elb's hovel of thoughts

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cheap air flights - do customers really gain?

I'm sure many of you have heard of budget airlines - no frills airlines which are often nothing more than a bus with wings.

Over in Europe two of the largest of these airlines are RyanAir and EasyJet. Now that summer holidays are almost here, it is time to recap whether chosing a budget airline or a 'proper' airline is better and/ or more economical. I can almost hear half of you shouting 'BUDGET!!'

I have had the experience of flying with RyanAir before, to and from Frankfurt during December 2003. These flights operate almost exclusively out of London's Stansted Airport, which is a couple hours out of North London. I shall hereby recall my experience:

I remember I had to leave my place to catch one of the earliest coaches to Heathrow. I had to change coaches here to leave for Stansted. Note: A ticket to Stansted had cost an additional 16GBP or so for a single. Approximately two hours later I was there, and I had an hour or two to burn before I could check in. I had left around 9am for a 6pm something flight, whereas I would only need to leave at around 1pm if I were to fly from Heathrow.

Boarding passes: Seats are not assigned. Instead, you are issued a number when you check in. First come first serve style. At the gate, you are asked to board in groups according to your numbers, i.e. numbers 1 to 20.

The flight was uneventful. It was a brief two hour flight, landing at the Frankfurt Hahn airport. It was a bloody 40 minute drive from Frankfurt, and less than 5 minutes from the city we passed the main airport. &_)*$_"!@

Here are the price comparisons:

Flying London Heathrow - Frankfurt Am Main (correct me, Andreas? :P) on a full fare:
100GBP airfare inc taxes etc
Godly hours of departure most of the time.
Less travelling hassle.

Flying Stansted - Frankfurt Hahn on a budget airline:
around 65 GBP air fare including taxes etc
additional 35GBP spent on getting to/ from Stansted. No charges to and from Hahn because my friend turned up.
Reasonable hours of departure (for that price)
PLENTY of travelling hassle
PLENTY of additional travelling time

Alright, you can argue that I paid a lot for the no-frills flight. But they're supposed to cost less than 10GBP!!!, you shout. I agree. There are a couple of flights which are that cheap. But here's the catch: These seats are limited, and the flying hours are something like 6am or 10pm. Getting the 6am flight basically requires you to travel to the airport the day before or staying in London overnight (please add another 50GBP here), if you're taking the bus. Taking the 10pm flight when you're on holiday? Forget it.

The next time we flew to Amsterdam, we took a full fare flight, and it was a heck lot more enjoyable and less stressful.

So really, eventhough it appears that you could be onto some massive savings with the no-frills flights, please take into consideration the hidden costs and inconvinience and wasted time travelling. If you were travelling as a tourist, you could just very well find yourself paying the same price for flying a full fare airline which gives you food, and you save several hours of travelling. If you were a local/ had readily access to land transportation, you could save your money by flying budget.

3 Comments:

  • hmm...never know about this stuff but all i can see when there is airlines fair here in malaysia,people will go and buy the budget airlines ticket.the place will be crowded like sardins in a tin.maybe its different there and here(msia)?
    anyway,tq for the info :) 

    Posted by LynaChua

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, May 18, 2005 10:04:00 pm  

  • lyna: I've read of enough horror stories about AirAsia :/ At any rate, do bear in mind that in my case, the 'problem' arose because of multiple airports. Probably the situation might be the same if they converted Subang airport for AirAsia use.

    Actually, I think it would be even better because Subang is definitely nearer to KL compared with Sepang. 

    Posted by pat

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, May 20, 2005 2:00:00 am  

  • I've flown on EasyJet before.. from Glasgow *I think* to Amsterdam.

    God. It was traumatizing. LoL. 

    Posted by [m] i c h e l l e

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, May 20, 2005 3:55:00 pm  

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