So we’ve all heard about “low cost carriers” and the supposed super-cheap flights that you can get by using Ryanair, Easyjet or any of the other such airlines in Europe and Asia. Well, I’m stuck out here on the west coast of the US and there doesn’t seem to be any $1 or $0.01 airfares being advertised in my neighborhood.
But, I am traveling to Italy in June. After much investigation and comparison shopping, we found the best fare from Seattle to (anywhere in) EuropeÂ with the new daily Northwest Airlines flight from Seattle to London Heathrow. But I still had to get from London to Tuscany. So I went looking again. I found a flight with Ryanair from Stansted (STN) to Pisa forÂ $0.02!! Now that’s worth cheering about. OK, so with taxes, landing feesÂ and the (lousy) dollar/poundÂ exchange rate, the flight is actually costing me $30. Add in the coach trip from Heathrow to Stansted and the true cost climbs up to $50. But, that’s still a stunning $250 less than I would have paid for a connecting flight from Heathrow. (I can discount the cost of an overnight hotel because the next available flight out of either airport is the following day).
Of course, Ryanair does have an extremely tight baggage allowance for check-in and carry-on bags, so this one connection will affect what I can take on my entire trip. But, that’s not so bad: don’t all travel gurus recommend packing less anyway ?
In early 2007,Â Ryanair was reported (USA Today) to be exploring the possibility of opening routes between Europe and the US. The Canadian-based carrier Zoom Airlines currently operates routes between the UK, Canada and the Eastern US. The low-season fares for a flight from Vancouver BC to Manchester (for example) are up to $200 less each way than an equivalent flight from a major carrier between Seattle and London. However, as is common on low-cost carriers, you pay extra for a bevy of options which are usually standard on international flights: seating options andÂ additional luggage allowance to name but two. The advertised price may also not include taxes and fees of up to $150 each way.
If you’d like to travel this summer, and are feeling the impact of the US Dollar’s lower purchasing power abroad, even though you may compromise on comfort, checking out the low-cost options for some or part of your trip may be a useful way to get where you’d like to go and still have some spending money over.