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Europe’s Budget-Friendly Airlines You Need to Know

If you want to travel around Europe without spending a lot, using these cheap airlines is often your best bet. This guide will give you all the basic info you need about Europe's budget airlines to help you travel cheaply, visit many destinations, and what you should expect.

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By Eglė

Published: Nov 28, 2023 min read

Europe’s Budget-Friendly Airlines You Need to Know

In This Article You'll Learn About: 

  1. airBaltic
  2. Condor
  3. Easy jet 
  4. Eurowings
  5. Jet2
  6. Pegasus
  7. Rynair
  8. Transavia
  9. Tui
  10. Volotea
  11. Vueling
  12. Wizz Air
Europe’s Budget-Friendly Airlines You Need to Know - airBaltic airlines - low-budget airlines - ratepunk

airBaltic

AirBaltic - is centered around its primary hub at Riga International Airport. It has established itself as a significant player in the Baltic region's aviation market, offering flights to a wide range of 83 international destinations in 41 countries across Europe, Scandinavia, the CIS, and the Middle East. Its network includes major cities and popular tourist destinations, making it a convenient option for both business and leisure travel in and around the Baltic region.

AirBaltic offers various fare types to cater to different traveler needs, from basic fares for those looking for the most economical option to more inclusive fares that come with additional perks like baggage allowance.

On airBaltic Economy class flights, each passenger can bring one cabin bag (measuring 55x40x23 cm) plus one personal item (sized 30x40x10 cm), with a combined weight limit of 8 kilograms. If you need more, there's an option to upgrade your cabin baggage allowance to a total of 12 kg for €11.99. If you're flying with airBaltic, here's what you need to know about their baggage policy. For checked baggage, each piece can weigh up to 23 kg and must be within the dimensions of 100x50x80 cm (starting at €19.99). If you've booked a Business or Business Light fare, you can check in two bags for free, with a combined weight limit of 46 kg, but remember, no single bag should weigh more than 32 kg.

While airBaltic does not offer traditional inflight entertainment systems, the aircraft are equipped with USB ports for charging personal devices, and passengers are encouraged to bring their own entertainment.

AirBaltic is known for its punctuality and efficiency, often ranking high in on-time performance. I have never experienced delays or rude staff. Also, I can state, that the airline's focus on customer service and operational excellence makes it a preferred choice for travel in the Baltic region. 

Condor

Condor, based in Frankfurt (Frankfurt Am Main Airport) , operates both charter and scheduled flights. It services 90 destinations from 7 German bases with its fleet of 41 aircraft. While it has a code-share agreement solely with Air Namibia, its numerous interline agreements with carriers like Alaska Airlines and Lufthansa significantly expand its international reach.

Passengers are allowed one carry-on bag plus a personal item, totaling 8 kg. Checked baggage fees start at €24.99 online, but jump to €75 at the airport. Fees for seat selection, including extra legroom seats, are determined by a complex zone system and vary by route and fare class. More info about CondorHere

In-flight entertainment includes drop-down screens on shorter flights, while long-haul economy passengers get a seatback screen, with options to purchase headsets and a premium package. Snacks and meals vary; you can pre-book online or buy onboard, with long-haul economy passengers receiving a complimentary warm meal and beverage.

Condor's flights might not be the cheapest, but they often have last-minute sales and special promotions, offering direct routes between Europe and the U.S., including Alaska. However, its mix of charter and scheduled flights means intercontinental routes have limited availability.

Easy Jet

EasyJet, a 24-year-old London-based airline, ranks fifth in Skytrax's list of best European budget airlines(2023). It operates 1,024 routes to 155 destinations across 36 countries. 

Like most budget airlines, EasyJet charges for extras like seat selection checked luggage, and onboard refreshments. Unique to EasyJet, passengers are allowed only one carry-on bag without a separate personal item, but there's no weight limit as long as it fits in the overhead bin and meets size requirements. Passengers can check up to three bags, with each not exceeding 32 kg and a total size limit of 275 cm. Online pre-booking fees for bags range from £6.99 to £37.49, increasing to £40 at the airport.

Booking well in advance through EasyJet's Low Fare Finder offers the best prices, and online check-in is available up to 30 days before departure. Their network focuses on Europe, with direct flights from major cities to smaller destinations, including seasonal leisure routes. There's no in-flight entertainment or WiFi, but the short flight durations make this less of an issue.

EasyJet's fleet lacks premium cabins but offers seats with extra legroom for a fee. For regular flyers, an EasyJet Plus membership includes perks like free advanced seat selection, fast-track security, an extra cabin bag, priority check-in, and boarding. Annual EasyJet Plus membership - £215.

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Eurowings

Eurowings Airlines is based in Düsseldorf and a part of the Lufthansa Group. Although slightly pricier than other European low-budget airlines, Eurowings still presents some reasonable deals within Europe. Codeshare partnerships with airlines such as airBaltic, Avion Express Malta, TYIfly, Smartwings, Lufthansa help maintain its network. In conclusion, Eurowings operates over 210 destinations worldwide.

Eurowings' fee structure is average for a budget airline. The basic fare includes an 8 kg carry-on (with dimensions under 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm) plus a small item like a handbag. However, carry-ons might be checked at the gate if the flight is full for Basic Fare tickets. The first checked bag costs start at €9 online (€18 at the airport), with subsequent bags beginning at €75.

In-flight refreshments and seat selection (including extra legroom) are discounted when booked online. The Wings Bistro menu offers food and drinks for purchase, with water free for Basic Fare passengers—a unique feature. Most flights offer WiFi and in-flight entertainment via seatback screens or personal devices.

More insights on Eurowings can find in our comparison article, Eurowings vs Ryanair 

Jet2

Jet2, a British budget airline, offers scheduled and charter flights primarily from the UK, often linked with its vacation package arm, Jet2Holidays. With a fleet of 90 Boeing aircraft, it serves 70 European destinations from its main base at Leeds Bradford International and other locations across England and Northern Ireland.

Jet2's mix of charter and scheduled services leads to fluctuating prices, seasonal routes, and variable deals, often costing more than other low-cost airlines. Despite higher prices, Jet2 is recognized for excellent customer service, reliability, and on-time performance.AMAZING. It may be the reason why it ranks tenth in Skytrax's list of best world's budget airlines(2023)

Passengers are permitted one 10 kg carry-on bag (up to 56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm) and a small personal item. Checked baggage, up to three bags of 22 kg each, starts at £8 online, with airport rates beginning at £45 per bag. Additional options like seat selection and pre-ordered meals are available during booking, and various snacks and drinks can be bought onboard. While there's no in-flight entertainment or WiFi, passengers can pre-order Nicolas Feuillatte champagne for £30. Want to know more? Check Jet2 official website

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Pegasus

Only a few have heard about Pegasus. It is a Turkish budget airline, a prime choice for economical flights from Western Europe to the Middle East and Central Asia. Its main hub is at SAW-Istanbul, supported by key locations like Adana, Antalya, Ankara Esenboğa, Adnan Menderes airports, and Ercan Airport in North Nicosia, Cyprus.

Pegasus Airlines serves over 130 destinations in 49 countries. This airline is known for reaching less accessible destinations, including places in Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, alongside popular cities like London and Dubai.

Pegasus’s fleet is modern and well-kept, with an average age of 5.5 years, though it lacks in-flight WiFi or seatback screens. But they are introducing entertainment on personal devices. Basic international fares include an 8 kg carry-on plus a personal item, while domestic flights also offer a 15 kg checked bag. Upgrading to a fare with a 20 kg checked bag is affordable, with prices as low as €30 for international and €15 for domestic Turkish flights. Bag fees vary by route and increase closer to departure, with last-minute airport check-ins costing more. Pegasus Airlines. 

Ryanair

Ryanair has been a pioneer in offering extremely low-priced flights across Europe, North Africa, Israel, and Jordan. The airline serves 40 countries with over 3000 daily flights from 240 airports in Europe and North Africa. Its planes are known for sleek interiors with more legroom than many rivals, though the seats are narrower.

Ryanair's fares are notably low, even among European budget airlines. However, Ryanair is infamous for extensive upselling. It's one of the few budget airlines in Europe that charges for bringing a small suitcase in addition to a handbag or briefcase. The basic fare only includes a personal item fitting under the seat, with maximum dimensions of 40 cm x 20 cm x 25 cm. Overstepping these dimensions at the gate incurs a €25 fee, which is the same cost as adding a carry-on during airport check-in. A better value is purchasing a fare with a 10 kg carry-on, small personal item, and priority boarding during booking, starting at €6.

Ryanair recently updated its checked baggage policy, offering a 10 kg checked bag option starting at €8, and up to three 20 kg bags starting from €25 online and €40 at the airport. Overweight bags attract an €11 per kilo fee up to 32 kg. Additional services like seat selection, meals, and Fast Track security can be added during booking. Ryanair doesn't offer in-flight entertainment or WiFi, nor does it accept in-cabin pets. More about Ryanair

Transavia

Transavia is a part of the Dutch airline KLM, started as a charter airline in 1966 and has evolved into a budget commercial airline with bases in Schiphol, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam-The Hague. It flies direct to around 100  destinations across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The airline permits one 10 kg carry-on but no extra personal items. Checked luggage options range from 15 kg to 50 kg, with fees varying by weight and route. Online pre-booking for a 15 kg bag starts at €9, but airport prices can soar to €45. Standard seat selection begins at €3, with extra legroom options at €7. All onboard food and beverages are available for purchase, and passengers can access in-flight entertainment on personal devices, though WiFi isn't available.

Transavia's extensive network, comfortable flights, and generally lower fares, often with promotions, make it a competitive option. However, its ticket and upgrade prices aren't always the lowest compared to other budget airlines. Official Transavia website

Transavia France

Transavia France, its sister company, with its main base at Paris-Orly Airport. It flies to many places in Europe, North Africa, and around the Mediterranean. This airline is great for affordable trips, taking people to both well-known and less common destinations. Their flights offer simple services, but you can pay extra for things like luggage, choosing your seat, or food during the flight. Transavia France focuses on providing low-cost and straightforward travel for holiday-goers and people watching their budget.

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TUI Airlines

TUI, more than a single airline, is a collective of six European airlines under the TUI Group, the largest global leisure, travel, and tourism company. Its largest airline, TUI Airways in the UK, is the world’s biggest charter airline. Its sister airlines, including TUI fly Belgium, TUI fly Deutschland, TUI fly Netherlands, TUI fly Nordic, and Corsair International in France, mainly offer vacation packages but also have great flight-only deals to fill seats on chartered flights. Last-minute bookings often lead to significant savings.

TUI, not a traditional budget airline, imposes extra charges for flight-only bookings. For instance, TUI Airways in the UK allows only one 10 kg carry-on (excluding personal items) with size limits. Checked baggage, up to three 23 kg bags, incurs a variable fee, often high and costlier at the airport. During booking, passengers can pay for advanced seat selection, including Extra Space and Extra Legroom seats.

In-flight, passengers can buy snacks and meals, with some items free on long-haul flights. Entertainment is available on longer flights but not on shorter ones, and WiFi isn't offered. TUI Airways has a Premium Club for long-haul flights, offering business-class-like benefits at a relatively low cost, including a larger baggage allowance and priority services. 

Volotea

Volotea, a Spanish budget airline, operates from major bases like Venice, Nantes, and Athens, covers 354 routes to 100 cities across 16 European countries. Passengers can carry one bag and a small handbag or briefcase, combined not exceeding 10 kg. Checking a 20 kg bag is cheaper online (starting at €9) compared to €50 at check-in and €60 at the gate. Each traveler can check up to five bags, with a total weight limit of 50 kg.

Volotea offers various bundles for advanced seat selection, priority boarding, and snacks. Onboard purchases include food and drinks, and passengers can add a cabin pet for €39. Some flights provide WiFi and streaming entertainment for a fee.

The Megavolotea and Megavolotea Plus programs offer benefits like flight discounts, baggage deals, priority boarding, and birthday credits, starting at an annual fee of €49.99. Some time ago I shared my experience with Volotea. It’s definitely one of the best budget-friendly European airlines. 

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Vueling

Vueling's main hub is at Barcelona-El Prat and a significant secondary hub at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, Vueling connects over 100 destinations in 30 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Vueling's website reflects the airline's efficiency, offering a straightforward booking process with clear information on additional charges. The airline provides various seating options, ranging from €1.99 for standard seats to €15.99 for more spacious bulkhead seats with priority boarding. Passengers can also opt to book an adjacent empty seat for extra space. Although there's no in-flight entertainment, Vueling offers high-speed WiFi, a first among European airlines.

The airline's luggage policy is both clear and generous, allowing a carry-on bag, a personal item, and a separate shopping bag, provided they fit under the seat. Online checked baggage booking is affordable, with prices starting at €8 for 15 kg bags. There's a special drop-off counter for pre-booked luggage, avoiding airport queues. However, airport bag check-ins are costly at a flat €50 fee. The basic fare includes hand luggage, but for around €30 more, passengers get a checked bag and advanced seat selection.

Vueling stands out with its Vueling Club frequent flyer program and multiple codeshare agreements, offering Avios points redeemable on Vueling and partner airlines flights. The airline's codeshare partnerships with airlines like British Airways and Qatar Airways significantly extend its global reach. Additional perks like lounge access are available for a fee.

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Wizz Air

Wizz Air, based in Budapest, operates over 148 destinations in 43 countries across Central and Eastern Europe. Wizz Air is especially convenient for travel to and from Eastern Europe and offers unique destinations like Dubai, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Their Budapest hub is strategically positioned for accessing these regions.

The basic fare includes one 10 kg carry-on bag with specific dimensions and no additional personal item, though a Duty Free shopping bag is allowed. Priority class passengers, paying an extra ‎€5 to ‎€30, can bring an additional 10 kg carry-on. Checked baggage starts at ‎€9 for 10 kg in the low season, with a maximum of six bags per passenger – more than most budget airlines. (Pssss, check our work in Wizz Air vs Ryanair article - you'll get more useful info). 

Additional services like seat selection and lounge access incur extra fees. Onboard, passengers can purchase food and drinks from the Wizz Cafe menu. There's no inflight entertainment or WiFi. The Wizz Discount Club, with an annual fee of €29.99, offers fare and baggage discounts and exclusive promotions, but lacks perks like priority boarding or free meals.

An example fare from Budapest to Berlin could be around €20, with added costs for a seat and checked baggage potentially doubling the trip's cost.

Be aware of Wizz Air's strict carry-on policy and various extra charges, including fees for SMS confirmation, printed receipts, call center usage, airport check-in, and rebooking missed flights. In case you want to get more info, check their official website

Nov 28, 2023

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