Outside of the U.S., there are literally thousands of airlines, some catering to multi-million dollar business travelers, others just to families, and some target the ultimate budget traveler. It's the last one that we're more interested in, especially for short international flights and travel during holidays and peak seasons, when airfares on traditional airlines tend to soar. Low-budget carriers usually take a no-frills approach, but then, who really needs frills on a short flight?
You probably already look to the likes of Southwest, JetBlue, and maybe even Spirit here in the States -- but if you ever find yourself in need of a cheap flight anywhere else in the world, these are the names you want to know.
Africa and the Middle East
Largely void of continental airlines, let alone low-cost carriers, Africa recently welcomed the addition of FastJet to Tanzania. Overseen by the European budget airline EasyJet, two-year-old FastJet also currently operates throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Within the next year, the carrier hopes to launch ports in Angola, Ghana, and Kenya. Flights from hub Dar es Salaam to Mt. Kilimanjaro start at $85 round-trip, and newly popular flights from Johannesburg, South Africa to the hub begin at around $100.
Asia & South Pacific
Asia and the South Pacific welcome the sexiest assortment of budget airlines in the world. Three-peat low-cost airline of the year champion Air Asia offers insanely cheap flights to 85 destinations around Asia, the South Pacific, and Australia. To give you a sense of how cheap we're talking: In a recent promotion, domestic flights from Kuala Lumpur began at $14.
Four more Asia-based airline operators have placed in the top 10 of best low-cost airlines in the world. IndiGo navigates India, the Middle East, and the South Pacific. A round-trip ticket from Delhi to Mumbai, for example runs just $130. Still not convinced? Jetstar (based in Australia), Tiger Airways (Singapore), and Scoot (Singapore) also rank very well. Unlike the others, Scoot runs primarily long-haul, last-minute flights; right now, you can snag a flight from Singapore to Seoul for about $180.
Europe mastered budget airlines before that even became a thing. RyanAir offered, and continues to offer, insanely cheap flights throughout Europe -- although largely at the cost of comfort, nickle-and-diming passengers for any in-flight luxury (e.g. a carry-on). Still, for those on a tight budget, RyanAir satisfies. Fall specials promote flights at $25 one-way.
Comparatively, EasyJet classes up their flights more than RyanAir but with similar low prices. In September alone, EasyJet has over eighty flights, to destinations all over Europe, starting under $50 one-way.
What if you feel like flying cross-continental? Scandinavian carrier Norwegian Airlines reduces the financial burden of flying from the U.S. to Europe, with one-way tickets from NYC to Stockholm for $166 each. (Of course, these flights don’t include checked baggage or meals, so your total costs might be higher unless you pack very lightly.)
Other than the cheap U.S. carriers, two major budget carriers dominate the American marketplace. Canada’s WestJet, another renown low-cost carrier of 2014, sells some of the cheapest prices at 80 destinations through Canada, the U.S., and Europe. Although peak season from Toronto to NYC is ending, we found that prices between the two cities remain convenient at $250 round-trip.
In South America, low cost carriers vary throughout each country. What’s cheap in Colombia won’t necessarily offer cheap rates in Brazil. Brazilian airline Gol tries, but few South American airlines provide the extensive, continental network of LAN, who’s currently selling flights from Miami to Bogota, Colombia for under $500.