Virgin, British Airways, EasyJet – names we’ve all heard, brands we all know, logos we recognise. And obviously fantastic businesses, don’t get me wrong – that said, having been lucky enough to travel more than my fair share over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to delve a little deeper into the competitive world of aircraft carriers, and have been fortunate enough to fly with some pleasantly surprising, lesser-known companies. Have a read of my three favourites – three airlines I’d never heard of upon booking, but will be looking to next time I’m jetting off around the globe.
1) Norwegian Airlines
As it happens, Norwegian are the second largest airline in Scandinavia, servicing routes on a pretty much global basis – all over Europe, the USA, most of the Middle East, Northern Africa and parts of Asia. I’d not heard of them until earlier this year, when we flew from London Gatwick to LAX – for just £239 (approx. $360 USD, one-way).
These guys were, simply put, awesome – from the check-in process (online, 24 hours before you fly) to a quick and easy boarding, our flight left on time and without a hitch. The plane itself was beautiful – a 787 Dreamliner, and one of the most modern machines I’ve flown on. Dimmers instead of blinds for the windows make for beautiful views throughout, without the usual debilitating glare; friendly, chatty staff who do more than just ask if you’d like a tea or coffee, but are genuinely interested in having a chat and seeing how you’re enjoying the flight. And, above all, the money saving is incredible – a direct, one-way flight from London-LA can cost anywhere up to about a thousand pounds, with most other carriers offering the same flight as Norwegian at around double the price.
What’s the trade off, I hear you ask?
You don’t get food on board. Yep, you can either pay a supplement for a meal, otherwise bring food on board from home or purchased in the airport.
Other than that, there are no hidden fees or charges – just a great, friendly airline that’ll get you there hassle free, with a couple of pennies leftover to spend upon arrival. I’d say that’s pretty darn good value for money.
JetStar are an Australian based company backed by the airline giant, Qantas. They service routes across Oz, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region specifically, with company values based around low fares and good service – and they don’t disappoint.
From the get-go, JetStar’s employees were, without a shadow of a doubt, the most friendly I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with – genuine smiles, a great sense of humour. The check-in queue was scarily long, but moved so fast that we barely felt we’d waited at all. The plane seemed huge, clean enough and modern… And the legroom. Oh my, the legroom. I stand at 5 ft 11″, the Boy at 6 ft 2″, and the two of us had legroom FOR DAYS. No knees being crushed against the seat in front, no pins and needles from being stuck in one position for 10 hours, no; JetStar have somehow managed to create a huge amount of space and a comfortable, friendly and enjoyable flight routine.
To give you some price comparison, we flew direct from Honolulu-Sydney and our flight cost us £202 (approx. $310 USD). A quick online search will show you other airlines offering direct flights for an average of around £400-£500, with some even charging more for flight paths INCLUDING a stopover. In terms of internal/domestic flights, we managed to bag a flight from Sydney-Melbourne for just $68 AUD – about 30 quid.
JetStar – if you’re over towards this side of the world, they should be your first go-to, no questions asked.
3) Air Transat
Ah, Air Transat. Last, but certainly not least, and – big shout here – my personal favourite airline.
What an absolute gem.
Air Transat are a Canadian company focused on sustainable tourism, low priced seats and high quality flights. I’ve been fortunate enough to fly with these guys twice this year (so far) and, each time, have been so pleasantly surprised. Upon setting foot on one of their planes, you would genuinely have no idea that they’re a “budget” airline, as it were – spacious, clean and new, with awesome in-flight entertainment (new release movies and a great selection of TV shows), tasty food (INCLUDED – a joyous discovery for any budget traveller) and – better yet! – cheap drinks. I’ve flown from London-Vancouver for just £356, and Calgary-London for $444 Canadian (approx. £220), but they offer even cheaper fares, including Canada to various cities in Scotland for less than £200 one-way, and Toronto to London airports from £190.
Air Transat are the best value for money I’ve ever seen in an airline – no hidden fees, baggage included, beautiful flying machines.
Wondering where to go next? For 200 quid, jump on a flight to Canada. At that price, why in the world would you say no?
Click here to go to their homepage, and see if you can’t bag yourself a bargain today. Or, click here to whet your wanderlust and have a look at their list of destinations; whether you fancy marvelling at the magnificent Niagara Falls near Toronto, chowing-down and checking out Vancouver’s awesome foodie scene or snowboarding in the stunning Canadian Rockies – be spontaneous, cats, and book it with Air Transat.