Budget airlines - they changed the whole travel industry and now everyone indeed can try and fly. It's actually opening up possibilities to many people who would only dream that they can visit certain places and countries and I am certainly not a snob when it comes to transportation. After all, ,my car is already nearly 10 years old and its all about savings for me. Take away comfort and luxury, just give me savings. However thanks to this recent trip, I have learned alot. I used to think that people who complained about them are not being realistic and some of them are true while others have merit.
1. Savings for who? - while it's true that they ripped out all the luxury so that whatever savings can be channeled back to your ticket, it begs the question though if it's really savings. For example, all their flights (cheap ones) esp are during god forsaken hours and taking transport like taxi to get to the airport usually means midnight or early morning surcharge. For those who worked in an office, printing your own boarding pass doesn't cost a single cent but what happens when you are backpacking or have no free access to printer?
2. Time vs Money - its true that you can't have both but when you think about it, both is equally as important and when you choose money, you are essentially giving up on time. It's time that you have to spend waking up at 2am to catch a 7am flight. Its also wasting day if there's only one flight a day when you are on a holiday and have to catch that flight back. Like mine for Samui and Manila. If I were to go with other airlines, I might still have half to a day left to enjoy before coming back.
It's also time waiting for the always for sure delayed flights - these are either cheap timeslots or since its budget, the priorities are given to full fledged flights in terms of air traffic and also because the budget airlines are trying to squeeze in as many flights as possible and in return you ended up waiting in your plan. For half an hour. What happens when it's delayed and you are trying to get back? The time compounds and by the time you walk 3 mile back to the main terminal, you have to wait for your luggage to get through that 3 mile as well. Not to mention those who are frantically trying to dash out from the airport and into the taxi before the clock strikes 12.
Speaking of the 3 mile, I have a friend who didn't realise that she has to book the wheelchair in advance for her elderly parent and seriously, are facilities such as this considered 'luxury'?
3. Shit hits the fan - it's fine and dandy if your holidays are pretty straight forward and have no rooms for errors or typhoons but when anything goes wrong (like my previous trip), no one will look after you and its hell trying to get help from them. Usually it's very minimal to understaffed. It took me 5 minutes to get a refund from a full fledged airline vs the budget airline who made me fill a form and have to wait for my refund. With another local budget, they still owe me RM600 for more than 6 months now - took them 5 second to take out money from my account and forever to return it. Which is why I thought paying with credit card is better but then there's a surcharge for that as well vs direct debit. See, the list goes on. Oh not to mention that they also cut off any call in for help. Just wait for their emails that never come.
4. It's not always cheaper! - I managed to book my Osaka trip with MAS and it was cheaper than budget airline. Always look around and check, they are not always cheaper as they claimed they are and sometimes it pays to pay just a little more for service, food, contingency, luggage and peace of mind. Also factor in the airport, I would gladly pay a little more to fly from Subang - their flights are usually on time, you save time traveling and also taxi fares as well. Budget always but use your brain and don't let them manipulate you.
Having said all that, will I still fly budget? Yes only for simple trips or when proper/full fledged airlines doesn't fly to certain destination. It's no denying that Air Asia has one of the biggest network for South East Asia and in particular Indonesia and that's one country with many more unexplored territories for me and I am not talking about the usual Jakarta and Bali, Lombok etc etc.