43

What is the cheapest (regular priced, scheduled) flight anywhere in the world, that I can book and fly?

To be a bit more specific:

  • by regular priced I mean: no error fares (Allitalia once had a pricing glitch that even resulted in negative flight prices, they ultimately honored all error fares with a positive price), nor promotional fares (RyanAir once advertised EUR 1 fares in Europe). I am looking for the cheapest regular fare without short-lived discounts. If however there is a permanent discount that can easily be used available, that is fine.
  • by scheduled I mean: not a charter flight or anything similar but a flight that operates according to a schedule, be that "once a year", "three times a day at ..." or even obscure things like "on the eve of each soccer world cup"
  • by flight I can book I mean: a flight that can be pre-booked reasonably well either online or in place, without suffering too long of a wait, say ca. 3 months of wait time is fine (so I could plan my travels around that) or a flight that has reasonable availability if I step up to the ticket counter at the airport (being able to fly on the next departure or the one after or within a few days if there are plenty)
  • by flight that I can fly I mean: no flight in places that it is impossible hard to get a visa/permission for, e.g. for a EU citizen with sufficient funds and a decent immigration history. So no flights to Russian military bases I guess.

I do not care, for the sake of this question, about other criteria, such as the length of the flight, the aircraft flown, the airline, country nor even the safety (as long as the pilot is willing to fly, so am I). If any doubt remains, my criteria, are in spirit similar to those here, i.e. "has a flight number, I can look it up online and book a ticket".

Motivation:
It would be a nice travel anecdote to be able to say "I once was on a flight that cost less than a single french fry at McDo, you could fly too". If combinable with my travel plans I'd be keen on taking such a flight just for the sake of it.
We also have had several similar factoid questions on here, e.g.

  • 6
    I have a friend who used to fly on Ryanair for 1EUR. – JoErNanO Sep 5 '16 at 12:40
  • 4
    I know that this was a promotional fare but my family of four once flew Ryanair from Stansted UK to Eindhoven NL for the grand total of £0.08 return including taxes and card fees. One penny per flight. – uɐɪ Sep 5 '16 at 14:23
  • 2
    Relatedly, I used to know someone who had a season ticket for one of the shortest/cheapest UK train journeys, Ryde Pier to Ryde Esplanade, because this yielded a whole bunch of "season ticket holder" bonuses in the rest of the region. – pjc50 Sep 5 '16 at 15:37
  • 1
    @ʎəʞouɐɪ I have seen and flown penny fares, but I doubt that included all the taxes and fees, as many are fixed amounts. – WBT Sep 5 '16 at 16:36
  • 2
    @WBT The ryanair flights did include all taxes and fees even if it meant they were subsidising your ticket. Of course they want you to spend on ancilliary items like food and checked bags – Berwyn Sep 5 '16 at 17:47
29

Internal flights within Cuba are heavily subsidised by the Cuban government.

Here is an image I took at Holguin airport of the sales desk for flights to Havana. The flight costs $187MN, which is $6.67CUC or so (the form of Cuban currency that can be converted into other currencies). This works out at £4.46 or €5.33 (about $6 USD).

  • 3
    That is a good find, +1! The country sure is more or less accessible by now for tourists, but do you have any information whether these fares are also available for tourists? – mts Sep 6 '16 at 16:26
  • 7
    I expect so. Sometimes there is a separate cost in CUCs that tourists are expected to pay but that isn't the case here. As it happened, we did get tickets at this price but we booked through a Cuban travel agent so I can't give you absolutely positive confirmation! – A Simmons Sep 6 '16 at 16:27
  • 1
    If you could book it through a travel agent at this price, then that is perfectly fine! This is the best answer so far IMHO! – mts Sep 6 '16 at 16:40
  • I tried an online booking and came up (coincidentally I'm sure) with $187 CAD (€128). Pays to shop in person I guess. – Spehro Pefhany Sep 9 '16 at 14:42
  • @SpehroPefhany That's pretty interesting. I'm not surprised they're trying to gouge tourists a bit when they can but that is a very different price! – A Simmons Sep 9 '16 at 15:36
60

A return flight from Westray to Papa Westray is a mere £21, or £10.50 per leg. It also happens to be the shortest scheduled flight in the world. Prices haven't changed since at least 2013 and tickets are available on-the-spot.

I'm not sure if any other route can beat that price while being just as consistent.

  • 23
    I flew this route (including the legs to/from Kirkwall) a few years ago. It was a great experience. They even included a small souvenir whisky and a certificate confirming that you took the shortest schedules flight, signed by the flight captain :) – Aleks G Sep 5 '16 at 12:57
  • This was going to be my guess, too. – David Richerby Sep 5 '16 at 19:04
22

Turkmenistan heavily subsidizes domestic flights on the state airline. The Turkmen Airlines site does not list domestic fares, but according to this article (undated, alas), the regular fare for Ashgabat-Balkanabad is 38 Turkmen manat (TMT). That's around US$10.80 at official exchange rate (3.5 TMT:1 USD), or under US$9 at the black market rate (4.2 in Jan 2016, probably even weaker now).

  • 20
    Turkmenistan actually is one of the countries that it's very hard to visit or get a visa for. It gets a lot fewer tourists than North Korea. – hippietrail Sep 5 '16 at 13:09
  • 9
    @hippietrail My understanding is that getting visas is reasonably straightforward if you go through an established travel agency, it's independent travel that's difficult. – jpatokal Sep 5 '16 at 21:50
  • 1
    That could well be the case. – hippietrail Sep 6 '16 at 4:24
  • 2
    I saw mentions that it's impossible to buy a ticket for the official price without a bribe, although that might still be cheap. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Sep 6 '16 at 10:06
21

AirAsia regularly discounts their flights to next to nothing for a (very) few seats.

For example, KL to Alor Setar on Valentine's Day 2017 for ~$2.45 USD (actual price is in Malaysian ringitts, of course).

They do charge a credit card processing fee for most cards, so it will run you about the cost of a big Mac (in Canada or the US).

enter image description here

  • 9
    That is very cheap but kind of the irregular discount pricing I wish to avoid, it would be good to know what is their regular starting price (which may not be easy to find out). – mts Sep 5 '16 at 10:59
  • 1
    When you actually try to book for a time you want you will find the regular price, which is more like $30, plus they charge extra for almost everything but water & the air you breath, but the extras are quite reasonable value. – Spehro Pefhany Sep 5 '16 at 11:00
  • 6
    @mts Yes, I understand you wish to avoid irregular pricing- some discounts sell out so fast it's nigh on impossible to book them. At least these are actually bookable by real people, not folks with their finger hovering over the keyboard at midnight or whenever they release the seats. – Spehro Pefhany Sep 5 '16 at 11:03
  • 1
    Makes me sooo jealous ;) Never seen a flight remotely this cheap. Cheapest ones from where I live are around $350 at least. Even when I got a free flight using points, I still paid a min of $240 just in fees! :( – Itai Sep 6 '16 at 3:00
6

You could try flying from Warsaw to Wroclaw on Ryanair for $5 round trip (regular fare, not a promotion). Warsaw to Gdansk is priced similarly.

enter image description here

  • I don't see how this is different from the 1 EUR flights RyanAir had in the past that are excluded explicitly by the question. – RemcoGerlich Sep 7 '16 at 14:51
  • 3
    Because these fares have relatively wide availability and have been available at these prices for a long time? Hence "regular fare, not a promotion" – Urbana Sep 7 '16 at 19:13
5

While not giving the cheapest flight in the world it is possible to find the cheapest flight from any given country to anywhere using skyscanner, however, you could go through all countries yourself. To do this you can select select from a country to everywhere, and for the month select "cheapest month".

Completing this for the UK gives from London Stansted to Szczecin (Poland) for £12 (~16 USD) return with Ryanair. When departing on the 22nd of August 2017 and returning on the 23rd of August, other dates where available.

Edit: mts has found flights from WMI to GDN on 15 Sep (Warsaw to Gdansk) for PLN 9 (2 EUR/1.76 GBP)

  • 5
    However using the same strategy for flights within Poland I just found Ryanair flights from WMI to GDN on 15 Sep (Warsaw to Gdansk) for a mere PLN 9 (and I checked on Ryanair that it is not a discounted offer but seems a regular price), which corresponds to a mere EUR 2. Would you mind editing your answer to include this example? – mts Sep 5 '16 at 12:17
  • 1
    And how much extra is the fee for the bubble-wrapped box? – hippietrail Sep 5 '16 at 12:46
  • 1
    Thanks mts, I have edited my answer to include your example. – skifans Sep 5 '16 at 12:56
  • 1
    I've been able to find quite a few flights in various places for < $10, but there's no easy was to rule out all of the discounted fares. – hippietrail Sep 5 '16 at 13:08
  • 4
    FWIW, those Ryanair PL flights are discount prices; it's just that by buying with a long enough advance, first couple of passangers on given flights (midweek usually) are entitled to "happy tickets" with prices reduced, sometimes extremely, 9 PLN being the lowest possible price for the one(s) who make first booking(s). After those are bought, 19 PLN, 29 PLN etc. I wouldn't call them "promotional flights", but certainly would call them "promotional prices". Anyway, you won't be able to get prices like that for any regular date when buying a ticket less than couple of weeks in advance. – vaxquis Sep 5 '16 at 17:55
2

Wizzair has many flights in Europe under 15€ if you're lucky, depending on demand. Most of the cheapest flights are between a Western and an Eastern European country (for example, Germany and Romania)

One example:

https://wizzair.com/#/booking/select-flight/DTM/CLJ/2016-10-29/null/1/0/0

Depending on the destination and how crowded the day is, it can reach almost down to 10€ or can get above 100€.

  • 15€ is not terribly cheap compared to the other answers provided, certainly not cheaper. In any case, please do at least consider providing a valid example. – mts Sep 6 '16 at 14:52
  • 3
    @mts : the highest voted answer has £21, which is more than 15€. – vsz Sep 6 '16 at 14:53
  • 1
    that is return so half that, and comparable to your answer is the one by skifans who found PLN 9 which compares to roughly EUR 2. – mts Sep 6 '16 at 15:16
-4

What is and isn't a promotion is hard to define, but a Physicists answer would be that if the cost of the ticket is less than the fuel cost of adding ~100kg load (a person plus some cabin baggage) to the flight, then the airline is making a loss on the transaction.

There again, there will be late/early "red-eye" operations which the airline is required to perform to get the plane to the right airport for the start of the next day's operations, and I vaguely recall that a very lightly loaded plane is actually less efficient and therefore it would be worth the airline paying for a few passengers to fly as what a mariner would call ballast.

I was once invited to move up from economy to business class after the plane took off (along with the other four passengers) because the airline would save fuel that way, and we'd snooze more comfortably. (The same almost empty plane did an almost-vertical take-off after leaving the ground halfway along the runway. It went through the cloud-base before the end of the runway).

  • 5
    I fail to see how this answers the question. – JoErNanO Sep 7 '16 at 15:27
  • well, I hoped it clarifies the issue of promotional fares, and suggests another reason why airlines might advertise some extremely cheap fares on a flight that would otherwise often be completely empty. – nigel222 Sep 7 '16 at 15:32
  • 3
    It's a nice thought and I'd give you +1 anyway if you did the calculations for the marginal cost of a passenger on a typical commercial aircraft, but your answer completely ignores airfare pricing, with subsidized flights, promotions, positioning flights (you mention), fare classes, cash effects from early booking and payment, seasonal effects, bad management, ... – mts Sep 7 '16 at 15:36
  • 2
    Marginal cost depends on the loading and load-distribution on the plane (which brings freight, if any, into the calculation). The prevailing wind direction is also relevant, as is the price of oil. Tail-heavy is bad, but they won't move you into Business class unless there are no business-class passengers on the flight, so as not to upset any folks who paid silly money for a seat in business. Empty is effectively slightly tail-heavy. They won't offer all economy seats on a positioning flight ultra-cheap, just (maybe) the few that should save them fuel by being occupied. – nigel222 Sep 7 '16 at 16:02

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