Sometimes using a low cost airline and DIY travel plans make sense. Smart travelers weigh the options and decide when it is in their best interest to consult a travel professional for vacations or pay more for a ticket on a legacy airline.
What usually happens though is people want a worry free ,custom designed, done for them travel experience at a DIY low cost. Just like in most anything it's not happening!
I've become a fan of Frontier Airlines lately because you can't beat $19 fares. However, I don't have a hotel reservation waiting on either end. I don't have anywhere to be (because usually there's only one flight per day with these airlines) You are not getting legacy airline schedules at a low cost.
If you need to make a cruise or prepaid for an expensive resort, don't chance it! Maybe you saved $100 but you could lose your entire vacation with the slightest hiccup. Alternatively if you insist because money's tight and you simply MUST, buy insurance. Yes, it will take a little chunk of your savings but it could wind up saving you hundreds in the long run like this couple who paid hundreds of dollars in change fees when their Carnival ship couldn't dock in time to meet their Spirit Airlines flight.
So here are my top five reasons it makes sense to use a low cost airline:
You have flexible lodging arrangements - Staying with family or reserving a hotel once you arrive so you're not risking your savings should your flight be delayed one day.
Last minute domestic trips – I've seen low fares up to a day before. Even several bag fees don't add up to the fare on a big airline for unexpected trips.
Replacing one leg of itinerary- Let's say you need to change a return flight but the fee is $200 pp on Delta, but you can buy a one way for $99. Remember, that won't work on your initial flight! Miss that one and the entire ticket is canceled usually.
You travel light- Those carry on fees add up!
Your expectations are reasonable – It sounds obvi, but check the reviews and you'll see so many complaints for things people should have known in advance. No, there won't be any legroom, free snacks, blankets or nice lounges but you should already know that.