In the 1990s, Europe deregulated its airlines, leading to a proliferation of remarkably inexpensive carriers. Opting for a budget flight can lead to serious savings if you plan to travel to several European cities during one vacation. Trips between major cities often run around $100, and in some cases they can cost significantly less. For example, flying from Ryanair’s London Stansted hub to other European cities often costs less than $20 one way. If you’re willing to jump through some hoops, you can save a lot of money by flying budget in Europe. Keep the following tips in mind when doing so.
– Book in advance. The eyeball-grabbing cheap fares, like those $20 Ryanair tickets, go fast. Coming late to the discount party can mean paying much more.
– Try booking one-way tickets rather than round trips. In some cases, you can save this way by hopping from city to city while switching from airline to airline to get the best deal on each leg of your trip.
– Plan on using the Internet. Many European budget airlines do most of their business online, so you should be ready to check schedules and book tickets through their websites.
– Use a “jump city” approach. If you fly long-haul to a budget carrier’s hub city, then take a shorter flight to your final city, you can save significantly over flying all the way to your destination nonstop. A trip from New York City to Dublin on a major airline, then from Dublin to Paris on a discount carrier might save hundreds of dollars over a nonstop flight.
– Watch for the catch. Budget carriers still have to make money, and they sometimes do it in unexpected places. Your tickets are unlikely to be refundable or exchangeable, and if you miss a check-in deadline, you might not be allowed on your flight. You should also be prepared to pay fees for everything from carrying on luggage to printing your boarding pass at the airport. Finally, double-check the airport you’re flying into. It may end up being miles from the city you’re trying to visit, meaning a long trip on public transit or expensive cab ride to get there.