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Why Cheap Flights Aren’t Always A Good Deal


by Lou Saunders



When planning a trip, finding cheap flights can seem like a great opportunity to save money. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend less on airfare and have more to put towards their travel experiences? However, it’s important to remember that not all cheap flights are created equal.


In this article, we will explore why cheap flights aren’t always a good deal. While the initial price tag may be enticing, there are hidden costs and compromises that can turn what seemed like a steal into a frustrating and costly experience.


It’s crucial to evaluate the overall value of a flight rather than solely focusing on the ticket price. By understanding the potential pitfalls of cheap flights, you can make informed decisions when booking your next trip and ensure a smoother journey.


So, let’s dive into the hidden costs and drawbacks associated with cheap flights, so you can make the best choices for your travel plans.


The Hidden Costs of Cheap Flights

While cheap flights may offer initial savings, it’s essential to consider the hidden costs that can quickly add up. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Limited Baggage Allowance: Cheap flights often come with strict baggage limits, which means you may have to pay extra fees for checked bags or even carry-on bags that exceed the weight or size restrictions. This can significantly impact your overall travel budget.
  • Extra Fees for Seat Selection: Airlines offering cheap flights may charge additional fees for selecting your seats in advance. If you don’t want to risk being assigned less desirable seats or separated from your travel companions, you may end up paying extra for seat selection.
  • Inconvenient Flight Times: To offer lower fares, airlines may schedule cheap flights during less popular times, such as early mornings, late at night, or inconvenient layovers. This can result in additional expenses for transportation to and from the airport and disrupt your travel plans.
  • Poor Customer Service: Cheap flights often come with compromises in customer service. You might face long waits for assistance, limited support options, and less flexibility in resolving issues or making changes to your itinerary.

These hidden costs and drawbacks can make what initially appeared to be a budget-friendly flight turn into a frustrating and costly experience. To ensure a smooth journey, it’s crucial to assess the overall value of a flight rather than solely focusing on the initial ticket price.


Limited Baggage Allowance

One of the hidden costs of cheap flights is the limited baggage allowance. When booking a budget-friendly ticket, airlines often impose strict restrictions on the amount of baggage you can bring without incurring additional fees. This can be a major inconvenience, especially if you are traveling with larger items or planning to stay at your destination for an extended period.


The baggage limitations can vary from one airline to another, but commonly, cheap flights come with restrictions on both checked and carry-on baggage. For checked bags, you may be limited to a specific weight allowance, typically ranging from 15 to 23 kilograms (33 to 50 pounds). Exceeding this limit can result in hefty extra charges.


Carry-on luggage is also subject to restrictions, both in terms of weight and size. Airlines often have specific dimensions that your bag must fit within to qualify as carry-on baggage. If your bag exceeds the allowed size or weight, you may be required to check it in or pay additional fees.


Travelers often face dilemmas when packing for a trip with limited baggage allowance. They must carefully consider what items are essential and whether they can fit within the weight and size constraints. This can be especially challenging for those who require additional items for medical reasons or have specific equipment needs.


In addition to the added stress of packing within restricted limits, there is also the possibility of incurring unexpected charges. If you exceed the allowed weight or size, you may be required to pay extra fees for each kilogram or inch over the limit. These fees can quickly add up, significantly impacting the overall cost of your supposedly cheap flight.


To avoid these potential issues, it’s important to carefully read and understand the baggage policies of the airline you are considering. If you anticipate exceeding the baggage limits or require additional items, it may be worth comparing the cost of purchasing a higher fare with a more generous baggage allowance. This can save you money in the long run and provide a more convenient travel experience.


Extra Fees for Seat Selection

Another hidden cost associated with cheap flights is the additional fees for seat selection. While it may seem like a basic amenity, many budget airlines require passengers to pay extra if they want to choose their seats in advance. This can come as a surprise to travelers who assume seat selection is included in their ticket price.


The fees for seat selection can vary depending on the airline and the type of seat you desire. Some airlines offer tiered pricing, with more desirable seats, such as those with extra legroom or closer to the front of the aircraft, commanding higher fees. This means that if you wish to secure a more comfortable or convenient seat, you may be required to pay a premium.


This can be particularly inconvenient for families or groups traveling together who want to ensure that they are seated together. Without paying the additional seat selection fees, there is a risk of being assigned seats that are scattered throughout the aircraft, leading to a less enjoyable travel experience.


Furthermore, if you choose not to pay for seat selection and leave it up to chance, you may end up with less desirable seats, such as those near the lavatories, in the middle of rows, or seats that don’t recline. This could result in discomfort during your flight, especially on longer journeys.


To avoid the extra cost of seat selection, some travelers opt to check-in online as early as possible to increase their chances of securing preferred seats without incurring the fees. However, this is not a guaranteed solution, especially during peak travel periods when many passengers are competing for the limited number of desirable seats.


It’s important to factor in the additional fees for seat selection when evaluating the true cost of a cheap flight. Consider your preferences and comfort level during the flight, and weigh them against the extra expense. In some cases, it may be worth paying a slightly higher fare with a different airline that includes seat selection in the ticket price, providing you with a more hassle-free and enjoyable journey.


Inconvenient Flight Times

When it comes to cheap flights, one aspect that often gets overlooked is the inconvenience of the flight times. To offer lower fares, airlines may schedule their cheap flights during off-peak hours or times that are less desirable for travelers. While this may save you money upfront, it can come at the cost of convenience and flexibility in your travel plans.


Early morning or late-night departures are common for budget airlines, as they can take advantage of lower airport fees during these hours. While this may seem like a small inconvenience, it can have a ripple effect on your entire travel experience. You may need to wake up at an ungodly hour to make it to the airport on time, or you may arrive at your destination exhausted and in need of rest.


In addition to inconvenient departure times, cheap flights often come with inconvenient layovers. Airlines may opt for longer layovers to reduce operating costs and offer lower fares. This means that you may be stuck in an airport for several hours, possibly overnight, waiting for your connecting flight. Not only can this be tiresome and dull, but it also eats into your precious travel time.


Moreover, the timing of cheap flights may not align with your preferred travel itinerary. If you have specific plans or activities scheduled upon arrival, a late-night or early morning flight may disrupt your plans or force you to make alternate arrangements. This can result in additional expenses for transportation or accommodations to accommodate the inconvenient flight times.


It’s important to carefully evaluate whether the savings from a cheap flight are worth sacrificing the convenience and flexibility that comes with more favorable flight times. Consider your travel preferences, the purpose of your trip, and the overall impact that inconvenient flight times may have on your travel experience. Sometimes, paying a bit more for a flight with more convenient departure and arrival times can provide a smoother and more enjoyable journey.


Poor Customer Service

One major drawback of opting for cheap flights is the potential for poor customer service. Budget airlines often cut corners in various areas, including customer service, to keep their prices low and maximize profits. While this may not be a concern for some travelers, it can lead to frustrations and difficulties, especially if issues arise during your journey.


One common complaint when it comes to cheap flights is the long wait times and limited support options. With fewer staff members available to assist passengers, you may find yourself spending countless hours on hold or waiting in line to speak with a customer service representative. This lack of prompt assistance can be particularly frustrating when you’re encountering unexpected travel disruptions or have urgent questions or concerns.


Additionally, budget airlines may have limited channels for customer support, with only basic email or phone options available. This lack of flexibility can make it harder to reach out for assistance or clarification regarding your flight. The absence of 24/7 customer support can also leave you feeling stranded if you encounter an issue during non-business hours.


Furthermore, cheap flights often come with stricter policies and less flexibility in accommodating changes to your itinerary. If you need to make modifications to your flight due to unforeseen circumstances or changes in your plans, you may face hefty change or cancellation fees, or even be completely restricted from making any alterations. This lack of flexibility can add stress and potentially lead to further costs.


It’s important to consider the potential impact of poor customer service on your overall travel experience. While the initial savings may seem appealing, the frustrations and limitations associated with subpar customer support can detract from the enjoyment of your trip. Assess the level of customer service provided by the airline before booking your cheap flight and weigh it against the potential savings.


Safety Concerns

While cheap flights can be tempting for budget-conscious travelers, it’s important to consider potential safety concerns that may arise with these low-cost options. Although all airlines must adhere to safety regulations, there are factors associated with budget carriers that can raise some red flags.


One area of concern is the age and maintenance of the aircraft. Some budget airlines operate older planes that may not have the same level of advanced safety features and technology as newer aircraft. While older planes can still be safe, it’s crucial to ensure that they are well-maintained and meet all required safety standards.


In addition, budget airlines often have faster turnaround times between flights, which can put pressure on ground crews to perform quick safety checks. This can increase the risk of overlooking important safety procedures or rushing through maintenance tasks, potentially compromising passenger safety.


Another safety consideration is the training and experience of the crew. Budget airlines may hire less-experienced or part-time staff members to cut costs. While these crew members may still meet the minimum requirements, having a less-experienced team operating the flight may impact their ability to handle emergency situations or provide a higher level of passenger assistance.


It’s important to conduct research on the safety records and reputation of the airline before booking your cheap flight. Look for any significant incidents or accidents in their history, as well as any potential safety concerns that have been raised. Additionally, take note of any safety certifications or accreditations the airline holds, as these can provide reassurance of their commitment to safety.


Ultimately, the decision to prioritize safety over cost is a personal one. While budget airlines can provide affordable travel options, it’s crucial to weigh the potential safety concerns and make an informed decision. If safety is a significant concern for you, it may be worth considering other airlines with a stronger safety track record, even if it means paying a bit more for your ticket.


Hidden Charges during Booking Process

When booking cheap flights, it’s important to be aware of the potential hidden charges that can quickly inflate the overall cost. While the initial ticket price may seem like a great deal, additional fees and charges during the booking process can catch many travelers off guard.


One common hidden charge is the booking fee. Some budget airlines charge a fee for booking your ticket online or through their call center. This fee can vary, and it’s important to factor it into the total cost when comparing prices with other airlines.


Another potential hidden charge is the payment processing fee. Cheap flights often come with additional charges if you choose to pay by certain methods, such as credit card or online payment platforms. These fees, while seemingly small, can add up, especially if you’re booking multiple tickets or have a large travel party.


Additional charges may also apply for services or amenities that are typically included with standard fares. For example, some budget airlines may charge extra for in-flight meals, beverages, or entertainment options. These optional add-ons can significantly increase the overall cost of your flight.


It’s crucial to carefully review the booking details and terms and conditions before confirming your reservation. Look for any additional charges or hidden fees that may apply. Sometimes, opting for a slightly higher fare with a more inclusive airline can save you money in the long run, as you won’t be surprised by unexpected charges during the booking process.


If you’re booking through a third-party website or online travel agency, be especially vigilant about hidden charges. These platforms may add their own fees on top of the airline’s charges. Take the time to compare prices across different booking platforms to ensure you’re getting the best deal without any additional hidden costs.


By being aware of and accounting for these hidden charges, you can accurately assess the true cost of a cheap flight and avoid any unpleasant surprises during the booking process.


Lack of Flexibility and Refund Options

An important consideration when opting for cheap flights is the lack of flexibility and limited refund options. While these flights may offer initial savings, they often come with strict policies and restrictions that can make it challenging to make changes to your plans or receive refunds.


One common limitation is the lack of flexibility in changing your travel dates or making amendments to your itinerary. Budget airlines typically have strict change and cancellation policies, which may require you to pay hefty fees or even forfeit the entire cost of your ticket if you need to make modifications.


Furthermore, some cheap flights may be non-refundable, meaning that if you need to cancel your travel plans for any reason, you may lose the entire value of your ticket. This lack of refund options can leave you with no recourse if unforeseen circumstances, such as illness or other emergencies, force you to cancel your trip.


Another consideration is the limited options for rebooking in case of flight delays or cancellations. While all airlines, regardless of price, can face unexpected disruptions, budget carriers may have fewer resources to accommodate affected passengers. This can result in longer wait times for alternative flights or limited options for rebooking, causing further inconvenience and potential additional expenses for accommodation or transportation.


It’s important to carefully read and understand the terms and conditions associated with the cheap flight before booking. Assess the change and cancellation policies, as well as the refund options, to determine if they align with your needs and preferences. If you anticipate potential changes to your travel plans or require more flexibility, it may be worth considering alternative airlines that offer more lenient policies, even if they have slightly higher fares.


Remember to consider travel insurance as well. While it may come at an additional cost, travel insurance can provide coverage for unexpected events and offer a level of protection against potential financial losses associated with non-refundable tickets or sudden changes to your plans.


By understanding the limitations and lack of flexibility that come with cheap flights, you can make a more informed decision and choose the option that best suits your travel needs and preferences.



While the allure of cheap flights may be enticing, it’s important to approach them with caution and consideration for the potential drawbacks. Cheap flights often come with hidden costs, limited flexibility, and compromised services that can add stress and frustration to your travel experience.


From limited baggage allowances and extra fees for seat selection to inconvenient flight times and poor customer service, there are numerous factors to consider before booking a cheap flight. Additionally, safety concerns and hidden charges during the booking process can further impact the overall value of these budget-friendly options.


When evaluating cheap flights, it’s crucial to assess the overall value rather than solely focusing on the initial ticket price. Consider the additional costs you may incur for baggage, seat selection, and other amenities that are typically included with standard fares. Take into account the potential impact of inconvenient flight times on your travel plans, and weigh the level of customer service and flexibility offered by the airline.


By understanding the potential limitations and drawbacks of cheap flights, you can make more informed decisions when planning your trip. Assess your travel needs and preferences, weighing the affordability against the potential compromises and hidden costs involved.


Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your individual circumstances and priorities. While cheap flights may be appealing for those on a tight budget, it’s essential to carefully consider the trade-offs and make the decision that will provide you with the best overall travel experience.


Remember, the true value of a flight is not solely determined by its price tag, but also by the level of comfort, convenience, flexibility, and peace of mind it offers. So, whether you choose a cheap flight or opt for a slightly higher fare with added benefits, ensure that it aligns with your needs and helps you create lasting travel memories.