With the rise and rise of budget carriers, it would appear that getting from A to B is more affordable than ever. But are cut-price airlines really that much cheaper in the end, or it is all smoke and mirrors?
We did a bit of number-crunching to find out the real deal (pun completely intended).
New York to Los Angeles return
SEAT PRICE $565 (with one stop in Chicago)
- $35 to check bags when booking (each way)
- Up to $50 for seat requests (each way)
- Up to $10 each for snacks (each way)
- Up to $15 each for drinks (each way)
- Up to $17.99 for a passenger usage charge (each way)
APPROXIMATE TOTAL $870
THE ALTERNATIVE New York to Los Angeles full service return on Delta (non-stop) – $911
London Stansted to Rome return
SEAT PRICE $158.55
- $49.56 for 20 kilograms of checked baggage when booking (each way)
- $11.87 for seat requests (each way)
- $8.06 for snack (ham and cheese panini)
- $8.79 for wine
APPROXIMATE TOTAL $315
THE ALTERNATIVE London Gatwick to Rome full service return on British Airways (non-stop) – $453
Sydney to Singapore return
SEAT PRICE $383 (with one stop in Gold Coast)
- $34 for 20 kilograms checked baggage when booking (each way)
- $19 for a premium meal (each way)
- $131 taxes
APPROXIMATE TOTAL $620
THE ALTERNATIVE Sydney to Singapore full service return on Singapore Airways (non-stop) – $1157
Brisbane to Honolulu return
SEAT PRICE $932 (with one stop in Sydney)
- $85 for Plus Bundle: seat allocation, meal, $5 in-flight food and beverage voucher (each way)
- $7 for seat allocation (each leg, each way)
- $9 for entertainment package (each way)
- $24 for meals (each way)
- $39 for 20 kilograms of checked baggage (each way)
APPROXIMATE TOTAL $1088 with Plus Bundle or $1121 without
THE ALTERNATIVE Brisbane to Honolulu full service return on Hawaiian Airlines (non-stop) – $944
Perth to Kuala Lumpur return
SEAT PRICE $389 (including compulsory $39 checked baggage each way)
- $19 for seat allocation (each way)
- $18 for entertainment (each way)
- $12 for comfort set including pillows and blanket (each way)
- $11 for meals
APPROXIMATE TOTAL $510
THE ALTERNATIVE Perth to Kuala Lumpur full service on Malaysia Airlines (non stop) – $678.62
So, the resounding result of our straw poll is that budget airlines, more often than not, do offer the cheapest option when it comes to flights, but the savings are usually modest, to say the least.
You need to look beyond the bottom-line figure (especially when the difference is just $20) and consider convenience and value for money.
Many of the cheapest flights available included stopovers (some more than one), adding hours to the journey.
Budget carriers also often depart from and land at regional airports; if this is the case, if the taxi/train/bus fare to take you where you need to be is more than the saving you are making on the flight, opt for a full-service carrier instead.
And sometimes the time and effort required to pre-book meals, luggage allowance, entertainment and even blankets can take as long as the flight itself!