Many no-frills airlines in Europe promote their newest routes and services by slashing fares, offering free return tickets, paying airport taxes or inventing novel excuses for limited period cut-price offers.
The special offer prices on low cost airlines are cheaper - sometimes a lot cheaper - than regular budget fares and usually offer outstanding value. But offers from different airlines commence and expire on a daily basis and, even if you trawl through individual websites, it's easy to miss offers that would otherwise be ideal for a spontaneous long weekend away or as part of a longer trip.
The list of special offers below is updated every time a new offer arrives on our desk, so feel free to bookmark this page and come back to check the list as often as you like. You can also keep up to date by subscribing to the European Low Cost Airlines Special Offers RSS Newsfeed. (What's an RSS newsfeed?)
Offers are the responsibility of the individual airline companies.
Visit the relevant carrier's website for full offer details - including small print.
Special note: In the period leading up to Christmas, several European low cost airlines have new promotions every day. Keep checking the UK budget airlines Monarch, Thomson Fly and bmi baby as well as the Hungarian no-frills carrier Wizz Air for daily special offers throughout December 2004 - there are some real bargains out there.
[Thursday, 16th December] Okay, pay attention, because this is the best special offer that Thomson Fly has ever announced. Because it's such a bargain, promotional flights are only on sale until midnight on Friday, 17th December.
This is the deal - for the next day and a half UK West Midlands based Thomson Fly is offering 20,000 flights on all of its routes across Europe until mid-March 2005 for £16.12 one-way including taxes. Promotional flights fly out of Coventry on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and return to Coventry on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The routes are as follows:
From Coventry airport in both directions to: Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Cologne Bonn, Cork, Jersey, Lyons, Malaga, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Pisa, Salzburg, Shannon, Valencia, Venice.Promotion begins: Thursday, 16th December
[Thursday, 16th December] Strictly speaking, British Midland International isn't a no-frills airline in any sense, but you're not too bothered about that if the company is offering flights at budget fares, right?
So, you should know that for an unspecified amount of time over the Christmas and New Year period, bmi is offering the following tax-inclusive one-way flights from London to cities across Europe:
London Heathrow to: Alicante, Palma de Mallorca or Madrid for £39, Milan, Naples or Venice for £35, Paris, Nice, Amsterdam, Leeds Bradford or Aberdeen for £29, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester or Dublin for £25.Promotion begins: Thursday, 16th December
[Thursday, 16th December] The Czech low cost airline Smart Wings has left it until now to venture any sort of winter promotion but has come up with a late entry offering every flight to Prague from now until mid-January for €40 excluding taxes.
In most cases, additional taxes will bring the total fare to €50-70 for a one-way flight to Prague depending on your departure city - or £43.80 if you're flying from London.
Smart Wings currently flies to the Czech capital from Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris, Zurich, Rome, Dublin and London.Promotion begins: Thursday, 16th December
[Friday, 10th December] Irish low cost leviathan RyanAir has launched a massive free seat sale on all of its routes from the middle of December until the middle of February 2005.
This is a clearance sale, so expect the promotional fares to be few and far between - especially on the most popular routes. A good tip is to use RyanAir's own Farefinder tool - the fourth option down on the blue menu on the left of the RyanAir homepage.
You still have to pay taxes and charges of course. Expect taxes to come to between £10-20 or €14-30 in most cases. Having said that, this correspondent just picked up a mid-January one-way flight from Trieste to London Stansted for £8.50.Promotion begins: Friday, 10th December
[Friday, 10th December] Somehow, flybe's promotional fares don't look quite as cheap as they did last year, but even so the UK low cost carrier has lots of bargain flights across the UK available to book this week for £19.
Offers to destinations further afield include Exeter to Dublin for £29 including taxes, Exeter or Southampton to Dublin for £29, Birmingham to Bergerac for £29 including taxes and Southampton to a slew of French destinations including Cherbourg, Toulouse, Rennes, Bordeaux and Limoges for £29 including taxes.
Some of the tax-inclusive £19 domestic routes on offer include Exeter to Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Newcastle and Belfast City, as well as Birmingham to Glasgow International and Belfast City and Liverpool to Edinburgh, Southampton and Glasgow International. All destinations from Belfast City - Aberdeen, Glasgow International, Edinburgh and Leeds Bradford - are available for £19 including taxes, except for one: Belfast City to Newcastle for £12 including taxes.Promotion begins: Friday, 10th December
[Wednesday, 8th December] One of Europe's smallest and lowest profile budget carriers, the Italian low cost airline Air Service Plus, is offering a limited number of flights from Brussels Charleroi in Belgium to Pescara in Italy for €1 plus taxes - about €20.50 once you include all the charges.
No-frills airlines usually invent some sort of spurious excuse for their promotions. But in this case it's refreshing to see that Air Service Plus has given no reason at all for the special offer which, oddly enough, only applies to flights on the 29th December.
Before you leap in and book your flight to Italy, bear in mind that Brussels Charleroi airport is actually nowhere near Brussels.Promotion begins: Wednesday, 8th December
[Wednesday, 8th December] No details on the destinations for this promotion - Coventry based UK low cost airline Thomson Fly is just stating that, subject to availability, it has 20,000 one-way winter flights for £17.99 including taxes.
The only other information is that the promotional fare applies to outbound flights from Coventry to continental destinations on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and to inbound flights to Coventry on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The promotion covers the winter season up until March 16th, 2005. Thomson Fly's European destinations from Coventry include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Faro, Naples, Paris and Salzburg.
Happy hunting.Promotion begins: Wednesday, 8th December
[Wednesday, 8th December] The low cost British Midland subsidiary, bmi baby is offering one-way winter flights from the UK to the Mediterranean at knock-down prices until midnight on Sunday.
Destinations available on this promotion include Murcia, Malaga and Alicante on the Spanish mainland, Palma on the Balearic island of Mallorca and Nice in France. bmi baby will fly to some or all of these destinations from each of its bases at Nottingham East Midlands, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff airports.
Promotional fares are available for £22-25 including taxes on one-way flights to Murcia, Palma de Mallorca and Nice and for £27-29 including taxes on one-way flights to Malaga and Alicante.Promotion begins: Wednesday, 8th December
[Monday, 6th December] Damn. This promotion started at 19:00 this evening and looking at my watch, there probably won't be any tickets left by now. €1 including taxes on all destinations to and from Cologne Bonn and Stuttgart? I've never even seen RyanAir do something that extreme... At that price you might as well buy a couple of flights even if you're 90% sure you're not going to use them.
The good news is that, unlike the standard germanwings Crazy Night promotions, this one doesn't end at 07:00 or 08:00 in the morning - it only ends when all 10,000 flights on offer have been sold.
The bad news of course, is that the 10,000 flights had probably sold out by about 19:05 this evening.Promotion begins: Monday, 6th December at 19:00 (20:00 CET)
[Monday, 6th December] The TUI UK-based no-frills airline Thomson Fly is now selling seats on Summer 2005 flights from its new northern base: Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. Those in South Yorkshire looking to travel across Europe can now benefit from the kinds of fares Thomson Fly only previously offered from its first base at Coventry in the West Midlands.
The cheapest available one-way fares are as follows: from Doncaster to Ibiza, Pisa, Prague and Paris for £19.99 including taxes, Doncaster to Valencia and Palma de Mallorca for £22.99 including taxes and Doncaster to Malaga, Alicante and Faro in the Algarve for £24.99 including taxes.
Even cheaper tax-inclusive fares include Doncaster to Jersey for £17.99 including taxes and, quite spectacularly, Doncaster to Dublin in Ireland for £15.99 including taxes. As ever, the sooner you book, the more likely you are to secure the cheapest seats.Promotion begins: Monday, 6th December
[Monday, 6th December] The Austrian low cost airline InterSky is holding its own winter promotion until midnight on Wednesday. One-way flights are available for €9 excluding taxes which, once charges have been added, comes to €37-60 including taxes.
The promotion applies on flights to all InterSky destinations including Hamburg, Berlin Tempelhof, Cologne Bonn and Vienna and also three new InterSky destinations: Graz in Austria, Prague in the Czech Republic and Venice Treviso in north-east Italy.
Additionally, InterSky is offering one-day return flights from Friedrichshafen in southern Germany to Vienna in Austria on Sunday, December 26th. The promotional Christmas flight departs from Friedrichshafen at 08:35, arriving in Vienna at 10:00 and then departs from Vienna at 18:30, arriving back in Friedrichshafen at 19:55. Though whether you'll find any bargains left on those flights is anyone's guess.Promotion begins: Monday, 6th December
[Thursday, 2nd December] Not to be beaten by Air Berlin, the Rhineland budget airline germanwings is running a similar offer, also tonight, boasting one-way flights across Europe from €19 including taxes.
The offer is valid on selected winter flights to and from Cologne Bonn and Stuttgart in western Germany between the start of December and the middle of March 2005. Destinations - or embarkation points - include Berlin in Germany, Vienna in Austria, London in the UK, Barcelona, Madrid, and Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Warsaw and Krakow in Poland, Budapest in Hungary, Rome in Italy, Zagreb in Croatia and Paris in France.
germanwings indicates that many of the €19 bargains are available during January and February 2005.Promotion begins: Thursday, 2nd December at 19:00 (20:00 CET)
[Thursday, 2nd December] Just for one night, Germany's biggest low cost carrier Air Berlin is putting an extra nine thousand January flights on sale from the UK to Germany, Austria and Mallorca for £19 each including taxes.
The principal routes under offer are from London Stansted to Berlin, Munster/Osnabruck, Hanover, Nuremberg and Paderborn in Germany, to Palma de Mallorca on the Catalonian island of Majorca and to Vienna in Austria.
The offer also applies to flights from Manchester to Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Paderborn and Berlin, as well as from Southampton to Paderborn.Promotion begins: Thursday, 2nd December at 18:00
[Monday, 29th November] The new UK and Irish low cost airline EU Jet is steeling itself for its first winter season with a two for one offer based on two adults travelling together and half-price seats for accompanied children.
The offer is effective on flights from Shannon and Kent airports to sixteen destinations across the British Isles and Europe and includes jaw-dropping prices such as two flights from Manston to Barcelona for £12 excluding taxes or two flights from Manston to Amsterdam for £7 excluding taxes.
Remarkably though - and none of us in this office understand how this works - EU Jet has also managed to arrange a two for one deal on the airport taxes... either that, or if you travel alone, you'll be paying twice the amount of tax. Either way, expect to see about £32 of tax added on to your tax-exclusive airfare.Promotion begins: Monday, 29th November
[Sunday, 28th November] The Swiss fixed-fare low cost airline, helvetic, is throwing a party for its first birthday. For the next two weeks you can book winter flights on helvetic for €48 including taxes - far less than helvetic's standard tax-inclusive one-way fare of €138.
This offer applies on flights to the following destinations from Zurich: Alicante, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid, Valencia and Malaga in Spain, Marseilles and Nice in France, Naples, Rome and Venice in Italy, Vienna in Austria, London in the UK and Prague in the Czech Republic.Promotion begins: Sunday, 28th November
[Friday, 26th November] UK low cost airline, flybe is offering another chance to book flights at promotional prices for pre-Christmas shopping trips or post-Christmas ski breaks. Or even if you just want to plan a cheap trip for the New Year period spontaneously.
However, if you're looking to fly to or from Northern Ireland before February 10th, 2005, the very cheapest flights on offer are from Bristol or Liverpool to Belfast for just £12 including taxes or from Belfast City to Newcastle for the same price. Note that on all offers a 21 day advance purchase is required.Promotion begins: Friday, 26th November
[Thursday, 25th November] It's been a while since the last Crazy Night promotion at germanwings, but this weekend the Cologne and Stuttgart based low cost carrier will, once again be selling thousands of international flights for €19 including taxes.
The offer applies on all routes across Europe to and from Cologne Bonn or Stuttgart airports in Germany. So if you find two flights that you can reasonably tie together, you could be on your way from Edinburgh to Athens via Cologne for just €38 including taxes or from Stockholm to Faro via Cologne for the same fare.
If you can put up with spending several hours in the airport waiting for the next flight this is going to be one of the cheapest ways to get from one side of Europe to the other this winter.Promotion begins: Thursday, 25th November at 19:00 (20:00 CET)
[Wednesday, 24th November] If you're in or near the UK West Midlands and you haven't yet booked a low cost flight for this winter Thomson Fly based out of Coventry Airport is offering special fares on flights to Lyons in France, Salzburg in Austria and Venice in Italy for the next week.
One-way flights to any of the three cities will set you back between £17.99 and £19.99 including taxes.
Thomson Fly itself is recommending that you travel on from any of the three destinations to hit the slopes and is allowing everyone to take along skis for free. However, we think there's probably enough of a good time to be had in Venice, Lyons or Salzburg without even heading off for the mountains. Chacun a son gout.Promotion begins: Wednesday, 24th November
[Tuesday, 16th November] For the next seven days, the North of England's resident low cost airline, Jet 2 is offering winter flights to Belfast from £9 including taxes and to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Venice and Prague from £ 14.99 including taxes.
Conveniently, Jet 2's easy-to-use low fare finder will help you locate the cheapest fares quickly without having to run endless searches through the fares database. One day all low cost airline booking will be this easy...Promotion begins: Tuesday, 16th November
[Monday, 15th November] This isn't a special offer as such, just a notice that the UK no-frills giant easyJet is now taking bookings for flights scheduled from the end of March, 2005 right up until the end of October 2005.
Given the way the easyJet fare structure works - the earlier you book the better your chance of finding a flight at the lowest possible price - now would be a good time to check easyJet's list of Summer 2005 destinations and avail yourself of the cheapest fares before everyone else starts booking.Promotion begins: Monday, 15th November
[Saturday, 13th November] For the next week and a half the UK's third biggest low cost airline, flybe is promoting Christmas and New Year flights to a host of destinations around the British Isles at special offer prices.
Available offers include Exeter to Newcastle for £19 including taxes, Southampton to Jersey or Guernsey for £29 including taxes, Birmingham to Belfast, Edinburgh or Glasgow for £19 and Southampton to Dublin for £25.
Quite spectacularly, you'll also find flights operating until 28th February, 2005 from Liverpool or Bristol to Belfast for £12 including taxes.Promotion begins: Saturday, 13th November
[Friday, 12th November] Winter 2004 draws near but RyanAir is serving up a substantial slice of budget-tastic offers over the next week (anyway). To start with all November-January flights from London airports to Italian destinations will be available for 99p excluding taxes until the end of the weekend.
But flights on another 65 routes across Europe will also be available for 49p or 49c or 5 kr excluding taxes until midnight on Thursday, 18th November. (Though you can expect additional taxes and charges to put the total price of any of these one-way flights at around £15-20). The routes are as follows:
Dublin to and from:London Stansted, London Luton, London Gatwick, Aberdeen, Blackpool, Bristol, Edinburgh, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester, Teesside, Newcastle, Glasgow Prestwick Brussels Charleroi.
London Stansted to and from: Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Glasgow Prestwick, Milan Bergamo, Bologna Forli, Pisa, Pescara, Turin, Verona Brescia, Aarhus, Haugesund, Malmo, Oslo Torp, Stockholm Vasteras, Frankfurt Hahn, Erfurt, Hamburg Lubeck, Dusseldorf Niederrhein, Karlsruhe Baden, Berlin Schoenefeld, Reus Barcelona, Blackpool, Newquay, Eindhoven, Klagenfurt
Glasgow Prestwick to and from: Bournemouth, Milan Bergamo, Paris Beauvais, Dusseldorf Niederrhein, Shannon, London Stansted, Oslo Torp, Stockholm Stavsta, Frankfurt Hahn
Frankfurt Hahn to and from: Milan Bergamo, Barcelona Girona, Santander, London Stansted, Glasgow Prestwick
Brussels Charleroi to and from: Dublin, Stockholm Skavsta, Milan Bergamo, Barcelona Girona, Shannon, Venice
Barcelona Girona to and from: Paris Beauvais, Dusseldorf Niederrhein, Turin
Tampere to and from: Riga
Hamburg Lubeck to and from: Pisa
[Monday, 1st November] If you're fed up with all the cut price offers to skiing destinations across Europe - not that there have been that many - here's something alternative. For off-peak periods throughout the winter, from November until February, Monarch is offering one-way flights from London Luton and London Gatwick airports to four destinations on the western Mediterranean for £25 including taxes.
The destinations on offer are Faro in southern Portugal, Alicante and Malaga on the south coast of Spain and also - from Luton only - Gibraltar. And if that wasn't enough, Monarch is one of the few plus-frills low cost airlines, which means you get food, drinks, hot towels, newspapers and magazines and in-flight entertainment all bundled in at no extra cost. This offer ends on Monday, 15th November.Promotion begins: Monday, 1st November
[Monday, 1st November] West Yorkshire's no-frills airline, Jet 2 will begin flying to Geneva in Switzerland on Saturday, 18th December, not only from Leeds Bradford airport but also from Manchester.
As ever, the first promotional seats on sale are the cheapest, and Jet 2 is offering its initial batch of ski season flights to Switzerland for a lowest fare of £21 one-way, including taxes.Promotion begins: Monday, 1st November
[Friday, 29th October] During the Christmas and New Year period, British Midland's low cost subsidiary, bmi baby will be challenging RyanAir on home territory by offering one-way flights from England or Wales to Ireland for a fraction under £16 including taxes.
To take advantage of the offer you'll have to book your flight before midnight on Wednesday, 3rd November. The routes under offer are as follows:
Nottingham East Midlands to Belfast (International), Cork and Dublin
Manchester to Belfast (International), Cork and Knock
Cardiff to Belfast (International) and Cork
Birmingham to Belfast (International) and Knock
Durham Tees Valley to Belfast (International)
London Gatwick to Cork
[Thursday, 28th October] Before anybody in south Wales or the south of England starts feeling left out by all the action at Leeds Bradford, UK no-frills giant easyJet has come up with its own similarly priced citybreak offers, available to book this weekend from Bristol Airport, London Luton, London Stansted and London Gatwick Airports.
If you book before midnight on Sunday, 31st October, you'll have a good chance to find easyJet flights from Bristol, London Gatwick or London Stansted to Valencia in Spain for £14.49 including taxes.
Also on offer are flights from London Luton to Warsaw for £14.49 including taxes and from London Stansted to Tallinn for £15.99 including taxes.Promotion begins: Thursday, 28th October
[Thursday, 28th October] This weekend, Jet 2 is putting winter flights to selected European cities on special offer.
Until midnight on Tuesday, 2nd November, you can find one-way flights from Leeds Bradford airport in West Yorkshire to Barcelona, Nice, Palma de Mallorca and Venice for £14.99 including taxes and flights from Belfast to Barcelona for the same price.
Jet 2 will also commence low cost flights to Budapest on Wednesday, 1st December from £21 one-way, including taxes.Promotion begins: Thursday, 28th October