New Research Identifies the Best Budget Airlines for Affordable Travel

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Review site places Southwest and AirTran at the top, followed by JetBlue.

AirTran offers the lowest airfare while Southwest stands out for letting passengers check two bags for free and a first-come, first-served seating policy. JetBlue makes its mark with in-flight comfort.

Frugal travelers scoping out flights for the upcoming 2012 holiday season can get help from a new buying guide by, a review site dedicated to finding quality low-cost products. The site identifies Southwest and AirTran as the best cheap airlines with JetBlue landing in second place.

Airfare, perks, and the flying experience determined the picks. Cheapism chose two travel dates and five destinations and compared the price of one adult economy/coach round trip ticket among the budget airlines. All ticket prices came in under $400. AirTran offers the lowest airfare for the preferred dates and destinations while Southwest stands out for letting passengers check two bags (less than 50 pounds) for free and a first-come, first- served seating policy with no upcharge. JetBlue makes its mark with in-flight comfort, including a personal television at each seat. Southwest, AirTran, and JetBlue all offer complimentary snacks and beverages during the flight.

Airline reviews are mixed, at best. Passengers assess airlines based on facts (policies, ticket prices, available flights) but mostly on their own experience. Flights get cancelled or delayed and rerouting can be tricky with a smaller airline. Bags go missing (but are usually found), and customer service can be helpful or not. Passengers complain about Southwest and AirTran far less often than about other airlines and consistently rank these two budget carriers at the top for obliging, friendly, and efficient customer service on the ground and in the air. JetBlue scores high, as well, and garners compliments for in-flight services and comfortable aircraft.

Ticket prices depend on factors such as departing/arriving airports, travel dates, flight times, seat selection, and purchase date. Airlines also now tack on additional airline fees for services such as luggage check, carry-ons, preferred seating, light meals, ticket exchanges and refunds. Each budget airline adheres to its own policies on such matters.

Called by The New York Times “a Consumer Reports for the cheap,” is a review site that serves consumers on a budget who want the best value for their money. Cheapism is the only review site that focuses exclusively on low-price products, a part of the market often overlooked by experts.

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Max Levitte
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