The best low cost airline hacks to get the best price possible

Top tips for booking with a low cost airline

Low cost airlines are an amazing way of travelling for less. However, we’ve all been in that situation where we’ve either been forced to pay way too much for a ticket or spend a fortune on extras; both of which leaves us feeling a little bit scammed.

Here are my top tips to avoid both of those issues so that you can enjoy your next low cost flight for what it is – an absolute bargain!

Top tips for booking with a low cost airline

Let’s start with some general points that are relevant for all low cost airlines before moving onto specific tips that deal with Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air.

However, if you’d just like to spring ahead there – just click on their logo below.

The best value fare has no extras

The business model of all low cost airlines is to entice people in with the promise of low price fares. Where they make their money is by selling you extras – priority, bags, seats, airport parking – and also by hiking the prices on tickets when the fares are in high demand or selling last minute.

Therefore, if you don’t want to hand over any extra money you simply need to buy the fare and the fare only and make it work for you. That way, when you find a flight for £9.99, it really truly is just £9.99.

Pack light

Ryanair, easyJet and Wizzair all have similar baggage restrictions in that their basic fare only includes a personal item which essentially means you need to be able to fit it in under the seat in front of you in the plane.

For me, this means making an outfit list, packing in roll by hand vac bags and using a backpack – don’t waste any of your space on the wheels and handle of a teeny tiny suitcase!

Watch how I pack my personal item

Worth saying that my Patagonia Black Hole 45L bag (they unfortunately don’t sell them anymore!) is technically too big but… I’ve never had any issues. It’s a risk I’m willing to take!

Part 1 is below, and Part 2 can be watched here.

Using a slightly too big bag? Keep it on your back!

If you’re a chancer like me, my advice is to keep your bag on your back, keep facing forward and don’t give them any other reason to stop you. I.e. if you usually get away with having an extra small handbag or bumbag on with your backpack, get that tucked away. Smile, be polite and if they do call your slighty-too-big-bag out remember, they have every right to!

Use a travel hack to sneak in more!

After noticing my neck pillow had a zip on it, I decided to see if I could sneak on a load of extra clothing around my neck – and it worked! My video has been viewed over 6 million times on Instagram and Tiktok and so I know loads have tried it since and it’s worked for them too.

If you do need more baggage, check other airlines

Other airlines may have a better baggage allowance and so whilst their fares may seem more expensive initially, they can sometimes work out better value. British Airways, for instance, still allow a personal item plus a carry on suitcase.

If you do need LOTS of baggage, check business class

Yes, this really could be a money saving hack! British Airways’ business class includes 2 x 23kg check in bags and sometimes it can work out cheaper to just buy this fare.

Check what airport you're flying into

Low cost airlines often fly into smaller airports that are further away from your destination which can impact the regularity of transfers and also the costs. Sometimes it’s worth paying more to fly to another airport in the long run!

Here’s how this affects the prices across two Parisian airports:

Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
• Taxi (40 mins) €60
• Train (50 mins) €10
• Bus ‘RoissyBus’ to Paris-Opéra (60 mins) From 12,50

Paris-Beauvais (BVA) – Usually Ryanair and Wizz
• Taxi… expensive! (70-90 mins) ~€170-€210
• Train to Beauvais Station (70 mins) €5.25 – €15.23 then a taxi to the airport (10 mins) €15 – €20
• Shuttle Bus (75 mins) €16,90

Slow down - it's not a race!

It sounds simple but double check all the details you input to avoid any nasty surprises or charges. Also, make sure to pause on everything it offers you – such as insurance and parking – to make sure you haven’t selected that you want it.

You don't have to pay for seating

Websites often make it look like you need to select a seat – often at a price – but with these three low cost flights, there is an option to ‘skip’ or ‘select random seats’ instead. In all doubt, just don’t select a seat and keep tapping away!

Ryanair and Wizz Air love to split up groups and allocate people the middle seat (it’s part of their strategy to get you to pay up!) but see my sections on them for how I try and hack this!

Use seat mapping sites to find the best seat

It’s normally pretty straight forward on low cost airlines but even so, it’s always nice to hear insight from fellow passengers about what they think the best seat on the flight is or, what’s more likely, what the worst one is! I use Seat Guru for this. Also try out AeroLopa as the images are very detailed!

Try the middle seat hack

This hack doesn’t work as well on low cost airlines than it does on others, but it’s still worth bearing in mind if you’d like to try and get an entire row to you and your travel partner. But be warned, Ryanair and Wizz Air purposely seat people in middle seats and so if it’s a fairly busy flight, it’s a risky strategy!

Shop around for extras like parking and insurance

After you’ve confirmed what flight you’re after you’ll be bombarded with offers and deals for everything from transfers to hire cars. Don’t just select it because it’s easy – you can often get the exact same products for less money by shopping around. 

Before paying, check your summary one last time

This is your last chance to check that your details are right and that your flights are on the right date! I always grab someone else to read the details back to me so that I’m hearing the words aloud or if I’m on my own, I do it myself!

Man with credit card at laptop

Buy insurance as soon as your trip is booked

The flexible fares are so much more expensive and so make sure you’re covered should there become a reason that you can’t make your flight anymore. Here’s what to look for when you’re buying your insurance if you’re wanting it to cover Covid-19.

Not happy with your seat? Board the plane last!

It’s an oldie but a goodie. Quite simply, if you want a better seat be the last person onto the plane. That way, you’ll be able to see if there are any free seats available to scoot into.

Sometimes airlines do need to keep certain seats free so if you’re asked to move, fair enough! It’s worth a punt though!

Top Money Saving Hacks for Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air

RYANAIR

Book direct and avoid using an OTA
  • Online Travel Agents can be a great way to save some extra cash on flights but Ryanair now state that they don’t authorise third party to offer their flights for sale, which means you’ll probably need to check in at the airport for your flight. Whilst this is currently still free of charge for this specific scenario, in my opinion it’s not worth the faff if only saving a couple quid – which I’m sure is exactly what Ryanair hoped would happen. Sigh!
Get the best price possible
  • Use their cheap fare finder – it’s brilliant for finding the best prices
  • Sign up to their newsletter – they offer a 10% off code for selected flights
  • Keep your eyes out for their flash sales by following their InstaTwitter or Facebook
Avoid the 'packages' and add what you want individually
  • If you do want to add bags or reserve seats, be wary of these ‘packages’ that Ryanair offer on the front page – often, you can choose the ‘Value’ package and then add the items you want on individually for cheaper

For example, the ‘package’ prices for a London to Cork return flight shown above are:

  • Value = £37.19
  • Regular = £82.88
  • Plus = £97.17
  • Flex Plus = £181.69

Yet, if you were to create the packages yourself the prices would be:

  • Regular = £80.19 (with the cheapest reserved seats)
  • Plus = £93.17 (with the cheapest reserved seats and no option to check in at the airport)
  • Flexi Plus = the flexibility on this flight can’t be recreated for this one unfortunately!

The only real saving you could get from a package is if you wanted to sit in the first rows of the included ‘free’ seating on a regular fare.

Also, people who don’t need to reserve a seat but would like to still add priority and bags – or don’t need to add bags for everyone – can add individually too so don’t get lured in by these initial packages. Keep clicking through and add exactly what you need later on in the booking process!
Reserve your seats and buy your bags at booking
  • You may think it is a scare tactic but reserving seats and adding bags will be more expensive if you leave it and add in the future – so just do it whilst you’re booking
Leave your check in to the last minute for better seats
  • If you’re travelling alone or don’t care about sitting with you you’re travelling with, a good tactic can be to leave checking in until the last moment. This is because Ryanair like to assign people middle or back seats (in the hope they’ll pay to move) and so the theory is that often it’s the high value seats left at the end. This works best on a busy flight but the good news is you can easily keep checking the seating plan to see how things are shaping up.
If you're going to spend on board, buy in flight credit whilst booking your flight
  • One of the few good deals that’s offered to you in the booking process is that you can purchase €25 of Ryanair in flight credit for €20. Of course, it’s only a good deal if you’d definitely spend it anyway but if you do, it’s a quick and easy saving. I personally prefer to bring stuff from home, or grab a few treats from Pret at the airport!
Correct any booking errors within the time limits
  • You may be surprised that Ryanair do have a grace period of 24 hours to correct minor errors (dates/times) and reverse routing if you’ve booked your flights going the wrong way free of charge. Everything else will be charged though.
  • You can also correct spelling mistakes of up to 3 characters per name free of charge through the My Booking section up to 48 hours before scheduled departure
Do not leave check in until the airport
  • Unless you have paid for a Plus or Flexi Plus fare, you will get charged a whopping £55 per person for checking in at the airport so do yourself a favour and do it online at least 2 hours before your flight
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EASYJET

Get the best price possible
  • If you know your destination but not your dates, easyJet has a low fare finder tool which is helpful
  • Before you book direct, double check your flights on a flight aggregator such as Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights – you may save money by booking through an OTA (Online Travel Agent) though please note your contract will be with them, not easyJet meaning you’ll deal with the third party customer services if anything goes awry. Often if it’s only a few pounds saving, I’ll book direct instead just to keep things easy.
Be careful when searching for your dates on routes with lots of options
  • I’ve fallen foul of this before! When you search for flights on easyJet it gives you the date you’ve searched for, plus the dates either side. This is pretty clear until you scroll down to see the flights later in the day and… the dates disappear! So just make sure to double check the flight you’ve clicked on is on the right day.

For example, I searched for Friday 2nd September and this is how the flights out came up.

However, when I scrolled down to see all the options, the dates can no longer be seen.

Question whether you need to reserve seats for your flight
  • Of the three low cost airlines listed here, easyJet is the most likely to keep you and your travel party together – I just recommend checking in as early as possible. But it’s good to bear this in mind when you’re questioning whether you need to reserve seats or not.
If you definitely want one, reserve your seats and buy your bags at booking
  • You may think it is a scare tactic but reserving seats and adding bags will be more expensive if you leave it and add in the future – so just do it whilst you’re booking
Only book a package if it's exactly what you want
  • However, I’d recommend continuing with ‘Standard Fare’ and adding exactly what you’re after – you will never be charged more than what you would have if you’d selected the same options in a package
  • There are a few ways to get great value versus the package prices though…

All following savings are based on a £53 return flight from London to Milan where the additional costs were close to the lowest fees that easyJet could charge.

  • Recreate Standard Plus for cheaper!
    • Select the standard rate plus an extra legroom seat in the middle of the page – saved £4.00 per person
    • Select the standard rate plus the cheapest standard seat and then add the large cabin bag separately (you won’t get speedy boarding) – I saved £4.52 per person
    • Select the standard rate, skip the seat selection (you’ll still get a seat!) and add the large cabin bag separately (you won’t get speedy boarding) – I saved £17.50 per person
  • Recreate Essentials for cheaper
    • Select the standard rate plus the cheapest standard seat and then add the 23kg of baggage separately – I saved £4.50 per person
    • Select the standard rate plus the cheapest standard seat and then add 15kg checked bag instead of 23kg – I saved £13.60 per person
    • Select the standard rate and skip the seat selection (you’ll still get one!) and then add the 23kg of baggage separately – I saved £17.48 per person
    • Select the standard rate and skip the seat selection (you’ll still get one!) and then add the 15kg of baggage separately – I saved £26.48 per person

It’s unlikely your routes and dates will have the exact savings but the principle should still hold true. And as always, the best value flight will be the one where you don’t add anything!

If you haven't reserved a seat, check in ASAP
  • At present, you can check in between 30 days and 2 hours before your flight departs so set a reminder in your diary and get it done! Whilst easyJet don’t guarantee they’ll set parties together, I’ve found they’ve been pretty good at keeping people together if there’s space. They’ll also do their best to keep families together but again – make it easy for them by not leaving it last minute.
If you need to make changes, do it online for cheaper
  • Whilst spelling mistake and title changes are free, flight and name changes come with a fee but they tend to be £5 cheaper if you amend your booking online
If you've checked in and then made changes, check in again
  • Since you can check in much earlier than other low cost airlines, if you do need to change anything or add anything to your flight, make sure you check in again otherwise 
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WIZZ AIR

Get the best price possible
  • If you know your destination but not your dates, Wizz Air has a low fare finder tool which is helpful
  • Get notified of flash sales by downloading the Wizz Air app and turning notifications on – that and keep your eyes on their social media accounts: InstaTwitter or Facebook
  • Before you book direct, double check your flights on a flight aggregator such as Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights – you may save money by booking through an OTA (Online Travel Agent) though please note your contract will be with them, not Wizz Air meaning you’ll deal with the third party customer services if anything goes awry. Wizz Air encourages you to book direct of course, but using an OTA is possible. Often if it’s only a few pounds saving, I’ll book direct instead just to keep things simple.
Double check the airports you're flying from and back into
  • Wizz Air serve multiple airports and so, especially if you’re booking from London, it may offer you flights with different UK airports
Check out the packages if you're looking to reserve seats and add bags
  • Given that Ryanair’s packages offer worse value and easyJet’s cost the same as adding them individually, imagine my surprise that Wizz Air’s packages will actually save you money!
  • For example, in a test booking I did on a return flight from London to Athens, I selected the ‘Basic’ fare and added everything you’d get from the ‘Wizz Go’ rate and it made the cost £48.40 more expensive – which is a huge difference!
  • Even if you just wanted to add the cheapest reserved seat and an additional large carry on bag, it would cost £5.40 more with worse seats that the package so it’s definitely worth clicking through and checking the costs for your flight
Fly often with Wizz Air or not alone? Consider the Wizz Discount Club
  • The Wizz Discount Club costs £26 a year for a ‘standard membership’ which is for one member plus a companion. The ‘group membership’ is £61 and can be used for the member plus five companions. They’ll get discounts on the ticket fare and also on checked bags.
  • If you’re not travelling on your own, often this initial membership cost will be less than the saving you’ll get on the flight you’re booking 
  • For example, in a test booking I did on a return flight from London to Athens I would have saved £18 on a flight for one person (not worth it) but £36 for two people (instantly worth it!). For a group of six people, the saving was a whopping £108, so definitely worth that £61 initial outlay!
  • Of course, it could also work if you travel on your own but often. I also love that you don’t need to name your chosen companion – I’ve used my membership with James and other friends at different points!
Found a bargain and need some time to decide?
  • With Wizz Air’s ‘Fare Lock‘ you can hold a fare for 48 hours without even needing to name the passengers
  • For me, this is useful for when you find an absolute bargain flights but you haven’t worked out who you want to go with yet! This could be really useful if a sports fixture or concert has just been announced and demand is about to surge
  • For basic fares, it costs £2.50 one way for each passenger. This does increase if you’re selecting the other types of fare.
If you need flexibility, take a look at Wizz Flex but only if you're going to rebook
  • An option as you’re booking will pop up to ask if you’d like to book with ‘WIZZ Flex‘. At £12 each way for the flights I was looking at, the cost isn’t outrageous for a bit of flexibility but do note that you won’t get a full refund but Wizz Air credit instead
Travel with Wizz Air more than 4 times a year and always need extra baggage?
  • Wizz Air offers a Privilege Pass for £173 a year which means you’ll get seat selection, priority boarding and a larger carry on bag for one whole year. This is more for someone who travels with WizzAir regularly but if you do, it could be a winner given that they charge quite a lot for their carry on bag service and seats! 
Click around for the cheapest seats
  • Unlike other low cost airlines, Wizz aren’t very forthcoming with the prices on their seats and you’ll have to click around to find the best prices. In general, the cheapest seats tend to be between rows 15-17 and rows 20-40. The middle is sometimes cheaper as well.
All Wizz Air seat prices aren't created equal!
  • Just because your seats are one price on the way out doesn’t mean that they’ll be the same on the way back – they can fluctuate wildly!
Seat prices too expensive? They could go down again...
  • This is probably incredibly unhelpful, I know, but when I initially checked the prices for a flight from London to Athens and the seat prices looked a little like this:
    •  Extra legroom between £24 – £31
    • Up front seats for £21
    • Standard seats between £13 – £19
  • As I was working until late on this article, I actually ticked into the next day and what do you know – WIZZ AIR PUT A PROMOTION ON! Not only were the basic fares cheaper by 20%, but the seat costs looked a little more like this…
    •  Extra legroom between £10 – £12
    • Up front seats between £8 – £10
    • Standard seats between £4 – £5

Of course, prices can go up too! It’s a tough one to decide on and I always say as long as you’re happy with the price in front of you, book away and don’t look again!!

UPDATE: Sale does not necessarily equal cheaper seats!

Because I’m obviously obsessed, I decided to check on the seat prices later on the next day after I’d received a notification from my Wizz Air sale that there was indeed a sale on and I couldn’t believe it… The seats were even more expensive than the first time!

  • To be honest, this is actually what I expected to initially see – that yes, basic fares have gone down but it’s because they’re charging more for seats and bags (the price of 10kg check in bag has also gone from £15 to £31.50 each way!) so be just as wary about sale prices as anything else!
Double check the seat prices in the app as well
  • In another twist, when I went onto the app to check seat prices they were at the low prices I’d found in the early hours of the morning so… Yeah. Basically Wizz Air’s seating pricing is all over the place, but at least check on the website and the app before you book.
If you want to sit together, you're probably going to need to reserve
  • Wizz Air, like Ryanair, are likely to split you and your party up so if you want to sit together, I’d sort it all at booking for the best prices and seat availability.
Leave your check in to the last minute for better seats​
  • If you’re travelling alone or don’t care about sitting with you you’re travelling with, a good tactic can be to leave checking in until the last moment. This is because Wizz Air likes to assign people middle or back seats (in the hope they’ll pay to move) and so the theory is that often it’s the high value seats left at the end. This works best on a busy flight but the good news is you can easily keep checking the seating plan to see how things are shaping up.
Double check the hotel prices versus the prices it gives you
  • Wizz Air works with Booking.com and so don’t be surprised if whilst booking, a tab opens up for the destination you’re booking flights for. Now, you can possibly get a good deal (and often you’ll earn Wizz Air credit too) but it’s always worth seeing if you can find the same accommodation elsewhere for cheaper.
  • Here’s what popped up for me when I was doing my test booking from London to Athens
  • On Booking.com it was the exact same price (and with Wizz Air no credit!) but I did find it slightly cheaper elsewhere and it’s always worth asking whether you’d actually use that Wizz Air credit.
Do not leave check in until the airport
  • Unless you have paid for a Wizz Go or Wizz Plus & Flex fare, you will get charged €33 (about £28) per person for checking in at the airport so do yourself a favour and do it online at least 3 hours before your flight
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