Airlines

Low-cost airline: Find out all about it!

Are you interested in flying but dread the high prices of major airlines? If so, read on to learn about what a low-cost airline is!

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by Victória Lourenço

Published on 11/24/2022

Learn all about what a low-cost airline is!

You can save money by flying with a low-cost airline. Source: Freepik.
You can save money by flying with a low-cost airline. Source: Freepik.

So, what is a low-cost airline? Low-cost airlines are a specific type of airway with certain features and advantages that set them apart from other airlines.

Typically, low-cost airlines have lower ticket prices and fees, making them attractive to passengers.

Additionally, these airlines often have simplified operations, meaning they have fewer aircraft and staff than other carriers.

As a result of these differences, passengers can typically expect to find low fares and more basic services when flying on this type of airline.

If you’re interested in learning more about this type of airline, read on! We’ll break down everything you need to know about them!

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What is a low-cost airline?

What defines a low-cost airline? Keep reading to find out! Source: Freepik.
What defines a low-cost airline? Keep reading to find out! Source: Freepik.

Low-cost airlines are the most cost-effective way to travel, whether you’re flying across the country to visit family or halfway around the world in 80 days.

A “no frills” airline is one that offers cheap tickets by skimping on amenities like free food and drinks.

Moreover, low-cost airlines have made it their mission from the start to lower the price of air travel in an effort to increase social cohesion across socioeconomic lines.

Despite lacking the comforts of full-service planes, cheap airlines are a good option for individuals on a lower budget.

There are some main characteristics that define this type of airline. For example, the low fares, some additional costs, point-to-point networks, and others.

However, although this type of airline can always seem like the best choice, it also has some downsides. So, check out our pros and cons list below to learn more about low-cost airlines!

Pros

One main pro is the low prices and fares. So, one of the most distinguishing features of a low-cost airline is, unsurprisingly, its low fares.

For this reason, low-cost airlines compete for passengers along a given route by offering the lowest fares available.

Moreover, many low-cost carriers stand out from the crowd not only with their low prices but also with their point-to-point network design.

This will allow them to expand their presence by establishing new bases in key places and laying fiber optic cables directly to more of the cities already connected to their network.

Cons

The low prices are tempting, but you must ensure you’re getting a good deal. Basically, low-cost airlines can charge more for their extras to offer such low-base fares.

What is the difference between full-service and low-cost airlines?

Finding a low-price air ticket doesn't mean you're flying with a low-cost airline. Source: Freepik.
Finding a low-price air ticket doesn’t mean you’re flying with a low-cost airline. Source: Freepik.

A cheap pricing policy in and of itself does not make an airline a low-cost carrier, but it is one differentiating feature. The airline’s operations are a significant variable.

Also, on low-cost airlines, there is typically only one “class” of service. Which is different from the more traditional “economy,” “premium economy,” “business,” and “first-class.”

However, some, like Norwegian, offer a premium class in addition to the economy class.

Moreover, some budget airlines only have one kind of plane and fly to secondary airports in large cities rather than the primary (and more expensive) airports.

This way, most airlines with lower prices don’t have alliances with one another and instead operate a hub-and-spoke routing system.

And this can make it difficult to rebook a flight in case of a cancellation. To save down on cleaning and maintenance expenses, some airlines, for example, do not have seat-back pockets or reclines.

However, some businesses take the “no frills” strategy to an extreme. Moreover, in an effort to compete with low-cost carriers, many full-service airlines now offer economy-level rates.

The extra expenses that low-cost airlines demand, including in-flight refreshments, carry-on luggage, and pre-flight seat selection, are the most obvious distinction between them and full-service carriers.

The deployment of the basic economy has allowed these full-service airlines to provide low-priced tickets that are competitive with low-cost carriers (which come with just as many extra fees).

That’s why it’s confusing for customers to choose between full-service and budget-friendly providers.

Some airlines have higher operating costs than others, but low-cost ones are much more affordable overall.

Moreover, these businesses lose money on each ticket sold but make it up for the wide variety of add-ons they make available to their customers.

What are some low-cost airlines so cheap?

You must be wondering why this type of airline can be so cheap. Well, there are a few reasons.

For example, one primary reason why low-cost providers can keep their prices low is that they don’t provide any premium services. As a result, they require fewer resources to operate.

There are other reasons, such as the fact that, when in the air, low-cost airlines are notoriously frugal.

Some of these airlines prefer to purchase and maintain seats that don’t recline because of the savings they provide.

Unfortunately, this type of airline is also cheap due to staff savings. So,

Crew members are usually in their early careers. Therefore, they have lower starting salaries, less extensive training, and a wider range of duties.

It’s anticipated that every flight can save three or four salaries by encouraging employees to do multiple roles.

Should you use a low-cost airline?

In the event of an emergency, larger airlines have more personnel and equipment to assist customers than their budget-friendly rivals.

Traditional airlines have protocols in place to offer passengers alternate transportation, refunds, and compensation packages in the event of flight delays, cancellations, or lost luggage.

Unfortunately, not all low-cost airlines offer this feature. This way, if this is a very important feature for you in an airline, you may not want to use one.

However, tickets on low-cost airlines are typically 20-30% cheaper than on the largest airlines. This way, you’ll be able to save on your flight, even with less comfort.

And with the money you save, you’ll be able to spend more on your trip and destinations.

Therefore, to know if you should use a low-cost or traditional airline, you need to weigh the pros and cons and see what matters most to you on a trip.

Find the best sales to fly with your favorite airline

Better than traveling is traveling with the best prices. You have to keep an eye on good sales. That way, you can save a lot of money that can be invested toward other things on your trip.

If you’d like to learn how to find the best prices, read the following content about airline sales.

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About the author

Victória Lourenço

Victória Lourenço is part of the finance writer team for The Mister Finance website. She is a translator and copywriter, having worked on finance topics for over four years. She has a goal to keep studying finances to help people learn more about how to use their credit cards, make loans, and use other money-related products in a way that they can find a more meaningful and healthy financial life!

Reviewed by

Aline Barbosa

Senior Editor

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