Traditional or low cost airline

Booking flights online becomes more and more popular. Especially regarding short trips, many consumers are spoilt for choice: Which airline should they book?


A distinction between low cost carriers and traditional airlines is common. When low cost airlines came onto the market, the differences in price and service were significant. By now, both types of airlines provide cheap tickets with lower service and more expensive tariffs. Differences are vanishing.


Nevertheless, with the following overview ECC Austria tries to help consumers with their decision. The choice, of course, depends on individual preferences, like destination and travel period.


Flight search engines


In order to find the best price, consumers start looking for their flight at a search engine. Websites like, or filter, according to your criteria, the offers of travel agencies, airlines and tour operators. Flight search engines are only useful for a first price comparison. Any further information regarding individual offers are to be found on the website of the provider, where you also book the flight.


But beware: Search engine is not equal to search engine. Not all of them cover all airlines that provide a specific route; some airlines never occur. It is therefore highly recommended to use several search engines and additionally search for the wanted flight directly on the websites of airlines that aren't listed.


Booking platform is not airline


Flight tickets can be booked on the website of the airline or on the website of an online travel agency. In both cases, your contractual partner regarding the performance of the flight is the airline.


Usually, online travel agencies, like all others, charge a fee for conducting the booking. In most cases, this fee is much higher than the one the airline would charge.


In case of a flight change or claims, in our experience, consumers have better chances when they booked directly at the airline. Complaints regarding the poor accessibility of booking portals are becoming more and more.


What to consider when choosing an airline

  • Which airport do you want to reach? Big cities often have several and, depending on your destination, some may be better located than others.
  • How long does the transport from the airport to the city take? How much does it cost?
  • Do you want to travel at a specific time?
  • Do you have check-in luggage?
  • Is it important to you to have a specific seat on the plane?

Hidden costs


Traditional airlines approach airports close to the city, low cost carriers sometimes head for those further away. As a consequence, transfer times and costs may change.


Furthermore, departure and arrival times often differ. What your best choice would be depends on the planned trip (programm, length) and your personal preferences.


With few exceptions, traditional airlines include one piece of check-in luggage even in their cheapest price category. If you book your ticket at a low cost carrier, it is very likely that only hand luggage is included. This may be sufficient for a weekend trip, but not for a longer vacation. Occassionally, the cheap ticket of the low cost carrier becomes even more expensive than the ticket of the traditional airline because you have to book extra luggage.


Sometimes, services like online check-in 24 hours before departure and reservation of a specific seat cost extra.


With some airlines, the online check-in is obligated. If you don't do it, you have to pay a significant extra fee at the airport.


Connecting flight


Due to their alliances, traditional airlines can offer a wide network of routes. Passengers who book a route with connecting flights at once, they get one ticket with only one booking reference number. Their luggage will automatically be transferred to their final destination.


If passengers miss a flight due to a delay of the feeder flight, they will be brought to their destination as soon as possible - without having to pay extra.


Low cost carriers sometimes only sell tickets for sections of the route. So if you fly from A to C over B, you have different contracts for each section. If you miss your connection flight, you are not entitled to further free transportation.

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