Budget airlines aren’t a favourite with many travellers but you won’t hear any complaints from me. I’d rather fly at a bargain price and spend the money I’ve saved having fun at my destination. The secret to having a good budget flight experience on an airline like Scoot comes down to being prepared, both prior to departure and when you are on board the plane. Here are ten top tips for flying a low cost airline.
1. Choose the early flight
If you need to be somewhere at an exact time a budget airline might not be the best choice. With a limited number of aircraft and tight turnaround times, scheduling changes tend to be a regular occurrence. This best way to combat this is to book the first flight of the day. When our 7am departure from Brisbane to Sydney was cancelled a few weeks prior to departure, the next flight at 10am still left us with plenty of time to get to where we needed to go. At just $35 per flight for a family of three, it was still a great deal, even with the scheduling change.
2. Arrive at the airport early
Your winning smile probably won’t get you on board if you try to check-in late. Most budget airlines stick to their cut off times like glue, particularly when it comes to checked baggage. Arrive early, line up to check-in, then enjoy a coffee while you wait to depart.
3. Bring snacks and water
Some airlines say they don’t permit this but I haven’t had any trouble bringing my own food and water on board. The only thing I’d recommend is showing consideration for your fellow travellers. Now is not the time to indulge your love of tuna and Blue Stilton sandwiches.
4. Pay for extra legroom
Even if you are not that tall it can be worth paying for extra legroom, particularly on longer flights. Even with the extra spend, you will still be ahead financially compared to the cost of a regular airline ticket.
5. Stick to the carry-on rules
Yes, they will weigh your carry-on bag. And yes, if it is overweight you will have to pay. Save yourself the grief (and the extra expense) by sticking to the rules. If you are less than 1kg over, putting books or other similar objects in your pockets can work but remember, you still have to fly back.
6. Purchase checked baggage
We prefer to purchase checked baggage if we are in any doubt about the weight of our carry-on bags. It’s much cheaper than being forced to buy it at the check-in counter and also saves the added stress of wondering if we are going to ‘busted’ by the carry-on baggage weighing guy.
7. Pre-purchase a hot meal
If you are on a long haul dinner time flight, you will likely feel hard done by without a proper meal. Pay the extra and treat yourself to something hot and (hopefully) tasty.
8. Bring your own entertainment
Why pay extra for in-flight entertainment when you can bring your own? Load up your iPad or PC with your favourite movies, music and books and sit back and relax.
9. Bring your own earplugs, eye mask, blanket and pillow
If you are travelling on a night flight, come prepared with your own earplugs, eye mask and a sarong, shawl or pashmina which can double as a blanket. If the night flight departs from your home town, consider bringing an old pillow which can be discarded at your destination.
10. Have realistic expectations
When you travel on a budget airline it is much easier to have a good flight when your expectations are in keeping with the bargain price you paid for the ticket. Don’t judge a budget airline against a full service equivalent. Just think of all that money you’ve saved and smile.
Disclosure: The writer and her family often fly on a budget airline as it means they can go afford to go on holiday more often.