European Budget Airlines are the best and also the worst. I once saw a flight from Stockholm to London for 11 US dollars. That is an actual joke-you can’t even buy a drink in LA for $11. But before you get super stoked and can get on that flight, you have to engage in all kinds of tomfoolery and hoop jumping and rule abiding. Or they will get you, good. Some airlines are more relaxed than others, but if you can maneuver your way around them and do it right, you’ll save a lot of money.
1. Pack light, mean it
They have very strict baggage size rules. Don’t think you’re sneaky because sometimes, actually usually, they make you stuff your bag in a little box to prove it fits the requirements before letting you board. And if not? You have to check it at the door for up to 70 euros or you can go back from whence you came. So find out what the specific airlines requirements are and pack accordingly! The only tip I have here is that I feel like they hassle you less if it’s a backpack. It still should fit just in case–but it could help you out.
2. Print your boarding pass
A lot of the airlines make you physically print out your boarding pass and don’t offer mobile tickets. So find out if you do and give yourself time to find a printer well before your flight.
3. Passport check
Sometimes you have to get your passport checked and ticket stamped at a weird little desk before going through security. It’s not customs or anything so I don’t know why, but make sure you do that. If you don’t, you’ll have to go back out and go through security again which could result in tears and/or missing of flight.
4. Customs and layovers
If you book a layover, find out whether you will have to pass customs in that country or not. It could make you miss your connection if you don’t take that into account.
5. Weird online check-in times
Make sure you know the cut off and check-in online before that (sooner the better).
6. The airport might out of the city
Budget airlines tend to use airports that aren’t the hub for the city so look up where the airports are and how to get to them before buying the flight. For example, if you find a flight for $50 at X airport, but it will take you two hours and a $50 bus to get there, that flight now costs $100.
7. Do your homework
In the 20 minutes it took me to write this, I bet they have created all kinds of fun new hoops to jump through! So it’s up to you to do your homework. Read all of the rules and memorize them so there aren’t any last minute surprises and your experience can be as smooth as possible! All my whining aside, budget airlines are amazing for how cheap they are. Proud to say I made every flight without a single hitch backpacking all over Europe last summer. So as long as you know about and follow the rules, you’ll be golden!