As a result of darting about all over Europe for the last year and a half, I’ve chalked up a fair few miles on a lot of different airlines. Doing lots of weekend trips has meant not only cheap-as-chips easyJet and Ryanair flights but also pleasant journeys with the likes of bmi, British Airways and Lufthansa. The contrast is vast, and everything from the attitude of flight attendants to how comfortable the seats are can mean the difference between arriving refreshed, ready to explore, or exhausted and crashing out in your hostel.
These guys fly mostly out of London Heathrow, but also out of Glasgow and Edinburgh and other British cities to a multitude of European destinations. On board you’ll encounter great, friendly service with a complimentary meal (usually a sandwich – the pesto and mozzarella is a good’un) and a drink (the multiple cans of Stella are always welcome). Prices are always reasonable, generally starting at £49-£69 one way.
Where you’ll most likely fly to with them to in Europe: Berlin, Dublin, Vienna, Bergen, Stavanger, Basel and Moscow.
The flag carrier of the very mountainous, very beautiful and very expensive country of Switzerland, you’ll be flying out of London Heathrow and City airports with SWISS. They serve up AMAZING milk chocolate during short-haul flights as well as pretzels. Very swish cabin interiors, with seats made by Recaro. All staff speak and all announcements made in English, French and German. You should be able to snap yourself up a return flight to the cities below for around £150.
Where you’ll most likely fly to with them to in Europe: Basel, Geneva and Zurich.
Using London Heathrow as their global hub, British Airways fly to almost everywhere you can think of worldwide. A lot of flights also depart from London Gatwick and London City. Onboard, it’s a pretty nice story. Seats are comfortable and you’ll always receive a complimentary snack and a drink. Return flights will kick off at about £150.
Where you’ll most likely fly to with them to in Europe: There isn’t many places BA don’t fly to in Europe. Think of a major European city and chances are they fly there from London Heathrow.
Probably the best value airline around, these guys have one of the most comprehensive networks in Europe. They’ll get you from most British airports to holiday and business destinations right across Europe. In the London area, they use Stansted, Luton and Gatwick airports. Staff onboard are friendly, courteous and there to help you out. For a low-cost carrier, they do a bloody good job. Food and drink is available to buy onboard and the seats are pretty comfortable. As with all low-cost airlines, it’s a first come, first served basis on boarding (no allocated seating).
Here comes the best part, the price. Expect to pay in the realm of £20 one way if you book in advance. Prices rise sharply the closer you book to the date you want to travel. Most flights I’ve taken have rarely exceeded £100 return, but make sure you compare flights based on different dates, as you could save loads.
Where you’ll most likely fly to with them to in Europe: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris, Madrid, almost everywhere. Since I’ve been in Europe, I’ve definitely flown with these guys the most.
Ah Ryanair. Everybody hates them but they don’t care. There always the cheapest and that’s all that matters to them. They make you feel like you’re being violated the entire time you’re on one of their flights. The constant attempts to mislead and rip you off at every point possible and the cheesy horse race music they play on landing with the voiceover of “this has been another on-time Ryanair flight” make for a cringeworthy experience. Let’s not forget about them trying to sell you smokeless cigarettes the whole time.
To top it off, they have a STUPID rule that no other European airline has – mandatory visa checks at the airport for non-EU passport holders. This means that even though you’ve checked in online and you’ve printed your boarding pass, if you hold a non-EU passport like me, you still have to queue up to have your frayed A4 piece of paper stamped with ink that means nothing to border authorities..
They fly out of London Stansted, Luton and Gatwick to lots of little airports all over Europe. They have a notorious reputation of listing that they fly to a major city e.g. Barcelona, but then listing in brackets the name of the town they actually fly to (in this case, Girona or Reus. Both towns in Spain that are 100 km+ and a long bus ride from Barcelona).
Ryanair are famous for offering £1 flights. These prices are still common, but they then charge an “admin fee”. And to check in online. And taxes, and so on. So what starts as a £5.99 flight quickly becomes a £50.99 flight.
Where you’ll most likely fly to with them to in Europe: Everywhere except where you actually want to go. They don’t fly to many major European airport hubs.
Where to next?
This is just but a few airlines you’ll come across travelling in Europe. With loads of small regional and national carriers operating across the continent, you’re sure to experience for yourself the variety in service, on-board food, and airport lounges. All this kind of stuff is one of the most awesome things about travel.
Disclosure: I wasn’t paid or sponsored for the opinions in this post at all. It’s merely a rundown of airlines I have experienced firsthand. All opinions are my own and uncompensated.
This post does however contain a sponsored link provided by Cheapflights.co.uk, but all content is my own.