The no-frills airline revolution

Using low-cost carriers you can now fly across a continent often for as little as $20 each way. Viva la revolucion!

An easyJet plane, one of the most successful of Europe's no-frills airlines
EasyJet and other no-frills carriers are quickly becoming the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to connect Point A and Point B all around the world.

The rapid growth of no-frills airlines is pealing a death knell for the bloated, corporate airlines that have, for decades, overcharged us.

The harbingers of this revolution are the Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs), a.k.a. No-Frills Airlines.

They have names like JetBlue and Southwest, Ryanair and easyJet, Tiger and Bangkok Air.

And they charge as little as twenty bucks per flight, taxes included.

OK, so $20 is at the low end of things. But the average fare is something like $80, and tickets almost never top $199—they rarely even get close.

Some of these low-cost carriers are as "no-frills" as their nickname implies: little more than flying buses, with no assigned seating, in-flight entertainment, or even free grub—if you've ever flown Southwest, you know what I mean. Though, of course, these days even some traditional airlines are making you pay for the awful food, and to "rent" a pair of $5 headphones so you can watch the lousy movie.

   » More on the pros, cons, and strategies of using no-frillers


On the other hand, a few LCCs offer you a rather posher experience than you'd get, at least in coach, on most traditional "legacy airlines"—think of the wide leather seats, ample legroom, and individual seat back screens featuring DirectTV aboard a JetBlue plane.

On the following pages, you'll find the best no-frills strategies for making use of these new inexpensive airlines, as well as links to resources listing the current crop of LCCs around the globe, from 30-plus-year veterans like Southwest in the USA, to the successful young turks like Europe's easyJet and Ryanair, and the new frontier of upstarts in Asia, Australia, and elsewhere.

What's more, a few low-cost airlines are now flying intercontinental routes, connecting Italy to Africa, Florida to Europe, and Thailand to Germany—often for far less than traditional airlines.

It's a brave new world of far cheaper airline tickets out there. Happy flying!

Resources for finding and booking no-frills airlines >>

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.