Meet The 5 European Budget Airlines Americans Should Know About

Somehow, Europe manages to do just about everything better, even budget air travel. Americans, on the other hand, are unfortunately beholden to the not-so-free market in the United States domestic air travel industry. The days of popping over from Las Vegas to Los Angeles or Miami to NYC for less than a hundred bucks round trip are long gone and are probably never to be seen again.

For most Yanks, a trip on a budget airline is a one-way ticket to ruining the magic of air travel. From tiny seats to the nickel and diming for added "amenities" like a carry-on bag, that $80 ticket can quickly double or — even worse — you may start to ask yourself if saving that $100 bucks was worth it.

Not so (usually) with European budget airlines! Yes, you may still have to pay for snacks or a carry-on (that's just the nature of flying budget these days), but with these airlines, the rewards greatly outweigh the displeasures. If you're traveling to Europe, you should get acquainted with these five airlines, which may just change your entire perspective on what it's like to fly on a budget.

Travel farther (and greener) in Europe with Wizz Air

Wizz Air is an airline based out of Budapest, Hungary and is mostly known for being a budget airline with a hefty list of routes — over 600 — that will fly you around Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East for a fraction of the cost of your typical airline. Fly from Naples to Venice for €14.99 or even Rome to Dubai for €129.

The company also claims to be the greenest airline in Europe thanks to its new efficient fleet, paperless flight decks, and the banning of single-use plastics on board. In addition to their sustainability efforts and huge route map, the seats are fairly comfortable for a budget airline.

You will get charged additional fees for the usual — seat selection, carry-on baggage, and in-flight snacks — but though they are far from perfect, Wizz Air is great for those who have flexible travel plans and can pack light.

Flying to Europe from the U.S. has never been easier (or cheaper) with TAP Portugal

If you're like us and frequently visit Google Flights to explore trips from your neck of the woods to Europe, you may have noticed one peculiar outlier among the rest. TAP Portugal offers transatlantic flights on a budget, and when we say budget, we're not talking $500 or $600 dollars. Sometimes you can even find roundtrip flights hovering in the $300 dollar range.

One savvy traveler even found a roundtrip flight from New York to Paris for $220 dollars! This is TAP Portugal's "Discount" price, but what does that fare actually get you? As you might expect, it's pretty bare-bones. You'll get a meal, one hand luggage (a carry-on), and a personal item.

However, if you're willing to pay a bit more for the Plus level, that gets you two checked bags, a comfort seat reservation, premium check-in, and free changes. This will probably double your ticket price but consider that it would still only set you back less than $500 dollars. When compared to your usual transatlantic flights, that's really not bad at all.

Since this airline's hub is based in Lisbon, you will more than likely have a layover there. However, if you have some time to check out the city, TAP Portugal has a layover program for passengers where you can add extra nights to your layover for no extra cost.

Have your fun in the sun -- cheaper and quicker -- with Vueling

With over 120 aircraft and two hubs in Barcelona and Rome, Vueling can take you just about anywhere you want to go for your summer vacation in Europe as well as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In total, they service over 160 destinations around the world. With destinations like Thessaloniki, Palermo, and the Canary Islands, you'd be hard-pressed not to find a destination that appeals.

Vueling is one of the more generous airlines when it comes to baggage allowances, permitting passengers to bring a carry-on (under 22 lbs/10 kg) and a personal item. You can even bring on an additional shopping bag if you did some retail therapy at the airport as long as it fits under the seat in front of you.

While you won't get much for free on your flight — a checked bag and seat selection will set you back an extra €20 — one thing you can count on is high-speed Wi-Fi. Vueling was actually one of the very first European airlines to debut this amenity back in 2014!

Norwegian Air will have you flying in ultimate comfort and style at a better price

What do the Scandinavians know that we don't? They seem to do just about everything twice as well as everyone else with seemingly little effort. And wouldn't you know it? That excellence extends to their airlines, too.

Along with their neighbors, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Norwegian Air is another international budget airline that offers travelers the opportunity to fly around the world at a more accessible price point. Based out of the Oslo Airport in Norway, passengers can peruse popular destinations around Europe like Rome and Paris. However, they also fly to the U.S., South America, Africa, and Asia.

While not as cheap as other low-cost airlines on this list like Wizz Air and Vueling, Norwegian makes up for it with comfier seating, free WiFi, friendly staff, and great customer service. If you're under 26, you can save even more and purchase a youth ticket which applies a hefty discount to your fare depending on the route.

Check out off-the-beaten-path destinations with Ryanair

Ryanair — you either love it or you hate it. It's the low-cost airline with the greatest deals you can find in Europe that can fly you to a whopping 231 destinations around the world. While a lot of the airports Ryanair flies to may not be near your desired destination, take this as an opportunity to explore lesser-known cities and towns.

Want to visit Milan? Fly into Bergamo to visit this smaller but idyllic city. You can reach Milan in an hour by train. Headed to Croatia? Fly into Zadar and spend a day by the waters listening to the enchanting sea organ before you drive down to Split (only two hours away).

Ryanair is a great way to see a lot of Europe when you have a limited budget but don't expect anything to come included. This includes carry-ons, onboard refreshments, and seat selections. They epitomize the reverse of that common saying — with Ryanair, it's about the destination, not the journey.