If you’re looking at travelling to Europe this year, then you will have a few choices to make with regards to where you’ll stay and what you’ll do while you’re out there. One of the earliest decisions you’ll need to make though, will be which airline you want to travel with and here you will have a large number of options.
Part of the reason that you have so much choice here, and part of what makes this decision so difficult, is the fact that you’ll be able to choose from both American and European airlines. So the question is then, how do the two differ? And which is ultimately the better choice? Here we’ll examine the answers to those questions as well as looking at what those larger choices tell us about the differences between Europe and the US more generally…
The Differences Between European and American Airlines – It’s Complicated…
While there are a lot of differences between America and Europe in general, it would be an exaggeration to say that there were any huge differences between American and European airlines across the board. Of course the reason for this is that both America and Europe have a wide variety of different airlines to suit different budgets and to suit different requirements. You can’t really say that ‘European airlines are cheaper than American airlines’ for instance, because that wouldn’t really be true in every case. Likewise, there are also many differences between different classes within single airlines from either region – so we shouldn’t get too carried away with sweeping statements.
What’s also key to remember is that Europe is a continent and that America is a country. A French airline then and an English airline are likely to have about as much in common as a French airline and an American airline – or at least they would if European countries weren’t a little more aligned culturally for various reasons.
Making Your Choice
Nevertheless, there are still some truths to bear in mind when choosing between American and European airlines, and in some cases these differences can actually help inform our decisions.
For instance, the fact that European airlines exist in multiple European countries means that there are actually more to choose from and a wider variety. A full list of European airlines is considerably larger than a similar list of American airlines.
You might think that this would give you more choice when deciding on which airline you want to fly with, but actually that’s not strictly true – the reason being that many of these smaller airlines will only travel short-haul, flying to other locations within the same country or only occasionally venturing outside of the boarders to neighbouring territories.
This then means that if you want to travel from the US you are still going to be limited to a select number of companies – particularly if you’re flying to a smaller and less touristy European country. If you’re travelling to Albania for instance, then there is actually only one national airline to use – that being Belle Air.
Something that Europe is well known for though, is its budget airlines. Here companies like EasyJet, Flybe and Ryanair all offer very cheap flights that manage to keep costs down in all manner of ways – expect to pay extra if you want to take luggage other than your carry-on-bag with you for instance. At one point there was even talk of charging for customers to use the toilet, though that never came to fruition thankfully! (Some speculated that it was actually a publicity stunt – no such thing as bad publicity as they say…). Another cheap way to get flights in Europe meanwhile is to take flights that make roundabout trips to the destination – you can go to Poland via Milan from the UK for instance using one Italian airline which is very cheap. This is something that you don’t get so much when flying within the US.
By the same token, it’s also fair to say that American airlines have a slightly better repertoire when it comes to luxuries and amenities. Virgin flights for instance have lots of bells and whistles, while many of the bigger planes (such as the vaunted airbus) are mostly flown by American airlines. Of course that doesn’t mean that you can’t also fly with very plush European business class flights – just that this is the general perception.
While there are a few differences then owing to differences in geography and politics, the differences between airlines still exist largely separately from the differences between Europe and the US. When looking at American versus European airlines, it’s generally better to compare them on an individual basis rather than making any sweeping judgements.
And anyway in this case, it’s more about the destination than the journey…