What You Need to Know About Budget Airlines in Europe
Our European office talks the best and worst budget airlines in Europe...
Europe has a lot of budget airlines flying within the continent, so we at the U30X Europe headquarters decided to write a little bit about the airlines we’ve personally taken. These are some of the popular airlines the company works with and/or has had staff flown with. Keep in mind, all we have is personal experience. I could have a wonderful experience with this specific airline, but someone else might not. After all, they are budget airlines.
Ryanair is one of the most popular budget airlines here in Europe because there are very good deals available. It definitely gets you to your destination, but be careful with this Irish airline as sometimes their cheap price comes off as a great deal, and everything that follows can be a challenge. I like to complain about this airline but I seem to find myself on their plane more often than not. That’s the real truth, especially when you’re on a budget. Be careful with bag restrictions and boarding passes. I once didn’t have a boarding pass printed out, and they charged me 50 euros for it! So be careful with little details like this. I had the PDF document of that boarding pass on my phone and they didn’t accept it—it had to be a print out. Like any other airline, if you know how to follow the rules, then you’ll be fine.
Easyjet is one of the better known budget airlines as well. I’ve flown with them numerous times— probably as much as RyanAir or even a bit more. As long as you follow the rules with baggage, then you’ll be okay. When they say ONE carry on, they actually mean ONE carry on. No backpack and a purse. Stick to one, unless you feel like you could hide your purse inside your coat or something. But I’m telling ya, they can get quite intense about it. Another thing to remember is that during the high season, check in ASAP. They normally allow you to check in 30 days before a flight and I suggest you take advantage of it because they’ve overbooked my flight twice and I almost didn’t get on it twice. You heard me, not once, but twice during the high season. I tried to check in 24 hours before my flight, got denied and told to do it at the airport. When I got to the airport, I was told I was denied check in because they overbooked the flight and was not able to find me a seat so I had to wait on standby for someone to give up a seat or not show up. So, I suggest you check in as soon as you can, especially during the high season in Europe.
I’ve been using Air France for longer flights and so far I have never had any issue with them. Maybe I got lucky? I find Air France pretty comfortable and flying in the A380 is pretty cool too. You won’t even notice you will be taking off!
Norwegian Air has just been named ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline’ for the fifth consecutive year at the prestigious Skytrax Awards.
I’ve flown economy with Norwegian Air to both Denmark and Norway from Madrid. Depending on the plane you’re on, experiences may differ. On my flight to Copenhagen, I had such a ball in the plane. Service was great and they provided WiFi on board for free, so I can’t complain about this flight. However, my other flight to Bergen was an older plane and it didn’t provide the same service as the last one. The service was basic and I was charged for everything which would've been okay, but I was frustrated because their credit card machine didn’t work and they only accepted cash. So again, I flew with the same airline, and both experiences were different.
I find Icelandair to be a good airline. Flights can be affordable and they give you a small bottle of Icelandic water when boarding the plane. Seats are pretty comfortable, the movie selection is great, and the planes used by Icelandair are all new and clean. They also allow you to add a stopover at no additional airfare. However, meals are not included even on international flights, but honestly who likes plane food? I’m now in the habit of buying buy my own food at the airport before I board.
I’ve flown with these guys a bunch of times, and it’s sad to say, but I’ve noticed that the quality of the flight depends on wherever you fly from. Sometimes the Iberia staff is nice, sometimes not so. They can be really strict or quite lenient as well. For the most part though, I don’t have any trouble with them. The only trouble I might have had may be because of the weather or something that the airline can’t really control.
It was the end of summer and I was on my way back to Spain. These guys misplaced my luggage. I know things like this happen but how they handled the situation was terrible. A bunch of other passengers lost their luggage as well, so we were pointed in the direction of the help desk of British Airways in the Madrid airport. When we got there, the staff was not friendly. They basically yelled at everyone in Spanish to tell them there was nothing they could do and to just sign a form and track it online. Not the most helpful thing to do because no one in the crowd was Spanish. Everyone seemed tired and helpless so I stepped in and translated everything to English. Anyway, they handed out something to be filled up, and that was it. They did not entertain any questions, whereabouts or concerns. So when I got home, I went to check the online link and surprise, surprise, it was not working. I probably called everyday looking for an update for my luggage and they kept saying it would be put on the next flight. 4 days later, I just had a bad feeling about it, so I went back to the airport to go speak to them myself and it was so chaotic. Seeing all this disorganization, I requested that they take me to the lost luggage room so that I could see for myself if my bag was there or not, and lo and behold it was there all this time with about 200 other bags in the room.
I flew with Wizzair from Madrid to Budapest and had zero problems. It is like all budget airlines in Europe so just be careful with rules with baggage and weight.
For some reason, the flights between Spain and Portugal are almost always delayed. I’ve experienced it, friends have experienced it and I’ve heard a bunch of people say the same. Is it decent? Yes. Do they leave on time? Probably safe to say no. Other than that, Tap Portugal can be trusted in terms of safety.
Aer Lingus is an airline that U30X uses from Dublin to Edinburgh. If you’ve ever been on the U30X Ireland, Scotland and London trip then you would have taken this flight. It’s a small plane (a propeller one—yikes!) but never have I ever had any bumps on the road...I mean the air hehe ive flown with them five times, and so far I have not experienced any turbulence. I’ve also experienced flying with them on a bigger plane from Lyon to Dublin and it was decent and accommodating.
Vueling is another airline that U30X uses to fly between Barcelona and Granada on the Spain trip. They’re pretty efficient if you ask me, BUT… yes, there’s a but. There always seems to be pretty bad turbulence. We do need to keep in mind however that the weather is uncontrollable and on this flight, we fly to the mountains so I guess it’s normal and there’s really not much the airline can do about that. Fun fact, if you’re in the Barcelona airport, you have to self check in. Yes that means printing your own bag tag, placing it on your luggage and scanning and dropping it at the counter all on your own.