June is considering a budget airline for the first time and wants to know if there is anything she needs to know before she books.
I usually like to fly with Qantas when I travel, whether internationally or domestic, but now that I have retired and am on a fixed income, I have been considering a budget airline for my next holiday. As I have not done this before, is there anything I need to know before I book?
A. Budget airlines can save you a lot of money but there are a few tricks and traps to watch out for. Firstly, the prices might seem lower, but there are some sneaky added fees, which can end up costing you more money than what appears to be your initial outlay. Budget airlines often have additional fees for services such as checked baggage, seat selection and in-flight meals. So make sure you understand the airline’s fee structure and factor in these costs when comparing prices.
Next, it’s best to travel light. Baggage is one of the first ways budget airlines recoup some of the money from offering low fares. So most budget airlines have strict baggage policies and charge extra for checked baggage. Pack light and try to fit everything into a carry-on bag to avoid paying additional fees. Familiarise yourself with the airline’s size and weight restrictions for carry-on luggage.
You can save more money if you’re flexible with your travel dates. Budget airlines often have fluctuating prices based on demand, so consider adjusting your travel dates if possible. Flying on weekdays or during off-peak hours can sometimes result in lower fares.
Another thing to look out for is your destination airport. Cheaper airlines can sometimes operate out of secondary airports, which may be located farther away from city centres. Consider the transportation costs and convenience of reaching these airports before making your final decision.
It’s also always a good idea to read the terms and conditions before booking. Pay attention to policies regarding cancellations, changes and refunds. Budget airlines may have stricter rules compared to full-service carriers, so it’s important to understand the terms to avoid any surprises.
Finally, be prepared for minimal amenities. Budget airlines generally offer no-frills service. Prepare accordingly by bringing your own entertainment, snacks and necessary travel accessories.
While these tips sound negative, do not be put off booking with a budget carrier. If you don’t mind going without some of the extras, flying with a budget airline can save you a considerable amount of money, especially if you are considering taking more frequent holidays now that you are enjoying your retirement.
What advice do you have for someone flying with a budget airline for the first time? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Also read: Top travel booking mistakes