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Budget Travel

Best Low-Cost Airlines in 2024 for Budget Travellers


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In a world where travel dreams are often grounded by the extortionate prices of airfares, there’s one solution that’ll have you jetting off even on a tight budget: low-cost airlines.

They exist all over the world, but finding them, and finding those sweet deals, is a bit of a hidden art. In this blog post, we’ve pulled together the best low-cost airlines in 2024 for Australia, the USA and Europe, giving you the head start you need to start planning your dream budget getaway.

Let’s go!

Best Budget Airlines in The USA

Travelling around the US on a tight budget is surprisingly possible - provided you travel light and are flexible with your dates (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are usually the cheapest days to fly). Here are our picks for the top budget airlines in the USA:


Best Low-Cost Airlines in the USA: Frontier Airlines

Frontier leads the pack when it comes to US budget airlines, with its aggressive pricing strategies designed to keep fares as low as possible. It’s easily one of the best budget airlines for domestic flights. You’ll need to pay extra for everything from seat selection to checked baggage, but its extensive route network means you’ll be able to get almost anywhere for cheap.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in the USA: Allegiant

Allegiant Air is a specialist when it comes to connecting smaller cities with popular vacation destinations. Like Frontier, it’s able to advertise low fares because you have to pay extra for almost everything else. That’s just the name of the game when it comes to most budget carriers, though!


Best Low-Cost Airlines in the USA: Southwest Airlines

Southwest breaks the budget airline mould with, get this… two free checked bags and no change fees! Woah! For this reason, Southwest is our top pick when it comes to customer-friendly policies. Of course, this generosity does come with slightly higher fares than the very cheap carriers, but it’s great to know there are no hidden baggage fees.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in the USA: Jet Blue Airlines

When it comes to balancing convenience and cost, Jetblue has got it right. With more legroom than its competitors and complimentary snacks on all flights, flying JetBlue is a far upgraded experience compared to the ultra-low-cost carriers but, surprisingly, its fares remain reasonable.


Best Low-Cost Airlines: Play Airlines

PLAY, the Icelandic newcomer, connects Baltimore, Boston, New York and Washington with Europe via Iceland. It offers some of the lowest fares out there for transatlantic travel. There’s no inflight entertainment (or practically anything else) included in the base fare, but if you’re cool with a no-frills experience to get to Europe for cheap, there’s no better option.

What is the Best Budget Airline In Europe?

Europe’s budget airline scene is in a league of its own, with a huge array of options covering every nook and cranny of the continent. Here, you’ll often be able to score a cheap flight to another country for less than it’ll cost you to get from your home to the airport!

Here are our picks for the five best low-cost airlines in 2024 across Europe:


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Europe: Ryanair

Ryanair is the king of budget airlines in Europe. It offers some of the wildest budget fares out there, making it the go-to for backpackers, budget city breakers, and families heading on their summer holidays. Ryanair is infamous for its… less than stellar approach to customer service. Don’t let that deter you, though - the super-low prices are worth the tradeoff, and it was ranked 3rd Safest Low Cost Airline in the World for 2024.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Europe: Wizz Air

WizzAir takes you to the lesser-travelled paths of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and beyond, boasting super-low fares and epic destinations. It’s fast becoming one of the most popular budget airlines, and is one of the least expensive in Europe! The average prices are similar to Ryanair, and, like Ryanair, you’ll have to pay extra for literally everything.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Europe: Easy Jet

Easyjet is a step up from Ryanair and WizzAir with a slightly less stringent carry-on baggage policy. It serves a wide range of major cities across Europe, with seasonal summer getaways, winter sun and Christmas market routes. It’s a solid choice for travellers seeking affordability without going too bare-bones, but EasyJet doesn’t have as many cheap routes as Ryanair.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Europe: Jet2

Jet2 is one of the top low-cost airlines in the UK. Although it specialises in budget European holidays, its stand-alone flight options are still some of the cheapest in the UK. While prices are not quite as rock-bottom as some of its competitors, its fares include a generous carry-on baggage allowance, setting it apart on the European budget carrier scene.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Europe: Iberia

Iberia offers a more traditional airline experience at a budget-friendly price, especially if you’re travelling to and from Spain and other nearby European countries. Oh, and meals are included in all fares! When searching for flights on a comparison site you might find Iberia offering surprisingly affordable fares that rival those of the well-known budget airlines in Europe.

Best Budget Airlines in Australia

While Australia’s budget airline scene might not always offer the rock-bottom prices seen in Europe, there's still a decent selection of no-frills airlines that will get you from A to B without costing a fortune. Especially on the East Coast.

Booking in advance is key to finding the best deals. So, if you’re wondering “what are the best low-cost airlines in 2024 in Australia?” here are our favourites:


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia: Jetstar

Jetstar is the best budget airline in Australia thanks to its extensive route network. With both domestic and international options (including that ever-popular Australia-Bali route) Jetstar is perfect for budget holidays. Here’s the catch: everything from baggage to onboard refreshments comes with an extra charge. So, even if the base fare looks like a steal, the final price will creep up as you add your extras.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia: Scoot

Scoot is your passport to Asia from Australia, with some of the craziest prices out there if you’re happy to skip the usual long-haul perks. There are no inflight entertainment screens onboard, but you can access some options on your phone. Scoot flies to and from the Gold Coast, and is connected to other Australian cities through its partnership with Singapore Airlines.

Virgin Australia

Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia: Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia offers a more refined flying experience than the ultra-low-cost carriers, but it still has a range of low-price options! Complimentary tea, coffee, and water is included in the price, setting Virgin Australia head and shoulders above the typical budget airline offerings.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia: Rex Airlines

Serving all six states in Australia, Rex is Australia’s largest regional airline outside of the Qantas Group’s airlines. It’s the go-to for regional connections to Australia’s main cities - and that’s where its name (Regional Express, Rex for short) comes in. With its smaller planes and more personalised service, flying Rex is a unique experience within Australia.


Best Low-Cost Airlines in Australia: Qantas Airlines (Australia Flag Carrier)

Qantas, Australia’s flag carrier, is known for its high-quality flying experience and mix of domestic and long-haul routes. It also has a surprising amount of good deals out there for domestic routes, especially during sales.

Where Can I Find Cheap Airlines?

Online flight aggregators are your best friend when it comes to finding and comparing the prices of budget airlines. You’ve probably heard of Skyscanner, the market leader, but it doesn’t necessarily find you the best deals.

For this reason, it’s worth checking your route on Kayak and Google Flights, other online flight aggregators, to compare the prices they find for you.

Of course, we can’t mention the best ways to find cheap airlines online without giving Moonsand (yep, that’s us!) a shout-out. 

Our platform was built by travellers, for travellers, and it scours our hundreds of vetted and trusted providers to find you the best deals. And no, that’s not just bravado - we actually crunched the numbers when it comes to online flight comparison tools and we came out the cheapest!

What If an Airline Isn’t Showing Up on Flight Aggregators?

It’s worth noting that some airlines simply don’t show up on these online aggregators. 

Want to fly from Sydney to the wine town of Mudgee? According to Skyscanner, forget about it. The thing is, though, this route does actually exist. It’s operated by the regional airline Pelican Airlines, which doesn’t show up on the likes of Skyscanner.

That’s why, if you can't find the route you want on a flight aggregator, it's a good idea to Google the route. Then, you’ll be directed to book through the airline's website.

Are Cheap Airlines Safe?

There are plenty of pros and cons of low-cost airlines, but the good news is, they’re absolutely safe to fly on. Although they offer incredibly low fares, these cost savings don’t come at the expense of any safety measures.

The secret to these airlines’ incredibly low fares is to remove all but the bare necessities from your ticket. You’ll have to pay extra for everything, from seat selection to snacks and baggage, which will increase the final price of your ticket.

With that said, if you’re travelling solo with just a backpack you won’t need these extras anyway!

Another top trick these airlines use is to fly at unpopular times of the day, like very early or very late, and use secondary or less popular airports at destinations to keep their airport fees down.

Wrapping Up: 2024’s Best Budget Airlines

We've covered a lot of ground, showing you the best low-cost airlines in 2024 across Australia, the USA, and Europe and how you can snag the great deals they offer.

The key to making the most of these airlines is knowing where to look (psst… Moonsand is a great place to start!), travelling as light as possible, and staying flexible.

Now, it’s time to get booking! Head over to our flight finder tool to start comparing prices, exploring new destinations, and locking in those low-cost tickets. Happy travels!

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