The aviation industry in the United States has undergone a transformation in recent years, with the rise of low-cost carriers providing affordable travel options to budget-conscious passengers.
Air travel is now accessible to a broader demographic while helping backpackers move from one state to the other easily and cheaply.
Let’s see which are the top five low-cost airlines in the US, and what their key features and advantages are.
5. Southwest Airlines − the pioneer of low-cost travel
With its iconic heart-shaped logo and unwavering commitment to friendly customer service, Southwest Airlines has established a loyal following among travellers seeking affordable and hassle-free air travel.
Its portfolio includes over 100 destinations across the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
From bustling metropolises like Los Angeles, New York, and Orlando to charming coastal towns and hidden gems in the heartland, Southwest caters to a wide spectrum of travel preferences.
A hallmark of Southwest’s service is its generous baggage allowances. Unlike many low-cost airlines, Southwest allows passengers to check two bags for free, eliminating the stress and extra costs associated with baggage fees.
The open-seating system further enhances the flexibility and convenience of its service. Upon boarding, passengers are free to choose their preferred seats.
Its frequent flyer program, Rapid Rewards, rewards loyal travellers with points that can be redeemed for discounted fares, upgrades, and even companion passes.
This valuable program adds an incentive for repeat travel as well, and on top of that, the airline consistently offers sales and promotions.
Providing opportunities for budget-conscious travellers is a priority for Southwest, and it is the reason why it is a top choice for them.
4. Allegiant Air − connecting small cities with big savings
Allegiant Air specialises in connecting smaller cities and towns to popular destinations, filling a crucial gap in the low-cost airline market.
By primarily flying into secondary airports, Allegiant keeps operational costs down and passes the resulting savings on to passengers.
This unique strategy has not only made air travel more accessible but has also fostered economic development in communities that may not have had direct flight options previously.
Allegiant’s commitment to affordability is evident in its pricing structure. Base fares are often remarkably low, attracting budget-conscious travellers.
The unbundled pricing model also allows passengers to select only the services they require. This flexibility empowers passengers to tailor their travel experience and control their costs.
Allegiant offers vacation packages that combine airfare and hotel accommodations as well, providing a convenient and cost-effective solution for those planning getaways.
Allegiant’s pet-friendly policy stands out among low-cost carriers, allowing small pets to travel in the cabin for a fee.
This policy caters to pet owners who prioritise travelling with their furry companions, providing a convenient and stress-free option for pet-inclusive travel.
Beginning next year, Allegiant Air will be expanding its service across the country with 12 new routes, including flights to Orlando International Airport (MCO) for the first time.
The new routes will launch in the spring of 2024 and will connect Orlando with Asheville, NC (AVL), Allentown, PA (ABE), and Knoxville, TN (TYS).
3. Spirit Airlines − ultra-low-cost with bare fare options
Spirit Airlines has carved a niche in the US aviation industry, catering to budget-conscious travellers seeking direct flights to a variety of destinations.
Spirit’s aircraft fly over 70 destinations across the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Additionally, Spirit provides valuable connectivity to underserved markets, particularly smaller and mid-sized cities.
The company has earned a reputation for its ultra-low-cost model, featuring bare fare options where passengers pay only for the seat, with additional fees for extras such as baggage and seat selection.
While this à la carte approach may initially seem unconventional, it allows travellers to tailor their experience and potentially save money on services they may not need.
Loyal travellers who fly with Spirit Airlines regularly are rewarded through the company’s Spirit Saver program with miles that can be redeemed for discounted fares, upgrades, and other perks.
The airline further enhances its cost-efficiency through its Big Front Seat initiative, an alternative to traditional business or first-class seating.
These spacious front-row seats offer passengers enhanced legroom and a more comfortable travel experience while still maintaining affordability.
Spirit Airlines announced plans to expand its service to Florida and beyond, adding new routes from several major cities to smaller airports in the region.
The airline plans to launch flights from Washington, D.C., to Punta Gorda Airport (PGD), Rapid City, SD, to Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), and Bismarck, ND, to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE).
2. Frontier Airlines − bringing Frontier cities closer
Frontier Airlines operates under a similar ultra-low-cost model, prioritising affordability through various cost-saving measures.
It has gained a reputation for providing affordable air travel across its extensive network of over 85 destinations, covering the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Major cities like Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami are all within reach, making Frontier a convenient choice for travellers seeking affordable connections to various hubs.
The airline’s focus is on connecting what it terms Frontier Cities, often smaller airports that may not be serviced by major carriers.
This strategic approach enables Frontier to offer competitive prices on a variety of routes, expanding travel options for passengers who may not have as many direct flight choices as other carriers.
Base fares are often as low as $20 one-way due to the company’s unbundled pricing model. This model allows passengers to selectively purchase ancillary services such as checked bags and seat selection.
This flexibility empowers passengers to manage their costs according to their individual needs. Frontier’s frequent flyer program, MyFrontier, also rewards loyal travellers with miles that can be redeemed for discounted fares, upgrades, and other perks.
Additionally, Frontier recognises the importance of connecting underserved communities, particularly smaller and mid-sized cities.
This is why the airline provides valuable connectivity to these areas, fostering economic growth and opportunities for residents.
Frontier has also implemented various initiatives to minimise its environmental impact. Fuel-efficient aircraft and recycling programs are helping towards a greener future for air travel.
1. Avelo Airlines − new kid on the block
Avelo Airlines has emerged as a dynamic low-cost carrier, capturing the attention of budget-conscious travellers seeking direct flights between smaller cities and major airports.
Its network of over 50 destinations spans across the United States, Mexico, and the Bahamas.
The airline strategically targets underserved routes, connecting smaller cities and mid-sized communities with major airports, often considered underserved routes by traditional carriers.
Avelo’s innovative Avelo Travel Fund is a credit voucher issued when a flight is cancelled, or a reservation is changed.
This voucher holds the value of the unused portion of the original ticket, allowing passengers to redeem it for future travel on Avelo Airlines.
Avelo Travel Funds are valid for one year from the date of issue, and they can be transferred to another person, allowing passengers to share the value of their voucher with friends or family.
This provides ample time for passengers to utilise their credit vouchers for future travel plans.
The US aviation industry offers a diverse range of low-cost airlines, each with its unique strengths and offerings.
Whether you’re seeking the most affordable fares, the most unusual destinations, or the most flexible travel options, there’s a low-cost airline that can cater to your needs.