Low cost airlines tips and tricks

Cabin baggage is very important for business travel. Correction: time is very important for business travellers

There was once a time when low cost airlines were not part of the business travel picture, with travel bookers wary of their hidden costs, confusing luggage allowances and perceived lower levels of service. But then, one by one, the low cost carriers started jumping on the corporate bandwagon, and today even the likes of easyJet and Ryanair offer a ‘flexi fare’ aimed at business travellers. Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, the go-to airline for UK business travellers, British Airways, has started offering hand luggage-only fares and charging for seat allocation in an effort to compete with the other low cost offerings. In other words, the line between low cost carrier and so-called legacy carriers is no longer clearly defined.

But are the low cost carriers worth it once all the hidden extras are taken into consideration? Follow our hints and tips below to help you decide:

Seat pitch and width

Seat pitch is defined as the distance from a point on a seat to the same point on the seat in the row behind, while seat width is the distance between the armrests on one individual seat. Obviously, the larger both measurements, the more comfortable your travellers will be. BA, Flybe, Eurowings and Wizz Air all offer a seat pitch of 76.2cm with a width of 45.7cm. This is only beaten by Aer Lingus with a pitch of 78cm, but a slightly narrower seat at 43.1cm.


Free cabin baggage size

Cabin baggage is very important for business travel. Correction: time is very important for business travellers. Travelling with cabin baggage not only saves your travellers a lot of waiting around at baggage reclaim and therefore, the more free cabin baggage allowed, the better. British Airways and easyJet offer the most generous cabin baggage allowances in terms of weight and size, up to 56 x 45 x 25cm.

Hold baggage costs

The additional cost of hold baggage is a common tipping point for those thinking they are getting a bargain with a low cost airline. Some airlines charge as much as the ticket itself to put a bag in the hold, making that great value flight to Paris not such a bargain after all. It’s important to check the cost of checked-in baggage before travel, and to book it in advance if possible, as this is often cheaper than paying for it at check-in. Prices range from £25 per 23kg bag one-way with BA to £8.99 for a 15kg bag with easyJet, although checkedin bags are included on easyJet’s flexi and business fares. Eurowings works out the cheapest, with prices starting at just £7 for a 23kg bag, depending on which route you’re booking.

Seat selection

Seat selection may not sound all that important, but actually, there’s more to it than choosing between a window or aisle seat. Business travellers in a hurry may want to be near the front to make a quick exit for example. All low cost airlines charge to preselect your seat, with prices ranging from £1 with Wizz Air and anywhere between £1.99 and £21.99 with easyJet. This is where booking the more premium classes can help, as seat selection is often then included, saving you all the hassle of working out extra costs. With British Airways unless you have booked a Basic ticket (economy, hand baggage only), you can reserve your seat for free when check-in opens (24 hours before departure).

The very nature of business travel means that bookings are often made last-minute, so it’s a good idea to check the small print so you know what to expect in the case that your travellers’ plans change.

With a Basic ticket (economy, hand baggage only), you can either pay to reserve your seat from the moment you book until check-in opens, or they will allocate you a seat for free when check-in opens. You can then pay to change to a different seat, although your choice may be limited. Bronze British Airways Executive Members can select a seat for free from seven days before departure. Silver and Gold Executive Club holders can pre-select a seat at the time of booking.

Costs to make changes to the ticket

The very nature of business travel means that bookings are often made last-minute, so it’s a good idea to check the small print so you know what to expect in the case that your travellers’ plans change. The cost to change a ticket can range from free to £62 plus the fare difference with Eurowings, from £60 with BA, and between £15 and £45 per sector with easyJet (although it’s included on their flexi and business fares), depending on how far in advance the change is made.


Loyalty schemes

Your travellers will be more likely to fly with a particular airline if they have signed up to its loyalty scheme. This is great if the carrier is on your preferred airlines list, but if not, make sure your company travel policy states that loyalty scheme membership can’t sway your travellers decision process if they should be booking the cheapest flights available. British Airways, Aer Lingus, Eurowings, easyJet and Flybe have loyalty schemes. Jet2 and Ryanair do not.

Other useful information


To avoid surprise additional charges, it’s definitely worth reading your airline’s small print before booking. Furthermore, look out for airlines charging airport check-in fees (Wizz Air, Jet2 and Ryanair do this), which you can avoid by encouraging your travellers to check in online. In Ryanair’s case check-in fees can be as much as £50 each way. Rather than poring over numerous websites you could work with a travel management company with highly experienced travel consultants, such as Corporate Traveller. We can do the leg work for you – comparing different airlines, routes, baggage allowances, plus everything in between, to save your travel bookers time, reduce costs to your bottom line and offer the most practical options for your travellers.