Updated: Apr 23
So, you see that really cheap ticket to a city you’ve been wanting to visit, then you realize it’s on one of those budget airlines. You immediately wonder, is it worth it? Should I spend the extra money for a nicer airline with more perks or should I book with a budget airline to save cash?
There are many things to consider when thinking about which airline to go with and honestly, I almost always go with the cheapest ticket possible (usually, this means basic economy or economy flights). For me, the idea of saving money almost always wins, but sometimes, the cheap ticket isn’t worth it. Here are some things to consider before you book to help you make your decision about your upcoming flight!
Access special budget traveling tips by subscribing here.
How long is your trip?
This one is key because if you are going on a trip for a weekend, a budget airline is perfect because you won’t need to check bags, it’ll be short, and you don’t have much time at your destination, so why spend a lot? On the other hand, if you’re going for a week or two, fitting all your stuff in one carry-on or getting the nicer plane with TV and WiFi might be worth it so you can relax after a long trip.
How long is the flight?
This is HUGE! Cross-country flights on a budget airline are NOT fun let me tell you. I took a flight on Spirit cross-country, DC to LA, and it was a tough 5 hours. No WiFi, TV, drinks, or snacks… Sometimes it’s worth the extra $50 for those long flights so you can enjoy some of those amenities. Many budget airlines don’t offer food service, WiFi, TV, or other perks that are nice to have on long flights. I can deal without entertainment for a few hours, but find it hard to read a book for 6 hours on a plane without getting sick to my stomach!
Are you going back with more than you packed?
Let’s say you plan on shopping or you’re going over a holiday… You will probably be bringing back more stuff. If you’re going to need a second bag or even just a heavier one, a budget airline won’t be the best option. It can be okay, but you have to plan ahead. I always fly Southwest home for Christmas because they allow two checked bags, which is the perfect thing after receiving gifts! When I came back from China, I brought home three more bags than I left with! China is really good for shopping…
Is the parking or baggage fee going to make it the same price as another airline?
Sometimes I’ll see a ticket at a nearby airport for $50 cheaper than the closest airport to me and I think, Oh! Cheaper! But really – is it cheaper? If you have to pay for an Uber, parking, or other transportation then it may actually not be any cheaper. Check this first because it won’t be worth your time or save you anything if it’s actually not cheaper with fees!
Did you check all nearby airports? Is it still the best deal?
Sometimes a nearby airport will have the same price ticket but on a nicer airline. Check this out first before booking!
How much are you actually saving? Is it worth $20 to be in a cramped seat instead of a larger one?
Seriously, the seats on some budget airlines, like Frontier, are basically lawn chairs made for an airplane. They are not comfortable! I recently took a four-hour flight on Frontier, and let me tell you, my neck hurt so bad the next day! Long flights with those cramped seats are not worth the $20 to $50 in savings for me. Side note: does this mean I am getting old?! NOOO!
How much are you spending on the rest of your trip?
So if you are spending a lot on the rest of your trip, it’s a good idea not to spend a ton on the plane ticket. Save and book with the budget airline. If you’re not spending much, splurge on the ticket and get a nicer seat on your plane!
So, there you have it! Those are the questions I ask myself when I’m booking a flight whether with a budget airline or not. It’s important to plan ahead and save as much as possible, but even the cheapest option isn’t always the best one. Have you flown with a budget airline before? How did it go? I would love to hear what others consider when they book their flights!