How do low-cost airlines work?

лоукост україна Interesting facts

Low-cost airlines originated in Western countries and have recently gained popularity in Ukraine. Low-cost flights are achieved by eliminating some services, reducing comfort on board, and restricting the ability to return the ticket.

When low-cost aviation first started appearing on the market, the first tickets were sold at ridiculous prices – 1-10 EUR – to attract passengers’ attention. And even now, when discounters don’t need to advertise, passengers have the opportunity to fly short distances, for example, from Kyiv to Warsaw or Rome for only 15-30 EUR.

Skyscanner found out how budget airlines achieve such attractive prices.

What’s the catch?

There are no pitfalls here, and the pricing is quite reasonable. In general, a low-cost airline provides the flight itself, and the passenger chooses additional options to his or her taste and budget. Below, we’ll take a look at what airlines save on when developing cheap flights.

Airport tax

Carriers include fees for accepting and departing aircraft, cleaning the cabin, loading and unloading baggage, etc. in the price of airline tickets. Sometimes the cost of these services exceeds the cost of the flight itself and depends on how well-equipped the airports are and how far they are from the city. Sometimes low-cost airlines land at conveniently located but outdated airfields that charge less in order to survive.

Low-cost airlines in UkraineBut that’s not all: the method of delivery on board can also significantly reduce costs, because buses traveling on the airfield require fuel, repairs, and driver labor. The Asian low-cost airline Air Eisha sometimes does not use “sleeves” or ground transportation – passengers walk to the plane.

Flight times and flight selection

While the ticket price is attractive, the time of departure and arrival can offset the savings: if public transportation does not run during these hours, you will have to spend money on a taxi or spend additional hours waiting for the flight. Nighttime arrivals and departures are cheaper, and this affects the amount of costs.

Time to buy tickets

Early sales are beneficial to everyone: customers pay less, and the airline uses their money for several months, thus receiving an interest-free loan. It is guaranteed not to be refunded, as the fare does not include the return of the ticket. In some cases, a passenger may be able to return the amount of the airport tax, but this option will require an additional fee.


Filling in free seats

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the average occupancy rate is about 70%. And ticket prices are set to pay for the entire cabin, including empty seats. In other words, passengers pay for themselves and partially for empty seats. Also, in the hope of filling the plane, airlines sometimes organize sales and generate additional revenue.

Generally speaking, the more people you carry on one flight, the more profitable it is. Low-cost airlines even order ships with a large number of seats, which means that the cabins are more cramped. You will have to pay extra for extra legroom or a window seat. If there are free seats, you can ask the flight attendant for permission to move or offer your neighbors to swap.

Channels for selling cheap airline tickets

Since it is quite expensive to maintain their own offices and employees, low-cost airlines sell tickets online. At the same time, they do not involve an agent network and partner sites in order to avoid spending on commissions. By registering passengers for a flight via the global network, low-cost airlines save them from unnecessary expenses.

Aircraft operation

Low-cost carriers build their fleets mainly with aircraft less than 5 years old to avoid possible repairs. Once this limit is reached, the machines are sold to large airlines that can afford to keep a staff of mechanics to maintain the fleet. This does not mean that scheduled flights are more dangerous – the service life of aircraft exceeds 20 years.what is low cost

Parking an aircraft also costs money, and low-cost airlines try to keep it in the air as long as possible. Thus, their work resembles the mode of minibuses: a series of takeoffs and landings with a break for cleaning the cabin and spending the night at their hubs.

Meals on board

Food is another significant cost-saving item, so passengers are not fed on low-cost flights. Those who want to have a snack on the flight can pay a fee, eat in advance at the airport, or order food when buying a ticket. Many passengers bring sandwiches, cookies, and other food on board with them, and flight attendants usually turn a blind eye.


Typically, low-cost airplanes are not equipped with multimedia systems used by regular carriers. However, some of them (such as Flydubai) provide monitors built into the backs of seats for use for a fee. Passengers can also use their own gadgets, and modern airliners have sockets for recharging electronic devices.


low-cost airlinesThe favorable prices have a downside: restrictions on free baggage allowance. Usually, you are allowed to take hand luggage with dimensions of 55×40×20 cm and weighing up to 8 kg. There are very strict size requirements, and checks are made at the check-in counter. A passenger whose bag does not fit into the measuring box will have to pay extra, for each piece of luggage you need to pay a separate amount, sometimes comparable to the price of a ticket. The most cost-effective payment option is on the website when buying a ticket. Some inventors put on several layers of clothing and stuff small items into their pockets.

Do not forget about the ban on the transportation of liquids: the volume of each container should not exceed 100 ml, and the maximum volume should not exceed 1 liter.

Competition among low-cost airlines

Despite their price attractiveness, low-cost companies compete with each other. Some of them choose conveniently located airports (Spanish Vueling), while others are famous for their wide geography of flights Irish Ryanair.

But there are low-cost airlines that, in the pursuit of cost-cutting, cut customer amenities to a critical level. Sometimes passengers storm the seats when boarding. There are flight delays, check-in failures, problems with finding luggage, and poor quality of service.

Some regular airlines have adopted the economy system: to attract customers, they offer tickets with minimal options and all sorts of restrictions that allow you to save money on travel. Many carriers also organize promotions and sales from time to time, with discounts of up to 30-35%.

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