When I was a student in the days of yore (well, the 1970's actually), if I wanted to go to Spain from the UK there was a limited amount of choice. I could go by British Airways or by Iberia. One was run and owned by the Britsh state, and the other, well you've guessed it, the Spanish state.
I could go overland - by train. This was a convoluted affair. The Channel Tunnel had not been built, so it was a question of going from London to Dover (or more than likely Folkestone), getting on the ferry (which was still, for the most part, in state hands), then on SNCF to Paris, cross Paris, and then get an overnight train to Barcelona. Much fun was to be had at the border between France and Spain as the gauge of the track was different but eventually you arrived at Barcelona. Much shaken and really quite stirred.
Or you could hitch-hike, which I did. From Southampton on the south coast of England to Leon in Spain. Much fun and the source of many good tales.
But back to cheap airlines. Nowadays, Ryanair and Easyjet run many flights to Spain daily. All sorts of destinations are served. Ownership of these two airlines is not state - they are both quoted companies and were started by flamboyant entrepreneurs, one of whom Mr Ryan, was retiring enough to include his name in the name of the company he founded. Easyjet was founded by the son of a Greek shipping magnet.
British Airways and Iberia still exist but market forces have meant that they have had to up their game and Biritish Airways, a quoted company now on the UK stock exchange has now tied up with Iberia.
So the landscape, or should that be airscape, has totally changed.
Millions and millions of people now go to Spain because they can afford it. Ryanair and Easyjet, amongst others, have injected a dynamism into the market that has driven down prices, and opened up choice.
And yet people moan.
Late flights, cancelled flights, insufficient luggage space and ....the list could go on.
But, what a revolution.
Shrewd travellers can plan ahead, bag bargains and travel like never before.
My best tips:-
- Get onto the airlines emailing lists for the first shot at cheap tickets
- Get an app on your phone that helps you find the cheapest flights with ease
- Watch the papers as well for deals.
- Set up a daily Google search for cheap deals
All of this is a long way to hitch-hiking to Spain.... but what do I prefer?