OVER THE PAST DECADE OR SO, budget airlines have been on the rise. The budget airlines have figured out how to make their fares super cheap (hint: it has a lot to do with sacrificing space and comfort), but they mostly have figured out how to do it within the countries or continents in which they operate. Ryanair, for example, has made plane travel around Europe extremely affordable — sometimes, a flight is even cheaper than a train fare.
But the difficulty has been in getting these budget airlines to work transcontinentally. You can get a cheap flight from London to Amsterdam, for example, but you can’t get anywhere near as cheap a flight from London to New Amsterdam.
Until lately, that is. Recently, low-budget airlines have been offering incredibly cheap airfares for trans-Atlantic flights: WOW, the Icelandic budget airline, offers $99 flights from the East Coast of the U.S. to Reykjavik, and extensions to Europe for another $70 or so. Norwegian Air Shuttle offers round trip tickets from the U.S. to Europe for under $500. And according to the New York Times, now Ryanair, the King of European Budget Travel, is looking to get into the cheap-as-hell Trans-Atlantic business.
The business model they are looking at wouldn’t be able to get off the ground for another 4 years or so, but they estimate that their tickets would cost as low as $145 each way. And at a time when the cost of round trip flights to Europe are hard to find at prices under $600, that’s a huge improvement.
And while four years may seem like a long time to wait, the trend is clear: there’s a demand for low-budget options from the U.S. and Canada to Europe, and even though airlines haven’t figured out a way to make those flights super profitable just yet, they’re offering them anyway. The future is just about here, and it’s a future of cheap trips to Europe. Hello, weekend trips to London. Good-bye, saving 2 years for long, expensive trips.