Top 10 best low-cost, long-haul airlines in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today: Top 10 best low-cost, long-haul airlines in the world

A low-cost carrier (also known as a no-frills, discount or budget airline) is an airline that offers generally low fares in exchange for eliminating many traditional passenger services. Not surprisingly, many travelers are skeptical about some of these budget airlines, associating rock bottom prices to poor service or safety issues. However, most of these airline offer a decent product and adhere to the strictest standards. In most cases, they are able to offer lower prices by operating a single aircraft type which minimizes staff training and maintenance costs. To make up for revenue lost in decreased ticket prices, these airlines may charge extra fees for “extras” like baggage, assigned seats, and meals.

In the last decades, budget airlines have grown vastly across the world, often becoming larger than the legacy carriers that once dwarfed them in size. Most of these low-cost airlines have limited their operations to regional flights since it’s hard to make the low-cost model work on a long-haul basis. Several airlines that tried low-cost long-haul flying went bankrupt (e.g. Primera, Wow, and the long-haul arm of Norwegian). However, it looks like the recovery of the airline industry in the wake of the pandemic is (finally) opening the doors for viable long-haul low-cost airlines. Here’s my breakdown of the ten best budget airlines that offer long-haul low-cost flights in wide body aircraft.

Have you ever flown long-haul with a low-cost carrier? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

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Eurowings Discover is the newest low-cost airline of the Lufthansa Group, flying to leisure destinations across the Americas and Africa with a fleet of Airbus A330 and A320 aircraft. The airline launched in July 2021 with two flights flying to Zanzibar and Mombasa, each of which departed from its hub in Frankfurt. Eurowings Discover is not to be confused with Eurowings. Although the airlines are closely related and use the same branding, they’re actually two separate airlines. Eurowings is an airline that focuses on short-haul flights from Germany, whereas Eurowings Discover focuses on medium-haul and long-haul flights.



Norse Atlantic Airways is a Norwegian low-cost, long-haul airline headquartered in Arendal, Norway. Founded in February 2021, the airline offers affordable fares on long-haul flights, primarily between Europe and the United States. The company was founded by CEO and major shareholder Bjørn Tore Larsen in March 2021. Norse has a fleet of 15 modern, fuel-efficient and more environmentally friendly Boeing 787 Dreamliners that serve destinations including New York, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Oslo, London, Berlin and Paris. The company’s first flight took off from Oslo to New York on June 14, 2022.



The Filipino airline Cebu Pacific entered the aviation industry in 1996 and pioneered the “low fare, great value” strategy. Since its establishment, Cebu Pacific has flown over 150 million passengers and became the Philippines’ largest airline based on number of passengers flown on domestic and international routes. The airline currently operates a fleet of 48 Airbus (42 A320 and 6 A330) and 15 ATR aircrafts. Cebu Pacific is the first low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia to incorporate the use of sustainable aviation fuel into its operations when it took delivery of its third A330neo in May this year.



LEVEL is a low-cost, long-haul carrier that is owned by the International Airlines Group (IAG), the mother company of Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingues and Vueling. The carrier offers direct flights from Barcelona El Prat airport to Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Santiago de Chile, and Buenos Aires. The carrier operates a fleet of Airbus A330, each with 21 Premium Economy and 293 Economy seats. LEVEL’s Premium Economy Class offers recliner seats with more space and also provides access to upgraded boarding and the onboard menu, as well as flexibility for flight changes.



Zipair is a Japanese low-cost airline based at Tokyo-Narita Airport and a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan Airlines, from which it leases its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Zipair currently offers flights to five different cities from Tokyo: Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, Honolulu (Hawaii) and Los Angeles. In June 2022, Zipair announced that the large letter Z on the tailfin of its livery would be replaced with a green geometric pattern to avoid misunderstandings, as the letter has been used as a military symbol by Russian Armed Forces involved in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.



AirAsia X is a long-haul budget airline based in Malaysia, and a sister company of AirAsia, Asia’s largest low-cost carrier. It uses klia2, the budget airline terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport as its hub and shares aircraft livery, uniforms, ticket systems and management styles with the rest of the AirAsia brand. It commenced operations on 2 November 2007 with its first service flown from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to Gold Coast Airport in Australia. AirAsia X currently flies to destinations within Asia, Australia, and the United States of America with a fleet of 12 Airbus A330-300 aircraft.



Founded in 2016, French Bee (formerly named French Blue) is a French low-cost, long-haul airline based at Paris Orly Airport. It operates a scheduled network between France and worldwide leisure destinations (e.g. New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tahiti, La Reunion, and the Dominican Republic). French bee is the first airline company to have a 100% Airbus A350 fleet and emits the least amount of CO2 per seat and per mile in the world. The company is a partner of the Airbus Fello’ Fly project, an ambitious project designed to reduce fuel consumption of aircrafts flying close together to benefit from wake effects.


In 1996, Clive Beddoe and a team of like-minded partners started the Canadian airline WestJet with three aircraft, five destinations and 220 employees. 22 years later, WestJet has three different aircraft types and fly to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, The Caribbean and Europe. WestJet operates two variants of the Boeing 737 Next Generation family and the Boeing 737 MAX for its short- and medium haul routes as well as a fleet of seven Boeing 787 aircraft for its long-haul routes to Dublin, London, Paris and Amsterdam.



A wholly owned subsidiary of the Qantas Group, Jetstar Airways was launched in 2003 by Australia’s flag carrier in response to the threat posed by airline Virgin Blue. The carrier forms an integral part of the Qantas Group’s two-brand strategy, operating in the leisure and value-based market. Jetstar Airways operates an extensive domestic network as well as regional and international services from its main base at Melbourne Airport, using a mixed fleet of the 61 Airbus A320 & A321 aircraft and 11 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Jetstar carries around 10% of all passengers travelling in and out of Australia.



Scoot is a Singaporean low-cost airline with it head office at Changi Airport and a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines. It began its operations in 2012 on medium and long-haul routes from Singapore, predominantly to various airports throughout the Asia-Pacific. In 2017, Tigerair, another low-cost Singaporean airline, officially merged with Scoot, consolidating the carrier’s low-cost business model. Scoot currently operates a young and modern fleet of 40 Airbus A320-family aircraft and 20 widebody Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Scoot’s airline slogan is Escape the Ordinary.


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