Need to travel by air between Brussels and Prague, Vienna and Amsterdam in April 2013. Fares seem sky high! Suggestions? Rail is out of the question. Experience with the so called low cost carriers?
I always find good deals on German Wings and Air Berlin. Ryan Air not recommended for numerous reasons.
One-way fares on national "flag" carriers tend to be expensive. One way around this is to book a round trip tickets and "throw-away" the unused portion. A lot of the discount airlines don't show up on the search engines like Kayak, or Expedia, so you have to go direct to their individual sites. Be aware that the fares go up as the plane fills-up so you need to book super early, and be sure to read the fine print very carefully and confirm the airport they are using is actually near the city you want you go to, instead of a remote location. Ryanair is notorious for doing this. Easyjet and Veuling not so much.
Skyscanner.net, Momondo.com, Swoodoo.com are the leading European meta search engines. Keep in mind that Ryanair's "Brussels" is actually a 90 minutes bus ride South from the real Brussels. Brussels is a bad place for cheap air travel. If you can try to fly from Amsterdam or Cologne (there is Thalys bullet train service between Brussels and Cologne). Alternatively search for round-trips on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and SN Brussels Airlines. Search for and book a return flight - even if you're not going to use it - around a week after the outbound flight. That way you should be getting fares for around €99 to €199 for each of those roundtrips...
Try Kyak to find routes, try flies out of airports with easy access from Bruxelles, especially Schiphol (which has an own rail station).
For budget airlines, also look at www.whichbudget.com which has recently improved its site organization. Most low-cost airlines sell one-way tickets only, so a round trip is precisely double the cost. But most also do not offer connections, so if you are flying two legs on the same airline you have to retrieve your luggage and check in again for the second flight. Each traveller must balance price savings versus convenience to choose between the upstarts and so-called heritage airlines. Many Internet posts will fill you in on how the pricing works, luggage restrictions etc. It is worth remembering that some of the European budget lines are huge companies rather than fly-by-night, and that the model for them all is Southwest in the United States.
" ...so a round trip is precisely double the cost..." Not so. Fares are completely contingent on how full the plane is. The price goes up automatically as tickets are sold. Should a school group purchase 20 tickets in one shot, the fare could literally double in a matter of seconds.
Yes, Michael, my math was lazy. The general point I hoped to make is that all flights on easyJet etc. are priced one-way. You are right that the combinations can add up differently according to the load factor on each flight.