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The Higher Flyer

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Low Cost Carriers (LCCs)

How To: Not get screwed by Spirit

Spirit offers a far from glamorous flying experience, but its no-frills service approach isn’t exactly the reason why the airline so reviled. Its flight crews and staff are helpful and competent and pretty kind, while the carrier’s operational reliability is just about in line with everyone else in the industry. Its fleet is even the youngest in North America! Spirit is fine — definitely no more awful than its legacy competitors like American, Delta, and United — and its fares are markedly cheaper. “How does the airline make money?” you might wonder. Easy: its notorious fees make profit margins skyrocket. You definitely wouldn’t be the first to scream “Spirit sucks!” as your expenses balloon and frustrations mount… but you don’t have to suffer this fate.

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(Dis)Spirited Away?

The key to happiness, some say, is to keep low expectations. You may agree with that sentiment, you may not, but when you’re planning a trip on Spirit, it definitely helps to have that frame of mind. Its tickets, which are (affectionately?) referred to as “bare fares,” are just that: means for you to get from point A to point B. You’ll have to pay extra for everything that you might possibly want on a plane — including drinking water — but if you know what you’re getting in to, you’ll tolerate Spirit at the minimum. If you can play its game and avoid making some far-too-common mistakes, you’ll easily save a lot more than what you would on a legacy carrier. Your fatter wallet alone can be worth those frustrating, tacked-on fees, and while the travel experience itself is far from perfect, who cares at prices like these? #FlyHigher indeed.

Continue reading “(Dis)Spirited Away?”

Airline Guide: International Low Cost Carriers

Introduction

Low cost carriers (LCCs) have been hugely important in mobilizing the world, particularly in Europe and Southeast Asia. Thanks to efficiency-boosting technological advances (i.e. cheap planes!) within an industry that’s normalizing cost-cutting corporate business models (i.e. more fees!), running an airline is becoming increasingly less expensive (and far more profitable). New companies have since emerged in wake of these trends, such as Ryanair and AirAsia, and committed themselves to passing savings on to consumers.

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Air Asia Hot Seats mini-Review

“Should I pay for that?”

This shouldn’t be a surprise given the headline, but this post won’t be a full-blown review. It primarily seeks to answer some frequently asked questions: are a few extra inches of space/baggage/food worth the extra cost? If you’re flying on a low cost carrier like AirAsia, there’s a good chance you’re budget conscious and you want to balance your comfort with your expenses. Perhaps this post will give you a better sense of what to expect. Continue reading “Air Asia Hot Seats mini-Review”

Airline Guide: American Low Cost Carriers

Introduction

Low cost carriers, like Southwest, JetBlue, and Spirit, play interesting roles in the landscape of the American commercial aviation industry. When Southwest Airlines was established in 1967, it made a business model focused on minimizing operating costs mainstream, and that correspondingly changed the dynamic of air travel forever. Continue reading “Airline Guide: American Low Cost Carriers”

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