Sure, we'd all love to fly private — or at least upgrade a cabin or two. But that's not always reality when it comes to the budget. Beyond that, airlines are ever racing to the bottom these days, when it comes to the lowest prices with (shockingly!) few amenities. Indeed, United Airlines' recently rolled-out "basic economy fare" includes so little, it's even gotten the attention (and playful criticism) of big-times celebs. Take a look at some of the most pared-down options out there now, whether budget mandates, or you just don't miss the extras.
1. Wow Air
You’ve probably seen some of WOW Air’s insanely low priced tickets to Iceland (which is part of the reason why so many people are going to Iceland these days). Those ticket prices aren't always as low as they appear: People who’ve snagged them have wound up having to pay more at the airport (as is the case with many of the cheap offerings that follow). For starters, WOW charges for a carry-on bag (you do still get one free personal item, like a purse or backpack). You’ll also pay extra if you want to choose your seat, check a bag, or have anything to drink or eat while in the air.
2. Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines is one of the more famous bare-bones carriers. If you want to pay the lowest fare possible with Spirit, be ready for a flight that isn’t exactly posh. You won’t get to choose your seat, nor have one with any legroom, nor check a bag. Bring a backpack as your personal item, grit your teeth through it, and you’ll have yourself a truly economical flight.
Like many of the other lowest-bracket flight options out there, the new United basic economy excels at taking away what they don’t feel passengers are paying for. You can’t pick your seat (you can’t even pay to choose it, like you can with Spirit). You can’t bring a carry-on, change your flight, or even use the flight toward your points if you’re a MileagePlus member. Comfort and bonuses here are stripped away in exchange for what promises to be one of the cheapest tickets around.
This well-known low-priced European option has long been an ally to many a budget backpacker. Ryanair is so cheap, in fact, that the company’s C.E.O. recently said that the flights themselves might be completely free within a decade. Yes, free. Ryanair posits that profits could come entirely from airport revenue shares in the future — the money airlines make from driving so many commuters into their terminals to buy food, drinks, and goods. In the meantime, Ryanair flights do cost money, minimal as it may be. Some things you should know about this thrifty choice before you fly: The airline charges a fee for infants, checked bags, and even boarding passes if you don’t print yours in advance and bring it with you.
With Delta’s new basic economy, like American's bargain-basement option, you will still receive complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and snacks with this deal. But you won’t be able to choose your seats and this means that groups traveling together, including families, cannot sit together — unless by chance.There are no refunds for these tickets either.
6. American Airlines
American Airlines basic economy fare is something that has been only recently rolled out — likely in direct competition with the United and Delta uber-basic options. Like some of the other carriers mentioned here, there’s no carryon permitted here and certainly no free checked bag. You can pay for the ability to choose your own seat and, perhaps surprisingly, you do still get free drinks and snacks with this option.
Jet Set is Bravo's launch pad for the most extravagant, luxurious, and unforgettable travel experiences. Ready for takeoff? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.