The Pros and Cons of Cheap Air Travel

Planning your next vacation usually means looking through the costs of plane tickets. For folks on a budget, the advent of cheap airfare is something that has enabled them to travel more than they may have otherwise. What you may not know (and I didn't know either!) is that cheap airfare, may not be as cheap as you thought it was. Although it does have its advantages, the drawbacks may make the savings not worth the hassle for some travelers.

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We'll discuss some of the advantages of using cheap air travel first.

  1. Low Prices

    The biggest advantage to cheap airfare is, of course, the price. Most airlines that offer cheap tickets only serve a few routes, which enables them to offer more competitive pricing. Using these flights could save you as much as 80%, especially if you book in advance.

  2. Promotions

    Many airlines today, including those with the cheapest fare, to begin with, offer promotions. These promotions slash the ticket prices even further. Search online and even in coupon books to get the best deals.

  3. Safety

    I admit, I always wondered if cheap airlines cut corners in order to offer such discounted prices. However, further research on my part led me to understand it's airline location, not type, that plays the biggest role in how likely an accident is to take place. Budget airlines are just as safe, and might even be a little safer due to their locations, than full-price fares.

  4. New Planes

    When an airline has new planes, whether due to upgrades or re-fleeting, they'll often offer low-cost tickets to draw customers to the new planes. You may get to experience the latest in flight technology and amenities at a low cost.

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The Cons

Like all good things, there are drawbacks to flying on a cheap ticket.

  1. Changing Dates May Cost You

    Should you need to change the date of your ticket altogether, you may find yourself faced with a mountain of fees. Most airlines have a fee attached to changing the date of your flight that can cost you hundreds of dollars. In the case of a discounted ticket, you'll not only need to pay the date change penalty: you may also find yourself paying the difference between the ticket you originally bought and the ticket you want now. Even a date change of a day can cost you quite a bit.

  2. Hidden Costs

    With full-cost, you also get full-service. When you buy a cheaper ticket, you may find yourself forgoing certain amenities with your flight. For instance, you'll likely have to print your own boarding pass or pay a fee to have it printed for you at the airport. You may also find meals and drinks are not included in the price of a cheaper ticket.

  3. Hold Your Seat

    Most budget airlines don't allocate a seat until you register at the airport. This means, if you want a particular seat, you'd best make sure you get there early and get to the front of the line as quickly as possible. It also means, if you're traveling with someone, that you may end up separated on your flight. Be sure to keep that in mind when making your travel plans!

  4. Baggage Restrictions

    Most budget airlines restrict you to only one carry-on item and one personal item, such as a purse, a baby bag, or a laptop bag. Each airline has their own rules, and you may find that your “personal item” may end up being a coat if you're not careful!

Cheap airfare has made travel more possible for the budget-conscious among us, but that doesn't mean it's all a bed of roses. Before you buy your ticket, make sure you know exactly what you are (and aren't!) paying for. Surprises are lovely unless they involve costly unforeseen travel expenses.

What did you think of our pros and cons? Do you have any complaints or bravos to add from your own budget travel experiences? Let us know in the comments below, and don't forget to share this with your family and friends.

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