Most people have a bit of a travel bug in them, whether it's hitting sunny tropical beaches or back-packing through Europe. But travelling is super expensive. That's where all these ultra-low-cost airlines are coming in to save the day. But are their prices really that low?
Airlines like Wow, Swoop and Primera Air offer passengers extremely low fares with tickets often starting at less $100. But when you go to book one of those really cheap tickets, you may be surprised that you're actually paying hundreds of dollars, here's why.
One of the tricks behind these low-cost airlines is that the advertised price is the absolute lowest you could be paying and it doesn't include very much at all. In most cases with bigger airlines like Air Canada, you buy your ticket which includes one carry-on bag and often a free snack and beverage on the flight.
With low-cost lines, you get what you pay for and absolutely no more. So, for instance, you if you want to bring a carry-on, it's going to cost you anywhere from $40 to do so. And chances are if you are taking a trip you at the very least have a carry-on. If you also have a checked bag it will end up being even more.
Another thing to remember with ultra-low-cost airlines is that it's all in the marketing. For example, Swoop, Canada's newest low-cost airline may advertise that seats are starting at $99 but there are some key details to pay attention to. First that word "starting at" means right off the bat that $99 will not be the final price. Instead, that is the price before any fees and extras.
And it's also important to know in these cases that not all the seats on that flight are going to sell for the same price. So while a couple of seats on that plane may only cost $99, the majority of the seats will sell for more since they are all priced differently.
In a recent article published by Business Insider, a traveller coming to Canada raved about their flight from London to Toronto on Primera Air, which offers fares from $69. But even then the author discloses that after paying for baggage and all the other extra, the total price ended up being closer to $150, double the advertised price.
To test how cheap flights really are, I took a look at the fees policy for Swoop, as well as looking at some of their upcoming flights. As an example, the cheapest flight from Abbotsford, BC to Hamilton, On in the next two months is starting at $129 while the most expensive is a whopping $429.
As for their fees, the website provides a couple breakdowns of what they call optional fees, so travellers shouldn't be surprised when the final total comes out higher than expected. When it comes to purchasing extras like a carry-on bag the cheapest option is to buy online when you get your ticket, which will cost around $40.
Other charts show how much you have to pay when it comes to things like extra legroom, priority boarding, in-flight entertainment, and food and beverages. The costs range anywhere from $2-$80 depending on what you're adding to your flight.
To carry out this little test most effectively, I pretended to book one of those flights, choosing the cheapest option at $129, opting for a seat near the back with no extra legroom, and giving myself a carry-on and a checked bag. Before any in-flight entertainment, my total was now just over $209.
While these prices aren't astronomical, they definitely aren't the advertised $69 - 99 either and it serves as a reminder to any potential passengers that what you see might not be quite what you get when it comes to the total price.
If you're planning on flying a budget airline anytime soon, be ready for hidden fees and know that you get what you pay for when it comes to comfort and convenience.