Low-cost airlines are one of the best things about Europe (after the history, the food and the architecture, of course!). But if you are not a careful customer, you might end up paying just as much as you would with a national airline. And who wants to pay the bill and not get the free drinks, right? So unless you’re a little travel ninja, here are a few tips on how to avoid airline fees in Europe.

Travel lightly

That’s the most obvious trick. With checked baggage fees going anywhere between 15 and 40 euros, it’s truly worth re-wearing the same clothes and carrying tiny bottles. With time, most travelers realize that they don’t even need half the stuff they packed anyway!

Online Checkin

I’m not sure why, but checking in for your flight directly on the airline’s website is much cheaper than checking in directly at the airport. Not only do you save loads of time, but you can also manage to save around 10 euros per passenger, each way. That’s at least 20 euros right there, or a few glasses of wine, or a great meal at a restaurant!

Show up early

Forget the useless “priority boarding” option, unless you have special travel needs. For regular travelers, this option is not very useful as most of the time, you’ll end up on the same shuttle bus on the tarmac, and thus, you’ll get to the plane at the same time. Definitely one of the best tips on how to avoid airline fees!

BYO

Bring your own food/drinks. Even though you can’t bring drinks straight from home (thanks to the 150ml rule), you can carry an empty bottle and refill it once you’ve gone through security. You can also carry some snacks to enjoy during the flight and laugh at the people who spent 10 euros for a small bottle of water and bag of chips.

Payment options

If you book your tickets online, you might want to have a look at the payment card you’ll be using. Different types of cards have different fees in different airlines. So whether you opt for Visa, debit, Electron, gift certificates or whatever else, try to find the cheapest option for you. With Ryanair, for example, you avoid the fees completely by opting for a prepaid Ryanair Mastercard. With EasyJet, debit cards are much cheaper. Make sure you take a moment to look at your options!

Have you ever flown on a low cost airline before? What are your tips on how to avoid airline fees? What’s the biggest rip-off you’ve had?

10 comments

  1. Comment by Pete

    Pete Reply December 24, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I hate those credit card fees for booking online, especially with easyjet or RyanAir. But supposedly those fees are going away in 2012, yay!!

  2. Comment by Abby

    Abby Reply December 25, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Thanks for the run-down. It’s helpful to see all in one document how all the little fees can add up.

  3. Comment by Andrea

    Andrea Reply December 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

    These would apply to Australian budget airlines as well – great tips!

  4. Comment by Rahul

    Rahul Reply December 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks for posting valuable inputs… will be a great help in cutting the travel expenses..

  5. Comment by melodie

    melodie Reply January 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I would add “Travel on the earliest or latest flights. They are always much cheaper.”

    • Comment by Marie

      Marie Reply January 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      Good point, thanks for mentioning! Getting up at unholy hours does pay off with low-cost airlines.

    • Comment by Marie

      Marie Reply January 25, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Good point, I forgot about that!

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  7. Pingback: I Hate Ryanair - Or Why I Will Never Ever Fly With Them Again

  8. Comment by ervin armstrong

    ervin armstrong Reply January 28, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    For what it is worth. I found buying an airline ticket 12 to 13 weeks in advance is when to get the best deals. I always thought the further out you were with buying an airline ticket the lower the price would be. I checked out myself, I looked at the price for a ticket 6 months in advance, then compared it with a ticket that was 12 weeks in advance. The ticket that was 12-13 weeks in advance was cheaper. I donโ€™t know why the airlines do that, but check it out for yourself, itโ€™s easy. I hope it saves you a couple of bucks, it did for me

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