Budget european airlines

The three largest budget european airlines are Ryanair (Many years the largest European airline of any type) Vueling and Easyjet. Between the three of them they serve most of the European principal tourist centres. All three can make travel within Europe not only far more economical but highly enjoyable. But in all cases you should expect rules that are strictly enforced. Fortunately the rules are easily found out for those hoping to avoid any nasty surprises.

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Ryanair is the largest of the three. Also the one non Europeans are most likely to have heard of. Dublin based they have expanded to cover not just Western Europe but Jordan, Israel and now the Ukraine.

Ryanair is also the European budget airline that has a reputation that would make Cinderella’s stepmother blush. Fortunately most of the complaints can be blamed on passengers who have either failed to read the terms or on people that feel the rules don’t apply to them.

The lowest cost ticket currently called Value only allows the passenger a small underseat bag. This bag has a size limit of 40x25x20 cm. You’ll usually find a bag sizer at the boarding gate and you should not be suprised if the staff requires your bag to easily fit into the sizer.

The next fare class is called Regular  It should be obvious they don’t waste money on creative names. The Regular fare class includes the same underseat bag plus a 10kg cabin bag of up to 55x40x20cm. Just like the underseat this must fit easily into the sizer. In addition to the second bag the Regular fare class includes priority boarding and seat selection for certain standard seats.

Those tend to be the two fare classes that most people should be looking at. The Plus class swaps the 10kg cabin bag for a 20kg checked bag and free airport checkin. Note normally checking in at the airport carries a high cost. If you might need to check in at the airport the Plus fare might be worth it.

There is also the Plus Family . This fare provides the underseat for all members of the family. One 20kg checked bag. Each member of the family gets their own 10kg checked bag. Any children in the group receive free seat selection to sit with thier parents.  Familes need a large amount of checked baggage might find this offer worthwhile.

The final fare is the Flexi fare. Included are both the underseat and 10kg cabin bag. Priority boarding. Fast track at the airport. Reserved seating. Flexible ticket and airport checkin. Most liesure travelers won’t likely find this offer that appealing. If you are traveling for business and need the flexibility it might be worth it for you.

Ryanair doesn’t tie you to the above fare classes. It’s possible to pick the lowest value fare and add only what you want. But the bundles at times can be cheaper than building your own. The caveat being you’ll need to make sure you only look at what you need.


For people traveling on non EU passports the  lesser known requirement can cause far greater problems. Non EU passengers are required to get their boarding passes stamped at the Ryanair services desk before clearing security. The desk will check your ID and if required your visa status. Skipping this step often leads to missed flights and no refunds.


Vueling is a Barcelona based airline part of the larger IAG group that includes BA,Iberian and the new low cost transatlantic Level airline.

There are two things to watch with Vueling. Legroom is at an extreme premium. The spaces are very tight. The other possible problem is when you search for tickets Vueling will show you not just direct flights but flights connecting in Barcelona. Be very sure you want to take this option. The time between flights can be very long. You also are unlikely to save any money. Far better to take a direct flight.

Vueling tends to match Ryanair’s baggage rules. Not suprising since they compete head to head so often. But you can find slight differences. The underseat bag is 40x20x30 cm. Marginally bigger than the Ryanair limit. 

Vueling’s Budget fare only includes the underseat bag. 40x20x30 cm

The next up Optima adds the 55x40x20 10kg cabin bag and a 25kg checked bag. In addition various other perks.

Just like Ryanair Vueling offers a Family oriented fare this adds little when compared to Optima.

The final choice is TimeFlex. TimeFlex removes the 25kg checked bag but adds features providing more flexibiltiy. Flight changes, fast track security. Useful for business users but likely not worth it for liesure travelers.



Easyjet is an London UK based airline. The main difference between it and the previous two airlines is it’s cabin baggage limits. Both of Ryanair and Vueling allow two bags. One 55x40x20cm and one far smaller 35x20x20 bag. Easyjet on the other hand allows only one bag 56x45x25. The bag is clearly slightly larger then the other two companies but the bigger difference is the different weight limit. Both Ryanair and Vueling have a 10kg weight limit for cabin bags. Easyjet has no limit. In theory you’re required to lift the bag on your own with no help.

Not to be glossed over when Easyjet states one bag they mean ONE bag. That count includes not just your luggage but handbag,camera bag etc. If you have more then one item you should expect to place the other items inside your cabin bag.


Budget european airlines

If you remember anything about these airlines remember you must follow the rules. Do not expect wiggle room. Luggage measurements include everything from the bottom of the wheels to the top of the handles. Even a slight excess puts you at risk of being charged an extra fee. Remember to check in online before getting to the airport. If you’re a non EU passenger flying with Ryanair remember to print out your boarding pass even if you check in online .

Don’t let the list of warnings scare you off. In general with budget european airlines it’s all common sense. If you follow the rules you will find the flight on time. With a reasonable level of comfort. All at a highly reasonable price. The rules are all available on the company websites and you have no excuse for not checking the main points.