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Budget Airlines - Low-Cost Carriers

Budget Airlines - Low-Cost Carriers

Competition can only be a good thing for the consumer. Prices are low and is-that-for-real promotions are endless. While many have pleasant experiences with low-cost carriers, a handful sing of I-would-never-fly-budget horror tunes.

What Should You Know Before You Fly?

Plan Early

The early bird gets the low price. It's all about timing when it comes to wrangling the best deal from low-cost carrier. Plan in advance - this generally means at least a month ahead. Once the first fare tier has been booked, the next fare tier goes on sale, so the earlier you book, the cheaper your seat.

As far as low-cost carrier go, the theory here is that you want to fly at the last minute, you pay a premium. Low-cost carrier don't have peak season surcharges, so if you are fast enough to book ahead, you can net low fares even during popular travel periods (and obviously tickets go fast).

Fly To Popular Places

For the demanding supply reason, it's cheaper to fly to popular destinations.

Read The Fine Print

If you're diligent, you would have read that low-cost carrier charge for everything. Most notably, you've to pay an administration fee every time you change your flight, plus fare difference (because prices are time-sensitive). Charges vary but add up.

Don't Change Flights

Rescheduling flight is not only costly, it's a hassle. Get acquainted with the frequency of inbound and outbound flights and you should definitely arm yourself with all essential phone number, in case you need to fly home earlier. The point is, changing flights isn't always a matter of picking up the phone, as it is with most full-service carriers. On weekends, when reservation offices are closed, airport counters are only opened several hours prior to flight departure. 

Pack Light

Don't let your luggage weigh you down. Budget carriers are good for short holiday travel where bags can be kept light. Check on weight limitations, especially for people carrying golf bags, When travelling as a family, it is useful to check in together so taht the weight of golf bags can be spread among the group. Extra charges for overweight baggage are punitive.

All That Shopping

Low-cost carrier won't hesistate to slap excess baggage charges and fees vary from airline to airline, and country to country. So, if you're flying budget and planning to shop till you drop, it maybe a good idea to fly with a nearly empty suitcase then fill it up when you're there, or it's going to cost dearly. Infants are not entitled to baggage allowance but low-cost carrier accept prams at no surcharge and you can gate-check your pram so that when  you disembark, it's waiting for you at the aerobridge.

What's On The Menu

Infant food is not available so your baby's food is permitted on board. Adults who are not on special diets cannot bring their own food. With the exception of Valuair, which serves food, you have to buy food and drinks on other low-cost carriers. Selections typically include sandwiches, instant noodles and local specialities - don't expect gourmet cuisine.

Ipod It

In the age of MP3 and video players, the lack of complimentary in-flight entertainment usually isn't an issue. In case your irrepressible child needs to be amused, entertainment options are available on some low-cost carriers.

Is It Safe To Fly Budget?

Frequent low-cost carrier flier Lena chooses her carrier based on its safety record. She says of an unpleasant experience with low-cost carrier, "To me, old planes would be a huge concern. Whether budget airlines have the financing to have the right staff and airline maintenance is a concern. As a passenger you're worried that if they don't really care about appearance, is safety compromised?" 

Her misgiving is understandable. It's common misconception that low-cost carrier operate an a shoestring budget and therefore with old, dodgy aircrafts. But in reality, Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia and Valuair fly with new aircraft-the 180-neater, narrow body Airbus 320. AirAsia's 33 Boeing 737s have an average age of 15 years, but since December 2005, the airline has been retiring an old aircraft each month and replacing it with a new A320 (they recently signed for 100 new A320s).

Low-cost carrier make money by high utilisation of aircrafts on multiple sectors. That means making as many short hops as possible in a day with, ideally, 12-14 hours of flying per day. This allows one aircraft to do a route three times in a day. This is why new aircraft are preferred and the reason they maintain a strict preventative maintenance schedule.

Help, My Child's Having An Asthma Attack

Medical evacuation aren't available on low-cost carrier but like full-service carriers, they follow a procedure for medical emergencies in the sky and the captain has the ultimate say on what happens. Flight attendants are trained in basic first aid, but when it gets complicated, for example if your child develops an asthma attack and you've forgotten his ventolin, flight attendants will seek medical assistance on board, including asking for a doctor or nurse, or a passenger who may have similar medication. If the situation is not rectified and the issue escalates to a life threatening emergency, the pilot is authorised to divert the plane to land.

Budget Airlines Money Saving Tips

  • Fly during non-peak season (avoid school holidays, public holidays and weekends).
  • If you can't help flying during peak periods, book in advance to secure low fares Fly midweek - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Subscribe to the airline's online newsletter so you're aware of the latest deals.

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