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Budget Air Travel in the USA: What to Expect and How to Prepare

  • March 14, 2024
  • 3 min read
Budget Air Travel in the USA: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Traveling with budget airlines in the United States offers significant savings, but it can also present several challenges. Here are some common hurdles that budget airline travelers often face:

1. Extra Fees for Everything

Many budget airlines offer low base fares by charging extra for services that are typically included in the ticket price of traditional carriers. This can include fees for checked bags, carry-on luggage, seat selection, boarding priority, and even in-flight refreshments. These additional costs can quickly add up, potentially offsetting the initial savings.

2. Strict Baggage Policies

Budget airlines often have stringent baggage policies, with strict limitations on the size and weight of both checked and carry-on luggage. Exceeding these limits can result in hefty fees. Additionally, some airlines allow only one small personal item, charging extra for larger carry-on bags.

3. Less Comfortable Seating

To maximize capacity and efficiency, budget airlines may feature seats with limited legroom and no ability to recline. Seating arrangements are often tightly packed, which can lead to a less comfortable flying experience, especially on longer flights.

4. Limited Flight Schedules and Routes

Budget airlines typically operate on thinner routes and schedules than major carriers. This might mean fewer daily flights to your destination or indirect routes that require longer travel times. Additionally, some budget airlines use secondary airports that can be further away from city centers.

5. No-frills In-flight Experience

The in-flight experience on budget airlines is usually basic, with minimal amenities. Complimentary in-flight entertainment, Wi-Fi, meals, and drinks are rare, with some services available only for purchase.

6. Change and Cancellation Fees

While budget airlines may offer lower ticket prices, they can be strict about changes and cancellations, often charging high fees for any alterations to your booking. This can make it costly if plans change or if you need to modify your reservation.

7. Customer Service Challenges

Budget airlines often operate with leaner staffing models, which can impact customer service. This might manifest in longer wait times for customer service assistance, both at the airport and through call centers, as well as more self-service requirements for check-in and boarding.

8. Variable On-time Performance

Operational efficiencies mean budget airlines often have tighter turnaround times between flights. While this can be effective for keeping costs down, it may sometimes affect the on-time performance of flights. Delays or cancellations can occur, with fewer alternative options available to rebook passengers.

Despite these challenges, traveling with budget airlines can still be a viable and economical option, especially for flexible, low-maintenance travelers looking to save money. Being aware of these potential issues and planning accordingly can help mitigate their impact and ensure a smoother travel experience.

About Author


GreetingsfromAbroad.com is a travel blog founded by keen traveler, writer and experienced digital nomad, Kojo Enoch. Currently Kojo lives on the beautiful, sunny island of Malta. This website is run by a solid team of expert digital nomads,  avid travelers, photographers and writers from all over the world.

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