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Local UAE low-cost airlines explained: what you get and don’t get on board

With Asia, the rest of the Middle East and even Oceania just a stone's throw away, long weekends and short getaways are a regular temptation when you're based in the UAE. But how can you make your money stretch to multiple holidays a year, rather than just a couple?

One great way is choosing a local low-cost airline to get you to the destination in the first place. The beauty of most low-cost airlines is you usually only pay for what you need. If your flight is only a few hours long do you really need to be served a full meal or have a choice of hundreds of movies? Probably not. And the less money you spend on the flight, the more money you can spend on important things like making vacation memories!

You can fly anywhere on a budget airline

Where do local low-cost airlines fly to from the UAE?

So where to start? We’ve compared a selection of 10 regional low-cost carriers flying from the UAE, including flyDubai, Airblue and SpiceJet, to make choosing the right one for you even easier. Comparing destination routes, baggage allowance and even whether you get a pesky charge to choose your seat, we’ve got you covered when it comes to picking the best low-cost airline for your long-weekend getaways.

Take a look at the table below to see some of the countries you can reach on the cheap:

Key destinationsSeat selection chargesSkyscanner’s Top Tip
flydubaiJordan, Oman, Bulgaria, Russia, Georgia, Ethiopia, and TanzaniaDepends on the seat, route and fare type. No charge on Flex and Business ticketsPrices rise as more seats are sold. Book early!
Air India ExpressDelhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Goa, Chennai and PuneFrom Dh5, depending on the route and fare typeYou’re allowed to check in an LED TV as part of your free baggage allowance
IndiGo42 Indian cities, plus Bangkok, Kathmandu, Oman and SingaporeBetween Dh20 and Dh25 on flights from the UAEPre-book your drinks and snacks for the flight before you board 
Air ArabiaIndia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and OmanDepends on the route and fare typeThere’s no limit to the number of hold bags you can check in so feel free to spread the weight (max 32kg per bag)
SpiceJetOver 40 Indian cities, plus Bangkok, Male, Colombo and KabulDepends on the route and fare typeDiscounts of up to 25% for families and friends traveling together (min 4 people)
Cebu PacificAustralia, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines (via Manila)Between Dh47 and Dh200Collect GetGo points and redeem on a free flight or top up with cash
AirbluePeshawar, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Riyadh and MuscatDepends on the route and fare typeJoin the BlueMiles program for free and earn miles every time you fly
FlynasAlexandria, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kuwait and KhartoumBetween Dh10 and Dh100 (including extra legroom and ladies-only rows)Pre-pay for your excess baggage and save up to 50% on airport charges

How do I find the cheapest flights?

It’s not just the base cost of the flight you need to consider when looking at low-cost airlines. You should also take into account possible charges for the seat selection, baggage, and any extras you might want. You might find that by the time you’ve added in your luggage and seat, the cheapest ticket isn’t actually the best value for you once you’ve added it all up. Sound complicated? Let us help! Below we show you how much it costs to take hand and checked baggage on budget airlines. Don’t get caught out; on some airlines you might find the cost of excess baggage is more than the flight itself!

Checked-in baggage allowanceHand luggage allowanceExcess baggage charges
flydubaiUp to 40kg in up to 3 bags depending on the fare type (charges apply on Lite fares)7kg in 1 bag in Economy, 14kg in 2 bags in BusinessRange from Dh12 a kilo to Dh115 a kilo depending on the route. Read more on flydubai hand luggage here.
Air India Express25kg, 30kg or 35kg depending on what ticket you buy7kgDetermined at the time of check in. Read more on Air India Express hand luggage here.
IndiGo30kg flying from Sharjah or Dubai, 15kg on domestic Indian flights7kgFrom around Dh30 a kilo on flights from the UAE, Dh15 on Indian domestic flights
Air Arabia20kg, 30kg, or 40kg depending on route10kgDepends on the route but up to 90% more expensive than pre-booked luggage. Read more on Air Arabia hand luggage here.
SpiceJet15kg on domestic flights in India, 20kg or 30kg on international flights7kgFrom around Dh60 a kilo. Read more on SpiceJet hand baggage here.
Cebu Pacific15kg (Dh115 in advance) up to 40kg (Dh320 in advance)7kgFrom around Dh100 a kilo
Airblue30kg of free baggage allowance on certain fares, 0kg on Economy Discount tickets7kgFrom around Dh300 per bag on flights from the UAE. Read more on Airblue hand luggage here.
Flynas20kg or 30kg in Economy (Dh150 – Dh300), 2 x 25kg in Business7kgAround Dh150 for pre-paid 15kg, and Dh250 for pre-paid 25kg. Dh40 – Dh60 per kilo at the airport for excess

*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.

Want to know more about budget airlines? We’ve got other baggage guides and hand luggage rules to keep you right:

Air Arabia baggage allowance explained

Here’s all the info you need about the Air Arabia baggage allowance policy and how to avoid any excess baggage fees at the airport…

Hand luggage rules: 10 banned items

Not sure what can go in your hand luggage? Here are 10 unusual items that make the banned list…

Air India Express baggage allowance and charges explained

How to beat the Air India Express hand luggage rules and make sure you’re never paying extra at the airport…

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