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Best Budget Airlines UK Edition

Best Budget Airlines UK Edition - The Cheapest British Airlines Ranked for 2023

Amy Lancelotte
Written By Amy Lancelotte
9 minutes read
Last Updated: November 02, 2023

A tight budget is one of the most common obstacles to travel. But with the many flight options available from the UK nowadays, it’s still possible to find cheap airlines for an affordable flight to somewhere exciting.

At AirAdvisor, we help thousands of passengers claim compensation for flight disruptions, and we know that it’s important to save as much money as you can on the flights themselves.

So, we set out to establish the best budget airlines (UK edition) to help you save cash on your next flight. We did this as part of a larger study on the Top Overall Best UK Airlines for 2023, where cost was a major factor. To get to the bottom of the most affordable airlines, we examined:

  • 10 UK airlines that reported over £266 billion in passenger revenue.
  • Over a quadrillion seat miles.
  • The average revenue for each airline per seat mile, which varies between £0.0526 and £0.0888.

So the next time you’re planning a flight within the UK or abroad, consult this ranking of UK airlines from cheapest to most expensive.

Top 3 Budget-friendly Airlines in the UK

#1 Cheapest Airline - Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is the best budget airline UK

You might be surprised to find out that the cheapest airline on our list isn’t actually classed as a budget airline. Virgin Atlantic has a well-situated hub at London’s Heathrow Airport and can jet passengers across the globe to destinations throughout Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Virgin Atlantic also topped our overall best airlines in the UK list, so even though your flight might come in cheap, you’ll still have the benefits of reliability and comfort when you travel.

To secure the title of the best budget airline (UK), Virgin has the lowest revenue per seat mile in the group at £0.0526. The one challenge with Virgin Atlantic is its capacity. It can’t compete with UK giants like British Airways or easyJet, and routinely transports less than 5 million annual passengers. But now you know Virgin can absolutely compete on price!

#2 easyJet - The Runner-Up

EasyJet is the runner-up in the list of the top budget airlines UK

In our number 2 spot, we have one of the typical low-cost airlines. UK passengers flock to easyJet in the range of about 70 million every year. The budget carrier offers deals on last-minute travel, and according to our research, their passenger revenue per seat mile is £0.0555, a little higher than Virgin Atlantic.

EasyJet is among the UK’s most reliable airlines, so just because you opt for a lower-priced fare doesn’t mean you’ll have to deal with excessive flight delays or cancellations. But if you do, remember that AirAdvisor is here to help, and we can manage your claim for flight cancellation compensation.

Another way to secure cheap flights from easyJet is to keep an eye out for flight release days. While it’s not always the case, you can often book severely discounted tickets if you’re on the ball.

#3 - Loganair

As the UK’s largest regional airline, Loganair doesn’t even try to compete with the big wigs. Instead, the carrier, based in Glasgow, focuses on European travel for fair prices. And that certainly rings true since Loganair takes third place with a seat mile revenue of £0.0581.

Loganair’s fleet is full of what most would consider small planes that seat no more than 72 passengers, although most hover in the 50-passenger range. That said, the airline still manages to link 40 different destinations and, in 2022, provided service to 910,000 regional passengers.

The one issue with Loganair is that it won’t be an option if you’re planning to travel outside its route network, which is limited to the British Isles, Scandinavia, and a few destinations in the rest of Europe. But if these locales are on your next itinerary, your budget can do a lot worse than Loganair.

When you’re travelling on a budget to or from the UK, AirAdvisor is a trusted partner to claim compensation for disrupted flights.Check your availability today!

Places 4 Through 10 - The Prices Start to Rise

#4 - Eastern Airways

Eastern Airways doesn’t have the cachet of larger airlines, but it’s still an affordable choice if you’re travelling within the UK. The regional airline connects 10 different airports in the UK and has one outlier - Orly Airport in France. Paris, London, Aberdeen, Cardiff, and the East Midlands are all accessible for a relatively low price.

The average revenue per seat mile for Eastern Airways was £0.063, more than one pence more than our overall winner. That may not seem like very much, but flights can travel hundreds of miles, so an extra pence or two can really add up.

Eastern’s position solidly in the top half of the list makes it budget-friendly but be warned that the airline doesn’t score all that well for reliability or comfort, and customers don’t rate the overall service very highly.

Mid-range budget UK airlines offer smaller planes

#5 - Blue Islands

If you thought that Eastern Airways and Loganair had limited routes, Blue Islands is even more restrictive. This is another regional airline with a niche market of the Channel Islands. Chances are, if you need to get to and from Jersey or Guernsey, Blue Islands will offer the best deal.

Due to its uber focus on the Channel Islands, Blue Islands offers many different routes. The airline also connects Jersey with Prague and Rennes and Dublin with both Jersey and Guernsey. The airline further expands its network by partnering with Loganair for codeshares.

We creep a little further up for seat mile revenue with Blue Islands, and theirs sits at £0.0655. This is one of the smallest airlines in our group - they only have 5 planes in total, and they each seat between 68 and 72 passengers.

#6 - Aurigny Air Services

Wondering when some of the bigger airlines are going to start showing up? They will, but not in the sixth spot - that belongs to Aurigny Air Services. Steadily in the middle of the pack of cheap airlines in the UK, Aurigny is a decent option for budget-conscious travellers.

With a seat mile revenue of £0.0683, Aurigny is another Channel Islands-based somewhat affordable carrier with headquarters next to Guernsey Airport. They have a fleet of 7 aircraft but do have one of the larger planes of the regional carriers, an Embraer 195 that seats 122 people.

Of the smaller regional airlines in the UK, Aurigny ranks as the most expensive, but if you prefer a larger plane, sometimes a little extra money is worth it.

#7 - British Airways

British Airways is 7 out of 10 for cheap UK airlines

Ah, finally, a well-known airline with a worldwide network is back on our list of the best budget airlines in the UK. Everyone should already be familiar with British Airways, the UK’s flag carrier airline, as they are the second-largest after easyJet.

But being recognizable doesn’t mean being affordable, and the seventh spot is where the average seat mile revenue increases to £0.0704. At least BA isn’t the most expensive airline (you’ll have to read on to find out who is shortly), and if you apply some of the tips we provide in our post on The Best Days and Times to Fly Cheap, you can increase the odds of getting a lower-priced flight.

Although Britsh Airways’ fares can be higher than average, you can’t discount the comfort, reliability, and expansive route network you get when you book with them.

#8 - Wizz Air UK

Wizz Air was our worst overall UK airline in 2023, but it fares a little better in terms of cost with a seat mile revenue of £0.0786. As a subsidiary of the Hungarian company Wizz Air, the UK part of the business doesn’t necessarily hold true to its claim of being an ultra-low-cost airline.

Even though Wizz Air UK takes eighth place on our list of the best budget airlines, that doesn’t mean there aren’t deals to be had. There are flight options as low as £18 one way if your route and dates match up. Just beware of the extras, like seat selection and checked or carry-on bags.

If you have a tight travel budget, it’s even more important to claim compensation for a delayed flight.Start your claim today to get up to £520

#9 - TUI Airways

TUI Airways is one of the most expensive airlines in the UK

With a focus on flights, package holidays, and cruises, TUI Airways is a go-to airline for warm-weather winter vacations and summer holidays. Over 11 million travellers use TUI Airways annually. Unfortunately, TUI may not be as cheap as it promises, at least some of the time. Like Wizz Air, there are always deals available on select routes at select times, but overall, TUI’s seat mile revenue is £0.0886, a significant jump from Wizz.

What TUI Airways does have going for it is its reach (and it scored fourth overall on our top UK airlines list). The Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and the USA are all possible travel destinations for UK passengers. They also offer service from 21 airports in the UK, so you’re less likely to need a connecting flight or have a long ride to the airport.

#10 The Most Expensive - Jet2

Jet2 is similar to TUI, according to our research, in that their flights don’t seem to be all that cheap, especially with all the extras you’ll want to purchase. Although Jet2 gets the title of the UK’s most expensive airline, this carrier was #3 on our overall UK list, so they are doing something right. Jet2 narrowly took the last spot on the list with an average revenue per seat mile of £0.0888.

As the third largest UK airline, Jet2 welcomes its fair share of passengers - over 15 million in 2022 - and is the most reliable airline we reviewed. It’s also rated the best by customers, so factors other than budget are important to you, Jet2 is certainly worth considering.

UK Airline Affordability Rating by AirAdvisor - 10 Carriers Ranked


Passenger revenue per available seat miles in 2022

Overall Position

Virgin Atlantic









Eastern Airways



Blue Islands



Aurigny Air Services



British Airways



Wizz Air UK



TUI Airways







To find the best budget flight company for UK travellers, we simply calculated the average revenue per seat mile, as published on the airline’s 2022 balance sheet. If this number was not available, we instead made the calculation ourselves using the total seat miles available and the airline’s passenger revenue. In short, the lower the figure, the cheaper it is to fly with the UK airline.


Getting the cheapest flight, unfortunately, isn’t an exact science, but if you know which airlines tend to have the lowest prices, you know where to start your search. For our money, we’ll be checking Virgin Atlantic first and then moving down the list.

And even though price is usually a factor, sometimes it’s better to find a compromise between cost and other services. For that, check out British Airways and Jet2. Happy searching!

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