Top 10 most affordable airlines in Europe: which carriers offer budget flights and convenient ways to find cheap flights

By Tetiana PavlichenkoMay 27, 2024 09:05 AMBlog
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Top 10 most affordable airlines in Europe: which carriers offer budget flights and convenient ways to find cheap flights
Despite its positioning, Ryanair failed to top the top of the most affordable airlines. Source: Image Jan Claus/Pixabay

When planning a trip to Europe, it's frustrating to realize that air travel can drag down a significant portion of the budget that would be better spent on sightseeing and entertainment. Fortunately, there are budget European airlines that can offer travelers low-cost flights.

Air Advisor researched 15 different EU carriers and their range of average revenue per passenger-kilometer, also called RASK, to determine the cheapest of them all. Focusing on several factors, primarily affordability, Air Advisor identified the 4 lowest cost European airlines.

No. 1 - Wizz Air

Top 10 most affordable airlines in Europe: which carriers offer budget flights and convenient ways to find cheap flights
Wizz Air beat the competition in flight affordability by a wide margin. Source: Image SKYRADAR/Pixabay

Wizz Air has surpassed the rest of the European carriers in flight affordability, and by a wide margin. Its RASK of €0.0298 is the lowest, which confirms that the carrier has truly affordable fares. So if you need a flight to anywhere in the EU, start your search for the cheapest airlines with Wizz Air.

In addition to regularly monitoring discounted flights, there are several other ways to find the best deals.

  1. Subscribe to the Wizz Air newsletter to receive alerts on sale flights and special offers.
  2. Be flexible when searching for flights: Wizz Air has a fare search engine on its website that helps you find the best flights on your route. So if you're not sure where you're going to travel to, simply select your departure city and check the available options.
  3. Don't hesitate: if you see a cheap flight from London Gatwick Airport to Malaga for 15 euros, for example, act fast - these deals sell out instantly.

No. 2 - Iberia

Second place on the list of the cheapest airlines in Europe goes to Iberia with a RASK of €0.0582. Although a flight with this carrier will cost more than with Wizz Air, other factors may prove more favorable. Iberia takes the top spot for reliability, professional reviews and airport lounges.

No. 3 - Norwegian Air Shuttle

With a RASK of €0.0689, this airline is one of the smallest in Europe, so while its flights are fairly budget, it can be a challenge to find a convenient route.

But if you don't have a specific destination in mind, you can use a handy option on the airline's website to see all the cheapest fares with filters by month and cost. Plus, tickets to the Nordic countries are often the cheapest.

You can also save money on your flight if you frequently use the airplane for business travel with a corporate agreement with fixed discounts. Norwegian Air Shuttle offers 3 categories of fares where travelers won't have to pay extra for various services, such as advanced seat selection or carry-on luggage.

No. 3 - Vueling

Another Spanish airline on this list proves that healthy competition in this country has obvious benefits. Vueling shares third place with Norwegian Air Shuttle in the top budget carriers in Europe and offers not only affordable flights, but also a convenient and easy flight search on the website.

Unless you select a specific flight date for your desired route, all ticket prices will be displayed in a calendar format. Just scroll through the months to find the cheapest option. For example, let's take one of the most popular flights from El Prat Airport in Barcelona to Amsterdam. Using the price calendar, you can immediately see that the cheapest flights on this route are offered between January and March. And if price is at the top of the list for you, you can plan your trip during this period.

The difference in average revenue per passenger-kilometer among the remaining six participants of the top is not so significant, and among them there are some big "players" in the market.

No. 5 - Ryanair

Ryanair is a typical budget airline in Europe, offering affordable flights without frills. Despite the fact that it is famous for its cheap fares, it failed to get the first place in the top because Ryanair's business model is built on attracting passengers with an initially low price, followed by surcharges for any services: seat selection, basic drinks, food, luggage, etc. All of this creates a RASK of 0.071 euros. However, if you're not a stickler for extras and prefer to bring small luggage and snacks, your flight costs will indeed be small.

In addition, another advantage of Ryanair is reliability. In the Air Advisor study, the company was ranked number one in this indicator.

No. 6 - Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)

The RASK of this wallet-friendly airline from Stockholm is 0.07 euros. It is the flagship airline from Scandinavia, which surprises with the affordability of its flights, given that Denmark, Sweden and Norway are among the most expensive countries in Europe.

SAS uses a similar low-fare calendar to Vueling, which can be used to search for cheap tickets. You can also search the site to see the fare, for example, from London to all Scandinavian countries at once. You can also search for destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America in the same way.

No. 7 - Air France

Top 10 most affordable airlines in Europe: which carriers offer budget flights and convenient ways to find cheap flights
Lufthansa has been named Europe's most expensive airline in 2024. Source: Image Pit Karges/Pixabay

Certainly one of Europe 's best-known airlines with more affordable fares than one might expect. RASK is 0.075 euros, which is not so different from the figures of Ryanair, famous for big discounts.

The difficulty in finding cheap Air France tickets is due to the fact that the site does not have an established mechanism for 'this purpose. You need to define your destination and approximate dates to see flight options and prices during that period.

Also to Air France's disadvantages is its reliability record. Of the 15 airlines studied, it performed the worst in terms of flight cancelations and delays.

No. 8 - Finnair

This Helsinki-based airline is small, so logically it can't compete on price with giants like Ryanair, Iberia and Wizz Air. But if you go to the special offers page instead of searching for tickets, you can find great flights from many cities in Finland and Scandinavia with an average RASK of 0.0753 euros. In addition, there are quite a lot of available destinations - more than 80.

No. 9 - TAP Air Portugal

RASK at the level of 0.0758 allows Portuguese TAP to enter the top ten cheapest European airlines. The company doesn't position itself as a budget airline and it isn't in practice either. But you can also easily find a bargain here. On the airline's website, look in the "Promotions" and "Best Offers" sections. They depend on the country and city of departure and will fit perfectly into your budget.

No. 10 - Aegean Airlines

A great choice for travelers who value high ratings from other passengers, comfort, and family travel is Greece's Aegean Airlines. The average revenue per passenger-kilometer here is higher than in the previous ones, at 0.083 euros. But Aegean Airlines has a well-designed fare calendar, which will help you find a favorable offer. Its only disadvantage is that you can't select all destinations at once, so you can get an overview for the specific place you're going to travel to.

Frequently Asked Questions

Top 10 most affordable airlines in Europe: which carriers offer budget flights and convenient ways to find cheap flights
Lufthansa has been named Europe's most expensive airline in 2024. Source: Image Pit Karges/Pixabay

Which air carriers are the cheapest?

Wizz Air topped the top low-cost carriers in the EU, and the gap in RASK with its closest competitor Iberia was more than €0.028.

Which airlines have the best deals?

In Europe, Wizzair and Ryanair actively claim the title of the most favorable, but there are other affordable carriers, such as Iberia and Norwegian, which do not position themselves as low-cost carriers.

Which airline in Europe is the most expensive?

Lufthansa holds this title in 2024 thanks to a RASK of €0.0882.

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