Is Flying Budget Worth It?

I love to travel, its no secret. What keeps us from traveling as much as we want to? For me its time and expense as I’m sure it is for many others. When I see a deeply discounted airfare I’m tempted to splurge and purchase the ticket and figure out the rest later.  Last year we got cheap tickets for a flight to England and return from Paris, France. It was about $400 per person which for a flight to and from two different destination is pretty good from my research.  It is more expensive to return from England than it is to fly into England, something to do with the taxes. Paris is one of the least expensive cities to fly in and out of in Europe. We flew via Norwegian airlines a known budget airline. The lowest, cheapest airfare offers NO frills. You have to pay extra for meals, seating selection, luggage and of course airfare protection. I opted out of selecting any of them and decided to just see what happens. I did purchase insurance to protect the whole trip afterwards. My kids are older so if we were separated we were ok with that. We planned to pack food for the flight; we each packed one carry on bag for the trip and decided to see what would happen seat-wise when we arrived to the check-in counter. When we arrived at the airport I was pleasantly surprised that we were all seated together anyways so that saved us $40 per seat per flight! We had no problems getting through security and on board with our paper bag containing our meals. We brought water bottles that we emptied before security and refilled in the airport at one of the many water fountains; some airports even have water refill stations. All of our bags were 20 pounds or less, so we had no issues carrying those on board. Norwegian was surprisingly comfortable and they provided pillows and blankets. They had tv monitors on each seat so we could watch movies, although the CC selection was extremely limited. You could order snacks, drinks and sandwiches from the monitor if you didn’t pack enough food for the flight or didn’t order the $40 meal. The windows had a cool dimming feature instead of pull down shades. The flight was also on time going to England. The return flight from Paris was delayed by two hours, but otherwise a very similar experience. 

Norwegian Interior

We’ve also flown Spirit Airlines roundtrip domestic flights from Los Angeles to San Juan, Puerto Rico; as of 8/27/20 they have roundtrip flights for about $200 which is bargain for sure! Spirit has extra fees for food(if they even offer it), seating, etc. When we checked in, Spirit gave us all seats next to each other. The seats on Spirit did NOT tilt back at all so we had to remain upright the whole time. It felt like we were on a city bus. They didn’t offer pillows or blankets. There were no monitors to watch movies. It was a good thing we planned for being uncomfortable on the cheap flight; we packed our own pillows and shawls/blankets in addition to food and books. The flights were on time and cheaper than any other tickets especially for holiday travel during Thanksgiving. If your flight has a layover during the colder winter months make sure it is in cities that aren’t known for snowy or icy weather- we didn’t have any delays on our flights and I’m sure its because layovers happened in ‘warmer’ cities such as Dallas and Miami. Jet Blue had over 50% delays on flights on our way back and all of those were with layovers in northern cities such as New York or Chicago.

Interior on Spirit Airlines

Flying budget can be a great deal, if you are willing to put up with some inconveniences. Preparation is key, figure out what frills you are willing to pay extra for and pack accordingly if you aren’t. Assume your flight will be like riding the city bus and pack accordingly then you won’t have any surprises except pleasant ones! Hopefully. 

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