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Battle of the low-cost airlines: is Ryanair the cheapest?

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We all know that Ryanair is the cheapest, right? Well, not quite. Ryanair is famous for their hidden fees, and our recent research shows that they make a big impact on the final cost. In fact, when all costs are counted, there are three other airlines that come out cheaper: Pegasus Airlines, Wizz Air and Blue Air.

Who is the cheapest of them all?

Even though Ryanair is considered to be the cheapest airline, this is true only when comparing the basic fare without fees. When the total fare is counted, including transaction fee and checked baggage fee for 20 kg bag, the cheapest carrier is Pegasus Airlines with a total average price of €63.19, followed by Wizz Air (€75.74) and Blue Air (€82.45). Ryanair comes in at 4th place with €83.45.

On the other end of the list there are airlines with relatively high prices – e.g. the average flight with fees operated by Fly Thomas Cook costs €206.76, making it three times more expensive than Pegasus and more than twice the price of Ryanair.

Be careful where you click…

Low-cost airlines make a lot of money on the various fees, and their creativity seems to be endless. For example, when booking your flights with Ryanair, be very careful in every step of the booking procedure. Ryanair hides some of the fees very smartly (e.g. travel insurance). When adding checked baggage to your booking, think twice before you choose whether you want to carry 15 kg or 20 kg. If you buy the smaller one and bring 5 excess kilos to the airport it will cost you €100! And of course, do not forget to print out and bring your boarding pass, otherwise you will have to pay €70 boarding card re-issue fee.

Wizz Air goes even further with its fee to carry on larger hand baggage. And that is not all – priority boarding fee, reserved seating fee, sms confirmation fee, more legroom fee or “free of charge changes” fee.

Travelling low-cost can be a minefield with all the companies trying to “offer” you extras. These optional features can cost you a fortune and their real value is questionable. Priority boarding for example will not make your journey shorter. You will spend the same time waiting for your flight, just more of it in the aircraft itself instead at the gate. And finally, try to fit everything into hand baggage and pay with a debit card, as payment with credit cards often leads to extra transaction fees.

Comparing the total price including fees

List of low-cost airlines according to the average total price (20 kg baggage and transaction fees included).

Airline Total price (in EUR)
Pegasus Airlines 63.19
Wizz Air 75.74
Blue Air 82.45
Ryanair 83.45
easyJet 89.97
Air One 91.00
Eurolot 97.05
Volotea 103.75
Vueling 108.01
flybe 111.84
Meridiana 121.27
germanwings 123.68
Transavia 132.05
airBaltic 140.23
HOP! 140.62
Norwegian Air Shuttle 142.70
Monarch Airlines 159.48
Jet2 165.45
WOW air 189.39
Fly Thomas Cook 206.76

Apart from the average ticket price, the total price includes checked baggage fee for 20 kg bag and transaction (payment processing) fees. Checked baggage fee may vary according to the destination. The stated price is always for one-way international short-haul flights in the cheapest tariff operated in October/November 2013. Transaction fees are based on payments with a VISA debit card.

Comparing the „basic“ price without fees

List of low-cost airlines according to the average ticket price.

Airline Average ticket price (in EUR)
Ryanair 58.45
Wizz Air 60.74
Pegasus Airlines 63.19
Blue Air 65.45
easyJet 72.97
Air One 80.00
Volotea 88.75
flybe 89.84
Vueling 95.01
Eurolot 97.05
HOP! 110.62
germanwings 111.18
Transavia 112.05
airBaltic 114.25
Meridiana 121.27
Norwegian Air Shuttle 133.70
Monarch Airlines 147.49
Jet2 148.95
WOW air 163.04
Fly Thomas Cook 184.76

Average ticket price is based on one-way flights operated by stated airlines. The average prices were calculated from more than 300,000 prices of flights operated in the future (October 2013 and later) searched by WhichAirline.com u­sers.


  • Maxine

    about 7 months ago

    Bristol Airport is my close by airport and it is a lot cheaper to fly from one of the airlines in London. For our trip to Portugal we will fly from London Gatwick on EasyJet. EasyJet is great for my disabled son and they always take care of his wheelchair. We had a lovely Ryanair flight to Lithuania which was cheap.

  • max

    about 5 years ago

    Interesting timing for this to come out.....we just completed a 40 day Europe trip.

    We actually flew Pegasus Istanbul-Barcelona. Although the flight left 25 minutes late, that is the only negative to report....other than that it was a good experience. It does fly out of Sabiha Gokcen airport instead of Ataturk if that is an issue for anyone, but it wasn't for us.

  • Clas Johansson

    about 6 years ago

    Very interesting list. I hope it will get a lot of publicity. I will definitely write about it!

    Clas Johansson, tripant.com

  • Cat

    about 6 years ago

    I assume this comparison has taken into account flight duration as well as used the same route/dates for all the same searches?

  • Petra

    about 6 years ago

    Hi Clabbe,
    we tried to compare all European airlines not e.g. airlines departing from UK. You're right that this can differ from country to country because the prices of even one airline differ a lot according to the departure and arrival airport.

  • Clabbe

    about 6 years ago

    How was this measured?
    As I can bet that all of these airlines does not compete on the same routes which makes this comparison really honest.

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