Written by Kaya Johnson
If you’ve booked a holiday at any point in the last fifteen years, the odds are that you’re well aware of the proliferation of low-cost airlines.
Budget travel has exploded massively in recent years, opening up an ever growing range of destinations.
Today, in the UK a number of airports exist almost solely because of the huge number of budget flights departing every day.
With more and more flights taking off every year, the bubble shows no signs of bursting any time soon.
Budget Airlines Stretch Back a Few Decades
Most people credit Ryanair with kicking off the budget airline boom. The company was founded in Ireland in 1985 and had to wait ten years until easyJet arrived to become the next competitor.
More and more airlines have gotten in on the boom, with Hungary’s Wizz Air being one of the latest ones to get in.
Today, flights to the continent are cheaper than a one-way ticket within the UK. You may be wondering how such an industry is possible.
A large amount comes down to constant cost cutting made available to the consumer.
For example, a single non-refundable ticket with only carry on luggage may cost one thing, while a more flexible ticket with check-in luggage will probably cost considerably more.
Some airlines are also making more and more of an effort to pressure customers into paying more or even simply trying to slip extra costs in where they least expect it.
For instance, some airlines impose steep fees if you try and check in upon arrival at your departure airport, rather than online beforehand.
It’s also becoming increasingly common for airlines to suggest you pay extra to guarantee a place for your carry on.
They are now operating on a first come first served basis in relation to cabin luggage, or at least they say they are.
In reality, these usually turn out to be empty threats, and the cabin crew and desk staff generally put the convenience of their customers ahead of marginal profits.
Flight Routes Are Expanding Every Year
Today, a number of different airlines offer flights to a huge range of destinations.
From the UK, the majority of flights head for Europe, with a minority going to Asia and North Africa.
Thanks to Norwegian Air, it’s also now possible to book stunningly low flights to East Coast America, usually either Boston or New York.
With flights costing roughly half that you would expect to pay with a premium airline, they’re hard offers to say no to.
Asia has also seen a number of companies set up shop, including Tiger Air and Jetstar.
Two major developments have helped these low-cost airlines flourish. The first is the reemergence of the package holiday.
Thanks to low-cost flights, package holidays have never been more popular.
Many airline companies even offer their own packages, such as the Ryanair Rooms system, whereby you can book budget accommodation with your flight.
The other major factor in budget flights is the expansion of the UK’s airports.
Today, London is comfortably serviced by Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Southend.
The latter three handle low budget airlines almost exclusively.
While this certainly means that you have to shell out a bit for travel to the airport, it’s still cheap enough to be worthwhile.
With ever-increasing traffic in the skies, many budget airlines now rely on extremely narrow time margins when it comes to takeoffs and landings.
They can no longer afford to risk the hefty fines that result from a late departure.
This means an unforgiving approach to late passengers at the airport, and also some fairly tough environments for pilots and flight staff.
However, the massive savings are still being passed on to the customers.
Low-cost flights show no sign of abating any time soon. For the average consumer, this is certainly a great thing.
Many people are getting to see the world in ways that were unimaginable thirty or so years ago.
However, there’s no getting around the hefty carbon footprint involved in air travel.
Eventually, we may have to choose between the benefits of travel and the unavoidable environmental impact the current climate imposes.