3 Of Europe’s Most Affordable Airlines

This post is sponsored by XL Airways and its partners but, of course, all opinions are my own! #ad 

I get asked a lot how I manage to travel so frequently, and the answer is good airline deals! Here are the top 3 most affordable European airlines. #ad

I get asked a lot by people how I can afford to travel. Some people think I’m mega rich (I’m not) and others think it’s a magic trick (it’s not). Anyone can travel, it’s just about budgeting, prioritizing and then getting the biggest bang for your buck. Unfortunately in the US, there isn’t much competition when it comes to the travel market, so flights tend to be through the roof expensive. While you do have airlines such as Southwest or Jet Blue, it’s nothing compared to the affordable airlines of Europe and Asia. Some of these airlines have helped me see way more than I ever would have expected for prices I couldn’t even imagine. If you know what the airlines are and you know how they work, then you’re on your way to having a wonderful, totally affordable trip and you too can travel and tick more countries off of your list.

The top three main affordable airlines in Europe are Ryanair, EasyJet and XL Airways. Of course there are more, but these three offer some of the most affordable and best products of all the different carriers on the continent.

XL Airways

XL Airways logo

Based in France, this airline is one that people don’t know much about, even though it’s been around since the mid 90s. Although it was originally called Star Airlines, in 2006 it rebranded to XL Airways. What’s great about this airline are its cheap long-haul flights, which can be rare to find and can drop as little as $400. Sorry while I just pick my jaw up off the floor. You can check out the destination map here, but they fly from France to places such as New York, San Francisco and Miami, with a new route to Los Angeles starting June 1; all routes that operate three times a week. However, you’re not limited to just long-haul, as they fly to destinations in the Caribbean, as well as seasonal flights to places in Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Unlike some of its competitors, XL Airways have a modern and comfortable cabin that feels and looks like a full-service airline. Whereas Ryanair and EasyJet both have bright (sometimes blindingly so) colors and advertisements on the overhead bins, XL Airways has got clean lines and comfortable seating, which are two things you definitely need when you’re looking to sit on a plane for six or more hours.

The downside to a lot of these affordable airlines are the fact that you typically get a cheap price because you then have to pay for everything else on top of it, but this is really where XL Airways excels. You receive a free meal and a checked baggage allowance of up to 20kg (44lbs), as well as free seat selection (which can be super important to those of us who can’t stand middle seats). This is incredible because more often than not with these kinds of airlines you end up not actually saving much money once you pay the extra fees for the bag, the meal, even the blanket, etc. I love how inclusive this airline is and how affordable. Rather than opting for WOW or Icelandair the next time you need to travel long-haul to Europe (where you need to pay for your extras), you should definitely check out this airline first because you might be pleasantly surprised with what you find.

Ryanair

Ryanair
Via Wikipedia

The Irish airline Ryanair has gotten a bad rep over the past few years as being the nasty airline, and while there was some truth to that they have made considerable efforts recently to try and turn things around. In the past people put up with the airline’s rudeness, brashness and, frankly, sometimes idiocy, because the fares were so cheap, but now you no longer need to feel guilty about flying them because they’re not nearly as money-grabbing as before. Ryanair is best for traveling super cheaply within Europe and if you get something on a sale price, you can be looking at a roundtrip flight as cheap as $10 (yes, that’s possible, I flew a $10 return trip to Brussels a couple of months ago). If that’s not affordable, I don’t know what to tell you.

Although Ryanair has insanely cheap within-Europe flight deals, the downside is you don’t get anything included. No meal, snacks or drinks and no checked baggage. If you’re only going somewhere for a few days though, this shouldn’t really affect you. Ryanair is a must to check when you need cheap European flights, and although the whole airline can feel a bit chaotic, it’s cheap, and sometimes that’s all we really want. It’s my personal favorite for perusing and then booking something and going somewhere last minute just because, and I love that there are airlines where that spontaneity is actually possible.

Easyjet

Via Wikipedia

EasyJet is a UK-based affordable airline, and although they have great deals they’re definitely not the best of these three. I have flown EasyJet countless times, but their prices have a tendency to skyrocket on weekends and tend to be consistently higher than their counterparts during the summer. However, if you’re traveling in a non-peak time period you can find some great deals. Some of EasyJet’s fares can go as cheap as $20 roundtrip, but you’d probably be looking at around $50 on average. Of course, it all really depends, but when you compare that to the $200 roundtrip fares full-service airlines are charging that $50 sounds pretty darn good.

As with Ryanair, EasyJet charge you extra if you want checked baggage or meals. The best way to get value out of EasyJet is to check their special offers since those can be crazy cheap and offer you the best value. At the moment, you can purchase a flight from London Gatwick to Stuttgart, Germany for the incredible price £15.

Like anything, finding good flight deals means you need to shop around. It’s not always fun and it’s definitely not the best part of travel, but don’t rely on a single search engine to tell you what prices are. Check out these more affordable airlines, go to their websites, do you research and play around with dates. You’ll be surprised with what you may find. Ultimately, traveling on a budget is totally possible, flights included, and with these three airlines you are well on your way to enjoying travel just as frequently as the best of us. Happy jetsetting!

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  • Wow thank you so much I will definitely save this post! I’ve never heard of the first airline and always forget about the second two.

    • I’m so glad it’s been helpful, Anna! It’s hard to keep the many airlines straight 🙂

  • I’ve actually taken all three of these airlines and XL is the best! They even gave me a warm towel when we boarded which feels so nice after a day a travel!

    Laura | Laura Aime Vous

    • Warm towels are the best!! They are indeed a great airline 🙂

  • I flew Ryan Air when I lived in Dublin and it was so cheap and yet so scary because you’re literally packed right in there! Definitely worth it if you’re on a budget though

    • Haha that is SO true, Chel! It’s better now that you get assigned seats, but before when it was a free for all it was totally terrifying!

  • I flew Ryan Air when I studied abroad and had no problems. I love that there are such affordable airlines to get you around in Europe! The problem is just getting over to Europe first 😉

    • That really is so true, Becky! I love how affordable it is too because it just allows you to see so much more.

  • This is awesome! I’ve heard of Ryan Air but it’s great to know the others too!

    • I’m glad to have given you some more airline ideas then!

  • Leslie @therealuganda

    I’ve used RyanAir and EasyJet – and BOTH are far better than you’ll get on many (expensive) full service airlines in most of Africa. I’m more about the destination than the journey anyway… make my flights cheap so I can spend on the ground.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Leslie. The destination is way better than the journey itself, and when you’re just going on a short hop who really cares about what you get on board. As long as the airline is safe, sometimes it doesn’t matter at all! I’ve never actually flown any airlines in Africa before, but I can see how there would be truth to that.

  • Luxury Travel Diva

    I can remember when Easyjet had just 2 planes, that is how long I have been a customer!

    • Wow!! That’s a long time! I’m sure they’re glad to have your loyalty 🙂 I definitely don’t remember that far back!

  • Joanna M

    I have flown with Ryan air. Don’t like ti that much and I try to avoid it. They sell stuff all the time!!!!

    • Haha that is true! They do try to get you to purchase tons of stuff on board and all sorts of unnecessary extras, but at the end of the day if I can get a $10 roundtrip flight, hell, I’m going to take it!

  • Anisa Alhilali

    I wish we had low cost carriers like this in the US. Southwest comes close but still kind of expensive compared to these.

    • I feel you, Anisa, it really sucks that the US is so crappy when it comes to affordable airlines. You’re right that Southwest comes close, as well as JetBlue, but they aren’t nearly as cheap and they also don’t have as many route options as some of these do. It is a real shame, I wish it would get better!

  • I spent a month in Europe awhile back and when I wasn’t using the train and need to get somewhere fast I would use. Ryanair. This is a great guide for your readers!

    • Thanks for reading, Allie! They really are great for getting around fast and cheaply. But I have to say, I’m very fond of trains 🙂

  • I never heard of XL, but I was aware of the other two. That’s amazing that you get a meal, checked bag, and choice of seats on XL!! But for $10 on Ryanair, I’m pretty sure I can pack my own food or do without on a shorter flight 😉

    • Haha oh totally, for $10 I’ll sit on a stool if it’s only for an hour or two! XL really is great though with what you get out of your price, it’s pretty remarkable really.

  • I haven’t flown any of these since most of my trips have been direct but I think I’ll need to take some inter country flights this time around. I’ll have to look into these!

    • You definitely will, Rachel! I hope you do and you get lovely cheap fares 🙂

  • Ashleigh

    I’ve flown on EasyJet and RyanAir and have to say that if one is flying alone (sans kids) and light, then these are ok airlines to go with. All your tips are spot on. Thank you for sharing!

    • Oh I couldn’t even imagine traveling with kids period, let alone on an airline like Ryanair or EasyJet, but you’re so right. Traveling light and without kids they’re pretty great options.

  • I’ve never flown either of these airlines but I’ve heard that EasyJet is the way to go for budget flights in Europe. This is a great post and I’ll definitely be utilizing these tips when traveling around Europe.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

    • I’m glad to hear that, Allison! EasyJet is a great option and I hope you find some great fares!

  • Wow, even as a travel blogger who travels quite often, I’d never heard of XL Airlines. The fact that you have a meal onboard and a 20kgs baggage allowance, how is this even possible with a budget airliner? I’m glad I found this post when I did as I am looking at months of traveling in Europe and now have another option for budget airlines in the region.

  • Stephanie Rose

    This was helpful. I really need to book a few flights within europe this summer, and probably shouldn’t delay!!!

  • Chelsea Damon

    I can’t believe the rates for Ryanair! I actually just saw them mentioned on buzzfeed today. Maybe it’s a sign I should do some traveling haha

  • Wow, those rates with Ryanair are amazing! This is very helpful!

  • So helpful. I literally don’t know a thing about airlines because we always drive everywhere! Will definitely have to refer back to this when we need it. I love your travel posts! You’re right ; researching and shopping around is so important to find the best deals and finds. It’s not alway fun but totally worth it in the long run!