Low Cost Airlines for Non Europeans
We Europeans are well used to the intricacies and tricks of the low-cost flight. Pilgrims from other countries may not be so aware of how to find the best deals from budget airlines, or the tricks the airlines pull to land you with additional charges. If you want to visit some other European countries before or after your Camino then you need to read this!
Finding the Cheapest Flights
There are 2 ways of going about finding the cheapest flight. The first is to use a flight price search engine such as skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to/from Santiago de Compostela or perhaps Madrid. If you are flexible with dates, then after searching you can experiment with different to/from dates, for example avoiding a high demand Sunday flight by switching to an less desirable Tuesday.
The second method, and the most effective if you have the time, is to go direct to the largest airline websites. If you are willing to take a bus from an airport slightly further away, that you would not have considered searching for in skyscanner, then you can find an absolute bargain. You can search for bus prices on the largest European bus operator here.
- Ryanair is the largest and most (in)famous low-cost airline in Europe. Along with the Easyjet website it is essential to check.
- Easyjet is considered to be slightly better service and slightly more expensive than Ryanair – but there’s not a lot in it. Between the two websites you’ll find the cheapest flight in the majority of cases.
- Wizzair, a Hungarian operator, flies to Eastern European locations and often beats Ryanair and Easyjet on price in this part of Europe. They have a discount scheme that saves you a little off each flight, and worth joining if you are using them more than once.
- Flybe is a large UK low-cost airline. It’s usually not as cheap as those listed above, but still worth a try.
- Others: Air Europa, Vueling, Iberia Express.
Tricks, Tips, Things to Watch Out For
In some countries booking a return flight is much cheaper than booking the same with two separate singles – but this is not the case with budget airlines in Europe. So, go ahead and book an outward journey with one airline and the return leg with another!
Airlines such as Ryanair have such tight profit margins that they do everything they can to make money on you through fines and penalties. Make sure you check in online and print your boarding pass before going to the airport – the fines are €70/£70 and €15/£15 respectively.
When you see the initial ticket price, this is not including check-in baggage. To check in a single bag can cost between €30 / £30 and €75 / £75. The cheapest thing to do is to ensure your backpack is within the stringent criteria the airlines set out as dimensions for hand luggage and then carry it on with you. I usually wear as many clothes as I can just before boarding the flight, stuffing my jacket pockets with small objects, then take it off as soon as I’m on the plane. This tip is more to ensure your pack meets the weight requirements.
There’s no assigned seating – so you want to get to the gate in good time, to get a good place in the line. This is not just to pick a window seat, but more importantly to get space in the overhead baggage rack for your carry on, since they usually fill up quickly!
If you are a non-European, even if you have checked in online, you still need to get a stamp on your boarding pass. Often you can get this at the check in counter, or if not they can advise you where you need to go.
After scaring you with all of this, it’s time to get searching! If you are particularly proud of any deal you found, let us know with a reply below!