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Don't Be Fooled by Budget Airlines! They Might Cost You More in the End

Melisa Ruscsak

Don't be fooled by budget airlines! While they may seem like a cost-effective way to get from point A to point B, the truth is that they can end up costing you more in the long run. From extra fees for seat assignments to unexpected costs for checked baggage, budget airlines often add hidden fees that can quickly add up. In this blog post, I will explain why budget airlines can be more expensive than traditional carriers and give you tips on how to make sure you're getting the best deal on your next flight.

Please note this is based on my experience while vetting what airlines my company will be using as our "go-to" places for all travel. This was a business trip that I'm thankful for happening now rather than having this issue coming from one of my employees. That said here are the nuts and bolts and the truth behind "budget" airlines.

The Cost of the Ticket

When booking a flight on a budget airline, it's easy to be lured in by the initial low cost of the ticket. However, what you don't see when you first look at the price is all the additional fees that can come along with it. Many budget airlines offer the initial ticket at a low cost, but then tack on additional fees such as seat assignments, baggage costs, food and drink, and even customer service fees. When all of these costs are added up, the price of the ticket may be higher than if you had booked on your regular choice airline.

For example, I recently booked a flight on a budget airline and found that the advertised low-cost ticket was not the total cost I ended up paying. After adding the fees for seat assignment, baggage, and other miscellaneous charges, my total ticket price ended up being significantly higher than if I had booked the same flight on my usual airline.

Bottom line: Don't be fooled by the initial low-cost ticket price of budget airlines; you may end up paying more in the long run.

By the Numbers: Ticket Cost based on 1 passenger for a Round Trip

"Budget" Airline - $240

American Airline- $315

That was the choice cost at the time of booking

The Cost of the Seat Assignment

When it comes to budget airlines, seat assignment can be a hidden cost. Many airlines will not let you select your seat until you check-in at the airport or purchase it at an additional cost before boarding. This may not seem like a big deal, but the cost of selecting your seat in advance can add up if you are traveling with multiple people. Additionally, there may be a fee for selecting an exit row seat or other premium seat. All these extra costs can add up quickly, and when compared to traditional airlines that usually allow you to select your seat for free when booking, budget airlines don’t always offer the best value.

By the Numbers: Ticket Cost based on 1 passenger for a Round Trip

"Budget" Airline- $25 - $45 per flight. In my case this was a connecting flight. So, 2 charges. 1 for $25, and one for $35

American Airlines - Free - $65

Total So Far:

"Budget" Airline - $300

American Airline- $315

The Cost of baggage

When you fly with a budget airline, you may be shocked to discover the extra fees that come along with the cost of your ticket. Most budget airlines charge extra for checked baggage. This can range from an additional $25-$100 per bag, depending on the airline. Many also charge additional fees if your baggage exceeds the weight limit or if you have oversized items. On top of that, budget airlines often have strict carry-on size restrictions which may mean that you have to check a bag that you normally wouldn’t have to with other airlines. All of these additional costs can add up quickly, making a budget flight not so budget friendly after all.

By the Numbers: Ticket Cost based on 1 passenger for a Round Trip

"Budget" Airline- $

Personal Item - Free

Carry On-

  • During Booking on Web/Mobile App: $53 to $58

  • Before Check-in on Web/Mobile App: $55 to $60

  • At Check-in on Web/Mobile App: $64 to $69

  • At Airport Kiosk or Ticket Counter: $79

  • At the Gate: $99


  • During Booking on Web/Mobile App $48 to $94

  • Before Check-in on Web/Mobile App $50 to $96

  • At Check-in on Web/Mobile App $59 to $104

  • At Airport Kiosk or Ticket Counter $79 to $95

  • At Gate $99*

American Airlines - Free Carry On

Luggage $30-75

What I paid for luggage :

Budget: $55 + 50

American Airlines : $30

Total So Far:

"Budget" Airline - $405

American Airline- $345

The Cost of change fees

One of the biggest hidden costs with budget airlines is the cost of change fees. Many budget airlines advertise low fares but will charge you extra if you need to make changes to your itinerary. These fees can be quite hefty, often costing more than the cost of the ticket itself. This means that if you need to make changes to your trip, you could end up paying double the price of the original ticket. It's important to factor in these potential costs when choosing a budget airline as they can add up quickly and negate any savings. In addition, some budget airlines may also impose other fees such as cancellation fees and rebooking fees, which should also be taken into account when making your decision.

The Cost of food and drink

When traveling on a budget airline, it's important to note that food and drinks may not be included in the cost of your ticket. Many budget airlines offer snacks and beverages for purchase, which can add up quickly. On my most recent trip, I spent almost $20 just on food and drinks from the plane. That’s not including what I had to buy before boarding.

If you want to save money, it might be better to pack a few snacks or bring along your own water bottle. Just be sure to check the rules of your budget airline before you bring any food and drink on board as some may have restrictions on what they allow.

Overall, while budget airlines may have low fares, they don't always offer the best value. The additional costs associated with seat assignments, baggage fees, change fees, and food and drinks can quickly add up, making your "budget" flight much more expensive than it initially appeared.

Budget Airlines will charge you for snacks From $3.50 for coffee up to $9.00 for a snack box

Other Airlines such as American do give you a drink (soda or coffee) plus cookies or something small. Larger items can be bought.

The Cost of customer service

When it comes to customer service, budget airlines can leave a lot to be desired. There are often long wait times for phone support, with few options for customer care over email or other methods. Additionally, many budget airlines have limited staff available in airports, meaning you’ll have to wait in line for a long time if you need assistance. The lack of customer service means that you may find yourself in a bind when something goes wrong with your travel plans, since there’s often no one around to help you fix the problem. Even if you manage to get through to a representative, they may not be able to do much more than take your information and hope the problem is resolved soon. Ultimately, this lack of customer service can mean that even a minor issue can turn into a major inconvenience, costing you both time and money in the end.

In closing if you are traveling alone with little to luggage Yes, a budget airline might be a good choice. However, understanding the whole cost of your trip so you can plan accordingly is always best. After all we want you to enjoy your tripand have safe travels.

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