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Budget Airlines – Deal or No Deal!

low cost airline carriers

As I start prepping for my trip to Italy, I find myself wondering whether it’s actually possible to make full use of those cheap flight deals.  Can I travel abroad for a week with only a carry-on bag?  In recent years there has been an increase in low cost flights offered by low budget airlines like Easy Jet and Ryanair.  Even the likes of BA have jumped on this band-wagon, offering cheap no-frills short haul flights around Europe.  Typically, these flights exclude the traditional services and comforts we are all accustomed to.  Printing your own ticket and checking-in online are now the norm. On-board services are also limited, with no free meals or drinks on offer. With some airlines, there is no designated seat allocation either. Each carrier has its own set of rules but one certainty is that checked-in luggage is NOT included in the price of your ticket.

Just how much are we saving with these budget flights?

Despite most people preferring the basic amenities that an Economy flight includes, a good many of us are enticed by the very low prices offered by budget airlines. For me, those low fares mean the possibility of affording multiple trips per year or maybe splashing out more on hotels, excursions or general spending. However, I have learned that the fare stated does not usually reflect the overall saving you will make per trip. It is highly likely that you will end up spending more than you expected. I have compared fares for standard Economy versus budget flights to the same destination. Typically, the difference in price can be between £100 – £300.  That’s potentially a good deal if you are able to avoid all of the add-on exprenses.

Size matters

Some tickets include the price of a specified sized carry-on bag only, while other fares are literally just for bums on seats i.e., the fare covers transportation of a passenger from one port to another.  With Ryanair for example, your ticket price does not even include a free cabin bag (you can bring a small handbag or laptop only).  Since January 2018 their policy is that you pay at least £5 for a normal sized cabin bag, unless you buy a priority ticket, which itself costs more.  Also, Ryanair stipulate that their cabin bags should not be larger than 55 x 40 x 20, which is smaller than most airlines, who allow a slightly wider and taller bag.  Martin – the money saving expert, breaks down the latest Ryanair rules (which change again in November 2018) here

Ryanair baggage rules 2018
Ryanair baggage rules 2018

The unseen costs

So, there is a possible fee for cabin bags and a definite charge for checked in bags, usually between £40-60 each way.  Add to that an excess baggage fee (if your bag is overweight), between £20 – £70 each way. If you forget to print your ticket at home or need to buy food on the plane, that’s more again.  Another factor to consider is the departure/arrival airports. These budget flights tend to leave either very early or late in the day, and not from central airports.  Meaning you cannot rely on public transport and may need to get a taxi to and from a remote location.  Therefore, when you sum up all the extras fees payable, it can actually work out to be more expensive than a regular economy flight.

How to minimise costs

In most instances, unless you are travelling for business or are a student back-packer, you will definitely need both a carry-on bag and a checked bag.  However, there are definitely great savings to be made if you can follow these steps:

  • Choose an airline that includes carry-on luggage in their budget price.
  • Your carry-on bag should be as lightweight and roomy as possible. Be sure to check height and weight restrictions for your chosen airline, including wheels, handles and external pockets (check out the approved cabin bag size for various airlines).
  • Always check-in online BEFORE you get to the airport
  • Pre-print your tickets and boarding pass
  • Bring a packed lunch or allow yourself time to eat/buy food at the airport – Boots do a great meal deal with a drink for under £4.00, a fraction of what you would pay for the equivalent on the plane.
  • Don’t pack any toiletries that you can easily purchase at your destination. A good hotel will usually throw-in shampoos and lotions. Or, if you are travelling with others, divide the toiletries between you.
  • Before you travel, investigate the cheapest mode of transportation to/from airport to hotel. A hired car may be cheaper than a taxi. Or, pre book a transfer or hotel shuttle). With no heavy luggage it might even be possible for you to jump on public transport
  • If you buy souvenirs on your trip and know you are overweight, pay the excess baggage fee online BEFORE your departure date. It’s cheaper this way
  • Most importantly – pack lightly. Be prepared to wash and re-wear clothes

As I write this I find myself struggling with the idea of packing light. For me, part of the pleasure of travelling is using the opportunity to wear some of the clothes that I don’t get to wear in London’s unpredictable summer. I have a whole wardrobe dedicated to vacation wear.  Having a choice of clothes and shoes for day and evening, plus accessories, not to mention toiletries is essential for me. Also, I love to shop and inevitably need space to bring back my great finds. Packing minimally would potentially spoil how I enjoy my holiday.  However, I have not actually put this to the test. I like a challenge, so, for my next trip, after Italy.  I want to see if I can take full advantage of the budget fares on offer and still enjoy a trip.  I would love to hear from anyone who has managed to do this.  For now, I plan to fully enjoy my trip to Genoa. I will report back one I’ve don’t my challenge.  Watch this space!

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Review: Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Cube set

Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Cube

I was on a BA flight recently when I realised I had only packed one lipstick. Whilst browsing through the cosmetic section of British Airways High Life Magazine, I came across an advertisement for Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Cube. My attention was immediately drawn to this gift set because there were 9 apparently full sized lipsticks in the cube and the price was only £39. That would make each stick about £4.40, which was very reasonable. All of the shades were appealing to me, and I felt they would suit my skin tone. I was poised and ready to make my purchase. However, unfortunately, because there were problems with the credit card machine on our flight, the Duty Free service was suspended. (See my blog Gridlock in the Aisles). I therefore had to suffice with only 1 stick of lipstick for my 10 day vacation.

After returning to UK, I was still curious about this missed opportunity. I did some hunting online and was able to find the same product on a website called BeSafe.  What’s more, they were selling it for an even better price than offered in the onboard BA Highlife magazine (proof that Duty Free shopping does not always offer the best deals, even if tax free). It cost me £25 plus £2.50 for postage.

Now that I have received my order, I can give you a summarised review:  The gift set was packaged nicely in s compact cube which was sealed in cellophane. There are indeed 9 full sized lipsticks in the pack. The colours are mostly soft nude colours which include the following shades: Iced Amethyst, Coffee Bean, Blushed, Soft silver Rose Love That Red, Blushing Mauve, Wine With Everything, Rum Raisin, Champagne on Ice – Each lipstick is 4.2g

460 Blushing Mauve Lipstick
535 Rum and Raisin Lipstick.


Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick shade 725 - Love That Red
Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick shade 725 – Love That Red. My Favourite!


535 Rum and Raisin Lipstick
625 Iced Amethyst


Revlon Super Lustrous Shades against white


Revlon Super Lustrous shades agsaist brown skin
Revlon Super Lustrous shades against brown skin

What I liked:

  • The lipsticks were well packaged. The box was covered in a cellophane plastic. Then, inside each lipstick was also individually wrapped with a cellophane seal. Making it a perfect and attractive gift set.  Also, because each individual lipstick was sealed, it could be given away as separate gift.
  • The colours and tones are mostly warm.  7 out of the 9 had a shimmery (pearl) effect which brought the colour to life. Two of the colours have a more creamy finish. My favourite shade is 725 Love that Red, which is one of the cream based shades.  Its a bright red with a hint of electric pink.
  • All of the shades blended nicely with each other, so if you wanted to, you could mix and match.  All shades complimented both dark and light skin tones.
  • The texture of each lipstick is very smooth and moisturizing. They really were “Super Lustrous”.
  • The gift set is good value for money. Nine full-sized Revlon lipsticks for £25 is a good deal.
individually wrapped sealed lipsticks
individually wrapped sealed lipsticks

What I didn’t like:

  • The shimmery shades  are a bit translucent, so you need to put a couple of layers on to get good visibility, especially on brown skin. The two creamier colours (535 Rum and Raisin and 725 Love that Red) had better coverage.
  • The casing for the lipstick is quite cheap looking (apart from the gold Revlon  strip)
  • The lipstick seems to wear off after about 1-2 hours
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Gridlock in the aisles

On my recent flight to Marrakech there seemed to be more than the usual aisle dancing going on; a tussle between passengers desperate for the loo and flight attendants serving meals and drinks.Whilst this is a normal occurrence on flights, it was exacerbated on mine because there was an error with the card machine being used to process payments for food. Therefore, instead of passengers just swiping their cards, each had to fill out a debit/credit card payment slip by hand (name, card number, date etc). The food on offer was M&S sandwiches and snacks. Nothing hot. Yes, I was sitting in Economy and yes, you had to pay for food onboard. I’m not sure how long BA have been doing this budget-flight type of service, which also included (to my surprise) paying for your checked-in bags (I think it’s only for short haul flights), but I am glad I realised this before boarding, and had time to purchase something to eat before getting on the plane. Anyway, I digress, there is only one aisle on an A320 plane, so when there is food trolley at one end, a drinks trolley at the other end moving at no pace, coupled with frustrated passengers wishing to stretch their legs or use the bathroom, it makes for very tense atmosphere. I witnessed a few restrained eye rolls and muttering under breath from the flight attendants as passengers with young kids demanded immediate access to the bathroom. Every time they allowed passengers to pass, the food service was delayed another 10 minutes. To make matters worse, passengers who were seated were becoming agitated with the commotion and irritable as they were now hungry and it was apparent that delivery of their food would not be imminent. It occurred to me that a simple solution would have been to allow passengers to use the bathroom at the front of the plane (the first class area) but this was not allowed until we were within about 45 minutes of landing.

Suffice to say that there was no time for the Duty Free trolley, so that Revlon lipstick pack I had my eye on could not be purchased (see my review of Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Cube here). The upside of the flight was that it was reasonably short from London (3 hours) therefore once we had landed, and got a whiff of the heat, it seemed all was forgotten. Smiles and excitement returned to all faces. The aisle was now the pathway to an adventure holiday, with all people moving in the same direction.