A guide to alternative low-cost airlines opening exciting new destinations this year
Booking a vacation can become routine. But since travel has changed so much over the past couple of years, maybe it’s time to make some changes ourselves.
Looking beyond the usual airlines, such as EasyJet, Ryanair, Jet2 and TUI, can open up a world of new destinations – and at low prices too.
Wizz Air is leading the charge, but there are plenty of other options. So here’s our guide to trying something new, and maybe saving some money at the same time…
Looking beyond the usual airlines can open up a world of new destinations – and at low prices too
This Hungarian airline was founded in 2003 and seeks to overthrow Ryanair as our biggest low-cost airline. It launched Wizz Air UK in 2017. It flies to 140 destinations and is renowned for its low fares (Athens to Abu Dhabi for £33 one-way is a recent example). From London, Vienna is £18 one way; Krakow £14; and Malaga £21.
Other interesting routes from London include Tel Aviv, Mykonos, Antalya, Bari, Kutaisi in Georgia, Eilat in Israel and Dalaman in Turkey. There is also a frequent flyer scheme: for £25 a year you save £8 per ticket, with £4 off baggage.
SUPPLEMENTS: Wizz Go and Wizz Flex tickets add one bag and one seat choice, but can be more than double the original price. Wizz Air says the time of year plays an important role in how it calculates these costs. Food and drink cost £3-£5.
VERDICT: The low fares are enticing, but the extra fees are high.
Vueling, named Europe’s best low-cost airline last year, is well worth checking out for trips to Spain
Based in Barcelona, Vueling is part of the same group as BA and serves Gatwick, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
For conventional destinations, prices aren’t cheap, but it’s good for less popular flights to Spain, like La Coruña (£24) or Santiago de Compostela (£25).
There are regular sales. Recently, the airline offered tickets from £17 each way.
SUPPLEMENTS: Around £22 each way for a 20kg bag and £9 to pre-select a seat. Hot meals £4-£6, soft drinks £3, alcohol £4-£6. Hire cars from £8 per day and rooms from £16 per night.
VERDICT: Named Europe’s Best Low Cost Airline last year and well worth checking out for travel to Spain. There are cheap options for flights to Madrid and Barcelona.
Norwegian offers 69 destinations from Gatwick, including flights to Copenhagen and Helsinki
AND WHAT ABOUT LONG-HAUL?
It’s not technically a budget airline, but it does offer reasonably priced flights – the trade-off may be having to fly through Helsinki.
It offers free and unlimited travel date changes until May 31. Prices for long-haul routes are from £342 return to New York.
For Bangkok it’s £360, Phuket £431, Hong Kong £361, Seoul from £468, Singapore £413, LA from £329, Osaka £648, Seattle £426, Cancun £447 and Chicago £369 £.
The airline often causes a stir by launching a new business class seat or similar. Flights may be operated by other airlines, but fares remain low.
Flights from Heathrow and Gatwick to JFK cost from £348 return – these are the only routes currently in operation.
Everything goes through New York and the airline only serves the United States and Puerto Rico. But it is to be watched.
It offers a 20% discount on Heathrow Express tickets and often offers other deals. It also has a frequent flyer scheme, which is unusual for a low-cost airline.
For a while, Norwegian seemed poised to change the world of travel by offering plenty of long-haul budget options. However, in 2021 the airline was forced to reduce its fleet and close its long-haul operations.
There’s a great fare calendar to find the cheapest flights. It offers 69 destinations from Gatwick – reasonably priced options include Bergen (£40), Copenhagen (£31), Helsinki (£31) and Oslo (£31), all one way.
SUPPLEMENTS: LowFare+ (fares range from £25-£45) includes one checked bag up to 23kg and one seat reservation. Meal deals £10-£14, alcohol £5-£7, sandwiches £6.
VERDICT: Norwegian isn’t the strength it used to be, but extra packages seem reasonable (although the food is expensive) and there are plenty of options on Scandinavian routes.
Founded in 2019, it is the newest airline on the list.
He will be based in Prague, Ireland, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Barcelona, Gothenburg, Mallorca, Malaga, Alicante, Lisbon, Salzburg, Bologna, Brussels, Boston, New York and in Washington DC.
Flights to DC will begin on April 20, Dublin on April 28, Boston on May 11, Gothenburg on May 20, Brussels on May 24 and Bologna on June 7.
Destinations currently bookable from Stansted are Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston, New York, Orlando and Reykjavik.
SUPPLEMENTS: Checked bags from £23 for 20kg and seats from £3 to £29.
Meal deals £11, alcohol £7, sandwiches £8, snacks £3-£5.
VERDICT: One to watch, but fares look promising (Stansted to New York from £320 return).
Eurowings flies from many UK airports including Heathrow, Bristol and Edinburgh
This German airline serves Heathrow, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Liverpool, London City, Manchester, Newcastle and Newquay. It has partnered with booking.com to offer accommodation. Until April 7, you can request that the middle seat remain unoccupied for free.
A single ticket to Hamburg costs from £30, Prague from £33, Amsterdam £25, Munich £33 and Dresden £33. Northern European routes seem to be the cheapest.
SUPPLEMENTS: Cabin bag is included, but for a 23kg checked bag it costs £14 each way, plus £4-£11 for extra leg room. Meal deals are £6-£7, sandwiches £5, alcohol £6-£7.
VERDICT: Convenient due to range of airports.