Top 10 Maskapai Termurah di Dunia 2009
1 - RyanAir
Talk about the luck of the Irish. Up from No. 4 last year, Ryan Air takes this year's top spot due largely to an enhanced effort at the customer service level (did we have anything to do with that?) and even cheaper prices on some flights around Europe (Bristol to Trieste? That'll be 10 quid, mate). And, if you don't mind their creakily slow website, you can find all kinds of good deals to a seemingly vast array of destinations around Britain, Ireland and Europe. (Though if you're planning to go to the Balkans or Greece, you're sore outta luck with Ryan Air.)
2 - Southwest Airlines
Venerable Southwest, one of the world's first and most successful discount carriers, celebrates its 38th birthday on June 18. We say happy birthday. Back when Southwest began, the airlines stewardesses -- that's what we called 'em back then -- sported mini dresses and white go-go boots. Meow! While times and sexual mores may have changed, Southwest's idiosyncratic personality has only become, well, more idiosyncratic. Flight attendants dance and sing the "don't forget your luggage" song, and crack wise when you ask for more ice. Southwest isn't the cheapest airline, but for the price it's one of the most entertaining.
3 - AirAsia
AirAsia only slips to No. 3 this year (from No. 1 last year) because, well, not that many of our readers seem to want to go to Kuala Lumpur from Penang (both in Malaysia), even for just $3. Still, if you're planning on flying in Asia on the cheap, AirAsia is the way to go with destinations all over the East, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and the Philippines. They also have one of the most amusing blogs of any airline.
4 - WestJet
Calgary-based WestJet (No. 7 on last year's list) offers discount fares to cities all over Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, with an average of more than 380 flights per day. This fast-growing airline (they say they think they'll be one of the five most successful airlines by 2016, which seems kind of random, but good luck to them) offers live seat-back TV, and has partnered with a number of airport lounges that usually require membership, which means you can relax and enjoy a premium Scotch before your flight in comfort without being a member of a pricey business class club.
5 - Air Berlin
Award-winning Air Berlin, which made last year's No. 9 spot on AM's Top 10 Budget Airlines, continues to impress budget flyers. In April, the airline was named Europe's best low-cost airline by the aviation consultancy, Skytrax. Berlin flies throughout Europe and England and includes stops as far afield as Turkey, the Middle East and Africa. A la carte meals and wines are catered by Sansibar, the famed restaurant on the German isle of Sylt. (You can order your meal beforehand, online.) Air Berlin offers in-flight entertainment at no extra charge on both short and long-haul flights.
6 - Wizz Air
Hungary-based Wizz Air, established in 1993, serves much of central Europe with flights to and from Bulgaria, Budapest, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Britain, and even Ireland. A ticket from London Luton Airport to Budapest will run you as little as little as €28, plus tax. Wizz Air keeps its costs down by flying to and from some of the less centrally located airports, so don't expect to be in downtown Gdansk or Kiev within 10 minutes of touchdown.
7 - Air India Express
Founded in 2004 as a low-cost alternative to its parent, Air India, Air India Express offers low fares without necessarily skimping on the essentials needed for a more-or-less comfortable flight, like in-flight meals at no extra cost. Air India Express flies its 180-seat Boeing 737-800s throughout the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, and is planning to expand to Europe and the U.S. upon delivery of new equipment. If you're the artistic type and interested in all things Indian, Air India Express jets boast some of the most interesting tail art of any airline.
8 - AirTran Airways
Operating 750 flights in the U.S., including 270 daily departures from Atlanta, AirTran offers -- in addition to cheap flights -- new equipment that includes XM satellite radio and extra-large overhead bins for carry-on luggage. An extra $6 will get you a guaranteed aisle or window seat, and an extra Jackson will reserve you a roomy emergency-exit seat. The airline operates the largest fleet of 100-seat, twin-engine Boeing 717s that, although they tend to be noisy in the back, are also economical to fly, which helps keeps the airlines prices on the down-low. Make sure you don't confuse AirTran with its R.I.P. competitor, ATA.
No.9 - Spirit Airlines
Founded in 1980 as Charter One, Spirit Airlines now boasts 200 flights per day to 43 destinations in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. Spirit's menu-pricing philosophy allows ticket buyers to pick and choose the services they want without paying for those they don't. Options include its Big Front Seat which offers two-by-two seating with an extra 6 inches of elbow and leg room, checked baggage, in-flight bevies and snacks, and travel insurance. In addition, most of Spirit's A319 and A321 aircraft are some of the youngest in the industry, so you know your plane's unlikely to lift off with worn-out aelerons or threadbare landing gear.
10 - Jet America
The star-spangled patriotic design on Jet America's wings and tail fins evoke Uncle Sam and apple pie, but don't expect apple pie service aboard your $9 flight to any of the airline's eastern seaboard, Midwestern or Florida destinations. Nine bucks will get you a seat and not much more. The airline promises that nine seats will go for $9 on every flight (plus a $14 convenience fee, whatever that is) beating out Skybus, which promised 10 seats on every flight for $10 -- and they folded last year.