When I visited Europe back in 2004, I discovered the continent’s budget airlines that would finally relieve me of having to take buses and trains everywhere. By that point in my fifteen-month round-the-world trip, if you had added up the hours, I had probably spent the equivalent of one month on buses and trains. (Point of fact: During my four weeks in Costa Rica, I had traveled 192 hours by bus. That equals eight days.) So when I found the budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet, I got down on my knees and thanked the Wright Brothers for flight and cavemen for introducing the concept of no frills.
Budget Airlines in Europe
I went on a budget airlines buying spree. I bought six low-cost tickets. Four of them–London to Newquay, Newquay to London, London to Dublin, and London-Derry to London–were free. Yes, they were free. All I had to do was pay the taxes, which amounted to fifteen pounds per ticket, or, at the time, about thirty dollars. Simple, I thought. But that’s how you learn that Ryanair and EasyJet can squeeze you of much more than fifteen quid. (Always wanted to use that word.)
First, it was painful to discover that my surfboard cost fifteen pounds to fly, as well. (Though, to be fair, that is far less than most airlines charge.) Was my surfboard also going to enjoy the same uncomfortable seat below deck and receive the same inattentiveness from the baggage staff? My second big hit came when my EasyJet flight from Newquay to London was delayed by three hours, which caused me to miss my next leg, also on EasyJet, from London to Dublin. “But I missed my EasyJet flight because your other EasyJet flight was delayed.” Since they were separate tickets (there was no other way to get from Newquay to Dublin), the woman at the ticket booth did not care to hear my dilemma. I had to pay about one hundred dollars to get a later flight. Lastly, EasyJet was only operating London flights out of Stansted, Gatwick, and Luton. They had zero flights out of the easy-to-access Heathrow airport. Getting to Stansted by train cost twice as much as flying from there. If you are in London and can travel to the airport by car, you can avoid this last hit and take advantage of cheap parking.
When planning your trips, always look for the best deals, but read the fine print of these budget airlines because as the saying goes, nothing is free.