Finding low-cost airfares is as much an art as it is a science. Certain carriers will offer special promotions, but travelers sometimes have to get creative with their itinerary and route in order to take full advantage of these special deals. For example, combining a promotional flight from a major international carrier with a connecting flight from a low-cost-carrier is often a great way to save money on the overall cost of your trip. Other times, it could be cheaper to get a multi-city ticket package from a major carrier and its affiliates.

Usually though, getting a ticket with a low-cost-carrier is the best option. These airlines fly regionally and have fares that are much cheaper than regular airlines. If you want to really explore a certain region of the world in depth and don’t want to spend too much doing so, low-cost-carriers are the way to go.

AirAsia

AirAsia

Photo: JasonDGreat / Flickr

This Kuala Lumpur-based low-cost-carrier offers cheap flights to some of East and Southeast Asia’s most popular cities as well as tourist destinations such as Phuket, Bali, and Hainan Island. The carrier has connecting flights to almost every major city in East, Southeast, and South Asia. Though AirAsia does not serve food or beverages on flights, it does offer meals for sale on-board and is known for its friendly cabin crews.

Southwest

Southwest

Photo: kevin dooley / Flickr

Southwest is a US-based low-cost-carrier that was one of the first airlines to use a budget, no-frills business model. Southwest flies all across the US, but usually uses secondary airports, not major airports. The airline is perhaps best known for not charging baggage fees on any flights (a rarity in this era of surcharges and extra fees).

JetBlue

JetBlue

Photo: kingair42 / Flickr

JetBlue has, in recent years, overtaken Southwest as the most buzzed about low-cost-carrier in the US. It flies to many destinations, especially on the East Coast. JetBlue also has international service to some Caribbean destinations. The airline is known for its comfortable seats, good in-flight entertainment, and for its state-of-the-art terminal in New York’s JFK airport.

Jetstar

Jetstar

Photo: ZK-NGJ / Flickr

Jetstar is an Australian low-cost-carrier. The Australian wing of this company flies domestically, though there are also international franchises in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Japan. This airline is one of the first to offer iPads as part of its inflight entertainment. Passengers can rent the devices on all flights over one hour. The tablets come preloaded with movies, games, and music.

EasyJet

EasyJet

Photo: lucamascaro / Flickr

EasyJet is a low-cost-carrier based in London. Based on the number of routes and number of passengers carried, it is the largest airline in the UK, and one of the largest in all of Europe. EasyJet’s business model is similar to no-frills US carrier Southwest. Airplanes only have one class and in-flight extras are not provided. However, EasyJet is known for being one of the more customer friendly low cost carriers. It flies to primary airports in major cities, unlike many other low-cost-carriers, which fly to more-remote secondary airports. EasyJet provides service from England to a number of destinations around Europe and even in Northern Africa.

Do you have any insights about finding cheap flights? And how about giving us your nomination for the world’s best low-cost airline? Tell us what’s on your mind in the comments section below.

Josh Lew
Josh Lew
Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

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