10 Best Budget Airlines In The World (PHOTOS)

10 Best Budget Airlines In The World (PHOTOS)

Despite economic woes, the global budget airline boom remains a hallmark of the new millennium, bringing the jet-set lifestyle to the money-mindful masses like never before. With today's exciting crop of chic low-cost carriers, passengers can pay peanuts for their fares, but look forward to much more than peanuts on-board.

The 10 budget airlines in's international roundup all boast efficient aircraft, sleek interior design, attractive routes, innovative on-board services, comfortable seating, and a stylish, friendly staff - features that have long since slipped through the cracks of many of the struggling mainstream carriers.

Text and captions courtesy of, adapted from "Top 10 Budget Airlines."

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Air Arabia
Air Arabia

 Air Berlin

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Jetstar Airways

 Awards have been jetting towards this Australian budget airline, including its 2009 ranking as the top Australia and New Zealand carrier in the coveted Skytrax’s “Best Low-Cost Airline” category. Launched in 2004, the carrier's domestic and international services stretch the globe, but not your wallet, with low fares that have been known to tumble below rates of $5 one-way (not including taxes and fees). In fact, the airline – along with sister carriers Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Pacific, all of which parent company Qantas has stakes in – is so confident in its rates, that they've put a price-beat guarantee into place for routes to and from Singapore (and other cities) that will beat any competitor airline’s rates by 10 percent. Unlike many budget airlines, Jetstar Airways also offers upgrades to StarClass on international flights, a premium seating area that's inclusive of food, drinks, and entertainment

Kingfisher Airlines

 Part of the namesake Indian beer empire, Kingfisher launched in 2005, emerging among a new crop of privately-owned Indian airlines that offer great service, decent food, and clean, modern planes at reasonable prices – others include SpiceJet and IndiGo; another, Jet Airways, is priced higher. Primarily serving India’s rapidly growing and increasingly mobile middle class, these airlines have also transformed the average visitor’s India experience, largely removing those tediously slow, if romantic, train journeys from the equation. What’s more, Kingfisher finalized a contract with OneWorld in June, linking the airline to both American Airlines’ and British Airways’ frequent-flyer programs. Despite some financial problems (nothing new among budget airlines), Kingfisher continues to promise passengers the “royal treatment,” offering on-demand entertainment in its red leather seats (though not in its low-fare class), complimentary gourmet Indian dishes, and a choice between business, economy, or low-fare class seating (on its domestic routes).

Kulula Air

 If you ever hear a flight attendant tell passengers that if they “don’t know how to operate a seat belt, then you probably shouldn’t be allowed in public unsupervised,” you're most likely flying Kulula Air. The Johannesburg-based airline is known for its sense of humor, along with its affordable rates. Started in 2001, Kulula Air has brought budget air travel to South Africa and beyond on the African continent. Named for a Zulu (the largest South African ethnic group) word meaning “light, easy, and simple,” Kulula offers a full service of straightforward travel options, including car rentals, adventure outings, and even cellular phone packages. Tip: It has been rumored that wearing green onto the wildly decorated green and blue planes will get you a free Kit Kat from the comedian attendants on board (a fun perk compared to many budget airlines).


 Taking speed from the road to the sky, former Formula One race-car driver Niki Lauda founded quirky discount airline NIKI in 2003. Rather than cutting luxury to conserve cost, NIKI relies on quality patron perks to keep bookings booming (it seems to have worked – profits rose by 75 percent between 2008 and 2009, and NIKI added flights to six European cities to its roster in 2010). Extras include complimentary in-flight snacks that forgo the peanuts in favor of hearty sandwiches, plus entertainment options like free magazines, newspapers, TV shows, movies, and radio stations. If you’d like to spend some of the money you saved on the cheap flight, indulge in their on-board store (which hocks everything from earphones to Frisbees to Swarovski jewelry). Or, eat like royalty and upgrade your food to gourmet Demel (think minced veal or yellow chicken curry – a major upgrade from budget airlines' usual staples), purveyor to the Habsburg court in Vienna.

Porter Airlines

 Experience Porter (established in 2006) at its prime by flying one of its classy planes out of Toronto, its hub city and the site of a sleek departure lounge touting comfy chairs--perfect for unwinding airport stress. If you’d like to stay up and alert, indulge in a complimentary self-serve latte in a heated mug, or opt to get some work done at the business center, where passengers can surf the web with free wireless Internet. In-flight is truly refined: Sip a complimentary glass of beer or wine, stretch out with lots of legroom in the two seat-only configurations (no chance of being the cramped middleman), and enjoy it all in peace and quiet (aircrafts feature a noise and vibration suppression system to dull that flying buzz). Bonus features for those who can’t commit or have busy travel schedules (and more proof that Porter is decidedly atypical among budget airlines): Passengers may purchase their tickets in bulk with a pre-paid “Porter Pass” of up to 100 one-way trips, or opt for a "Freedom Fare," which allows free flight changes all the way to the day you take off.

Virgin America

Aboard Virgin America, innovation, aesthetics, and comfort blend seamlessly for a flight that will make you feel like a VIP whether or not you splurge for premium seating. Its ambition to “bring great service back to the skies” has inspired a forward-thinking business strategy invested in style, entertainment, and relaxation, as well as the maintenance of attractively low fares. In-flight absinthe sales and a new frequent-flyer mile link with trendy hotel chain Joie de Vivre ups the cool quotient even more, but passengers need only turn on the TV to know that this is a different kind of affordable airline: The CW’s “Fly Girls” reality show (which aired in early 2010) chronicled the lives of five Virgin America flight attendants. Onboard, indigo and violet mood lighting changes throughout the flight, responding to the time of day to help passengers relax. Expect live satellite television, 20 new pay-per-view blockbusters, more than 3,000 MP3s (plus radio and audiobooks), in-flight food ordering, gaming, and a chat function that enables seat-to-seat conversations