Since budget airlines are much more popular and commonplace in Europe, in this video the author covers European budget airlines. The most popular ones currently are RyanAir and easyJet. While in the US budget airlines are only 10-20% less expensive than traditional airlines, in Europe the fair that you pay on budget airlines can be 1/2 or a 1/3 of what you would pay on a normal airline.
Sometimes you can find 2-3 hour flights on a European budget airline for less than $10 Euros ($12).
So how do they do it?
They take the most expensive parts of the airline travel and spend less on them.
First, they spend less on planes. It’s really possible! They take advantage of the bulk discounts. For instance, RyanAir has ordered 151 737’s from Boeing in 2008 when all other airlines were flunking in the midst of the crisis and received a big fat discount from the manufacturer. It would seem weird that a budget airline would buy the newest airplanes. But it turns out that the new air planes are the MOST EFFICIEINT – they save fuel. And lower fuel costs offset the higher purchase price of the planes. So easyJet, jetBlue, RyanAir, and Spirit Airlines all have younger fleets than all major airlines.
Budget airlines also normally operate only one type of plane. For instance, RyanAir only operates 737’s. this means that all staff operating the airlines only needs training on one type of plane, which saves an enormous amount of money.
The luxury features are cut to the minimum on the budget airline flights. The seats have no reclining feature and no pockets, which saves cost and cleaning time between the flights. Flight attendants are usually in the beginning of their career. They have necessary safety training, but very little hospitality training. Between the flights, flight attendants usually go to check in the passengers while others are cleaning the plane. This cuts 3-4 positions, hence costs.
Food on budget airlines is never free. Airlines make a lot of money on selling food and duty-free items on their flights.
Another way for them to cut costs is to never use expensive airports where landing strips are limited and hence require higher fees. Instead of London Gatwick, Paris De Gaulle airports they use smaller ones like Heathrow or Stansted where landing fees are cheaper and are not so crowded.
And one more trick they use to cut cost is to spend as much time in the air as possible. Their planes are flying non-stop. The break between the flights is no more than 35-40 minutes.