriers do not necessarily have a base or hub airport – allowing their planes to be in the air longer, making runs from point-to-point destinations, with shorter loading times.
The downside here can be that some of the airports they use might be quite a distance from major centres.
It’s smart to check this and factor-in transport costs.
Do some research
Safety is a central concern to all airlines and there are regular published audits.
It’s a similar story with delays and cancellations. We always recommend that the cancellation policy of individual airlines be checked before booking a ticket.
Are there savings?
So, after all this, can low-cost airlines really save you money?
A check of any online fare comparison site shows that the answer is a clear YES – if you are willing to do without all the extras.