Daily Archives: 5 April, 2008

You may have missed…

Alitalia, the Italian airline, was Wednesday night left considering whether to start bankruptcy proceedings after Air France-KLM pulled out of takeover talks. Just this week they’ve been beaten to the punch by Aloa, ATA and US low cost carrier Skybus.

Continued fall-out from the Heathrow T5 Lou and Andykerfuffle while the previously unruly baggage has been shipped by truck to Italy and is being taught a lesson by the Milanese in the back of some unused warehouse. The Italian in charge of the luggage told The Guardian, apparently with a straight face that ‘ “I won’t hear a bad word about British – they are professionals and have really invested in baggage retrieval.” Also chuckleworthy – “It’s the Americans who get angriest, followed by the Indians and Israelis.”

Three different reactions to increasing fuel prices – Rex is increasing its fuel charge by $3 per sector due to “steep and persistent rises in the price of fuel”; speaking of hidden costs Continental will impose a charge of $25 for economy passengers who check a second bag (at least this fee can be avoided). More creatively Wired has an article about US carriers attempting to offset higher fuel prices by lightening aircraft:

US Airways is chucking meal carts and replacing them with models that are 12 pounds lighter. They’ve also tossed the glassware in first class in favor of less jet-set but lighter plastic cups. Carriers also are pulling magazine racks, trash compactors and ovens (because honestly, what U.S. airline is broiling up hot meals these days?)

American Airlines has all but called in Jenny Craig to shave weight from its fleet, pulling in-seat phones and their heavy wiring, removing lavatory power converters and investing in lighter silverware for business class passengers. American, which has something of a reputation for chopping costs (its legendary former CEO Bob Crandall once bragged that he saved the airline $40,000 by removing olives from first class dinner salads), has fired up the troops by forming an employee-driven “Fuel Smart Team” charged with continually searching for ways to save energy.

JetBlue says removing extra trash bins and other supplies will shave $16,000 in fuel costs from each three hour flight. US Airways says using lighter beverage carts will save $1.7 million in annual fuel costs.

How long until they begin charging passengers by weight…

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Loose Change – A round-up of recent travel tips from around the web

Bus

Streching the dollar in Europe (MSNBC)

How to survive airport stopovers (Travelling Board)

That’s Sick! 9 Ways to Avoid the Bug When You Travel (Frommers)

How to survive your next bumpy bus ride (Gadling)

The waiting game: How to cope when widespread delays hit the air travel system (MSNBC)

10 ways to get the best airplane seat (MSNBC)

How to avoid Heathrow Terminal Five (The Telegraph)

How to Avoid Being Pickpocketed (eHow)

How to Avoid Getting Bloated on a Long Flight (eHow)

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Jetstar: Singapore – Melbourne S$58 (ex tax)

Book between 02 – 06 April 2008 (both dates inclusive) and travel between 10 April – 30 June 2008

Minimum of 2 passengers to enjoy this offer.

Link
Via travel.xblogger.net

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Singapore Airport’s Budget Terminal

Budget TerminalThrough review of Singapore Airport’s Budget terminal on itravelnet.com with some very useful information and photos. ‘ I needn’t have worried about getting food at the supermarket [in the terminal] as there is also a noodle shop selling cheap bowls of noodles. Cheap like normal prices and not ridiculous airport prices’.

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The sharp end of the airfare revolution

Why I Love/Hate Ryan Air “dealing with low-cost carriers such as RyanAir is like playing a game. In order to play well, you need to know the rules (how much luggage you can carry on, each additional checked bag costs extra, you can’t check-in online if you’re not an EU citizen or you’ll be denied boarding, etc.). Most complaints about the airline come from people who don’t know the rules. So yes, you can be angry that RyanAir’s rules are different from everyone else’s, but you’re not going to get a whole lot of sympathy from me if you don’t know or follow the rules of the game. RyanAir makes a ton of money off of the folks who don’t know the rules.”

Same approach to low cost airlines in Australia and Asia is necessary, as this post on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur from the Gold Coast having allowed one and a half hours to spare for a connecting flight to Thailand.

The plane was half on hour late into KL but by the time we cleared customs and arrived a the check-in for the next Air Asia flight to Bangkok we were told that as we were outside the 45 minutes cut off for boarding we would have to purchase new tickets.

These tickets were offered at almost twice the price we had originally booked on the net. As we were at a low cost terminal well away from the main KL International Terminal we were trapped and had to buy the overpriced tickets.

When we wisely decided that we would also change our booking on the return journey so as to allow more than one and a half hours we were told that this would incur a fee of nearly $80 each just to change the booking! Once again we were at their mercy and had to pay up or risk losing our KL to the Gold coast sector.

All this in the first ” promotional” week of the airline. Another friend had a similar though worse experience this week when his Air Asia X plane was 3 hours late into KL and he consequently missed the connecting flight . Air Asia X made him purchase another ticket.

In each case the supervisor pointed out that as they are ” a point to point carrier” only they had no obligation to help us.

This airline needs to learn some sense of moral obligation and should be avoided at all costs until they have learned this lesson.”

The lesson, of course, is that budget airlines make it your business to ensure that your connections are adaquate, and with lower “on time” reliability rates than most full service carriers you need extra padding built into your itinerary. Budget airlines can be a fantastic way to fly, but they require more homework and the saving isn’t always worth it – if, for instance – you need to factor in the cost of a nights accommodation to ensure that you have a connection you can make. Always make sure your familar with the terms and conditions.

More information on Ryan Air’s online check-in (the free standard) vs counter check-in (3 euros) which is mandatory for non-EU citizens previously from Less Than a Shoestring.

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AirAsia X reins in expectations

“Azran told Traveller last year that AirAsia X wanted to link Australia and Europe with regularly available fares of about $1000 return. However, he said last week that figure will not include “taxes and charges”, which typically can add up to 70 per cent to the base fare.

While it’s certain there will be ultra-low promotional fares for the new service and no details have yet been given on regularly available fare levels, it’s likely that total charges between Australia and the UK could amount to as much as $1700 return – only about $300 less than the best fares on the traditional airlines.

Using AirAsia X’s booking system to quote fares between the Gold Coast and Kuala Lumpur, a $222 one-way fare for travel in May escalates to more than $750 return when it includes taxes and charges, as well as “options”, such as $20 a piece one-way for checked baggage, $7 for a meal and $7 for online seat allocation.

This makes it difficult to compare AirAsia X fares with those of Jetstar, which also flies to KL, and charges different rates for meals and other add-ons.

Jetstar, meanwhile, is unlikely to begin linking Australia and Europe before late next year, following delays in the delivery of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Jetstar’s primary focus will be on restoring European services – to Paris, Rome and Athens – that Qantas was forced to abandon because of continuing losses. It will decide in the next few months which of its south-east-Asian hubs – Bangkok, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Ho Chi Minh City – will provide stopovers for the European flights.”

The Age

The phrase ‘regularly scheduled’ suggests there may be some cheaper occaisional promotions but $1000 airfares to Europe, unfortunately, were pie-in-the-sky.


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Is The Party Over?

Article in The Australian (reprinted from The Times) argues that the good times are over for low cost carriers, at least in Europe:

‘The rampant growth in air traffic is not sustainable and the business model must change. It is not only the incumbent flag-carriers that are threatened but the new low-cost carriers that thrive because of two market miracles – the availability of very cheap fuel and galloping growth in passenger numbers. But these buttresses are crumbling, playing havoc with a business model that has changed the face of aviation over the past decade.

Airports are a mess, airline staff are in rebellion and the cost of jet fuel is soaring. What is less apparent is weakening demand for air travel. IATA, the airline establishment’s lobby organisation, signalled the downturn this week, pointing to weakening load factors and a marked slowing in growth in revenue passenger kilometres, key industry volume statistics.

The load factor, the percentage of seats holding bottoms, fell in every region in February, with the biggest fall in Europe. Passenger kilometres worldwide grew at a rate of 4-5 per cent, which sounds good except that this industry has become accustomed to 7-8 per cent annual volume increases.

For airlines, Europe has become a rotting carcass upon which a swarm of flies is feasting. In January, passenger kilometres increased by only 2.8percent in Europe, which included weak growth of 1.7 per cent on North Atlantic routes and almost no growth on Asian routes.”

If there is truth to the argument that the market in Europe is close to saturation then in my opinion this has more to do with the accessibility of rail and the difficulty in providing airport infastructure for the sheer volume of passengers budget carriers attract than proof that supply is meeting, yet alone, outstripping demand. Increasing fuel prices will slow the growth of budget carriers but the genie is out of the bottle in my opinon – flight has become a commodity.

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