Many people complain about the service they receive when flying on a no frills or budget airline. A certain Irish based airline often receives the dubious honour of the worlds most hated airline.
‘The worlds most hated airline‘ is not a very positive attitude to take with you on your travels and it could be argued that this statement is grossly unfair as it has no logical supporting argument. Exceptions apart, the service on a budget airline is similar to flying with any other carrier, it’s just that you are buying less of the services that you would expect as standard with a regular carrier.
Complaining about the LEVEL of service on a no frills airline could be compared to buying a mini automobile and complaining about the lack of legroom. Or ordering the soup and complaining that it was not as filling as the mixed grill. Illogical and somewhat unfair on the budget airlines.
The no frills business model. Many parts of the modern flying experience were spillovers from the early days of flying when planes were much slower and the type of journeys undertaken were much different to today.
Many airlines originally catered for the businessman or well heeled travellers, so a high standard became the norm. It should also be pointed out that the fares reflected this high level of service. In fact, the cost of flying only relatively recently came within reach of an average wage earner. Aircraft became bigger and more efficient, the ground infrastructure improved and a more prosperous society meant that more and more people were flying for work and pleasure. Although more people than ever were flying, a comfortable and relatively expensive service was still the norm.
Enter the no frills airline business model that reckoned that there were lots of people who would take advantage of cheap airfares in exchange for a simple service. This had the effect of enabling people to travel much more often and to places that may have been previously ignored. Some argue that the cheap fares offered by the no frills airlines has enabled people to fly who would not have previously be able to afford to travel by air, thus lowering ‘standards’.
The no frills service could be compared to a bus in the sky, albeit with strict security. You get a seat (for now!), a hand luggage allowance and taken close to your final destination and that’s it. Anything else you need or want is extra, hence the no frills tag. To keep the main fare low, budget carriers put profits from the extra fees paid by some passengers towards the airlines operating costs. This allowing great advertising opportunities for the low fares.
Are you being ‘cheated’? No, it is just that psychologically you are expecting a certain level of service that just doesn’t exist on a no frills carrier. Nothing is ‘hidden’ in the fare structure and you are taken through it step by step as you book. You just need to be aware of the rules and how the fares are calculated to get the cheapest fares. (See tips below about reducing the cost, such as using maximum cabin baggage)
Flying on a budget carrier you could expect: (varies and might not all apply to all carriers)Flying to regional airports rather than larger, more central airports.
A long walk to reach departure gates as the closer gates are taken up with the original, regular carriers.
No allocated seat. Lots of budget airlines use a first come, first seated policy.
No complimentary meals.
No complimentary drinks.
Inflexible tickets. You book:you fly. End of deal.
Inflexible policies. Gates close X mins before flight, means that the gates close X minutes before the flight. You arrive z minutes before the flight; you don’t fly.
No free baggage allowance, putting baggage in the hold incurs an extra cost.
No extra cabin baggage allowance for cameras, laptops, children’s equipment etc.
Strict size and weight restrictions on cabin baggage or hand luggage.
Smaller cabin space and non reclining seats.
No storage space on the seat in front of you.
Often boarding via the aircraft own steps rather than a wide roll up stair set.
Budget carriers offer a point to point service and offer no guarantee for onward journeys or connections.
What you DO getFree generous hand luggage or cabin baggage allowance, often 10kgs or more within a strict size limit.
Much cheaper fares, often half the cost when compared to a regular full service carrier and cheap special offers.
Simple and efficient service ideal for straightforward point to point flights.
When should you consider booking with a regular airlineIf you need a flexible ticket.
If you need a service that offers a high level of personal attention.
If you need high levels of customer service.
If you have special needs or requirements.
Special trips or occasions.
Large groups or families who want to sit together.
Tips to make the most of a no frills carrierPlan well in advance and ensure that your travel plans are firm before booking tickets.
Read very carefully the carriers terms, conditions, rules and regulations.
Especially the baggage allowance which seems to cause more questions than anything else (and yes, the hand luggage allowance DOES include the bloomin wheels and handle!)
Book the ticket when you have plenty of time and a quiet environment to allow you to carefully check each step of the booking process.
Tips to reduce the costConsider whether you need to put a bag in the hold.
Buy a flight approved cabin bag that maximises the use of the allowed cabin baggage space, just search for “biggest hand luggage” etc
Make sure your cabin baggage does NOT exceed 55cm x 40cm x 20cm including wheels, handles etc.
Don’t use some of the services (changing your tickets, on-board food, on-board drinks, priority boarding etc)
Subscribe to your local budget carriers website to get early news about special discounts and offers.
Fly at unpopular times and on unpopular days as these are usually cheaper.
Take your own snacks or food with you (no liquids though)
Tips for enjoying flying no frillsAcknowledge that you are saving money by buying less services.
Don’t complain about the lack of services, you have not paid for them.
Try telling others who complain: “Which bit of no frills fares did you not understand?”
Happy flying on low cost carriers and be thankful that you are able to visit all those fascinating places for peanuts and on a modern fuel efficient aircraft.
I hope this article has helped you to understand why you shouldn’t be gritting your teeth when taking advantage of super cheap fares with a no frills carrier. I also hope that you now see the service for what it is, a cheap, simple, point to point travel system.
Last minute tip!
When I fly with a budget airline I never put a bag in the hold, instead all our family use the specially designed and flight approved Cabin Max Backpack, which is the biggest hand luggage you can take on board. Thus between the 4 of us, we take 40gks for free! And no waiting inline to ‘check’ our baggage.
Always check the airlines website for specific details on rules and restrictions as they change frequently.