I'm from Europe where there are a lot of low cost airlines like easyJet, Ryanair, etc... But these operate mainly in Europe.

Then, my question is if there are airlines which provide cheap flights within the US.

4 Answers 4


There is one airline, Spirit Airlines, which is trying to copy Ryanair with super cheap tickets and aggressively bad service. They serve a limited number of destinations, though, so they may or may not fly where you're going.

There are several airlines in the US which were started as low cost carriers. The biggest are jetBlue and Southwest. However, the entire airline business is so competitive that those airlines don't always have the best prices. Every American airline tries to charge $1 less than the lowest competitor, so sometimes you will see amazingly high prices even on "low cost" airlines if the route is competitive enough, and sometimes big airlines will match Southwest's fares.

Your best bet is always going to be to do a search online to find the lowest fare for a given route. Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines will not appear on any website but their own, so if you are looking for the lowest fare, you will have to search on their two sites individually.

  • I must point out that at the present moment, Southwest airlines advertises that they have no baggage fees for up to two checked bags, and they have no fee for changing your flight (fare difference only). Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 20:57
  • "Low cost" refers to a business model, not necessarily to fares.
    – choster
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 14:43
  • 2
    Southwest also doesn't usually do the "aggressively bad service" found with some other low cost carriers... Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 18:38

I always thought that the concept of low-cost airline, or no-frill airlines originates from the US.

According to Wikipedia, the following low-cost airlines can be found in the US. [updated 22/May/2017]:

  • JetBlue Airways - Domestic, Mexico, Caribbean, Central and South America
  • Southwest Airlines - Domestic, Mexico, Caribbean, and Central America
  • Sun Country Airlines - Domestic, Mexico, Caribbean, and Central America

"Ultra" low-cost (no-frills) airlines:

  • Allegiant Air - Domestic Routes and International Charter
  • Frontier Airlines - Domestic, Mexico, and Caribbean Routes
  • Spirit Airlines - Domestic, Caribbean, Central and South America Routes

Another LCC, Virgin America, was acquired by full-service carrier Alaska Airlines in 2016 and is being integrated into the latter's network.


There are a few airlines which operate flights at lower fares. I don't know if it is the same "low-cost" concept as known in Europe. Some names that I remember are

  • Southwest
  • jetBlue
  • Virgin America

I personally experienced Virgin America. Tickets have to be purchased online and it's $15 for each bag checked as hold baggage. As opposite to Ryanair, most of the aforementioned airlines operate on the same airports as regular airlines and use terminals with the same amenities. One exception is that, in the Los Angeles area, jetBlue lands in Long Beach (LGB) instead of the main Los Angeles airport (LAX).

  • 2
    jetBlue and Virgin are no longer low cost airlines in the same way that Ryanair is... they will charge whatever the market will bear, just like anyone else. Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 4:18
  • 1
    In the US it's uncommon for a major city to have more than one airport serving commercial aviation. Only the largest cities have two or more such airports (e.g. Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York come to mind). Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 4:00
  • @MichaelHampton also Washington, San Francisco, Boston [Providence]. But RyanAir's idea of how far away you can be means their hypothetical flight into Allentown-Bethlehem Airport (minor) could claim to serve Philadelphia (100 km). Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 18:19

Spirit Airlines and SouthWest are both "low cost", although SouthWest has become more expensive over the past few years or so.

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