You can find low cost flights to a whole multitude of destinations these days, but the history of budget and low cost airlines is still a relatively recent one. The original concept of offering passengers cheap flights was developed in the USA in 1971. Southwest Airlines had the simple idea of getting rid of many of the unnecessary extras which were currently being offered on all flights, in order to provide passengers with affordable prices. These cheap flights put value before luxury and the idea caught on fast, with many people more than willing to forgo the added frills in order to be able to afford to see more of the world.
The idea of providing cheap flights to customers did not fully catch on in Europe and the UK until the early 90’s. Before this time, airlines had made it their prime concern to offer passengers added extras, which soon added up and were reflected in ticket prices. It was soon discovered however that the majority of typical flyers would prefer to forgo these luxuries in return for much cheaper flights. Airlines began cutting back on superfluous extras and were soon able to pass on the savings in the form of cheap flights to passengers. The success of airlines offering new cheap flights was astounding and the concept soon spread to other areas of the globe. It is now commonplace for customers to be able to find cheap flights in most parts of the world.
Before the emergence of whole airlines dedicated to offering low cost flights, cheap flights had been available in the form of seat-only charter tickets. This version of budget flying was less flexible than the low cost airlines we now know and love however and was much less popular with customers.
Traditional airlines, which marketed themselves on luxury and comfort, may have felt somewhat threatened during the emergence of cheap flight airlines, as their business models made it impossible for them to compete on price – the number one deciding factor for many flyers. However it has been shown that, rather than take away existing customers from the more traditional airlines, cheap flight airlines actually served to create a whole new market. People who would previously have struggled to afford to go abroad before were now given the opportunity to fly to a whole host of holiday destinations and see the world at budget prices!
Following the initial success and popularity of cheap flights, more traditional airlines decided that they too wanted a slice of the low cost pie. Established names in aviation from around the world launched their own cheap flights packages in an attempt to offer what many customers now wanted. They achieved varying degrees of success.