With air travel becoming more expensive, and with the travel bug within us growing every day, we're always on the hunt for cheap airfare to kickstart our next adventure. Yes, there are premium airlines that serve complimentary refreshments and other treats, but if you research thoroughly enough, there is probably a low-cost carrier that will offer similar (if not the same) services. Some are even associated with world-class carriers, so they can’t be that bad, right?
The introduction of low-cost air travel in today’s economy means that anyone can travel and escape reality for a little while. Starting at 11 cents per mile, quite literally anyone can!
Scoot is a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, so it's not surprising that it's regarded as one of the world’s best budget airlines. The airline services 68 destinations (including all major cities in Australia and Asia), as well as emerging into the European market with flights from Singapore to Athens and Berlin.
As with any budget airline, you get what you pay for. For example, a Scoot flight from Singapore to Athens will come in at around $450 USD (and almost double the price with flagship carrier, Singapore Airlines). If a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners doesn’t get you going, then nothing will.
Another subsidiary, this time of German carrier Lufthansa. Eurowings serves major European cities. It hasn't always been a budget airline; low-cost fares only date back to 2014.
Just like Scoot, Eurowings is slowly expanding its overseas routes, covering destinations such as Seattle, New York, Bangkok and Central America. For a 2-hour flight across Europe, a no-frills flight is all you need, and Eurowings provides you with just that. With some of the cheapest on-board refreshments of any other budget airline within Europe, Eurowings is a top choice.
8 Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines is a standalone airline boasting over 700 aircraft, servicing cities throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Based in Dallas, Texas, Southwest Airlines flies to 99 cities. Its highly successful business plan was what inspired Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary to grow his airline to what it is today.
The airline can safely say that is it one of the best budget airlines in the world (if not the best), and it also includes checked baggage.
Based in Delhi, India, IndiGo is India and the subcontinent's contribution to the budget airline industry. Established in 2006, it has fast become one of the most popular airlines throughout India and Asia. It's so popular, in fact, that the airline now has over 400 Airbus A320s on order, with the intent of expanding their network.
When it comes to low-cost airlines, there's a huge amount of competition in Asia. To stand out, you really need to offer something special. IndiGo have done just that, boasting some of the best cabin service within Asia as well as some of the best value for money fares in the region.
6 Norwegian Airlines
It’s not often that a national carrier is placed in the budget airline category. In fact, Norwegian Airlines is up there with Scoot as one of the best low-cost carriers in the world, servicing mainland Europe, South-East Asia and the United States.
The airline has only been in the low-cost game since 2002, but it has made a very good name for itself and set the bar quite high for competitors who also service mainland Europe.
5 AirAsia & AirAsia X
Some stories have surfaced about AirAsia that may deter you from purchasing a very low-cost flight throughout Australasia. Nevertheless, there's a reason why AirAsia still stands as one of the best in the business: they offer cheap, no-strings-attached airfares, starting at 11 cents (USD) per mile.
Simple, cheap air travel at its absolute finest. If you prefer to travel in a bit more comfort, there is an option for premium economy as well.
4 Jetstar Airways
Another airline operating throughout Australasia and the Pacific region. The airline is a subsidiary of Australian giant Qantas, and so has gained a very respectable and credible reputation. Jetstar has taken a hit over the last few years, with regards to delayed flights and baggage fees (a common issue low-cost airlines face), but what can you expect from a budget airline?
If you aren’t prepared to pay for a full-service airfare, then step back in line! Moving on, Jetstar operates a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamline’s and Airbus A320s, and has been named the best low-cost airline in Australia and the Pacific… for the 6th consecutive year, mind you.
EasyJet’s low, no-strings-attached fares has allowed many Europeans to travel to places they would only otherwise dream of. Still, when we opt for a low-cost fare, we honestly know to expect only the basics.expect only the basics.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing (who needs a TV or entertainment on an hour-long flight), but you get what you pay for with EasyJet. Transporting over 80 million passengers in 2018, it is easy (no pun intended) to see why people are choosing to fly with them.
JetBlue has consistently strived to up the ante when it comes to in-flight experience and service on a low-cost airline, and to some extent, it has achieved this. JetBlue should be a role model for many other low-cost carriers worldwide, as they have free-to-air TV, leather/premium cloth seating and complimentary refreshments.
Oh, and they have a signature lighting system that is supposed to put you in the mood. The mood for... well, sleep, probably.
1 Azul Brazilian Airlines
Air travel to and within South America tends to be quite expensive, but Azul Airlines has changed the game. Based in Sao Paolo, Azul is comprised of a relatively new fleet of aircraft, servicing Brazil and other South American destinations.
More recently, they have expanded their overseas portfolio to a few select locations in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, they have earned the status of best low-cost airline in South America, as well as best airline staff in the region for a second consecutive year.