(Guest Post by Let’s Go Bear Travels) The introduction of budget airlines worldwide has made family holidays more affordable than ever. Before our son was born, we went on many holidays using discounted budget airline flights. From a short weekend getaway interstate, domestic flights within Europe and even for our first visit to London in 2011! Money saved on airfares can be spent on hotels, entertainment, dining or your next holiday. How does this change when it’s a family holiday using budget airlines though?
Flying the whole family on a full service airline can be very expensive especially during school holidays. On the other hand, flying budget airlines is like unbundling your full service airline airfare into piece by piece, letting you decide which service you are willing to pay for. Because at the end of the day why pay extra for services you don’t need if you can get to your holiday destination for a lot cheaper?
Here are our 7 things worth checking before booking your next family holiday using budget airlines:
1. Take into account all the extras
Any budget airline will lure you with rock bottom advertised airfares, like: “Perth to Osaka from $279”. Before you get overly excited and start calling the whole family, make sure you do a test booking. Enter your preferred travel dates and go through the website booking system. Add everything you need into the fare price. This includes things such as:
Checked luggage, meals, seat selection, entertainment, payment surcharge
Only then consider if the airfare is still a bargain.
Not all budget airlines are created equal. Some offer comfortable leg room comparable to regular full service airlines, others will pack you in like sardines. Alfred is about 180cm tall and will happily fit into most budget airline seats. Having said that getting into seats in our Vueling flight (when we visited Spain) was a bit of a mission for him. Visit useful websites like Seatguru.com for legroom comparisons.
3. Arrival time – extra night hotel needed?
Avoid budget airline flights that arrive either very late at night or in early AM. Remember that your family will still need to clear immigration, collect baggage and again travel to the hotel. Be realistic. Your children are likely to be very exhausted by this stage.
Also arriving at this time means that you will need to pay for one extra night hotel stay. Can the money saved from flying budget airline be better spent buying airfares with a more convenient flight time?
4. Long transit times
Good transit time will give your family a chance to recharge during a long journey. It should give you enough time to have meals, stretch out your legs and for the children to run around. On the other hand you don’t want a transit time that is too long. Some budget airline’s flight connections are unnecessarily long that it forces your family to hang around the airport all day.
5. Delayed or cancelled flights
Imagine now your flight is delayed. You missed your connecting flight, stranded in a foreign airport with tired cranky children latching on to you.
When travelling with a full service airline, you will expect them to sort everything out. Most airlines will either put you on the next available flight or perhaps even offer temporary hotel to allow your family to rest. Will your budget airline offer the same solution? Or do you simply get your cheap airfare refunded? Check your budget airline’s policies.
6. Avoid paying for other extras
Flying budget airlines is great value if you stick with the rules. If you arrive at the airport with an overweight baggage, you will be up for expensive extras. Some budget airlines even charge for printing boarding passes. A family holiday using budget airlines means being 100% ready before arriving at the airport!
7. Limited carry ons
Most budget airlines will limit your carry-on baggage to a relatively small bag weighing about 7 to 10kg. Take into consideration what essentials, entertainment gadgets, toys and snacks you will need to bring for your child’s flight journey (see our checklist section).
Final thoughts on budget airlines..
A family holiday using budget airlines can mean great deals. But if your family can travel during low or slower seasons the difference between budget and full service airlines can be minimal. While we love travelling with budget airlines as a couple, we have yet to use it for our family holidays. It doesn’t mean that we don’t consider it each time we plan our travels.
Meet Lets Go Bear Travel!
Joining us from beautiful Perth in Western Australia, the parenting duo of Tara and Alfred, along with adorable little Berlin, share their amazing goal to visit as many places as possible as a family on Lets Go Bear Travels! We love their mission of “Family Travel Made Easy” and you can see more wonderful tips for England, Shanghai, Frankfurt and so much more on their site! Also, be sure to visit them on your favorite social media channels: Facebook or Instagram!
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Thank you so much Kidbo for featuring our Budget Airlines article! We look forward to contributing more stories in the future