If time is short or travel distances are long, it may be necessary to fly between destinations within Europe rather than catching a train or driving. With an ever-increasing number of low-cost (or budget) airlines now operating, I thought it may be useful if I shared with you details of some of the low-cost carriers that fly throughout the UK and Europe that I am aware of so that you know how to find cheap flights in Europe.
- 1. How to find cheap flights within Europe
- 2. List of low cost airlines in Europe, the UK and Ireland
- 3. My tips for finding a cheap flight in Europe or the UK
How to find cheap flights within Europe
As a general rule, the flagship carrier of a country is typically the most expensive, particularly for one way fares, however there are some exceptions.
My advice is to check the fare with the full service airline (eg. Lufthansa for flights to/from Germany, Swiss Airlines for flights to/from Switzerland, etc) and then compare them to the low-cost options so that you can find the cheapest flight that suits your requirements.
Each low-cost airline will have a limited number of destinations it flies to and will usually only fly to and from its home country. There are exceptions to this rule, though, particularly with airlines likes easyJet and Ryanair – their bases are the UK and Ireland, respectively, but they do offer cheap flights between, for instance, two cities in France.
Before booking a cheap flight with a budget airline, there are a few things to consider before parting with your money. I wrote about some of the things to be aware of when flying with low-cost airlines here.
So, in no particular order, here is my low cost airlines Europe list. It includes low-cost (budget) airlines that operate in the UK, Ireland and Europe. If you know of any others, please let me know in the comments area below and I’ll happily update my list!
List of low cost airlines in Europe, the UK and Ireland
Owned by Air France, HOP! was formed in 2013 when the parent company merged its regional airlines Regional Compagnie Aerienne Europeenne, BritAir and Airlinair. Its major hubs are in Lyon and at Paris’ Orly airport and HOP! operates flights both within France and to other European destinations. Hop! website
A Spanish-owned low-cost carrier offering flights to a number of European destinations, particularly in France, Spain, Italy and Greece. Volotea website
A Hungarian airline whose base is in Budapest. WizzAir offers a wide network of flights all over Europe including destinations in the UK, Scandinavia, Spain and Greece. WizzAir website
Another Spanish carrier, Vueling’s flight network stretches right across Europe and their website is a good place to start looking for cheap flights in Europe. Vueling website
The third largest low-cost carrier in Europe, Norwegian is a great choice for cheap flights to and from Scandinavia which is known for its high prices. Offering flights beyond Scandinavia to a wide range of destinations, Norwegian was one of the first airlines (low-cost or full service) to include free WiFi in-flight. Norwegian website
The largest airline in the UK (by passenger numbers), easyJet flies to over 32 countries, offering over 600 different domestic and international routes. If you're looking for cheap flights within UK or Europe or cheap flights from London to Europe, you'd be wise to search the fares offered by easyJet. easyJet website
Eurowings (formerly German Wings) is the low-cost subsidiary of Lufthansa. Flights depart many major German cities to more than 100 destinations throughout Europe. (As is its parent company, Lufthansa, Eurowings is part of the Star Alliance network.) Eurowings website
When searching for low cost airlines, Italy has just one. Air Italy (previously called Meridiana), mainly operates flights to and from southern Italian cities including its base, Olbia. Its route network does, however, include flights between Rome and both Santorini and Mykonos. Air Italy website
The Irish budget airline offers a large network of flights with major hubs in Dublin, London, Paris (Beauvais airport), Rome and Munich (Memmingen airport) amongst others. Ryanair hit the headlines not so long ago with the announcement it planned to charge passengers for using the toilets onboard aircraft. Public outcry meant the move was rejected. The Irish carrier is renowned for offering some of the cheapest flights within Europe. Ryanair website
The low-cost carrier of the Czech Republic connects Prague with cities throughout Europe. Smart Wings website
Latvia’s national low-cost airline flies to over 50 destinations from its base in Riga. Air Baltic website
Brussels Airlines, the Belgian member of the Lufthansa Group offers cheap flights from the capital to numerous destinations throughout Europe. Brussels Airlines website
With both domestic and international flight routes, Turkey’s low-cost carrier, Pegasus Airlines, makes travel to and from Istanbul easy. Pegasus website
CityJet is n Irish regional airline which mostly flies out of London City Airport, operating flights on behalf of Air France, its former owner. Destinations include many regional cities in France and northern Europe, as well as Florence. CityJet website
With bases in Birmingham and a number of other English cities, Flybe (formerly British European), connects the UK and Ireland with some of Europe’s most popular destinations. Flybe website
Another low-cost carrier from Britain, Jet2’s flights are based out of eight British airports, including Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow, as well as Alicante in Spain and connect to 65 European destinations. Jet2 website
Yet another option for travellers wanting to fly from the UK and Ireland to Europe, British carrier TUI (previously known as Thomson) offers scheduled flights to a number of popular holiday destinations in Europe. TUI website
Transavia started life in 1965 as Transavia Holland but became part of the Air France KLM Group in 2003. With their main base at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Transavia flies to more than 100 destinations in Europe. These include not only capital cities but also other popular destinations in many countries including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Browse all Transavia's destinations in Europe here
Owned by Swiss International Airlines, Edelweiss Air is a leisure travel airline that's part of the Lufthansa Group. With a base at Zurich Airport, it flies to more than 40 holiday destinations. They offer business, economy class or economy max seating and have a fleet of nine Airbuses. Visit the Edelweiss Air website here
My tips for finding a cheap flight in Europe or the UK
When searching the internet for a cheap flight for your journey, keep in mind that not all budget airlines are shown in searches on websites like Expedia, Webjet, etc. My advice is to Google the route you wish to travel, for example ‘Cheap flights Prague to Split’ to find the best options.
In many cases you will need to book your flight directly on the airline’s own website, fares will be in the local currency and you will probably be charged fees for paying by credit card (as well as for checked luggage). You should take these costs into consideration when deciding if the 'cheap’ airfare really is a bargain price after all.
For my tips on booking your international flight TO Europe, you can read this article.
So, there you have it – a European budget airlines list and my tips for finding the cheapest flight for your route. I hope this will be helpful when you are searching for flights around Europe.
Do you have any tips on how to find cheap flights in Europe? I'd love to hear them in the comments below.
All info correct at time of writing – please contact me if you are aware of any changes to the accuracy of this article and I will gladly update it.