When I first moved to Spain in 2011 my teaching scholarship paid €700 a month. After covering the cost of rent and food that left me with an itsy bitsy travel budget…but even so I still managed to visit 9 countries in 9 months. The secret? Super cheap flights! In the last 8 years I’ve perfected the art of finding the best deals and after reading this post you’ll know how to get the cheapest flights in Europe too.
Monthly view option on skyscanner
Every time I plan a trip the first thing I do is check skyscanner.net with the ‘whole month’ option selected. This way you’ll be able to view the cheapest days to fly out of the entire month. If your travel dates are flexible check out the cheapest month option as well. Note you can select non-stop flights too—but keep in mind this might increase prices.
Cheapest airlines in Europe
Ryanair and Easyjet are the cheapest airline options in Europe. Vueling is one of the cheapest options if you’re traveling within Spain. Keep in mind the farther in advance you book the cheaper the flights will be. Ryanair normally offers the best prices on flights, but there are a few things you NEED to know before traveling with them. Ryanair was named “Europe’s most hated airline” for a reason—they’ll squeeze money out of you any chance they get. Look out for these issues when flying with Ryanair:
- Beware of Ryanair’s €55 check-in fee: Ryanair charges a €55 ‘check-in fee’ per person if you show up to the airport without your boarding pass. Always check-in online ahead of time and print your ticket or download the app to get your digital ticket.
- Visa check for non-EU citizens: You can use the Ryanair app for a digital ticket, but if you are not a EU/EEA citizen (e.g. you’re from the U.S.) you will need to print out your ticket and complete a ‘visa check’ in order to fly. As soon as you get to the airport find a Ryanair counter and ask to do your visa check. Ryanair staff will check your passport and stamp your ticket. The process itself is quick but it can take time if there’s a line at the counter. Get to the airport a little earlier for the visa check even if you’re not checking a bag.
- Strict cabin bag policy: Since Ryanair changed its baggage policy I always upgrade to ‘priority’ to avoid the hassle of storing my luggage in the hold. Also, I personally think if you upgrade to priority they don’t scrutinize the size of your luggage as much—if your bag is slightly bigger than the allowed size they’ll force you to pay €40 to check the bag.
Flight connections and delays
When traveling on a budget you will likely have multiple connections en route to your destination. My top tip is to always book flights with the same airline (for all legs of the journey) and give yourself at least a 2 hour layover for each stop. If a delay causes you to miss your connection let the gate agents know as soon as possible and they will try to book an alternate flight for you. If your connection isn’t available the same day they should cover the cost of your accommodation and food for the night.
Did you know you can receive money for delayed flights?
In accordance with EU Regulation 261/2004 a passenger is entitled to €250 – €600 of compensation in case of:
- Flight delay more than 3 hours
- Flight cancellation
- Denied boarding due to overbooking
- Missed connection due to a delay of the first segment (you arrived at your destination more than 3 hours later than planned)
The only requirement is that your disrupted flight needs to have happened within the last six years (depending on the country of departure)…
- within the EU (on any airline)
- leaving the EU (on any airline)
- or arriving into EU (on EU airline)
You could be eligible for up to €600 in compensation per passenger. Use Compensair to see if you’re eligible and how much money you’re entitled to. Compensair is a free, no obligation flight check service. Note you don’t have to be an EU citizen to receive compensation.
Price drop email lists
I love getting emails from Scott’s Cheap Flights and Jack’s Flight Club. Choose your closest departure points and they’ll notify you any time there are ridiculously low fares on flights. If you’re strapped for cash subscribe to their emails to save dinero and get a blast of destination inspiration each time you open your inbox.
Here’s an example of the type of content featured in their emails:
DISCLAIMER: This post was created in partnership with Compensair. Thank you for supporting companies that make Kate‘s Travel Tips possible! To use this service for yourself head over to the Compensair website now. If you have any questions about using this service feel free to reach out using my contact form or post a comment below.