Flying Budget European Airlines: A Tutorial

I try to fly British Airlines whenever possible...
as an AAdvantage member since the age of 4
{thanks, dad!}
there is nothing that gets my toes tingling more 
than seasonal offers for double miles
& discounted award travel.

However my urge to travel can trump 
even my stedfast loyalty to the One World Alliance...
and sometimes, when you see a ticket to somewhere exotic
and it will only cost you £19.99...
you gotta do what you've got to do.

Europe has loads of budget airlines...
each more cheesy & gimmicky than the rest.

So how do you pick? How do you choose?

And most importantly... how does one survive
the terrible music, people herding & crazy rules
that come as the unwritten tax of traveling these budget airlines?

Well... I'll do my best to help.

Today we flew from Paris to Nice via EasyJet
and we were traveling with a group of 
budget-airline rookies.

When they were charged £30 and forced to check their bags,
I considered it fair game...
but when I saw tears well up in the eyes 
of my fellow passenger, I realized...
there are some definite rules that Americans don't understand
when planning to vacation with these airlines.


1. For the most part, when you book a ticket to a destination...
you aren't actually going to that destination.

"London-Luton," "Paris-Orly," "Barcelona-Giro"
all of these destinations imply close proximity to dream destinations,
but beware: most budget airlines fly into airports that are about 45 min - 1 hour
away from the city center of your destination.

This will require a bus ticket or train ticket
into the city and additional travel time.

Though, to be fair, every airport I have flown into
makes these connections very obvious & easy...
and bus tickets typically range around $12 per person.

2. To keep your travel price to the actual price you paid for your ticket...
pack light. Like, really really light.

I used to think Europeans were funny people 
who just preferred quirky glasses & tiny-astronaut-esque luggage.

Now that I fly their airlines,
I realize they just have luggage that meets these airline's requirements.

{Editors note: Still think some of their glasses are hilarious. Yeah, you Italy.}

These airlines make their money off enforcing luggage.
If you think TSA in the states is tough, you've never met a Spanish RyanAir gate clerk.
Each person and their carry on is checked and tagged for approval.
And if you try to sneak through with a bag that is too big? 
Well, that'a £30 and a checked bag.

Be sure to double check your airline's measurements before heading to the airport.

3. Get there early
and don't forget to print your ticket.

Printing your ticket at the airport 
comes with a fee of around £25 per ticket.

These flights operate on a "first-come, first-serve" basis on flight space.
Since everyone is trying to avoid baggage fees
and will be carrying their luggage,
it means one thing for you:
limited luggage space.

Plan on standing for about an hour in line
waiting to board your plane.

If you are being walked on the plane,
always head to the back line. 
It's less crowded and you'll be closer to the door upon arrival...
which means you can have a jump start on the customs line.

4. Nothing is free.
Nope, not even water.

But I did pay £2.50 for some delicious peppermint tea...
and when I knocked over the entire cup in the process of taking this picture,
the sweet attendant brought me a stack of napkins...
and a fresh cup. 

Apparently, on EasyJet flights in France,
they'll whip you up a Croque Monsier...

Tyler wasn't disappointed, and I'll agree: 
it looked way better than those AA pizzas.

5. You are entering a marketing experience
that has no shame & unabashed use of primary colors.

Duty-free? Tabaco-less cigarettes? Airline Apps? Lotto scratch cards?

If they won't make money off of you from your ticket price,
they'll do their best to pry it out of your fingers in another way.

It's a type of travel that I highly recommend for young people,
single people or people who are a bit familiar with the culture....
otherwise, it might possibly be too much of a hassle.

While it may sound whiney,
just know this:
at the end of the {really long & exhausting} day,
you'll be somewhere amazing
and you'll have spent so little to get there.

I do fly these airlines, and I do it often...
It's not the most glamorous way to travel,
but then again... 
I never seem to remember having to spend £3 for a Diet Coke
when I'm sitting in a piazza in Italy.

And the in-flight entertainment when flying across Europe
is never a disappointment...
the landscapes are stunning.