If you’re looking for cheap flight options in the United States or around the world, there are some discount airlines you need to know about.
They may be “flying beneath your radar” because they’re relatively new or they service routes that aren’t at the mega-airports.
In this article, I’ll fill you in on where these five airlines fly and what they offer. I’ll also compare their prices to legacy carriers and other discounters.
Breeze Airways was founded in 2018 by JetBlue founder David Neeleman. The Breeze website says the company focuses on providing “nonstop service between underserved routes across the U.S.” while providing “affordable fares.”
As of July 2022, the website shows that Breeze flies to 30 destinations across the United States, including Syracuse, N.Y., to Las Vegas and Provo, Utah, to San Francisco.
Breeze has three fare classes: “Nice,” “Nicer” and “Nicest.”
There are no fees for flight changes or cancellations, but all Breeze tickets are technically non-refundable, so you'll get your money back in the form of a travel voucher that's good for 24 months.
Nice fares let you can carry on only a personal item for free.
Nicer fares allow you to bring one carry-on bag and one checked bag for free. You also get priority boarding, a complimentary snack bar and drink and a seat with extra legroom.
Nicest fares are available only on long-haul flights and let you bring a carry-on and check two bags for free. You also get a snack and a beverage.
Breeze is the only airline that flies nonstop from White Plains, N.Y. (Westchester County Airport) to Los Angeles (LAX). I looked up prices for round-trip, early morning flights, traveling on Wednesdays in October.
If it's not included in your fare, the baggage situation gets complicated. Not only is there no set rate (the Breeze website provides this calculator), but if you wait until four hours before your flight to pay for your bags, you'll pay a surcharge of at least $50.
You can pay to get a pre-assigned seat ($10-$30) and for a seat with more legroom ($20-$50). Got an extra $3 handy? You can pay it to Breeze to get your boarding pass printed at the airport.
If you are looking for entertainment while on a Breeze flight, you won’t find it. Breeze doesn’t offer movies or Wi-Fi. I talked with a Breeze representative who told me the airline does plan to offer streaming options and Wi-Fi at a later date on new aircraft.
There is a full menu of drinks and snacks available for purchase on board.
Created in 2018, Avelo Airlines serves 25 destinations with bases in Burbank, Calif., Orlando, Fla., and New Haven, Conn. But it doesn’t fly cross-country. Instead, it has routes in the west (mostly from Burbank and a couple from Las Vegas) and others primarily along the East Coast including several destinations in Florida.
Avelo has just one class of service, and you’re allowed only a personal item on board for free.
Avelo flies direct from Baltimore (BWI) to Orlando (MCO). I compared prices using evening fares departing on a Monday in August and returning in the morning a week later.
According to the Avelo website, carry-on bags and checked bags are $40 each if you pay when you book your ticket. The prices go up if you wait.
But I talked with an Avelo representative in early July 2022, and she told me that you can bring a carry-on bag on board for free if it weighs less than 30 lbs. She admitted that the website is confusing and says the airline is working to resolve the issue.
My advice is to check the website very carefully during the booking process so you don’t get hit with unexpected baggage charges. And unfortunately, if you need phone help when booking or changing a reservation, there’s a $20 charge.
Selecting a seat in advance starts at $11, and priority boarding costs $15.
Avelo does not have any type of inflight entertainment or Wi-Fi.
There are no food offerings on board, but you do get a complimentary bottle of water.
Founded in February 2021, Norse Atlantic Airways flies only eight routes as of July 2022; all of them are transatlantic.
Norse Atlantic flies from New York (JFK) to London (Gatwick). I looked up prices using evening fares on a Wednesday in September and returning a week later on afternoon flights.
Within each of Norse Atlantic’s two fare classes, there are three bundled upgrade levels that charge various fees for carry-on bags, checked bags, priority boarding, meals and how much you’ll pay if you need to change your flight.
If you fly at the cheapest level, Economy Light and don’t choose any of the upgrade packages, you’ll be allowed to bring only a personal item on board for free.
You can purchase food and drinks on board (if you want more than what's included in your upgrade bundle), and the menu also includes blankets, earphones and neck pillows – not to mention a full range of duty-free products.
Norse Atlantic offers movies and TV shows on demand at every seat.
It also provides USB and power outlets, but there’s nothing on the carrier’s website about the availability of Wi-Fi.
Money expert Clark Howard recently mentioned Norse Atlantic on his podcast. "Norse is flying from a number of U.S. cities at fares that are really, really, really, really cheap," he said. "And by the way, if you like a fancy seat, their premium seats are so much cheaper than they are on anybody else."
Founded in 2019, Play Airlines is based in Iceland, and all of its flights either terminate or connect through Reykjavik.
Play serves 26 destinations and has recently started service to the U.S. with destinations of Boston, Mass., Baltimore, Md., and Hudson Valley, N.Y. Play was created by investors of the now-defunct airline WOW Air.
Play flies from Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland. I compared prices for round-trip fares on Wednesday evenings, a week apart, in July.
If you bring a carry-on bag, you automatically get priority seating, but it’s not free. It starts at $26 and goes up depending on the route and the time of year. Checked bags start at $32. You’re allowed to bring a personal item on board for free.
Play Air's add-on menu is a sight to behold: It's huge, so here's a link.
It covers everything from “seating” (but doesn’t explain exactly what that means) starting at $6 and goes up to unaccompanied minor fees and trip insurance. Again, the prices depend on route and season.
Considering the segments on Play are on the shorter side (under six hours), I was surprised to see such a large in-flight menu. There are a variety of cold sandwiches, wraps, snacks, sweets, and beverages both alcoholic and non-alcoholic available for purchase.
There is no Wi-Fi and no inflight entertainment.
Flair Airlines is based in Edmonton, Alberta, and has been around since 2005. It started service to the U.S. just last October.
Flair serves 39 destinations with 13 of them in the U.S. It also has flights to Cancun and to Puerto Vallarta.
Flair flies from Fort Lauderdale to Toronto. I looked up prices for late morning or afternoon flights on Fridays, a week apart, in August.
Flair offers only Economy seating, and you get to bring just a personal item on board for free.
You'll see more fare classes on the website when you start to book your flight, but those apply to the hundreds of other airlines you can book through Flair's website.
Carry-on bags start at $29, and checked bags start at $49. The price goes up depending on whether you pay online or at the airport.
Instead, you can purchase bundles of services that include baggage combinations and a waiver of flight change fees. You can also pay for changes or cancellations separately.
Seat selection starts at $10, and seats with extra legroom start at $25. Priority boarding costs $10. If you need personal assistance checking in at the airport, be prepared to pay $25 for it – per flight, per passenger.
Flair’s entertainment offerings are all on its mobile app. Per the company website, it includes “engaging content, games and movies.” Wi-Fi is free on board.
Flair offers a wide range of snacks and beverages for purchase.
Pro tip: Don’t be surprised if you’re charged more than the menu price for a drink. Why? In very fine print on the menu (which you’ll find on the app), it says, “… to support sustainability, Flair will be charging $0.10 for every single use plastic cup.” The good news here is that dime appears to be in Canadian money.
Whenever booking on a deep discounter or any airline, be sure to add up the add-on fees to make sure you are truly getting a good deal.
Booking a fully refundable fare allows you to shop around and monitor prices. If a deal pops up elsewhere, you can always cancel the more expensive and book elsewhere.
Clark has a habit of letting cheap flights dictate his travel destinations.
Have you flown with these airlines? Tell us about your experience in our Clark.com Community.
More Travel Resources from Clark.com:
- 5 Things To Do if You Need To Book a Trip This Summer
- How To Plan a Trip: Clark's Best Travel Tips To Save Money
- The Best Ways To Protect Yourself Against Airline Cancellations
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