Some good Web resources for finding budget airlines worldwide

Six years ago, I wrote a piece about easyJet for the Washington Post‘s travel section in which I described a five-leg trip I took through Europe on the airline for the price of a long-distance train ticket.

The flights were so cheap, if I recall, that the question is this to good to be true? underpinned the journey. I was looking for the catch in flying a cheap-o airline and was pleasantly surprised when I did not encounter one.

EasyJet had been around for about 10 years at the time, but American travelers were only just becoming aware of it and awakening to the possibility of seeking out low cost airlines as a viable, cheap alternative. Since then the budget airline industry has exploded with growth in pretty much every region save Africa, and they are now pretty much the only choice for travelers looking to cover great distances quickly and affordably. They’ve also helped drive down fares at major carriers; it’s not impossible to get a better prices these days on Germany’s national carrier, Lufthansa, than on Germanwings or Tuifly, two German budget airlines.

And as major carriers worldwide bleed money in the current economy, budget airlines are among the only ones in the industry posting consistent, if in some cases meager, profits and boasting of increasing passenger numbers and future expansion plans.

There are a few good Web resources to check out as you plan your next trip. Wherever you are going — Europe, Asia, South America — chances are there is a reputable budget airline that can help you save both time and money.

  • Skytrax publishes its annual World Airline Awards, and the ones that focus on budget airlines are a good place to start if you’re researching the best carriers in a given region. And the rankings are reputable: Skytrax surveys more than 4 million travelers. EasyJet won top honors for 2008.

  • Skytrax also publishes comprehensive reviews and customer comments on all airlines. If you want to find out about a particular low cost carrier, go here and type the airline’s name in the search bar.

  • The Flight Safety Foundation publishes a reliable information on airplane safety. Not sure whether a budget carrier is reputable? See what this site has to say.

  • WhichBudget is a useful site that culls the cheapest flying options between two destinations you choose.

  • Low Cost Airline Guide is a great, easy to use resource for digesting budget airline options between destinations in Europe.