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TPG reader Kendal asked me about ways to save on flights to Europe this summer:
“Should I book a cheap flight to Europe this summer on WOW Air or Norwegian? Do you think it’s worth suffering through these airlines, or should I shell out the extra cash and fly United instead?”
I’m all about a good deal, and in my opinion, the more you save on the journey, the more you can spend at your destination. However, it’s important to look at the total picture. Low-cost carriers nickel and dime you for everything: checked bags, priority boarding, food, beverages, pillows, blankets, etc. Make sure you add it all together to see if you’re actually still getting a good deal.
Something else to consider is that these airlines often can’t re-book you on other routes, because they simply don’t have them. They may only offer these routes once daily or a few times a week. If your flight is canceled, you might miss a portion of your trip. On the other hand, an airline like United will have many options to reroute you, and can even book you on another airline in a dire situation. If you only have one week of vacation each year and your travel dates aren’t flexible, that safety net is worth taking into account.
If you fly United, you’ll earn miles and most likely have better customer service. However, I wouldn’t spend twice the amount for a better experience on board, because there’s no guarantee you’ll get one! If you’re flying in economy, the seat will basically be the same.
You need to decide what makes sense according to your own financial situation and your flexibility as far as travel dates go. Personally, if the price difference is huge, I would go with the low-cost carrier. If not, I’d opt for United.
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