Let’s raise a Pringle to cheap flights

A lot of ink has been spilt about low-cost airlines. The critics of airlines like easyJet and Ryanair liken them to flying buses – or worse, flying zoos. But the fact that UK prime minister David Cameron was spotted eating Pringles on an easyJet flight recently shows just how much low-cost airlines have changed the industry.

There are limits, of course, to what the low-cost industry can achieve. While some people are happy to treat flying like taking a bus, others want the hotel experience. No doubt, customers still want the latter for long-haul flights. But while flying low-cost has its downsides – few services, a pay-what-you-get-for attitude – there are also massive upsides.

Just as third-class train travel made visiting seaside resorts accessible to the Average Joe in the last century, flying to European cities, in particular, has been offered to the masses for the first time by low-cost airlines. Was it really better before, when air travel was reserved for the elite (the one per cent, if you like) with prices (even without considering inflation) that were even higher than they are today? I don’t think so.

There is a tendency today to see the likes of easyJet and Ryanair as little more than shoddy companies that are polluting the planet by encouraging the hordes to go on more pointless holidays. But, in truth, low-cost air travel has been a tremendous boon to the less fortunate, for whom it has made travelling the world fast, easy and cheap.

So let’s join Dave and raise a Pringle to cheap flights.

Mat Vaillancourt is a Canadian writer. Read his blog here. Follow him on Twitter: @MVLibertas.

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