Who says traveling the world has to be expensive? We ranked the best budget airlines that will help you see the world for less!
Travel can be an expensive hobby: you have to figure out where to stay, what to do, what to eat, and how to get there. Flying can be the priciest part of the journey, especially with all the extra baggage fees and other taxes that are involved. Luckily, there are budget airlines that make it easier and cheaper for travelers. We’ve rounded up 12 of the world’s best budget airlines, great for that quick weekend getaway.
Best Budget Airlines in North America
Flying to D.C., Orlando, or even San Juan for the weekend is not a problem! JetBlue Airways makes your flight comfy and enjoyable with plush leather seats and your very own TV screen equipped with 36 channels to make the time fly by. Complimentary snacks like Linden’s chocolate chip cookies, Terra blues potato chips, and Dunkin Donuts coffee are available among other tasty snacks. And to top it all off, your first checked bag flies free of charge. JetBlue also offers a complimentary snooze kit with eye shades, earplugs, and pre-landing treats like hot towels, coffee, and orange juice.
Major cities in the northeast, southeast, and western United States; the Caribbean; select cities in Mexico, Central America, and South America.
Southwest Airlines has fun-loving employees and open seating options and is best known for their customer service. The airline made news in 2011 when a pilot held an outgoing flight for a grieving grandfather trying to see his dying 2-year-old grandson. Southwest Airlines offers connections to cities around the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico. Their unique open seating boarding procedure is another thing that makes this airline stand out. You’ll receive a group number when you check-in (the earlier the better). And after your group is called, stand in line and choose any seat you want while boarding the plane. Your first bag flies free, and your biggest decision all day will be choosing between the window or aisle seat.
Major cities throughout the United States; Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Mexico City, Cancun, and Los Cabos, Mexico.
Spirit Airlines offers one of the lowest prices on flights in North America. You can start with an unbundled, stripped-down Bare Fare. Then you get Frill Control which allows you to pay only for the options you choose – like bags, seat assignments and refreshments. With a subscription to $9 Fare Club, members get discounted fare sales and discounted checked and carry on bag fees. Spirit claims that members can save an average of $75 per booking. Serving 39+ destinations, Spirit Airlines is one of the largest in the United States, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Latin America.
Spirit Airlines Destinations:
Major cities throughout the United States; Canada; Latin America and Caribbean, including San José, Panamá City, Cartagena, and Bogota.
Frontier Airlines is an American ultra low cost carrier headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The budget airline operates flights to 54 destinations throughout the United States and 5 international destinations. The airline maintains a hub at Denver International Airport with numerous focus cities across the United States. Top Airports include Denver, Orlando, Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Phoenix. According to their website, with a Discount Den subscription Frontier customers have exclusive access to Frontier’s lowest fares. Discount Den is a paid membership provided by Frontier, that we evaluated in this article.
Frontier Airlines Destinations:
Major cities in the United States; Canada, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
Founded in 1996 and based out of Canada, the idea behind WestJet is that you shouldn’t get less service just because you’re paying less for a ticket. The airline has won several awards and was named J.D. Power Customer Service Champion. It is also involved in several community service projects. WestJet is also investing in more eco-friendly practices like building more fuel-efficient jets. The airline offers flights to and from a number of Canadian cities. Some of the popular destinations are Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Victoria, and Toronto.
Where they fly: Major cities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Major cities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Check their flight map to see more options.
Best International Budget Airlines
Looking for an affordable way to explore South America? Latam is known for their reasonable long haul prices between the U.S. and a variety of destinations–sign up for their email newsletter and never miss a sale. The airline also offers great in-flight entertainment options. Each seat has its own television. You can choose from more than 100 movies, 42 TV shows, 25 games, and even customize your own music playlist. Latam’s excessive entertainment options will make that international flight go by in a jiffy!
Where they fly: Miami is the major U.S. hub, but flights also leave from most major cities in the U.S. and Canada. Within South America, destinations include Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Guayaquil, Bogota, LaPaz, and Caracas among others. Domestic flights are also available within Colombia, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Chile, and Argentina.
Want to make that long awaited trip to Europe just a little more interesting? How about adding a free stopover in Iceland? Thanks to IcelandAir, you have the option of adding a stay of up to seven nights when traveling from the U.S. and Canada to Europe for no additional cost to your original plane ticket. If you’ve got time to spare, don’t miss this opportunity to explore this intriguing nation. Who doesn’t want to see home to the Blue Lagoon, gorgeous natural landscapes, and the Northern Lights. Check their website for specials from the U.S. and Canada to destinations like Oslo, Copenhagen, and Helsinki. The budget-friendly packages to Iceland include airfare, hotel stays, and visits to popular attractions.
Where they fly: From New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Orlando, Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle, Halifax, and Toronto, to 25 major European cities.
Originally created in 1936 to provide service between the Emerald Isle and the U.K., Aer Lingus is now the national airline of Ireland, operating 43 aircraft and carrying more than 10 million passengers per year. Customers can look forward to an impressive amount of in-flight entertainment. Long haul flights from the U.S. feature a large selection of movies, TV shows, and music on demand, as well as several radio stations and gaming options-and complimentary in-flight WiFi on all flights. Check the Aer Lingus Vacation Store for special deals on trips to Ireland that include airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals.
Where they fly: Major cities in the U.S. and Canada, various cities in the U.K. and around Europe. Also to Puerto Rico, Sydney, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, and the Canary Islands.
The U.K.’s largest airline, EasyJet offers affordable flights around Europe and the Middle East. It connects 30 countries on 600 routes, transporting more than 59 million passengers a year, offering some of the cheapest fares around Europe. If you’re hoping to visit more cities in Europe or the Middle East, this airline makes it easier do so for less. Inspire Me tool can help figure out where to go next. You just need to enter the European city you are leaving from, set your budget range, and watch the options appear. A search from Paris, for instance, offers one-way tickets to cities like Berlin, Rome, and Madrid for less than $40.
Where they fly:
Throughout the U.K. and between a number of major European cities; Moscow and various cities in Eastern Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Jordan, and Egypt.
RyanAir is probably one of the most well-known of all the budget airlines, but unfortunately is also known for offering super-low base ticket prices and tacking on extra fees for things like baggage, purchasing your tickets with a credit card, reserving seats, and reissuing boarding passes. At one point the airline even considered charging passengers to use the on-board restrooms. According to their website, these extreme methods are used to encourage people to fly in a simple, low cost way. For instance, without any checked baggage. So for budget travelers with only carry-on luggage, this airline is a great way to see more cities for a fraction of the price.
Where they fly: Various cities around Europe, Morocco, Cyprus, and the Canary Islands.
If you’re looking for an affordable way to explore more of Africa, perhaps before or after your dream safari trip, try FastJet, one of Africa’s first budget airlines. Domestic flights start at about $20 one way, but make sure you pack a snack. Since the flight time between cities is so short, on-board refreshments are not offered. You are allowed to bring one carry-on item with you as long as it can fit into the overhead compartment. The luggage prices start at just $6 for a checked bag. Such low prices make this airline an affordable option to visit popular destinations like Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and Tanzania.
Where they fly: From three international airports within Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar, and Mwanza Regional Airport, with more routes expected to open soon in Entebbe, Uganda, and in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya.
If you’re on the east coast and think a trip to paradise is financially out of the question, think again. Hawaiian Airlines began non-stop flights from New York City’s JFK International Airport last June, with prices in the $400s for a round-trip ticket. Keep an eye on their website for specials that are also available from California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona! This airline connects the continental U.S. to the Hawaiian Islands at competitive prices. It also provides connections to other South Pacific islands and parts of Asia, making the dream trip across the Pacific possible.
Where they fly: Honolulu, Hawaii, is the main hub. You can island hop to other Hawaiian Islands of Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island. Or you can also fly to the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Tahiti, Singapore, Australia, and American Samoa.
Tell us: Have you ever flown with a budget airline? How was your experience? Leave us a comment below!