Inflation, rising fuel prices, a tsunami of passengers eager to travel again: Add them up and they equal higher air fares. A lot higher. But a problem is only another word for opportunity to entrepreneurs. Just as spring rains bring dandelions, greater demand also brings reports* of budding budget airlines.
In an AFAR exclusive preview, here are cut-rate carriers that may appear at an airport near you soon.
*And by “reports,” we mean true facts are in short supply here. Please do not try to book a ticket on any of these “airlines.”
Named for the most popular item Walmart sells, where the motto is “go big or go home.” True to that tagline, this retail giant turns to transportation by offering spacious wide-bodies serving a range of generally underserved destinations, including Cleveland, Mississippi; Paris, Texas; Columbus, Indiana; Moscow, Idaho; and Washington, Utah. Because every seat is equal on these no-class planes, all tickets start at $14.95 one way. Naturally, with a basic flight fare that low, you can expect to pay extra for such things as a seat cushion or tray table; access to oxygen throughout a flight is $20 extra.
Bitcoin promoters have banded together to launch this novel airline, headquartered in Las Vegas. Currently, MagicK offers only one route: LAS to Atlantic City, with plans to add international flights to Monaco and Macao soon on its Roulette jets. You can get a cross-country round-trip ticket for $29. (Price subject to change—again, and again, and again.) The family friendly in-flight entertainment includes Bingo, Crazy Eights, and blackjack. Note one drawback: MagicK has no planes or pilots yet. You can’t fly anywhere with your bargain ticket, but you can get trend-setter cred by posting it on TikTok.
Based in Stockholm, its initial offerings include flights to European cities with IKEA stores, plus a transatlantic flight to NYC (well, Poughkeepsie) via Iceland, for an introductory price of $79 round trip. In-flight entertainment options are limited to browsing IKEA catalogs. For that price, it’s only fair that passengers who want to sit will have to construct their own seat (badly translated instructions provided). For an extra $85, you can take your Scandi-sleek, collapsible plywood chair home as a souvenir.
Through the end of 2022, take advantage of this promotion: Any non-Scandinavian passenger who can pronounce or spell the name of the airline correctly saves 5 percent on the luggage charge of 3,000 krona per bag. (No, “SFF” will not suffice.)
Following the lead of American Airlines, MC+ , or Motor Coach Plus, will deliver you between regional airports across the USA. Once regarded as emergency backup, this option may be your best if you’re traveling to a place lacking train service (95 percent of the nation) and don’t want to ship yourself as an Amazon package (maybe the fastest route). More than a bus, these virtual planes feature the same cozy seating you expect in the air. And who needs on-board entertainment when spacious windows let you turn your entire trip into a video? Never miss a photo op because of cloud cover.
Putting the “fun” back in “fundamentals” and the “chic” in “cheap,” France’s latest budget airline out of Rouen will jet around the nation with more tourists than any other. Joie de vivre is stamped everywhere, including on your complimentary cocktail napkin (drinks, however, cost extra). Adding to the festive spirit: The center aisle serves as a fashion “runway” for models parading clothes you couldn’t wear even if you could afford them. Wherever you land, you’ll arrive feeling refreshed, thanks to a perk you won’t find on many planes, budget or otherwise: there’s a bidet on board.