Low-cost airlines have been on the rise in Europe since the 1990s and are now so successful that almost 80% of intra-European flights are served by so-called “low-cost airlines”. These companies also offer many advantages for business travelers within Europe, not to mention saving money. In this article, we take a look at the best low-cost airlines for business travelers in Europe, which we have evaluated according to criteria such as reliability, costs and service.
Advantages of low cost airlines for business travelers
These airlines offer the most competitive prices on the market and allow business travelers to optimize their travel budgets, flexibility and convenience. With low-cost airlines, you don’t have to book far in advance, but you can also purchase tickets quite cheap at short notice.
Within Europe, the network of low-cost airlines is very well developed, and most destinations are now also served by low-cost airlines. It is also no longer the case that the airports served by the low-cost airlines are located far outside the city center. Even with RyanAir, Easyjet and other low cost airlines. you can often fly to centrally located destinations.
The flight schedules of low-cost airlines are often tightly scheduled and extremely efficient. Time is money, so most low-cost airlines take great care to depart and arrive on time. In fact, the German low-cost carrier Eurowings was the most punctual LCC in the world in 2022: 95.26% of all flights departed within 15 minutes of its scheduled departure.
The best low cost airlines for business travelers in Europe
Vueling is a Spanish airline founded in 2004. Initially only serving national destinations within Spain, the network has continued to expand and the airline now has an impressive network across Europe.
Vueling currently serves more than 110 destinations in e.g. Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Israel, Croatia, Malta, Morocco, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. In the DACH region, these include Basel, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Vienna and Zurich.
The airline offers four different fare options: Basic (cheapest offer), Optima (with extras such as free choice of seats and 25 kg suitcase), Family (with benefits for families) and Timeflex (for passengers who want to travel flexibly).
For business travelers, the Timeflex ticket makes the most sense. Here you benefit from one carry-on bag under the seat, one carry-on bag up to 10 kg, free cancellation (flight credit), unlimited date and time changes, priority boarding, free seat selection and fast track at security. You can also join the Vueling Club to collect Air Miles called “Avios” and use them to get discounts and upgrades on future flights.
Vueling among top airlines in Europe
Vueling has always placed great emphasis on customer service and it has paid off. The airline consistently ranks among the top airlines in Europe when it comes to customer satisfaction, and was even named the “most punctual airline in the world” by FlightStats in 2015.
With over 90 aircraft, 400 routes and thousands of passengers daily, it has become a major player in the European aviation industry.
Through agility and understanding of customer needs, Vueling has managed to grow from humble beginnings to remarkable success as Europe’s leading low-cost carrier.
Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline based in Dublin, with its home base at Dublin Airport. It is Europe’s largest airline with 152 million travelers a year. The airline was founded in 1984 by Irish entrepreneur Tony Ryan, among others, and started with daily flights between the Irish city of Waterford and London-Gatwick.
The network now extends across the whole of Europe, as well as countries in the Near East and Morocco, with almost 200 airports. In Germany, Ryanair flies to and from Berlin Brandenburg, Bremen, Dortmund, Düsseldorf-Weeze, Dresden, Frankfurt-Hahn, Hamburg, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, Cologne/Bonn, Leipzig/Halle, Memmingen, Münster/Osnabrück, Nuremberg and Paderborn/Lippstadt connects them with numerous destinations in Europe, the Middle East, namely Israel and Jordan as well as Morocco.
The airline offers four different price classes, but no business class: Basic, Regular, Plus and Flexi Plus. The Flexi Plus option is recommended for business travelers, as it enables flexible bookings. The fare includes priority boarding, one small piece of hand luggage and one 10 kg hand luggage, free seat reservation and fast-track security check at the airport.
You can rebook your booked flight on the day of travel free of charge to a flight on the same route as the original flight and do not have to pay a flight rebooking fee, only the respective price difference. If you’re rebooking on a flight that departs a day or more before or after the original flight, you don’t have to pay a flight change fee either, just the fare difference.
RyanAir doesn’t score as well as other low-cost airlines when it comes to customer satisfaction. According to Airhelp, the airline also took second place (34%) in terms of delays in 2022. However, the airline has been refreshingly self-deprecating and sassy on social media platforms, and is enjoying renewed popularity among Gen Z for its authenticity and accessibility.
The British airline easyJet was founded in 1995 and is part of the easyGroup. In addition to the easyJet Airline Company based in Luton (London), there are subsidiaries easyJet Switzerland based in Meyrin (Switzerland) and easyJet Europe based in Vienna (Austria). easyJet (written with a lowercase “e” is Europe’s second largest low-cost airline.
easyJet operates several hundred routes between numerous European countries, North Africa, Turkey and Israel. In contrast to the competition, easyJet also mainly flies to larger international airports (e.g. Rome-Fiumicino instead of Rome-Ciampino).
In the DACH region there are a particularly large number of aircraft in Berlin-Schoenefeld and Berlin-Tegel, Cologne-Bonn, Hamburg, Munich, Düsseldorf, Dresden and Stuttgart.
Frankfurt and Sylt have also become popular travel destinations. Airports close to the border with many easyJet connections are also Basel-Mulhouse and Zurich. In Austria easyJet operates in 5 airports: Vienna, Graz, Klagenfurt, Innsbruck and Salzburg.
These are the different fare classes at easyJet: Standard, Standard Plus and Flexi. There is also the easyJet Plus Club. As an easyJet Plus member, you benefit from a special easyJet Plus bag drop, book a seat anywhere on the plane for free, take a large piece of hand luggage under the front seat in addition to your small hand luggage, use fast track security at selected airports and take it with you Speedy Boarding so you can be the first to board.
For business travel, the Flexi fare makes sense, and if you fly frequently with the airline, it’s worth considering an easyJet Plus membership. There is also the Flight Club for frequent flyers, which is the airline’s loyalty program. Membership is by invitation only from easyJet.
Customer service above average
When it comes to delays, easyJet does slightly better than Ryanair, but again, according to Airhelp, 30% of flights were delayed in 2022. Nonetheless, customer satisfaction is above average.
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Additional considerations for business travelers
Loyalty programs and frequent flyer benefits
As the examples above show, low-cost airlines also offer loyalty programs and frequent flyer benefits. Be it Vueling’s Avios points, easyJet’s Flight Club or Easyjet Plus Club. As a business traveler and frequent flyer, you can collect valuable flight miles and use them to receive additional benefits. For more information, see our post on the benefits of a frequent flyer number for business travel.
Lounges and priority boarding
Some low-cost airlines offer access to VIP lounges at certain airports. With Vueling and easyJet, for example, you can select “VIP lounges” as an add-on when booking online. A Priority Pass might also make sense, which gives you access to the lounges at different airports independently of frequent flyer programs.
Many budget airlines offer priority boarding services and fast-track airport security. In order to minimize waiting times, it is advisable to add these offers to business trips. Find out how to streamline the airport security process.
Baggage allowance and baggage allowance
With low-cost airlines, it pays to take a close look when booking fares. The standard or basic fees usually only include one piece of hand luggage, and larger bags and checked suitcases must be booked as well.
Wi-Fi on board and in-flight entertainment
Not all low-cost airlines offer Wi-Fi or in-flight entertainment on board. But there are a few, such as Vueling, where onboard Wi-Fi connections are available for purchase, which is great if you want to stay productive while traveling for business.
Use of a travel management platform for bookings
For business trips in particular, it is worth considering bookings via a travel management platform such as GetGoing. This allows you to optimize your booking processes, manage all trips in one place and also use flight vouchers and unused tickets efficiently, and make trip approvals for business trips easy for your employees. You can also automate your travel policy so your employees know which flights are within policy and which are not.
Conclusion: low-cost airlines in Europe
Low-cost airlines offer many advantages for companies and business travelers. With the same flexible booking, you can save costs by choosing a cheaper option. Airlines like Vueling, Ryanair and easyJet offer convenient packages for business travelers and frequent flyers, and it makes perfect sense, especially on shorter routes within Europe.
In today’s world, it is very important for companies to use cost-efficient travel options for business trips. And by booking the flights through a travel management platform like GetGoing, you can take full advantage of the cost savings.