Low-cost, long-haul flights take off … however is ‘budget’ actually cheaper? | Money

It seems too good to be true – a brief hop to Reykavik from Gatwick for £30; a flight from St Petersburg to Stansted for £23 and even one technique to Chicago for £140.

Budget travel is not simply the protect of the quick journey. While Ryanair and easyJet have made their timetable of quick hops round Europe synonymous with low cost fares, the variety of long-haul operators providing low-cost journeys to extra far-flung locations has grown lately.

Aeroflot subsidiary Pobeda Airlines, WOW Air, which is owned by Icelandic, German operator Eurowings and Norwegian Airlines are amongst people who have emerged, promising to make your cash travel additional.

But with the promise of nice financial savings come the catches. Checking in baggage is finished at a worth, getting one thing to eat on board will sometimes not be free and reserving charges may also add to the fee.

So is taking the cheaper choice to fly a protracted distance well worth the problem? Or will the invoice find yourself being the identical – or, worse, exceed the normal operators’?

A extra restricted selection

While the value could also be engaging, the locations will be restricted.

Pobeda, an airline that already operates in Russia, provides simply three UK departures from London Stansted – to Moscow, St Petersburg or Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest metropolis.

Eurowings, in the meantime, boasts to be “low-cost, long-distance” however a lot of the 50 nations that it flies to are in Europe, though it does supply the US, Mauritius, Thailand, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Mexico – supplied you might be pleased to fly through Düsseldorf.

Norwegian goes to New York, Florida and Bangkok, whereas Level flies long-haul to Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Martinique, Montréal, Guadeloupe and Santiago de Chile – though largely through Barcelona.


Spending New Year’s Eve surrounded by the historic landmarks of St Petersburg feels like a great way to ring in 2019. Pobeda is providing flights of slightly below three-and-a-half hours (on the time of writing) departing from Stansted on Saturday 29 December with a return on four January for £223.

For that you just get hand baggage solely and a pre-assigned seat. If you need a 20kg check-in baggage allowance and seat choice, you have to improve to its “Plus” choice, which lifts the return worth to £268.

And right here is the issue that anybody flying lengthy haul on most of the finances flights faces – are you able to survive with simply hand baggage on your holiday? Even with essentially the most imaginative packing and reusing of the identical garments, a number of days in Russia in winter can be troublesome with a 10kg allowance. As a end result, will probably be inevitable many will decide to pay extra.

The Pobeda choice remains to be lots cheaper than British Airways, which was providing “Economy Basic” flights on the identical days for £436 return. This rises to £476 on “Economy Plus”, which incorporates free seat selection and 23kg checked baggage – however you continue to pay for drinks and M&S meals.

Working out the very best deal

Despite the advertising and marketing, “budget” will not be at all times higher. Norwegian Airlines provides three departures a day from London Gatwick to New York JFK on its 787 Dreamliners.

A weekend break in New York from Thursday 2 May 2019 to the next Monday prices £420 return on its “LowFare” fee – no meals, no check-in baggage, no seat reservation, only a low cost direct flight and 10kg hand baggage. If you improve to its “LowFare+” you get 20kg check-in baggage, seat reservation and onboard meals for £520.

However, established operator Virgin Atlantic departs London Heathrow on the identical day for simply £293 return in “Economy Light” or £393 with “Economy Classic” which incorporates 23kg of check-in baggage, selection of seat and meals and drinks.

If you wish to fly from Edinburgh to Toronto on 30 May, WOW Air will go there through Reykjavik in virtually 11 hours. The greatest deal for these who need checked baggage is “WOW Comfy” going out for £348.23 and “WOW Plus” for the return flight on Friday 14 June for £299.70. Including a reserving price of £22.20, the overall involves £670.13.

By comparability, Air Canada will fly from Edinburgh on 30 May through Frankfurt in slightly below 12 hours. The return flight is continuous, taking simply six hours and 40 minutes and the overall worth is available in at £596. The extra conventional airline works out £74 cheaper, plus you save hours with a direct flight on the best way again.

These cases show the purpose that whereas typically finances airways could also be cheaper, conventional carriers can be a greater choice.

Make it be just right for you

What works greatest for you will depend on once you wish to fly, how a lot baggage you wish to take, the place you wish to sit and once you wish to examine in.

“Check every extra before booking because there are times when full-service carriers will offer a better overall deal,” says Emma Grimster of TravelGrocery “Budget airlines may fly to more remote airports, so you have to factor in the cost and effort getting to where you really want to be.”

Savings can clearly be made by bringing your individual meals or selecting to take a seat away from associates or household – however this is not going to be for everybody. That stated, many midair meals are additionally not for everybody anyway. But in case you do need one, WOW provides oriental-style instantaneous noodles for £four.50, tomato Cup-a-Soup for £three.12, and water, fizzy drinks, tea and occasional for £2.33.

Cost over comfort

Price isn’t every little thing: comfort counts. But although a traveller could also be flying on a budget, it doesn’t essentially imply they have to forgo straightforward travel solely.

A living proof is a journey to Havana in Cuba subsequent March, departing from Manchester. Eurowings will take you there for slightly below £600 with 23kg of maintain baggage, most well-liked seating and a meal. You have to fly through Düsseldorf, however most full-service airways additionally have stopovers on the route, for instance in Paris or Madrid. The flight has a travel time of virtually 17 hours whereas the return is 12 hours.

Meanwhile, KLM departs Manchester with a two-hour, 55-minute switch time in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and a complete travel time of 14 hours 50 minutes. This prices £824.30 with one piece of check-in baggage or £876.50 with booked seats. The return flight is an identical size, which implies the extra established service is £280 dearer than Eurowings in whole, and never rather more handy.

The issues inside

Budget long-haul carriers have had their issues not too long ago. Last month Danish airline Primera Air stated it was “sad” to announce that, after 14 years in operation, it had ceased flying following “several unforeseen misfortunate events” that severely affected its monetary place.

The airline operated flights from Stansted and Birmingham to locations together with New York, Boston, Washington DC, Toronto and Málaga. Flights from Manchester to Málaga have been as a consequence of begin. The closure resulted in hundreds of individuals being stranded overseas and holiday plans have been ruined.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Airlines has additionally been the topic of quite a few complaints from shoppers. The airline has expanded quick – it’s now Europe’s eighth-biggest service – however information from the Civil Aviation Authority reveals that it additionally suffers essentially the most complaints.

In the second quarter of the yr they have been working at 526 per million passengers carried. TAP Air Portugal was the second worst at 430 and Ryanair third at 319. EasyJet’s determine was a more healthy 115, whereas British Airways, Norwegian’s predominant transatlantic rival, scored 63.

In September, client group Which? stated Norwegian was the UK’s most delayed airline within the yr to June, with 2.four% of its flights struggling a extreme long-haul delay. However, on TripAdvisor, Norwegian receives an general three.5-star score from 17,851 evaluations, the identical as BA and easyJet and forward of Ryanair.

Travel News


Show More

Related Articles