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The low-down on Europe’s budget airlines: what you get and don’t get on board

One of the great things about traveling around Europe is the abundance of low-cost airlines that make it easy - and cheap - to hop from London to Rome to Barcelona to Amsterdam, or anywhere else that takes your fancy! So, if you're pushed for time or pushed for cash, check out these top European budget-busting airlines.

Which low-cost airline is the best in Europe?

Sadly, there’s no simple answer. It really does depend on what type of traveler you are and what you want from your European break. Like with long haul airlines, low-cost carriers are competing on legroom, cabin baggage allowance and priority boarding options, etc. But don’t worry! Skyscanner has done the hard work for you and compared some of the top European airlines, looking at excess baggage charges, luggage allowances and seat selection costs, to make it easier to find the perfect flight.

Map of Europe

Where do European low-cost airlines fly to?

Practically anywhere and everywhere! Airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet and Smart Wings (which now flies to and from Dubai so you can even reach Europe on a budget airline!) fly all over Europe and further afield. By comparing the destination routes, charges for choosing your seat and baggage allowances, we’ve made it easy for you to choose the best budget airline and save some of your vacation budget for the getaway.

Key destinations Seat Selection Skyscanner’s Top Tip
Ryanair London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Brussels, Paris, Basel and Lisbon Between around €4 (Dh17) to €15 (Dh65) Free reserved seats for up to 4 children with every adult seat booked
Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Naples, Milan, Sofia and Athens From around £2 (Dh10) to £30 (Dh150) Buying a seat with extra legroom also gives you a second hand lugagge bag, separate bag drop, and priority boarding
Wizz Air
Larnaca, Prague, Copenhagen, Nice, Hamburg and Reykjavik From around €​1 to ‎​€​50 (Dh4 to Dh218) Buy Wizz Plus bundle and get more luggage allowance, additional small cabin bag (under seat) and priority boarding
Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Oslo, Kiev, Moscow and Beirut From around £1.75 to £11.42 (Dh9 – Dh57) Purchase access to VIP lounges when you book your ticket and save your access pass to your smart phone
Oslo, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna and Munich From around £7 to £25 (Dh35 to Dh124) Add your chosen seat to your reservation up to 6 hours before departure
Smart Wings
Dubai, Ras al Khaimah, Prague, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Helsinki and Malta Between around €15 and €29 (Dh65 to Dh126) Passengers checking in together can pool their allowance at the check-in desk (maximum 32kg per bag)
Pegasus Airlines
Beirut, Prague, Antalya, Baghdad, Dubai, Zurich, Istanbul and Frankfurt From around Dh18 Babies under 2 get a free 10kg baggage allowance
Dubai, Schipol, Dubrovnik, Venice, Seville, Edinburgh, Corfu and Sofia From around €0 to €21 (Dh91) depending on the fare and seat type Online check-in opens 30 hours before departure and you can still buy extra luggage for your booking
Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Munich, Rhodes, Santorini, Budapest and Cape Town. From around Dh32 Choose a “blind booking” (select what sort of trip you want, etc) and be surprised with your destination once the booking is complete

How do I find the best cheap flight?

You need to look at a few different factors when you’re hunting for a bargain flight, more so than on some of the bigger airlines. With budget airlines there are more costs to consider than just the cost of the ticket. You’ll want to know how much it will cost to check-in a suitcase, or whether you have to pay to reserve a seat next to your travel companions, and any other additional extras you need or want. You might find that the best flight for you is the one that has the cheapest luggage costs but a more expensive ticket cost. Sound tricky? We’ve created this handy table comparing the costs of some European low-cost airlines to help you make you make the best decision.

Checked-in baggage allowance Hand luggage allowance Excess baggage charges
Ryanair Up to three bags of 20kg each (from around Dh48 a bag). €25 (Dh110) per bag per one-way flight if bought at booking, more if added later 10kg plus handbag on standard fares. Read more here. From around €10 (Dh44) per kilo
easyJet Up to 3 x 32kg bags maximum (from around £9 (Dh45) for 15kg) 1 bag, no maximum weight. Read more here. From around £10 (Dh50) per kilo
Wizz Air From €14 to €86 (Dh61 to Dh374) for pre-booked 23kg or 32kg 10kg (55 x 40 x 23 CM), plus additional small bag with Wizz Plus bundle From €10 (Dh44) per kilo
Vueling 3 x 23kg bags maximum. From €13 (Dh57) for the first bag  10kg From around €12 (Dh52) per kilo
Norwegian 2 x 32kg bags maximum 10kg or 15kg depending on the fare (8kg to/from Dubai) From around €11 (Dh48) per kilo
Smart Wings Free 15kg in Economy and 20kg in Business 8kg, plus a small additional laptop/purse max 3kg €6 (Dh26) per kilo, or €59 (Dh256) per bag
Pegasus Airlines 15kg, 20kg or 25kg depending on the fare type 8kg. Read more here. Determined by route and affected by exchange rates
Transavia Up to 50kg per person, maximum 32kg per bag (cost up to €100 (Dh435) when pre-booked) 10kg From around €15 (Dh65) for 5kg extra
Eurowings Free with some fares. Or from around €8 (Dh35) for the first pre-booked 23kg bag and €75 (Dh326) for the second 8kg From around €50 (Dh217) for up to 9kg

Want some inspiration for (cheap) European vacations? We’ve picked some of our best guides to favorite European cities:

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A local’s guide: Top 10 things to do in Rome

Whether it’s wandering through Roman ruins, refueling on the city’s best pizza, drinks and gelato, or simply soaking up the history of this capital, Rome has everything you could want from your European city escape….

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Published June 2018. Prices and information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability. Always check with the airline before flying.