Are Low-Cost Airline Carriers for you?

When searching for flights, you more than likely come across some of the relatively cheaper ticket prices on airlines, such as Frontier, Spirit, or WOW air.  Question is: are the lower fares worth it, and more importantly, is this way of flying for you?  Below are some factors to consider when booking on these carriers to decide whether or not the budget companies are truly your style.

  1.  Paying for Luggage.  This is the first “whammy.”  Many of these low-cost carriers do not include luggage fees in their ticket prices.  Spirit, for example, will let you bring on the plane a small backpack or purse for free, but that’s it.  Pricing for even a smaller carry-on that would usually be free on a major airline carrier starts at $30 on Spirit, not to mention, this is just the one-way cost (so multiply this number by two for a round-trip flight).  Also, if you do not pay for these bags in advance (upon booking your ticket), it will more than likely cost you even more to process these fees at the airport.  Frontier’s rates are comparable to this and operate the same way, with the baggage fees also being pricier if you wait to purchase at the airport.  WOW Air also charges around the same, but they also charge per flight leg.  So if you have a layover both ways, you can multiply the baggage fee price by four.   Take home message:  Unless you can live out of your backpack for the duration of your trip,  you might want to do the math and see if these fees make sense financially for you.
  2. Low Amenities.  Think no snacks and food–not even a cup of water.  Everything is available to you–but, of course, it comes with a price.
  3. Fewer Flights.  This will probably be the biggest deal breaker for many people.  These lower-cost airline carriers sometimes have fewer flights scheduled for particular routes (think: huge money saver for the airline company).  So what’s the problem here?  Well, if there is only one flight traveling daily from point A (your departure point) to point B (your destination), and there is a malfunction with your plane, a delay, a cancellation, or whatever it may be, you may be sitting in the airport terminal for a while. Nine hours of standing by and waiting helplessly for updates is never a fun way to spend a day (trust me), especially if you are on your way to your vacation and are ultimately missing out on “fun time.”  So best to check in advance to ensure there are multiple flights scheduled for your designated route if you opt to go with one of the aforementioned airlines.
  4. No Seat Assignments.  Another “whammy” especially if you are traveling solo and dread the idea of sitting in the middle seat, but do not want to front the funds for choosing your seat(s).  Spirit, Frontier, and WOW all have fees associated with selecting seats in advance of your flight.  Additional “whammy:” they charge for each leg, so these numbers can add up quickly.  Spirit charges as low as $1 for pre-selected seats (per leg); however, the fees can reach as high as $199 according to their website.  Frontier charges as low as $6 per seat, per leg, but depending on your preference, this price can reach as high as $25.  Seating on WOW starts at approximately $8.99 per seat, per flight leg, but depending on your flight route and seat preference, the price can skyrocket to $189.99 per seat, per flight leg.  So again, another factor to consider when flying on one of these carriers.
  5. Extra Fees. The last one is specifically for Spirit.  If you do opt to fly this airline, be sure to print your boarding pass(es) from home; otherwise, you should expect to pay $10 to have the attendants at the airport print on your behalf.


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