More Budget Air Basics
NIKI is one of the few budget airlines that receives decent reviews for its food options. Photo: ponte112.
Q: Are seats reserved or can you select seats ahead of time?
A: Some low-cost carriers offer reserved seats for free and you can choose them at the time of your booking, but this is the exception to the rule. Other carriers simply assign seats at the check-in desk; others charge for seat reservations—and will often charge less if you select seats on-line versus in person at the time of check-in. Many operate on a cattle-call, first-come first-serve basis, whereby passengers engage in a mad scramble for seats according to assigned "blocks".
Q: Are meals served?
A: Meals? Not really, though snacks, sandwiches, candy, drinks, and other items are for sale on many low-cost carriers. Expect high prices. And don't expect complete warm meals. The standard-setters for airplane food in the low-cost landscape are airberlin and NIKI, which offer free snacks and good meal service at decent prices.
Q: What are the flight attendants like?
A: It's tough to generalize. We haven't found flight attendant comportment to be thrilling on very many airlines lately, low-cost or otherwise.
Q: Are the planes small?
A: Low-cost carriers utilize big Airbus A319-100s and Boeing 737s as well as smaller planes.
Q: I noticed that some airlines you index here sell tickets for routes that you don't include in your route lists. Why is that?
A: Our low-cost airline route guide only lists direct flights. A number of low-cost carriers, including Germanwings and Air Berlin, sell a journey with a layover and connection as a single fare. Our belief is that the low-cost revolution is based on direct flights, however, and consequently we do not include connecting flights in our database of existing routes.
Now, this is not to say that connecting low-cost air itineraries should be ignored. Air Berlin, for example, and very unusually for a low-cost airline, guarantees that checked luggage will make connecting flights.
Q: I'm planning on ending up in Egypt on an open jaw ticket. I noticed that several low-cost carriers fly from Egypt to Europe. Can I fly from Egypt to Germany one-way and return home from there?
A: In a word, no. Several low-cost carriers and charter airlines fly between various European airports to destinations in Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia. These fares are sold on a round-trip basis only, and must originate in Europe. The ease of bopping around Europe on low-cost airplanes has not yet been extended to flights across the Mediterranean, with the exception of itineraries to or from Morocco.
Q: I want to fly to Mallorca, and I'm confused. There's La Palma, Las Palmas, Palma de Mallorca. Which is which? Any suggestions?
A: The airport in Mallorca is called Palma de Mallorca, and goes by the airport code PMI. There are three airports in Spain with "Palma" or "Palmas" in their names. This can get very confusing. In addition to Palma de Mallorca (PMI) on Mallorca, there is La Palma (SPC), which is located on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. There's also the Las Palmas airport, which is located on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria. In our guide, we refer to "Las Palmas" as Gran Canaria to avoid confusion.
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