It's time to speak up and vote on your Favorite Frequent-Flier Program, Favorite U.S. Budget Airline and Favorite International Budget Airline. Readers submitted nominations from Jan. 18 to Feb. 15. From those submissions came finalists in each category. The links below will take you to more information about each finalist and ultimately to your 2012 ballot for the About.com Readers' Choice Awards in Budget Travel. Winners receive no prizes, but they do hold bragging rights that come from receiving the recognition of our budget-savvy readers. Be sure to make your favorites known prior to Wednesday, March 21. Look for one winner to be named in each category on Friday, March 30.
A confusing array of requirements and offers leaves many budget travelers asking questions about frequent-flier programs. Many times, there is no middle ground. Opinions emerge about specific programs that are often either strongly supportive or deeply critical. We want you to support your favorite option for earning free air travel and other perks from the airlines.
An airline on a mission to keep airfares as low as possible should be a favorite of budget travelers, right? It doesn't always work out that way. Some carriers, in an effort to keep fares low, have instituted charges for many other services -- one even charges for carry-on baggage. This nickle-and-dime approach has dampened the enthusiasm many budget travelers have for budget carriers. But for those who want to pay only for basic transportation, the budget airlines still generate interest.
Budget airlines around the world, especially carriers in Asia, Australia and Europe, have made travel possible for thousands who otherwise chose not to fly. But there are drawbacks. In the case of European budget carriers, for example, many operate in smaller airports far from city centers. This can result in higher ground transportation costs. Others transfer much of the airfare savings to baggage fees, which become steep very quickly.