Save money by flying with Low Cost Carrier Airlines
A Low Cost Carrier (LCC) is an airline that focuses on lower operating costs and lower prices for travelers. If you are seeking the best value for the money, you should fly on Low Cost Carrier airlines whenever possible. LCC are almost always less expensive to fly than conventional, mainstream airlines. LCC fly mostly “short haul” flights, which are flights within a country, region, or continent. There are a few LCC that offer “long haul” flights, which are flights between continents or across an ocean.
You can save a lot of money by choosing a Low Cost Carrier airline. In this article, we’ll show you the advantages and drawbacks of LCC airlines, offer a few tips, and show you more than 50 Low Cost Carrier airlines that fly to all corners of the world.
Advantages and Drawbacks
Low Cost Carrier airlines offer a number of advantages and drawbacks compared to mainstream airlines.
The main advantage of flying with an LCC is the lower cost of a ticket. Flying with an LCC is almost always cheaper than flying with a conventional airline. Sometimes, flying with an LCC is even cheaper than taking the bus or train. In general, you should be able to save 20% to 50% by choosing an LCC airline instead of a conventional airline. If you are able to take advantage of an LCC “seat sale”, you can save even more.
The first drawback to flying with an LCC is that you will have to pay for “extras” that are often included with other airlines. These extras may include checked baggage, carry on baggage, airport check-in, seat selection, etc. You have to be careful with these extra fees, as they can add up quickly and erase all of the cost savings. We’ll show an example below.
A second drawback is that you will generally have a smaller seat than you would get with a conventional airline. Depending on the airline, you may get less “seat pitch” (distance from the seat in front of you to the back of your seat) or less “seat width” (distance between the armrests) or both.
A third drawback is that you may have to sit in a “slimline” seat, which has less padding and storage space than a conventional airplane seat. The reduced padding may be uncomfortable especially on longer flights, and the reduced storage space means you may have to place your belongings in your lap or under your seat. In many cases, the seats won’t allow you to recline the seat back, which can be uncomfortable.
A fourth drawback, for some fliers, is that Low Cost Carrier airlines generally do not offer generous loyalty programs that reward customers with free flights or upgrades for frequent flying. LCC do offer loyalty programs, but the rewards are modest compared to the programs offered by the larger airlines.
Finally, another difference (this may or may not be a drawback for you) between LCC airlines and conventional airlines is that LCC often fly from “second tier” airports. These are typically smaller, older airports that may be further from major cities. These airports may have fewer services and amenities than the large “top tier” airports, meaning fewer restaurants and hotels and transportation options. You may have to board the plane by climbing stairs, instead of an enclosed jetway, or you may have to take a bus to get from the terminal to the plane. On the other hand, if you live close to the smaller airport, or if your destination is convenient to the LCC airport, you may prefer flying into or out of the “second tier” airport, so this may not be a drawback at all.
What about Safety?
Low Cost Carrier airlines are subject to exactly the same safety regulations and protocols as conventional airlines. LCC are generally just as safe as mainstream airlines, but you should research the carrier before you book your flight just to be sure. If you are concerned about airline safety, there are several authoritative websites that provide information that you may find helpful.
The first is the “ICAO Safety” website. ICAO is an acronym that stands for International Civil Aviation Organization. ICAO is a United Nations specialized agency, established in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Essentially, ICAO sets global standards for aviation safety. You can visit the ICAO website and read their safety reports.
The second is the “Airline Ratings” website. This website is dedicated to measuring and reporting airline safety records. Please note that this website is not an “official” source of safety records, but you may want to read their ratings before booking your flight.
On Time Performance
Some Low Cost Carrier airlines are better than others at providing “On Time Performance” (OTP). OTP is simply a measure of how often the airline is able to depart and arrive on schedule. There are differences in OTP between Low Cost Carriers, and if this is important to you, there is an aviation trade association called “OAG” that measures OTP for airlines. OAG measures the OTP for every major airline and publish a list of “OTP Stars” to recognize the best performers.
Finding the best flight at the best price for you
Here are a few tips to help find the best flight at the best price for you!
Tip #1 – Find out which Low Cost Carrier airlines offer flights to your destination and visit their website
Before you begin shopping for flights, determine if there is a LCC airline that flies to your destination. You can do this by checking our guide below for a list of LCC airlines by region, or by asking your friends or family, or by talking to a local travel agent.
If there is a LCC that you are considering, visit their website first. The airline’s official website will always have discounts and specials that aren’t available through any other sales channel. From the website, you can also join their “loyalty program” or sign up for e-mail specials to get advance information on discounts and seat sales. You can check our guide below which shows the official website for more than 50 LCC airlines.
Tip #2 – Be Flexible!
You have to be flexible if you want to get the lowest price. Being flexible means being willing to change the dates of travel, or flying at odd hours, or departing from or arriving from a smaller, more remote airport.
Tip #3 – Use specialized Internet “search engines” to find the best flight
There are a number of specialized “search engines” on the Internet that can help you search for the best flight for you. Using these search engines is completely free, and they are very good at finding the best flight at the best price. To use these search engines, simply visit the website, enter your search criteria, and the “engine” will do the searching for you. Within a few seconds, you will see a list of airlines, flights, and prices that meet your criteria.
These websites even offer free “flight tracking” services. In this case, you enter the details for your preferred dates and destinations and the websites will “track” the prices and send you an alert by e-mail when the prices go up or down. This is very helpful if you are planning a trip in the future and want to see how the prices go up and down.
We have three favorite flight tracking “search engines” and we can recommend all three of them: Google Flights, Skyscanner, and ITA Matrix.
Tip #4 – Use a “covert” search when shopping for flights on the Internet
When searching for flights on the Internet, you may want to switch your browser so that your searching is “covert”. This will make your search more private and anonymous. Some websites will track your browsing activity using “cookies” so they will know that you are shopping for flights, and they may adjust the prices that they offer you.
The covert mode is called “Incognito” in Google Chrome, “Private Browsing” in Apple Safari, “InPrivate” in Microsoft Edge, and “Private Window” in Firefox. Check with your Internet browser provider to learn how to configure your browser for covert search.
Tip #5 – Watch out for those extra fees !
As we described earlier, all Low Cost Carrier airlines charge extra fees for services or comforts. You should be able to determine all of the extra fees before you book your ticket. You don’t want to be surprised by a bunch of extra fees that put you over budget….that can spoil your trip before you even start!
To minimize the extra fees, you need to plan ahead carefully. Imagine your day of travel, and determine your needs for seat selection, checked bags, carry on bags, check in procedure, and so on. Then you can enter this information into the website to determine the total cost before you book. Here’s an example of how extra fees can turn a cheap ticket into an expensive ticket.
How has the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak impacted Low Cost Carrier Airlines ?
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak has been devastating. Besides the tragic human cost, COVID-19 has impacted many industries around the world, including the travel and airline industries.
At the time this was written (July 2020), the number of people flying has been reduced substantially. On many routes, the passenger volumes are down by 80 to 90%. In response, many airlines have drastically reduced the number of flights available, placed the airplanes into storage, and laid off or furloughed many employees.
The airlines are doing their best to stay in business and maintain services during the pandemic. Many airlines have adopted measures to mitigate the health risks; these include temperature checks, health checks, wearing masks, and socially distant seat assignment. Governments are helping by offering financial assistance to many airlines.
Low Cost Carriers have certainly been impacted significantly by COVID-19. A few have been shut down completely while others have delayed their launches. The good news is that there are still at least 50 Low Cost Carriers operating and it is our hope these can survive the pandemic and continue to offer low cost flights to travellers.
We have three pieces of advice to offer you to cope with COVID-19:
- Check with your government’s travel advisories to determine if flying to your destination is safe
- Check with the Low Cost Carrier airline to determine if flights are still available, and what specific measures the airline has adopted to keep you and your family safe
- IATA (International Air Transport Association) is the global trade association for the airline industry; they have created several websites with advice on how to fly safely in the COVID-19 era; we encourage you to visit the websites.
Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Airlines of the World
We have identified more than 50 Low Cost Carrier airlines in operation today. Below, you can see their names, brief descriptions of where they operate, and links to their websites.
You may know that some LCC airlines operate as low cost subsidiaries of a mainstream airline, while others are true independents, with no affiliation with any mainstream airlines. From the traveler’s perspective, it makes little difference which type you choose…….you should simply choose the LCC that offers the best value and convenience.
North and Central American Low Cost Carrier Airlines
Here are some of the major Low Cost Carriers based in North and Central America, the destinations that they serve, and links to their websites.
South American Low Cost Carrier Airlines
Here are some of the major Low Cost Carriers based in South America, the destinations that they serve, and links to their websites.
European Low Cost Carrier Airlines
Here are some of the major Low Cost Carriers based in Europe, the destinations that they serve, and links to their websites.
African and Middle Eastern Low Cost Carrier Airlines
Here are some of the major Low Cost Carriers based in Africa and the Middle East, the destinations that they serve, and links to their websites.
Asian, Indian, Australian, and New Zealand Low Cost Carrier Airlines
Here are some of the major Low Cost Carriers based in Asia, India, Australia, and New Zealand, the destinations that they serve, and links to their websites.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article on Low Cost Carrier airlines. Happy travels!