Budget Airlines in Europe: An Overview of Fees & Regions Served

budget airlines in europe

Many people are still amazed when I talk about $19 flights in Europe. Budget airlines in the United States like Spirit and Allegiant now make one-way travel feasible for under $100—at the expense of one’s sanity—but the options are far more limited and costs still exceed the price points of nearly all air travel within Europe.

Yet simply knowing cheap flights exist isn’t helpful without a working knowledge of the airlines offering budget airfare in Europe. Want to explore Eastern Europe and have flexibility? Aggregators with map views like Google Flights are great to a point, but knowing Wizz Air, for instance, primarily serves the region enables a traveler to glance at the specific airline’s route map and efficiently coordinate travel plans—often saving money in the process.

Check out my list of major budget airlines in Europe below. I’ve included a brief description with each to highlight the region(s) served and other important tips involving things like checking in and baggage fees.

Budget Airlines in Europe

Ryanair and easyJet are the two biggest budget airlines in Europe in terms of destinations and number of daily flights. Wizz Air, Pegasus Airlines, Flybe, and Germanwings also offer a number of flight options—many of which reach destinations unavailable by the bigger airlines. I’ve also listed a directory of additional airlines at the bottom of the post.

Ryanair

By far the biggest of the budget airlines in Europe, Ryanair serves every region extensively except places in the extreme eastern side of the continent such as Ukraine and Moldova. Options are also limited to the capital city for other Eastern European destinations like Bulgaria, Romania, and countries making up for former Yugoslavia (e.g. Montenegro). For those needing service to eastern or central locales in Europe, however, no other airline matches Ryanair’s options.

Reach: 189 destinations in 30 countries.
Route Map: Available here.
Checking In: Free for airline-assigned seating, but travelers must print out their boarding pass in advance to avoid a $95(!) boarding pass re-issuing fee.
Mobile Boarding Pass: Yes.
Seat Selection: 5.99 Euros and up.
Fee for Overhead Bag: No.
Checked Baggage Fees: 15 to 45 euros, based on weight and season.

easyJet

easyJet offers very similar coverage to Ryanair in terms of regions served, but with less overall destinations. I’ve also noticed many of the destinations only originate from a handful of hubs like London, as an example, whereas Ryanair seems to have more of these focal points across Europe servicing multiple cities. Prices for easyJet flights are often cheaper than Ryanair, so it makes sense to use both sites as a starting point for any travel to western or central Europe.

Reach: Over 130 destinations in 32 countries.
Route Map: Available here.
Checking In: Free for airline-assigned seating. Travelers must check-in online, as physical checkout counters have been removed from all airports.
Mobile Boarding Pass: Yes.
Seat Selection: 2.99 Euros and up.
Fee for Overhead Bag: No.
Checked Baggage Fees: 12 to 22 euros, depending on route and season.

Wanderlust Tip

Make sure to check each airline’s policies before purchasing a ticket. Nearly all budget airlines—even in Europe—are sticklers about luggage sizes and many even charge a fee for those unable to print boarding passes in advance. Spending a dollar at the local internet cafe versus $10 at the airport and dealing with associated delays is generally a good idea. Many airlines also offer a mobile app for paperless check-in to avoid extra charges.

Wizz Air

I absolutely love Eastern Europe and use Wizz Air enough to justify the nominal cost of their discount club. Want extensive coverage to places like Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland? Look no further. The airline’s destination list might trick travelers into thinking they also shuttle passengers back and forth between countries like England, Italy, and Germany, but the routes from the western half of Europe almost exclusively lead to the other side of the continent.

Reach: 97 destinations in 35 countries.
Route Map: Available here.
Checking In: 10 Euros at the airport. Free for travelers who check-in online and print boarding pass.
Mobile Boarding Pass: Yes.
Seat Selection: 1 euro and up.
Fee for Overhead Bag: Yes (7 euros and up.)
Checked Baggage Fees: 15 euros and up based on season, route, and weight.

Pegasus Airlines

Based out of Turkey, Pegasus Airlines makes Istanbul and other fringe European locales extremely accessible from the rest of Europe. The airline even flies to locales like Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to make Central Asia budget-friendly for European travelers as well.

Reach: 97 destinations.
Route Map: n/a (list of destinations available here.)
Checking In: Not only are check-ins free online, but the airline pays Plus members to check-in online.
Mobile Boarding Pass: Yes.
Seat Selection: 8 euros and up.
Fee for Overhead Bag: No.
Checked Baggage Fees: Free up to 15-30kg based on route.

Flybe

Unlike Wizz and Pegasus, Flybe focuses on more traditional tourist destinations in western Europe like the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany. There is some coverage to eastern cities (e.g. Budapest, Warsaw, and Sofia) but choices are fairly slim. In any case, the airlines is well worth a look if bigger airlines servicing western Europe like Ryanair and easyJet don’t have a specific flight available.

Reach: 102 destinations.
Route Map: Available here.
Checking In: Auto e-mailed for printing in advance or available for free at airport check-in desks.
Mobile Boarding Pass: Yes, but only available via SMS.
Seat Selection: Varies.
Fee for Overhead Bag: No.
Checked Baggage Fees: Varies based on flight operator.

Germanwings

The name might imply a Germany-centric route map, but Germanwings in fact services 86 destinations across all of Europe in conjunction with Eurowings. Every area of Europe is serviced to some degree save the Baltic region and part of the Balkans.

Reach: 86 destinations.
Route Map: Available here.
Checking In: Online, at counter, or self-service kiosks in a limited number of German airports. (All are free.)
Mobile Boarding Pass: Yes (SMS or mobile app).
Seat Selection: Free for SMART & BEST fares, otherwise fees apply.
Fee for Overhead Bag: No.
Checked Baggage Fees: Free for SMART (1 piece) & BEST (2 pieces) fares, otherwise fees apply.

Other Budget Airlines in Europe

Author’s Note: Airlines change baggage and seat fees periodically, as well as expand to different regions. While I hope to keep this blog post updated the landscape of budget airlines in Europe changes, please leave comments for anything I missed. 

Article Summary
Budget Airlines in Europe: An Overview of Fees & Regions Served
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Budget Airlines in Europe: An Overview of Fees & Regions Served
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A review of budget airlines in Europe with information regarding regions served, route maps, baggage and seat fees, and check in logistics.
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