Office Watch

Office 2013

Office Mobile / iPad

Office 2010

Office 2007

Office 2003

Office XP

Office for Mere Mortals



Buying Office

Office 365


Office News Wire

Join us!

Our Ebooks

Mobile | PDA



Command Finder

Microsoft Office Bookshop



Low Cost Airlines - tips from around the world

A global travellers guide to saving money and flying to interesting places on low cost airlines around the world.

View this page on the new web site - click here

by Peter Deegan

Bookmark and Share

  | Mobile | click for more article services     

View this page on the new web site - click here

Regular travellers can get a nasty shock when they first fly on one of the new ‘low cost carriers’ (LCCs). Sure the fares are very low (US$15 or less at times) but it’s a far cry from my first flight on a Qantas 707 back in 1969 with lounges, silver service and even free playing cards on board.

On the other hand, I’m writing this on a side-trip from the United Arab Emirates to Kuwait and instead of paying around 1,900 Emirati Dirham paid only AED740 return on Air Arabia – saving over US$300. Next week I’m paying just $65 to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Medan, Sumatra on Air Asia.

My friends sometimes complain about a low cost flight after their first try . Some comments are fair but many arise from unrealistic expectations or simply from not reading the details provided. In this guide I’ll explain how I approach LCC flights after using them around the world.

Low cost airlines strip away many of the ‘extras’ to focus on getting people around at bargain prices. If you want something more than transport, you’ll have to pay for it and that includes meals, entertainment and, in some cases, luggage and check-in! LCC’s are a boon for global roamers like me, not just because of cost but also the destinations and routing options they open up.

Who are they?

LCCs are in most areas of the world, although they are rare in Africa and South America where the concept has yet to get a major foothold. Most serve short-haul routes but the larger ones are extending into long-haul .

Asia is the main growth region at the moment with carriers like Air Asia, Jetstar Asia, Tiger Airways, Viva Macau, One-Two-Go and Adam Air

Europe has more LCCs than anywhere else. The leader is the (in)famous Ryanair but there are plenty of alternatives such as Easyjet and Flybe. has a good listing by airport and airline.

The Middle East is mostly covered by Air Arabia out of Sharjah (20 minutes from Dubai). It has useful routes to the Middle East, northern Africa and the sub-continent including Tibet making it practical to fly into the Emirates with a major carrier then use Air Arabia.

The South Pacific has two major LCCs, Virgin Blue and Jetstar (a Qantas offshoot). Both fly in Australia and New Zealand. Singapore’s Tiger Airways has started competing on Australian domestic routes. Virgin Blue extends to places like Fiji, Tonga and Cook Islands under the Pacific Blue name. Jetstar mostly heads north to Asia, Japan and Honolulu (the latter is an interesting option for North American visitors heading down under).

Africa has only a few LCCs, mostly in South Africa plus some in Morocco. Central and South America are also lagging behind with a few LCCs in Mexico and Brazil.

Where they fly

The internet is your best source of information about LCC’s. Most LCCs are not on the main travel industry booking system and often don’t show up on excellent fare search sites like

A general search for flights often gets cluttered with irrelevant results from the many airfare and travel sites. I go to which has a good list of LCCs by region as well as a page for each airport including the airlines that serve that location. This gives me, sometimes surprising, options and I go from there to the airlines own web site.

There are also public forums but tend to be biased towards complaints about an individual flight or service. With that in mind, I peruse them for an overview of customer reaction to an airline.

The fare is just the start

Once I’ve decided on a flight I don’t get too carried away with the fare because that’s just what you pay for transport, there are additional fees on top and some traps to watch out for.

There are taxes, airport fees, insurance and fuel surcharges. Sometimes these fees seem to bear little relation to the actual external charges the airline pays.

However it’s calculated, look for the real total price you’re paying not some ‘low price lure’ before the extras.

As I’ll note later, there are some options that are worth considering for your comfort.

Most LCCs offer a simple one-way fare system without the complex rules of major carriers. In particular there’s none of the nonsense of low return fares compared to higher one-way fares for the same city pair.

This gives me greater itinerary flexibility and the option to fly into one place, travel on land, then fly out of another city without fare penalty.

LCC fares can change a lot and at short notice but generally speaking the price increases as the date of departure gets closer.


I make very sure of the airports being used. The city described as the ‘destination’ might be a long way from the airport. For example the ‘Frankfurt’ airport for RyanAir is Hahn, some 120 km (70 miles) away. Mostly airlines make the real airport clear to passengers with labels like “Frankfurt-Hahn”, “Paris-Beauvais” or “London-Luton”.

While many of the airports are obscure, some are interesting for tourists, like the lovely ancient French town of Carcassonne, served by Ryanair direct from Brussels, Stansted and Dublin.

Usually the airline web site will direct you to the airport transport options, commonly a bus into the city. The buses sometimes are scheduled to match flights; if you miss the bus from town to the airport you might be up for an expensive taxi ride to catch up, sometimes more than the airfare!


The airlines run ‘point to point’ services and rarely provide ‘thru’ services with luggage checked to a final destination even if you buy a ticket for ‘connecting’ flights.

I always allow time before and after a flight and certainly don’t rely on connections of a few hours. Where possible I allow an overnight stay. LCCs run planes on tight schedules with little down-time so if there’s a delay it can affect other flights quite badly.

If you miss your flight for whatever reason, don’t expect much sympathy, let alone a refund, from the LCC staff. You’ll have to pay for another flight and that will be at the highest price – on most LCC’s the airfare gradually increases as the date of departure draws near. Mind you, in some places the ‘high’ price isn’t that expensive by Western standards.

Before Booking

Before booking I read the web site carefully and don’t skip over things I’d normally take for granted like luggage limit, check-in times, seat allocation and extras offered.

Generally speaking there’s no refund on tickets at all, although changes may be possible for a fee. Beware though, sometimes the fee for changing a ticket is more than buying a new ticket. Air Asia charges at least 50 Malaysian Ringit for a flight change which compares with fares that can be down to 40RM at times.

Some of the extras are worth considering, especially if you want in-flight services. Discounts are sometimes available for online purchase and can ensure availability onboard.

If there’s no seat allocation I’ll pay a small extra for preferred seating so I can take my pick of seats before the hordes.

Most LCCs have one-class planes but occasionally there are premium options for long-haul routes like ‘StarClass’ on Jetstar or ‘XL seat’ on Air Asia.

Other options are of less value. Air Asia really pushes their insurance option which I don’t need with my annual travel insurance policy. It’s possible to deselect the option but they don’t make it easy.


Both checked and carry-on luggage can have different limits from what I’m used to. There’s no extra allowance for international travellers. The ‘piece’ system that applies to flights to and from the US can be a problem when transferring to an LCC.

For example, Ryanair has a limit of 3 bags with a total of 15kg with a charge for any checked lug

Article posted: Friday, 26 December 2008

View this page on the new web site - click here

there's more ...

If you liked this article you'll LOVE our new ebooks.

Office 2013: the real startup guide

OFFICE 2013: the real startup guide Everything you need to know about Office 2013 but Microsoft won't tell you.

How to save money, install, configure and use the new features in Office 2013.  Get it today - click here.

Windows 8 for Microsoft Office users

Windows 8 for Microsoft Office users A practical guide the new, changed and unfamiliar in Windows 8

A focused and unvarnished look at Windows 8, especially written for the many people who use Microsoft Office  Get it today - click here.

ORGANIZING OUTLOOK EMAIL - tame your Outlook 2010 Inbox

100+ pages of practical tips and help to streamline, automate and search your Inbox.  Get more than you ever thought possible from Outlook.  Read it today - click here.

Article Services sponsored by: Office Watch Ebooks - available now to download and read today.
RSS feed for this category Subscribe

Translate | Mobile | Links
 Add to: Bookmarks | | DiggThis | Yahoo! My Web

New & Popular
» New web site
» Two ways for sorting by Number
» Office for iPad, September updates
» Why is Gene Cernan ignored in Word?
» DropBox prices drop but is it enough?
» Sort by hidden column in Word

Office Watch, Office for Mere Mortals, Access Watch and all titles used within the publications are Copyright © 1996-2014 Office Watch.
Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Powerpoint and doubtless many other names are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

Search  |  Sitemap |  Popular Topics | Privacy Statement |  Advertising |  Twitter |  Feedback / Contact Us
Office Watch is definitely not affiliated with Microsoft - and that's just one reason why we are so useful to Microsoft Office users around the world J (Erko).