Travel Smart, Fly Cheap: The 5 Best Budget Airlines in the United States

Are you looking for ways to save money on your next trip within and outside the United States? Have you checked out any of the budget airlines yet? When it comes down to it, budget airlines provide some of the basic services at a fraction of the cost.

They provide reliable and pleasurable experiences without breaking the bank, which many travelers seek today. This post looks at five particularly noteworthy budget airlines in the United States and why they may be just what you need for your next flight.

What is Considered a Budget Airline?

A budget airline, also known as a low-cost carrier (LCC), is an airline that offers low fares with fewer amenities than traditional airlines. These airlines often operate point-to-point flights, fly to secondary airports, and charge additional fees for services such as checked baggage, food and drinks, seat selection, and in-flight entertainment.

Budget airlines typically operate on a no-frills model, which means they focus on providing the basic transportation needs of passengers at the lowest possible cost. They achieve this by simplifying their operations, using a single aircraft type, flying shorter routes, and selling tickets through online channels.

In addition, budget airlines often have a lean staffing model, which means they have fewer employees per passenger than traditional airlines. This allows them to reduce labor costs and pass the savings to customers through lower fares.

While budget airlines may not offer the same level of comfort or amenities as traditional airlines, they have become increasingly popular among budget-conscious American travelers willing to sacrifice some of the frills for a lower fare.

However, it is important for travelers to carefully read the airline’s policies and fees before booking a flight, as some budget airlines may charge for services typically included in the ticket price on traditional airlines.

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The Five Best Budget Airlines in the United States

Wanderlust but low on cash? Don’t let money dictate your destinations! Finding low-cost ways to travel around the United States has gotten easier using budget airlines. I’ve rounded up five of the best low fares available in the U.S. so you can travel further and faster – with plenty of money still in hand.

Book flights easily and save extra dollars when you fly with low-cost airlines such as Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Allegiant Air. So go ahead – fuel that wanderlust without breaking the bank.

JetBlue Airways

New York City, New York – March 1, 2020: JetBlue Airbus A320 airplane at New York JFK airport (JFK) in the United States. Airbus is a European aircraft manufacturer based in Toulouse, France.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Markus Mainka

JetBlue has become a popular choice for budget travelers in the United States, with a cost per mile of $0.402. Not only does it offer competitive airfares, but customers can also enjoy legroom equivalent to domestic first-class seating, adjudged to be the airline with the highest legroom in the budget airlines category.

It also has a variety of complimentary in-flight entertainment that provides hours of distraction – from the latest movies and TV shows to free wi-fi – all while staying connected.

It has a comfortable two by two seating arrangement that adds to the overall travel experience. Its TrueBlue loyalty program allows passengers to accumulate rewards points through each leg of their journey. So with JetBlue, you don’t just save on flights but get quality service without burning a hole in your pocket.

JetBlue has traditionally operated within the Americas but recently took their business international by initiating transatlantic flights to London.

Southwest Airline

Atlanta, Georgia - 06/17/2018: Southwest Airlines B737 Departing
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Felipe I Santiago

Based out of Dallas, TX, Southwest Airlines has had a long reign with frequent flyers. They have free checked bags, carry-on, snacks, and a generous seat pitch for a budget airline. In addition, flight attendants present the safety announcements entertainingly, contributing to their 4.5-star rating from Tripadvisor reviewers.

Passengers are assigned to boarding groups based on when they checked in online, giving those in the first group access to any seat on the plane, while the others have the option of what’s remaining.

Additionally, loyalty program members don’t experience blackout dates and can benefit from partnerships with certain hotels and rental car companies.

Southwest acknowledges its operational meltdown last year and is working diligently to address its cause. The Airline comes in at a cost/mile of $0.467, according to LendEDU.

Spirit Airlines

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 taking off on February 17, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Spirit Airlines is an American airline with its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Markus Mainka

Spirit Airlines is no-nonsense when it comes to budget flying, and for a good reason! With various no-frills options like the “Bare Fare” that allows a single personal item on board, you get all you need without any added frills. This can translate into significant savings—40% less than average budget fares across the United States!

So next time you’re looking for an affordable way to get to Vegas or Cancun, look no further than Spirit Airlines. This no-frills airline will give your wallet a break while giving you an easy (and no fuss!) ride too.

Allegiant Air

West Palm Beach, United States - November 13, 2022: Allegiant Airbus A320 airplane at Palm Beach airport (PBI) in the United States.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Markus Mainka

Allegiant Air is a low-cost airline based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The airline operates scheduled and charter flights to over 120 destinations across the United States, including Hawaii, Canada, and Mexico. Allegiant Airlines is a popular choice for budget-conscious travelers who are looking for affordable flights without sacrificing too much in terms of quality.

One of the key features of Allegiant Airlines is its cancellation policy. The airline allows passengers to cancel their reservations within 24 hours of booking for a full refund, as long as the reservation was made at least one week prior to the flight’s departure.

In addition, Allegiant Airlines offers a flexible cancellation policy, allowing passengers to cancel their reservation up to two hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time for a credit towards a future Allegiant flight.

Allegiant Airlines offers two main fare classes: Basic and Bonus. The Basic fare is the most affordable option and includes a seat on the plane and one personal item. For an additional fee, passengers can purchase additional services, such as checked bags, carry-on bags, seat selection, and priority boarding. The Bonus fare includes one carry-on bag, one checked bag, and the option to select a seat when booking.

Allegiant Airlines is considered a budget airline because it operates on a no-frills model, offering basic services at a low cost. The airline focuses on providing affordable air travel by streamlining its operations, flying to smaller airports, and charging additional fees for non-essential services. By doing so, Allegiant is able to keep its costs low and pass on the savings to its customers in the form of lower fares.

Allegiant Airlines offers competitive airfares, especially for travelers who book well in advance or travel during off-peak periods. In addition, the airline frequently offers special deals and promotions, which can be accessed by signing up for the Allegiant email newsletter or checking the airline’s website for current offers.

In addition to its affordable airfares, Allegiant Airlines provides several services to its passengers, including online check-in, mobile boarding passes, and in-flight snacks and beverages for purchase. Passengers can also purchase travel insurance and hotel and car rental packages through the airline’s website.

Though their planes have limited legroom, they offer an unbeatable low flight fare. So if that’s not a dealbreaker for you, this airline is your perfect match. Overall, Allegiant Airlines is a solid choice for travelers looking for affordable air travel without sacrificing too much in terms of quality.

With its flexible cancellation policy, two-fare classes, and competitive airfares, Allegiant Airlines provides an excellent option for budget-conscious travelers looking to explore destinations across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Frontier Airlines

Chicago, USA - March 27, 2018: Frontier Airlines Airbus A320 with the Jaguar livery approaching O'Hare International Airport.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Carlos Yudica

Frontier Airlines is a low-cost airline based in Denver, Colorado, that offers flights to over 100 destinations in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The airline operates on a no-frills model, providing basic services at a low cost by streamlining its operations, flying to smaller airports, and charging additional fees for non-essential services. Frontier Airlines offers three main fare classes: Economy, Classic, and plus, with varying levels of amenities and services included.

With Frontier Airlines, you have the flexibility to cancel your booking within 24 hours of purchase if its departure date is more than seven days away – something which could come in handy for those surprise occasions. On top of that, get great value flights by scooping up tickets early or during periods with fewer crowds. That’s what we call win-win flying.

Frontier frequently offers special deals and promotions, which can be accessed by signing up for the Frontier email newsletter or checking the airline’s website for current offers. Passengers can also purchase travel insurance, airport parking, and car rental packages through this budget airline.

Frontier Airlines is an excellent option for budget-conscious travelers seeking affordable air travel to destinations across North America and the Caribbean. Nevertheless, some online reviews have indicated that the customer service at Frontier Airlines still needs to be put up to par, and it can be difficult to get cancellation requests processed in a timely manner.

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Get Ready for Takeoff

Flying on one of these budget airlines can often be an adjustment for passengers – that tight legroom might take some getting used to! It’s similar to renting a studio apartment; you know it will save you money in the long run, but at first, it can feel pretty cramped.

Budget airlines, however, provide the reward of lower fares over traditional airlines, meaning that if you’re willing to put in the effort to adjust to their unorthodox services and conditions, your bank account will thank you. Plus, we all need a little challenge every now and then.

This article originally appeared on Savoteur.


Olu is a passionate entrepreneur who loves to blog on his site Frenz Hub about life-saving lifestyle habits, hacks, and travel. He lives in the Western part of Canada.

Olu has two bachelor’s degrees in Veterinary Medicine and Applied Accounting with a CPA designation. He currently shuffles time between completing a Master of Business Administration degree education, Accounting professional practice, and Blogging.

He has freelanced lifestyle write-ups and articles for many websites since 2010.