How should you fly? Full Service or Low Cost Carrier? Do you prefer to have all the nitty gritty taken care of or are you just happy to get to your destination? A lot of our trips are determined by what flights are on special.
Thanks to Jetstar and Air Asia we’ve booked flights to either Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur and worried about the final destination later. Our best deals so far with the mentioned carriers were $350 each return to Bangkok with Jetstar (yearly birthday sale) and $250 each return to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia (one of their launch sales when flights from Melbourne commenced) We also recently scored the Jetstar $99 one way flights to Bali too.
We have also previously flown with full service airlines such as Thai Airways, Qantas and Virgin Australia and I think for us if the price for a full service airline is in the vicinity of $150-$200 more than the low cost carrier then we can probably justify flying with them. These deals do come about! Today we are flying with Emirates back to Melbourne. Our return flights (KUL-MEL-KUL) were only $598 (AUD) each!
On the trip we took with Thai Airways we managed to get a package deal and our accommodation was a ‘stay 8 pay 4’ deal so this evened out the cost a little. In 2013 when we flew Qantas return to Singapore, we managed to get a great deal by booking with Expedia Brazil. Our flights were about 25% less than what they would’ve been had we booked on an Australian site. We found out about that booking loop hole via Ozbargain, but I believe it can no longer be done. I book most of our internal flights around Asia with Air Asia, but we have also used Nok Air, Jetstar, Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways to get around.
You can maximise your Low Cost Carrier experience with the following tips:
* Pre-book your meals before you fly, they’re often cheaper and there’s also a bigger selection than the two choices a full service airline will provide you with.
* Take enough cash on board with you to be able to purchase food and beverages. Currency from the country of origin is always safest and don’t expect that all low cost carriers will have eftpos facilities.
* Pre-book your seats – yes, this does come at a cost but for an international flight the extra leg room could be worth it.
* Does your airline partner with Opitiontown? Air Asia do and we’ve used their extra seat option now on a number of flights. It’s basically a pot luck scenario where for a fee you can purchase one or two spare seats on the plane should no one else be occupying them. The cost for this is around $15-$20 per person. You don’t find out if it is confirmed until 24 hours prior to the flight departure. There is a small ($3) admin fee per person to do this and if the spare seat is not available this fee is non refundable. With Air Asia you can also use Opiniontown to upgrade to their flat beds at a fraction of the cost as well. If your airline uses this service you will receive an email prior to departure with all their options for extra comfort.
* Take an empty drink bottle – whilst you can’t get through security with more than 100ml of liquid in any given bottle you can take an empty one of greater volume. Jetstar do have water fountains on some their international flights and you can keep yourself hydrated for free!
* Take your own tablet or laptop with your favourite movies etc on it. Some aircraft now have USB points so you can keep your device on the charge! Alternatively you can hire a digi-player – these are no more than about $15 and come full of movies, TV shows, music and games. Again, safer to pre-book as I have been on a flight where they have sold out.
Another thing to consider with flying a low cost carrier is airport location. In South East Asia there are a lot of places that have multiple airports for the same city. For example, you can get to the Thai islands such as Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao by taking the low cost carrier ‘fly and boat’ options. They do take a bit longer than a direct flight into Samui but are often less than half the price.
Having worked in the travel industry I know that schedule changes and cancellations happen no more often to low cost carriers than they do to full service airlines. The only difference is the level of compensation provided should the above happen.
So there’s my run down. Do you mix up your travels with full service and low cost carriers or do you stick to one or the other? What are some of your tips for getting a good flight deal?