Are Low-Cost Carriers Worth It?
We know low-cost carriers offer the low fares, but are there sneaky hidden fees?
The price is usually right for low-cost carriers, but does that mean you should choose them over some of the other well-known airlines? While the cost of the actual flight is less expensive, you’re often hit with an abundance of add-on fees for things that would typically be free with other carriers. Industry experts call this “unbundling.” Carry-on bags, snacks and sometimes seat selection come with a price, but even with adding these extras, your flight can still be more affordable than the bigger airlines.
The best way to be budget savvy when booking through a low-cost carrier is to know the fees and charges that are and are not included in the price of the flight. You’ll also want to look into purchasing some things ahead of time. If you’re flying Frontier or Allegiant, for example, and you know you’ll be bringing one checked bag and one carry-on, purchase these during booking, as fees increase dramatically when you get to the check-in counter.
To see the value of some of the most popular low-cost airlines, check out The Points Guy for his Survival Guide to 8 Low-Cost Carriers. He compares fares, fees and ease of booking with airlines such as Frontier, Spirit, WOW air and Ryanair.
Another great resource for deciding which low-cost carrier to choose for your next trip is Skytrax and its annual best airline awards. The top low-cost airlines in North America include Virgin America, WestJet, Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Volaris.
As always, it’s best to do your homework before you book your flight to get the best deal. One of our favorite tools is Google Flights, which will compare all the available flights and will give suggestions on when to fly to save money, if you’re flexible.
What’s your experience with low-cost carriers? Share with us and other Fast Park guests on our Facebook page!