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Maximizing Low Cost Carriers in Europe

by on November 11, 2013 · 17 comments

in Budget, Easyjet, Low Cost Carriers, Maximize Monday, Ryanair, TPG Contributors

Traveling through Europe by plane can get pricey – especially if you need a few positioning flights to get you to a hub where you can catch an award flight to or from the US, or to travel to several destinations on the continent once you’re already there – so flying low-cost airlines is a great way to save money while still visiting all the places you’d like to see.

But beware, many of the fares you see listed are so low because these airlines levy extra fees and added costs that can have you paying double or triple the cost of your ticket in the end, so make sure to read all the fine print carefully if you choose to fly on a low-cost carrier. That’s why I asked Madrid-based TPG contributer Lori Zaino to guide us through several low cost airlines in Europe, where they fly, and on how to avoid extra fees and costs.

Air One

Air One

Air One is Alitalia’s low cost carrier.

Air One began in 1983 and later merged with Alitalia in the mid 1990′s. The airline began and continues to be based in Milan.

Routes: Air one how has four hubs around Italy: Milan, Pisa, Venice and Catania. From these destinations, one can fly to various islands in Greece, other cities in Italy, Moscow, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Prague and Tunisia.

Sample Itinerary: Venice to Catania, November 8-11, 2013

Air One Price: $176.17

Alitalia Price: $240.85

*All taxes and fees included and one checked bag on Alitalia ONLY.

Important Information

Carry on Baggage: Passengers can take one bag only, weighing up to 8 kg (17 lbs) with maximum size dimensions of 55x35x25, including handle and wheels. If your cabin baggage exceeds this, you will have to pay 50 euros ($69) at the gate to check it.

Checked Baggage: When you purchase your ticket online, you have various options: you can buy the Go, Smart or Value option. Depending on each option, zero, one or two checked bags are included with the price of your ticket. For more information, visit the baggage regulations page.

Check In/Seat Selection: You can select a seat during check in online for your flight free of charge. You can check in from the moment you’ve booked your ticket up until 3 hours before the flight. The website does not provide information on if you must pay extra for airport check in.

Alitalia MilleMiglia Program: You can earn points on Alitalia’s MilleMiglia Program by flying with Air One. Depending which fare you have booked: the Go, Smart, or Value Option, and depending on your destination, you can earn more or less miles. If you are a member of the Membership Rewards Classic Club by American Express, you can use membership award points to request Alitalia (Air One) miles.

Blue Air

Blue air

Blue Air is the first Romanian Airline.

Blue Air launched in 2004 and was the first Romanian low-cost airline. They fly to 25 destinations within Europe.

Routes: The airline flies from 3 cities in Romania: Bucharest, Bacau, and Sibiu. From Bucharest, you can get to several European destinations like Malaga, Nice, Dublin, Naples and more. From Bacau, you can fly to several cities in Italy, Dublin, London Paris and a few more.  From Sibiu, you can only go to Stuttgart.

Sample Itinerary: Bucharest to Madrid November 8-10, 2013

Blue Air Price: $286.36

Air Europa Price: $404.32

*Price includes all taxes and fees and one checked bag with Air Europa only

Important Information

Carry on Baggage: You can take one item weighing up to 10 kg (22 lbs) with a maximum size of 55 x 40 x 20 cm.

Checked Baggage:  Baggage costs vary by high and low seasons. During high season (14 December 2013 – 20 January 2014; 14 April 2014 – 27 April 2014; 6 June 2014 – 21 September 2014) it costs 20 ($28) euros per bag per flight. The bag can weigh up to 32 kg (70 lbs). During low season (23 September 2013 – 13 December 2013; 21 January 2014 – 13 April 2014; 28 April 2014 – 5 June 2014; 22 September 2014 – 25 October 2014) it costs 17 euros ($23) per bag per flight. If you choose to wait until the airport to pay for your checked bag, it will be 40 euros($55) per bag, regardless of season. Infants have no carry on baggage, but you are allowed one free checked bag per infant up to 32 kg (70 lbs).

Check In: When flying from airports that have online check in available, if you choose to NOT check in online but at the airport you will be charged a fee of 10 euros. However in airports that do not have online check in available, if you check in at the airport, there is no added costs for this as it’s your only option. Online check in is available from 14 days up to 4 hours before your flight departure. Departure airports that HAVE online check in service are: Bucharest, Sibiu, Bacau, Barcelona, Nice, Larnaca, Malaga, Valencia, Paris Beauvais, Brussels, Rome, Milan (Bergamo), Turin (Cuneo).

Credit Card Fee: When booking a $200 flight, the fee for using any credit card was approximately $27. Information on this fee is unavailable on their website, but I am assuming its percentage of the cost of your trip. Just be aware of this additional fee when booking.

VIP Lounge: When traveling from Bucharest, you have the option when booking your flight to also pay 20 euros extra for access to the business lounge. The lounge offers a mini bar with snacks and drinks, WiFi, fax and copier, a smoking room, etc.

EasyJet

Easy Jet

Easy Jet, a British low cost carrier.

EasyJet is headquarted in London, England, and operates over 600 routes in over 30 countries.

Routes: EasyJet  also operates flights to Egypt, Turkey, Russia, and Morocco. From London you can fly to Prague, Bulgaria, Geneva, Turkey, Croatia and many more.

Sample Itinerary: London Gatwick to Amsterdam November 8-10, 2013.

Easy Jet Price: $251.82

British Airways Price: $344.30

*Prices include all taxes and fees including credit card charge on EasyJet, but no checked baggage.

Important Information

Carry on Baggage: You are allowed ONE piece of carry on baggage. If it measures 50 x 40 x 20cm it is guaranteed to travel with you in an overhead bin or under the seat. If you choose to bring one that is slightly bigger at 56 x 45 x 25cm, it may have to go in the hold (no charge) on very busy flights. These measurements include handles and wheels. There is NO maximum weight. If your  bag exceeds this size, you will have to pay 25 GBP ($40) to check it.

Checked Baggage: It costs $40 to check a 20 kg (44 lbs) bag.  Each additional bag costs the same price. These are prices if you check online when you purchase your ticket. If you choose to check a bag at the airport without previously booking it, the fee will be about double the price, $80. If you book extra weight over the 20 kg (44 lbs) online, it will cost you 21 GBP ($34) per 3 kg (6 lbs), or 11 GBP($18) per 1 kg (2 lbs) at the airport.

Seat Selection: It will cost you between 4-15 euros ($5-21) to book your seat online for EasyJet, depending on if it has extra legroom etc.

Credit Card fee: An added charge of 2.5% of the total fare will be charged to you if you choose to pay with a credit card.

EasyJet Plus Pass: If you think you will be an EasyJet frequent flyer, for 149 GBP ($241) you can get an EasyJet Plus Pass. With this pass, you have access to priority boarding (so there should be space for your bag in the overhead bin), fast bag drop, free seat selection (normally this costs 15 GBP ($24)), and discounts on airport lounges. They also have special offers to Easy Jet plus members, like free car upgrades or other various discounts.

Eurolot 

Eurolot flies from several destinations in Poland around Europe.

Eurolot flies from several destinations in Poland around Europe.

Eurolot is a Polish airline based in Warsaw that was established in 1996. The airline is relatively small and flies to a few select cities within Europe.

Routes: Eurolot flies from Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow, Reszow and Lublin in Poland. From Poland, you can get to Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich, Salzburg, Rome, and more.

Sample Itinerary: Krawkow to Zurich, November 8-10, 2013

Eurolot Price: $271.34

LOT Polish Airline Price: $551.92

*Prices include all taxes and fees but only LOT Polish Airways include one checked bag.

Important Information

Carry on Baggage: Passengers can take one item per passenger weighing up to 8 kg (17 lbs) and maximum dimensions of 55 x 23 x 40 cm. Apart from this the following items can also be carried on: a coat, a blanket, a mobile phone, a camera, a laptop, reading material for the flight, a pair of crutches for disabled passengers, for children under the age of 2: food, a collapsible pram and toiletries.

Checked Baggage: As it seems, you can take one checked bag on for free weighing up to 23 kg (50 lbs).

Infants: Children under the age of two travel free on Eurolot.

Pets: Apart from guide dogs, Eurolot lets cats and dogs under 8 kg (17 lbs) on board. Animals should be carried in special containers of maximum size of 25x30x45 cm.

Seating: You can select your seat free of charge during online check in or at the airport.

Check In: There is no fee information on their website, which leads me to believe check in is free both online and at the airport.

Flybe

Flybe is a British low cost carrier.

Flybe is a British low cost carrier.

Flybe launched in 1979 and has it’s major hub in Southampton, England. There are also large bases in Manchester, Belfast and Birmingham airports.

Routes: Flybe connects 35 UK cities and 58 European airports. Flybe connects many cities in England with other European cities such as Vienna, Madrid, Paris, Dubrovnik, Sofia, Milan, Amsterdam, Hanover and more.

Sample Itinerary: Manchester to Paris, November 8-10, 2013

Flybe Price: $261.89

British Airways Price: $376.39

*All taxes and fees are included in the price, and neither includes checked baggage. The British Airways flight has a layover in London.

Important Information

There are three types of tickets with FlyBe: the Essentials Ticket, the New Economy Ticket, and the Plus Ticket. Depending on which you purchase, the baggage rules, seat selection, etc can change.

-Essentials Ticket: Included in this ticket are no extra charge for paying with credit card, 10 kg (22 lbs) free carry on baggage, assigned seating at check in and loyalty reward points.

-New Economy Ticket: This ticket includes all the things included in the Essentials ticket, plus advance seat selection, and a 20 kg (44 lbs) checked bag. You also have the option to change your ticket at no charge (although fare differences must be paid), and one Loyalty Reward Point.

-Plus Ticket: This ticket includes all the items in the New Economy ticket, but also lounge access, food and drink aboard the plane, fully changeable ticket (fare difference included), fast track security, double Loyalty Reward Points, and instead of one checked bag, you can check two with a weight of 40 kg (88 lbs) total.

You can add things like extra checked bags to the Essentials and New Economy tickets for a fee of 20 euros ($28) for 15 kg (33 lbs) per bag flight, or 22 euros ($30) for 20 kg (44 lbs) per bag per flight. Also note that if carry on baggage exceeds weight or size, passengers will be charged 50 euros ($69) to check it. However, if you are a new economy ticket holder and HAVE NOT checked a bag, since you are entitled to one free bag, the hand luggage will be checked for free. Same goes for the Plus Ticket holder, as you can check two bags, if you have checked ONLY one bag, the hand luggage can be checked for free. If bags have already been checked, the 50 euro ($69) fee must be paid.

Rewards4All: The Flybe Rewards4All program enables passengers to earn points that can later be used to purchase flights or to get executive lounge access. The table below explains the points rewarded per flight:

  • 1 one-way Essentials  Flight = 1 Rewards4All Point
  • 1 one-way New Economy Flight = 1 Rewards4All Point
  • 1 one-way Plus Flight= 2 Rewards4All Points
  • 1 return Essentials Flight = 2 Rewards4All Points
  • 1 return New Economy  Flight = 2 Rewards4All Points
  • 1 return Plus Flight = 4 Rewards4All Points

Points can be redeemed as follows:

  • 16 Rewards4All Points = 1 Essentials return flight (where you just pay taxes and charges) within the UK and/or within ROI
  • 16 Rewards4All Points = 1 New Economy return flight (where you just pay taxes and charges) within the UK and/or within ROI – New Economy supplement applies
  • 22 Rewards4All Points = 1 Plus return flight (where you just pay taxes and charges) within the UK and/or within ROI
  • 24 Rewards4All Points = 1 Essentials return flight (where you just pay taxes and charges) between UK and Europe (not available on routes to Portugal, Croatia, Spain with the exception of Barcelona)
  • 24 Rewards4All Points = 1 New Economy return flight (where you just pay taxes and charges) between UK and Europe(not available on routes to Portugal, Croatia, Spain with the exception of Barcelona)– New Economy supplement applies
  • 30 Rewards4All Points = 1 Plus return flight (where you just pay taxes and charges) between UK and Europe(not available on routes to Portugal, Croatia, Spain with the exception of Barcelona

If you want to use your points to get lounge access, you can do so with 35 points for a one year lounge access card for 11 Flybe executive lounges in the UK. For 50 points, you can take a guest to the lounge with you.

Flybe Credit Card: The Flybe credit card enables you to earn points and also gives you access to exclusive discounts. This Mastercard has a current signup bonus offer that gives you one Essentials ticket return flight (taxes not included). Basically the card gives you 1 Rewards4All point per 250 GBP ($405) you spend.

Germanwings

Germanwings participates in two frequent flyer programs: The Boomerang Club and

Germanwings participates in two frequent flyer programs: The Boomerang Club and Miles & More.

Germanwings is a low-cost carrier owned by Lufthansa. Germanwings started in 1997 and has their base in Cologne, Germany.

Routes: Germanwings flies to over 100 destinations within Europe and they also fly to Morocco, Tel Aviv and Moscow. Some of their other destinations include the Canary Islands, Stockholm, Helsinki, Mykonos, Istanbul, Vienna, Manchester and more.

Sample Itinerary: Cologne to Palma de Mallorca, November 15-18, 2013

Germanwings Price: $206.36

Lufthansa Price: $369.33 (*this flight is actually operated by Germanwings, but purchased on Lufthansa)

*All taxes and fees included in the price, one checked bag is allowed with Lufthansa ONLY

Important Information

Carry on Baggage: Each passenger can take one item on board up to a maximum of 8 kg (17 lbs) in weight and not exceeding 55 x 40 x 20 cm in size. This rule does not apply to foldable suit bags, which can measure 57 x 54 x 15 cm.

Checked Baggage: Each person can check a bag weighing up to 23 kg (50 lbs) for 12.50 euros ($17) per flight. However, SMART fare customers can check in one item of luggage weighing no more than 23 kg (no special or excess luggage) free of charge and BEST fare customers can check in two items of luggage weighing no more than 23 kg (no special or excess luggage) free of charge.

Check In/Seat Selection: You can check in via web or at the airport for no extra charge. Seat selection is free and available during check in.

Boomerang Club: Benefits of the Boomerang Club include:

  • 10 miles for every € 1 spent on a Germanwings flight
  • Reward flight starting at 10,000 miles
  • Exclusive offers and promotions
  • VIP security at selected airports
  • you can also get miles using Germanwings partners: Sixt, HRS and Avis

Germanwings is also a part of Miles & More, one of Europe’s largest frequent flyer programs.

Pegasus

Pegasus is a low cost carrier based in Turkey.

Pegasus is a low cost carrier based in Turkey.

Pegasus is a low-cost carrier headquartered in Turkey. They’ve been operating for about 20 years.

Routes: Pegasus operates mainly in Turkey but does fly to other destinations in Europe such as London, Paris, Milan, Dussledorf, Athens, Berlin, Brussels, etc. They also operate flights to Tel Aviv and Dubai.

Sample Itinerary: Istanbul to Moscow November 7-10, 2013

Pegasus Price: $350.15

Turkish Airlines Price: $393.42

Important Information

Carry on Baggage: You can take one bag on board with you weighing up to 8 kg (17 lbs) and measuring 55 x 40 x 20 cm. If your luggage exceeds this size or weight, you will be charged 50 euros ($69) to check the bag. The following items can be carried on board without extra charge:

  • One hand bag suitable for traveling,
  • One overcoat, shawl, scarf or blanket,
  • One bag of duty-free shopping,
  • One umbrella (except those with pointed ends) or walking stick,
  • One baby carrycot or pushchair (can be placed in cargo),
  • One small camera or telescope,
  • Books and magazines to be read during the flight,
  • Collapsible wheelchair or pair of crutches (to be placed in cargo)
  • Baby food and carrycot to be used during the flight
  • One laptop computer

Checked Baggage: You are allowed one checked bag FOR FREE weighing up to 15 kg (33 lbs) on domestic flights and 20 kg (44 lbs) for international. If your bags are overweight, you will have to pay more. For more information on this, check the baggage rules.

Seat Selection: You will pay extra to select your seat upon making your online reservation.

Pegasus Plus: Your membership number for the Pegasus Points Club is simply your mobile phone number. Every time you fly you earn flight points, which can later be used to book free flights, to pay for part of discounted flights OR to pay airport taxes when purchasing flights. You earn 2% of flight points from the total spent when booking a flight.You can also earn up to 10 flight points when renting a car through Budget Rent a Car. You can even earn extra points for paying for extra services, like seat selection, extra baggage, pre-ordering a meal, etc.

Ryanair

Ryan Air

Ryan Air: everyone’s favorite low cost carrier.

One of the best-known low-cost carriers in the world, Ryanair started in Ireland in 1985. The airline has 303 Boeing 737-800 planes which operate throughout Europe. They have a large presence in several European countries including Ireland, England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, etc.

Ryanair considers itself to be Europe’s only “ULCC,” which stands for Ultra Low Cost Carrier. This airline has given itself a bit of a bad rep due to taking advantage of consumers with extravagant fees. However, if you read the fine print, you can fly for super cheap without getting stuck paying extra. One of the great things about Ryanair is that people can now fly to more obscure destinations in Europe without having to change planes. For example, this summer I flew to Alghero, Sardinia direct from Madrid on Ryan Air. It’s the only airline that flies this route nonstop. Without Ryanair, I would have had to change planes in Rome or Milan. However, had I not read the fine print and invested in a tape measure and a luggage scale, my flight could have ended up being very expensive (and this goes for ALL low cost carriers, not just Ryanair).

Also, it’s very important when flying Ryanair or any other low cost carrier that you focus on WHICH airport they fly into. Ryanair is notorious for flying into more obscure, further airports, like Paris Beauvais, Milan Bergamo, or Rome Ciampino. Bergamo for example is quite a hike from central Milan, so make sure you are aware of the distance before you book the ticket.

Routes: Route options are endless with Ryanair, but some of the places you can fly from include Lisbon, London, Madrid, Malta, several islands in Greece, a several cities in Morocco, Dublin, Nice and many more.

Sample Itinerary: Dublin to Berlin Schönefeld  November 8-10, 2013.

Ryanair Price: $220.58

AerLingus Price: $513.82

*Prices for both airlines include taxes and fees, including payment with a credit card on Ryanair, but no checked baggage for either.

Important Information

(The below information is constantly changing, so before you fly, make sure to confirm on the Ryanair Website).

Boarding Pass: You can check in up to 15 days before your departure and print your boarding pass. If you wish to print your boarding pass at the airport, you will have to pay a 70 euro ($97) fee. TPG got stuck doing this in Edinburgh last year.

Cabin Baggage: First off, ONE BAG ONLY. No bag plus purse, laptop case, camera, etc. They will force you to stuff your purse/laptop/etc into your one carry on bag and if you can’t-you pay to check it (for a fee of 60 euros, sometimes more than your ticket cost in the first place!).  The size for carry on baggage is 55 x 40 x 20 cm.  They do measure this, you have to fit your bag into the metal sizers upon boarding, so make sure to measure you bag first at home. This sizing includes wheels and handles, make sure to include that when you measure. If it doesn’t fit, say goodbye to 60 euros ($82) to check it. Many luggage stores in Europe have a list of carry on sizes so you can buy an appropriate sized bag for Ryanair or another low cost airline you may be flying. *Trick: usually they don’t make you put a duffel bag into the metal sizers. So if you are looking to squeeze in something a little larger, if it’s on your back or over your shoulder (aka not a roller) you might get lucky. The weight of your bag cannot exceed 10 kg (22 lbs). If it does you will be subject to the same fee unless you take something out. Keep in mind that they do not always weight the carry ons. For example, I noticed that they always weigh them in Italy, but never in Spain. So you can try your luck, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Checked Baggage: You have to pay per checked bag and it’s much cheaper if you do this online before you arrive at the airport. It’s 30 euros ($42) roundtrip for 15 kg (33 lbs) and 50 euros ($69) round trip for 20 kg (44 lbs). You can add a bag to your itinerary for these prices up until 24 hours before you fly. If you do so after, you will pay about 8o euros ($114) to check at 15 kg bag roundtrip or 105 euros (a whopping $146) for a 20 kg bag. For a second bag, prices increase. Make sure to weigh your bags before, as the fee for overweight bags IS 20 EUROS PER KILO. So if your bag is 5 kg overweight…that’s 100 ($135) euros you will pay. Find more information on baggage weights check here.

The stamp: Be aware that if you are not a resident of the European Union, you cannot board a Ryanair flight without the stamp. The stamp is simply a stamp that the airline puts on your boarding pass after flipping through your passport. Keep in mind sometimes there can be a long wait to do this so make sure to give yourself enough time at the airport to get the stamp if you are not an EU resident. Ask right away upon arrival where they give the stamp, in some airports it’s the check in desk, others the ticketing counter. THEY will NOT remind you to get the stamp when you check your bags, or at security, so it’s up to you to remember and do this, otherwise you will be denied boarding.

Infant Fees: Be aware that there are fees associated with infants. It’s 60 euros ($85) roundtrip to bring your infant under 2 years of age. Consult here for luggage prices for your infant. Very important, your infant must have a photo ID to board a Ryan Air flight or you will be denied boarding.

All the other stuff they try to sell: When you book your flight, you will be bombarded with a million different items Ryanair hopes you will purchase, such as insurance, luggage, lottery tickets, rental cards, airport transfers, hotels, etc.  Simply click no to each one and continue your purchase. During the flight they will also attempt throughout the flight with announcements and such to sell you lottery tickets, etc. I recommend a pair of Bose Noise Cancelling headphones.

Credit card fee at checkout: You will be charged 2% of the total transaction if you use a credit card to purchase your ticket. You will not be charged this fee if you use a debit card.

Seating: Be aware the Ryanair does not assign seats. If you would like to pick your seat, you will pay extra, 10 euros ($14) online per flight or 15 euros ($21) at the airport per flight.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: According to a press release from Ryanair, new changes are being made to some of their regulations. Starting Nov. 1st, the annoying security code you must enter every time you make a booking to make sure you are not a robot will be removed. Also starting Nov. 1st, passengers will have a 24 hour grace period following online bookings to correct errors like name spelling or route mistakes, and quiet flights will be begin before 8 am and after 9 pm. During these flights, cabin lights will be dimmed and no announcements except safety ones will be made. Finally, getting to the good stuff, after Dec. 1st, passengers will be allowed to carry on a second small purse or handbag, and the the boarding reprint fee will be lowered from 70 euros to 15 euros assuming you have checked in online. Of course, do confirm these rules and regulations before you fly.

Volotea

volotea

Volotea flies to 55 medium to small cities within Europe.

At Volotea, the concept is connecting small to medium European cities. Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, they use Boing 717 planes with 125 seats per plane. The airline is relatively new, with the first flight in 2012. The website is clear and much less hectic than some of the other low-cost carriers, making me wonder if their service is the same way…here’s hoping!

Routes: Volotea flies to just 55 cities: Ajaccio, Ancona, Asturias / Oviedo, Bari, Bastia, Biarritz, Bilbao, Bordeaux, Brest, Brindisi, Caen, Cagliari, Calvi, Catania, Corfu, Crotone, Figari Sud Corse, Florence, Fuerteventura, Genoa, Grenoble, Heraklion / Crete, Ibiza, Kos, Lamezia Terme, Lampedusa, Lille, Majorca (Palma), Malaga, Montpellier, Munich, Mykonos, Nantes, Naples, Olbia, Palermo, Pantelleria, Perpignan, Prague, Preveza, Reggio Calabria, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos, Split, Strasbourg, Tenerife South, Toulouse, Turin, Valencia, Venice, Verona, Vigo, Zaragoza.

Sample Itinerary: Naples to Palermo on November 8-10, 2013

Volotea Price: $220.39

Alitalia Price: $300.23

*Pricing include all taxes and fees and checked bag with Alitalia ONLY

Important Information

Carry on Baggage: When flying with Volotea, you can take just ONE bag weighing 10 kg (22 lbs)and measuring 55 x 40 x 20 cm. If your luggage exceeds this, you will be asked to pay a 60 euro ($82) fee to check the bag at the gate.

Checked Baggage: Check a 20 kg (44 lbs) bag online for 15 euros ($21) per flight. If you choose to check it at the airport without reserving it online first, it will be 40 euros ($55) per flight per 20 kg (44 lbs) bag.

*Pets are allowed on board for additional fees. Check the Volotea website for more information.

Vueling

Vueling

Vueling: the higher end of the low cost carriers.

Vueling, which is a Spanish low cost carrier was established in 2004 and it’s hub is in Barcelona, Spain. Vueling is considered to be at the higher end of the low cost carriers. The same company that owns Iberia also owns Vueling, but technically Vueling is not considered to be part of the Oneworld alliance like Iberia. However, in some cases you can get Avios points for flying with Vueling depending on the fare purchased.

Routes: Vueling flies, well, almost everywhere. You can travel to cities like Kiev, Minsk, Beirut, St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv, Edinburgh, Lisbon, Seville, Lyon, Pisa, Naples, Brussels, Frankfurt, Oslo, Santorini, Split, and many, many more.

Sample Itinerary: Barcelona to Vienna November 8-10, 2013

Vueling Price: $309.93

Iberia Price: $339.22

*All taxes and fees included, but no checked baggage include for either airline.

Important Information

Vueling also has three fare options: Basic, Optima and Excellence. All three fares allow you to carry one one bag with a maximum weight of 10 kg (22 lbs) and the dimensions of  55 x 40 x 20 cm.

Basic: The basic fare allows passengers to  collect 1 point per €2 ($2.76) spent on their flights for the Punto Programme. If you want to check a bag, you must pay between 13-25 euros ($18-35) (depending on your destination) per flight. If you wait until arriving at the airport to pay for your checked bag, it will cost you 35 euros ($48) per flight.

Optima: With this fare you can check one bag up to 23 kg (50 lbs), choose the area of the plane you’d like to sit in (in the front to disembark first, or a window or aisle seat in the back of the plane). With this fare you also have the option to collect EITHER points for the Punto Programme, or Avios for Iberia Plus (1 Vueling point per €2 ($2.76) spent on their flights for the Punto Programme or 0,80 Avios for each mile flown for Iberia Plus). This fare also gives you the option to change your flight to one leaving earlier the same day.

Excellence: This fare allows you to sit in Row 1 of the plane with extra legroom and no one sitting next to you. You can check one bag up to 23 kg (50 lbs), change your flight without extra charge and also cancel your flight for a full refund (credit card charge not refunded). Excellence passengers have priority check in at participating airports and can also board the plane first. Food and drink is provided to you free of charge on the plane and you have also have access to some airport lounges in specific airports and can fast track through security in some airports. You can earn 1 Avios for each mile flown under this fare for Iberia Plus.

Punto Programme: As mentioned above, you can join the Punto program. This program has the following benefits:

  •  For each €2 ($2.76) you spend on flights, you’ll get 1 point added to your account
  • If you rent one or more cars through vueling.com, you’ll get 1 point for each €15 you spend.
  • When you book a hotel through vueling.com, you’ll get 1 point for each €10 you spend.
  • Check-in online: when you check in, you’ll get 20 points each way.
  • Visa Vueling: For each €10 ($14) you spend, you’ll get 1 point: cinemas, petrol, restaurants, supermarkets…
  • Vueling Pass card: For each €2 ($2.76) you spend when purchasing your card, you’ll get 1 point added to your account.

500 Vueling points can be used to redeem a one way, basic fare flight on Vueling, with no blackout dates.

Iberia Plus Programme: You can only collect points for the Iberia Plus Programme by traveling with Vueling’s Optima or Excellence Fares. You can also earn elite points this way. It’s very important that you enter your Iberia Plus number when you purchase the fare, because unlike many other points programs, you will not be able to get credit AFTER you fly if you haven’t put your number in when making the reservation.

Wizz Air

Wizz Air's planes are all various shades of pink.

Wizz Air’s planes are all various shades of pink.

Wizz Air is a Hungarian low cost airline with it’s headquarters in Budapest. They operate 280 flights in Eastern and Central Europe with many flights out of various cities in Poland. Their fleet includes 45 Airbus A320 planes.

Routes: Wizz Air even flies to Dubai from some cities in Europe. For example from Bulgaria, one can fly to Madrid, Paris, Rome, Dubai, Brussels, Budapest and more. From Bucharest, Romania, you can get to Tel Aviv, Valencia, Venice and London and more.

Sample Itinerary:  Budapest to Rome Fiumicino on November 8-10, 2013.

Wizz Air Price: $204.92

Alitalia Price: $340.32

*Prices include taxes and fees but no checked baggage.

Important Information

Carry on Baggage: If the carry on bag is 42 x 32 x 25cm or smaller, it is free and can be put under the seat in front of you.  However, if your carry on is large than the previously stated measurements, but still within 56x45x25cm, you must pay to store it in the overhead bin.  For flight shorter than 2 hours and 40 minutes, it’s 1o euros ($14) in low season and 15 euros ($21) in high season. For flights longer than 2 hours and 40 minutes, its 13($18) euros in low season and 20 ($28) euros in high season. You can only take ONE carry on bag, plus any of the following items outside of the bag:

  • coat or blanket
  • cellular phone
  • reading material for the flight
  • for children under the age of two: food for the duration of the flight, foldable baby carriage or a small crib
  • a pair of crutches for the physically disabled

Checked Baggage: It’s 25 euros ($35) per flight to check a bag online when booking your flight. Each additional bag is 25 euros ($35).

Check in: It’s free to check in online and print your boarding pass, or you pay 10 euros ($14) at the airport to do so.

Wizz Air Discount Club:  For a one time fee of 29.99 ($41) euros, save 10 euros ($14) per flight. Other discounts and promotions may be available.

*Keep in mind that this is just a GUIDE to low cost carriers. These rules and regulations are constantly changing, so make sure to check the website of your low cost carrier before you fly to ensure you are aware of all the correct information.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Sue Kaskel

    Fantastic post!

  • http://circa35mm.com/ Euan

    Great post. I’d be interested to know how far in advance prices were checked. I see they are for the weekend 8-10 November but were the prices checked 1 week, 1 month, etc in advance.

  • George

    If you book early, you can get extremely cheap flights on easyjet. I just books basel-amsterdam roundtrip for $60!

  • Britt

    You might mention WowAir – a Icelandic low cost airline that I flew on when it was brand new with my family from Koln to Keflavik. It was actually pretty nice, and they were great when we needed to change not only our dates but return destination.

  • Lori

    Euan, the prices were checked about 2-3 weeks in advance.However, George is absolutely correct, if you book in advance, it can go way cheaper, even down to 20-50 euros round trip in some cases.

  • http://circa35mm.com/ Euan

    I agree – booking well in advance quite often means much cheaper flights. However, I often find less of a difference in cost between the traditional airlines and the LCCs the further in advance you book, particularly if you’re checking in bags.

  • FEV7

    Thank you for this post. It is extremely useful to know of these carriers.

  • Larry

    This is outstanding stuff. What about Norwegian Air Shuttle?

  • 2ruse

    would like to know more about hop! airlines – already had 1 flight cancelled…

  • Casa Savoia

    Wow, why are you so against Alitalia? Please check out the Italian website and you will find some great deals. It usually is more expensive ,if booked last minute, because Italians prefer traveling with Alitalia with no hidden fees and direct flights to the main cities (so easier for connecting flights), versus flying low cost airlines to smaller airport and strict carry-on luggage rules! http://www.alitalia.com/it_it/

  • Dru Pearson

    Bear in mind that Vueling Air has the tiniest, most uncomfortable seats in Europe. Or at least that’s how it felt when David and I were stuffed in those seats from Naples to Malaga. Europe on a Dime: Five-Star Travel on a One-Star Budget at Amazon.com

  • shay peleg

    Try getting a flight for 30 euro round trip on alitalia lol .I got one flight for this price on ryanair.

  • Brandon

    Is there any way to check fares on these airlines all at once on a travel search engine? Or do you have to go to each airline website individually to look up fares?

  • Casa Savoia
  • Lori

    Brandon, all of the airlines won’t come up on one that I officially know of, but I often use atrapalo.com which is based out of spain, and some will come up there. Some also come up with skyscanner. A lot of the american based search engines do not pick them up though. Good luck!

  • Lori

    I actually love Alitalia and I fly them often. You can sometimes find great fares and I often fly them to and from Europe and the US. However, sometimes it’s possible to fly much cheaper via other low cost airlines. For example in October I flew to rome for 70 euros round trip for a weekend via Ryanair. I checked Alitalia, and tickets were over 200 euros for the same weekend. I booked the tickets back in July. Of course if you had miles you could use them to fly on the Alitalia flight but in this case I didn’t, so I decided the extra savings was worth the tiny seat and strict luggage rules! I think the idea with the low cost is really just to give people more options if the bigger airlines happen to have pricier flights on your travel dates. I’d always prefer to travel with nicer, more luxurious airlines like Alitalia…but unfortunately I can’t always pay the price so low cost it is!

  • Shirl

    Great post, really detailed. Back in the day I used to look at whichbudget.com to find the names of airlines I had not heard of. I would suggest to use the blue section (half way down the page) ” I want to fly from X country” and after a couple of clicks you can see the airlines on the route. The site is still running now, I would use it for reference only.

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