Fares as low as £5, £10. Hundreds of destinations from Europe's hubs. Low cost carriers can be great, and we fly them all thentime! Just know what you're getting into by reading a few of the reviews below. We'll keep updating and adding new carriers as we fly them!
I'm not sure why Ryanair gets such a bad rap. To be fair, my first flight with them wasn't until 2016, after they reportedly became much nicer to fly with. With prices so low (we paid £9 for a flight once), your expectations shouldn't be that high. Go into it realizing that they are basically a Greyhound bus with wings, and you'll leave feeling satisfied.
Super low prices: Even when you book outside one of their famous flash sales, their prices still cant be beat.
Punctuality: On time performance, or OTP, is a popular metric in the aviation industry and Ryanair's is usually one of the highest at around 90%.
Destinations: Quoting their own website, they offer "1,800 daily flights from 85 bases, connecting over 200 destinations in 33 countries", and are still expanding!
Uncomfortable seats and poor legroom: The longest I have flown with Ryanair is 3 hours, and that is probably my limit. At 6'1", I feel like a sardine, so if you are any taller you really won't have fun.
Queueing: It is common to stand in line 30-45 minutes before you actually board the plane with Ryanair. They queue you up ahead of time so you can board as soon as the previous flight de-planes. It helps with getting out on time, but isn't that fun.
Visa stamps: If you don't hold an EU passport you have to hunt down an attendant or find an obscure desk to get your boarding pass stamped. This is to ensure you are allowed to fly to the destination. Unfortunately, this usually adds 5-15 minutes to the whole departure process. If you don't have it, they can (and will) turn you away as you board the plane.
Secondary airports: One reason Ryanair can keep costs down is by flying into secondary airports (like OAK instead of SFO, or STN instead of LHR). Make sure you check how far the airport is from the destination and what it will cost to get to where you are staying. I accidentally booked a flight to Venice, only to realize the airport was really far and ended up having to re-book, forfeiting the original ticket.
EasyJet isn't too bad, but I do prefer Ryanair.
Fleet: The few times I have flown EasyJet, the aircraft have been bright, new, and clean.
Food and Drink: The selection of snacks and drinks is one of the best for low cost carriers. They also usually have special deals on two mini-wine bottles, or food combos, which are great if you're traveling in the evening.
Cost and Destinations: EasyJet regularly have sales, and also serve a large number of destinations. They have a nice online tool that let's you visually see where you can travel from certain destinations.
Horrible Carryon Rules: I am still bitter about the first experience I had flying with EasyJet. I've never flown with another airline that only allows either a carryon bag or a personal item. Now, if I fly with them I opt for the speedy boarding, which allows you to take both.
Punctuality: EasyJet's OTP isn't as good as Ryanair, and nearly every time I have flown with them we have been delayed.
Uncomfortable Seats: The seats are paper thin, so if the person behind you puts something in the seat-back pouch you will feel it!
The dark horse! I had never heard of Monarch until I moved to London, but I am a big fan.
Comfortable Cabin, Good Legroom: I was shocked at how much legroom we had when we first flew with Monarch. I actually thought we were unknowingly upgraded to seats with more, but it turns out that is the standard. The flight was noticeably more comfortable than with other low-cost carriers as a result.
Friendly Staff: The pilots and cabin crew were attentive, warm, and had that classic British charm.
Boarding Process: Well, this could be good or bad depending on your preference, but there is no order to their boarding process. This is standard with most low-cost carriers, though, so just be ready to jump right in line so you don't have to worry about your carryon bag being checked.
I have flown with Norwegian both within Europe and from the US. In this post I am focusing on their European subsidiary, but we'll post soon about our experience flying with them from the US (spoiler alert: it was great).
WiFi: Most of the time I have flown with Norwegian it has been for work, so the WiFi really comes in handy and boosts my productivity. I have found it to be quite reliable with reasonable speeds. Best of all, it's free!
Cabin and Fleet: All of their planes are either new or refurbished, so the cabins are fresh and bright.
Food and Drink: Similar to EasyJet, I find their snacks and drinks to be quite good. On longer flights, especially, it's nice to have the option to munch on something or get a glass of wine.
Cabin Bags Checked Often: Whenever you fly with low-cost carriers, many people fly with just carryons (especially since it is costly to check a bag upfront). As a result, there are more bags than the cabin can fit and the gate agents need to check bags. I have been particularly unlucky with Norwegian and had my bag checked several times despite being one of the first to arrive at the gate.
Punctuality: It could be due to the route I've flown Norwegian the most (LGW-CPH), but in my experience delays are quite common.