How do you travel?

Do you buy cheap airfares or pay the price for the experience?

There is now the popular arguments between family, friends and even oneself on whether to travel cheaply or pay more for the added perks on flights. We know there are two types of carriers, “standard or premium airliners” which we recognize as flag carriers and even somewhat being the symbol of aviation in its country, secondly the increasing popularity of “budget or low cost airlines” the companies giving passengers very cheap tickets for bare necessities (no thrills as its known). I work for an airline and I know that the battle of the skies is difficult for every carrier out there. Its simple the more passengers the higher profitability which will also illustrate its reputation. Wealthy carriers are consistently advertising, upgrading seats, product and services, lowering prices also comes to the equation but only to an extent and with unfavourable consequences. Budget airlines spend less which enables them to lower tickets, this results in no food (buy on-board), less legroom (more row of sellable seats), undesirable airports and many more. Standard and budget airliners are now far apart on the service it offers, for us as passengers there is now a huge choice and it is something that divides opinions. So what is your method in flying?

Budget/ Low cost Airlines (Flying Cheaply)

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Advantages

Spend less money (more for the holiday itself)

One of two reasons I believe people travel with budget low cost airlines, is the price. There are many people who believe that air transport is only a small part of the holiday and would rather spend more on hotels and activities than a simple flight. Furthermore if the flight is only 1-2 hours there is no real effect on sitting in a budget airline than that of a more luxurious one.

Only pay for what you need

There is plenty of aspects on a standard airline company that an individual traveller doesn’t desire, such as insurance, food and even baggage weight. This is something budget airliners capitalises on and gives passengers the choice to pay for only the services you require, which is popular amongst many youthful travellers who aren’t swayed by insurance protection or seat choices, this is normally known in aviation as ‘no thrills’ flights.

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Disadvantages

Less Comfort

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Everybody has heard the saying that ‘you get what you pay for’, which is true when it comes to spending on flights. Easily seen when you book economy, business and first class within a single carrier and somewhat true when choosing between standard and budget flights. Cheap airlines usually only incorporate the essentials (the product required by law) which are very basic seats, a stowage and a toilet (no thrills as they call it). Take note low cost airlines have also been looking at the possibility of charging to use toilets but were unsuccessful due to various laws. Leg space is also affected and many (not all) budget carriers give the bare minimum required by the law, in order to increase the number of rows which will fit more people

No Baggage Allowance

If you know about aircrafts, you would know that weight is a big issue. The heavier the plane the more expensive fuel it uses resulting in higher costs, reason why many airliners are strict on baggage weight. Cheaper budget airlines do not give complimentary baggage weight as these need to be purchased, usually at a high cost.

Undesirable Airports

Getting away from huge costs and taxes reputable airports demand are something low cost carriers prefer to get away from. This enables them to avoid charges such as parking and facilities, overall lowering ticket prices to sell to customers. However although very attractable to customers at first (due to prices), these airports may be further and somewhat difficult to get to, resulting in further costs and unnecessary journeys to and from the airport.

Less protection

Many have experienced the undesirable event of delays, cancellations, overbooking, missing a flight and even damaged luggage’s. Many budget carriers do not include protection for these in your ticket bill, and again would require to purchase if you want one, some being very expensive.

Standard/ Premium Airlines (Pay for the experience)

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Advantages

Better products, comfier and more convenient

Standard or more premium airlines attract their customers for the product and service they offer. Leg space and recline are usually the simple advantages from budget to premium airliners, however the seats itself could be more comfier (leather, foam, ect). Long-haul flights (on standard/ premium flights) usually have IFEs (In-Flight Entertainment) which budget carriers do not equip themselves with due to its initial and running costs. Simpler products such as storage, tables and arm rests are also usually enhanced (depending on airline carrier) and probably the most important in the modern world are charging points which are now being increasingly introduced in all tiers on these airline companies. Furthermore these airlines also lend blankets and pillows for extra comfort something that low cost carriers do not.

Meals and giveaways

Depending on the journey and duration of flight the airline would offer complimentary meals, it could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack depending on the time of the flight. Two meals may be offered for longer long-haul flights depending on the carrier. Amenity kits are sometimes offered on standard airlines but on budget carriers food and amenities must be purchased.

However take note that even premium/ standard carriers are starting to roll out a buy on board system (buy your meals) on short haul routes this is a model that may increasingly be popular and even the norm in the future.

Higher Standards

For premium and standard carriers, their brand is most precious, to attract customers means to give customers the best they can give. Usually the products on more expensive carriers are steadier and more robust, generally made from better quality materials. Inflight meals are also of better quality than what you can get in low cost carriers as their budgets for these would be paid for in the ticket prices. Furthermore Staff appearance (uniforms) are usually better and more fashionable than that of budget carriers and their training are far better which would results in better customer service.

Standard Baggage

Depending on the airline you travel with, there will be complimentary baggage weight for you to use (usually 20kg-40kg), this is something that is not included in cheaper carriers and thus an advantage for premium and standard airliners.

Choice of classes

If money is not a big barrier for you, standard airliners offer different classes and tiers, these have different products, services and food, something that budget airlines don’t offer. Depending on your standard of life, to be able to choose your tier and how much money you want to spend is another advantage over cheaper airlines with only one standard cabin and layout.

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Disadvantages

More expensive

Probably the only big disadvantage of standard and premium airlines, is the cost of their tickets. Usually double or sometimes triple of that on a budget airline the price is usually the big reason why many turn away from high end carriers.

Overall

There are positives and negatives flying both budget/ low cost and standard/ premium airlines, it just depends on the type of traveller and travel you are or having.

On a personal view, I am content to fly with both low-cost and standard airline companies for shorthaul flights but would edge more in favour for expensive carriers for long-haul flights as long as I am happy with the service I can get.

I wouldn’t mind flying budget/ low cost for Journeys less than 2 hours (short-haul) such as domestic routes or flights to neighbouring countries. These routes are too short for me to care about the service I receive as I usually just fall asleep for the duration of the flight without needing to eat, drink or entertain myself. My only disadvantage would be the airports I may likely be arriving or departing from as it may be too far and inconvenient for my target destination. However if the price difference from budget to standard are not too great then I would spend that bit more for the extra perks.

On longer (long-haul) flights I would pay the price for the extra service and comfort provided by standard/premium carriers. This is because travelling to the likes of Dubai which is 8hrs or Hong Kong 13hrs (from London), is just way too long for no thrills. Simple aspects such as blankets, pillows and meals would benefit largely in a long flight, likewise a big advantage are the IFEs (In Flight Entertainment) which would largely entertain anyone for many hours. Furthermore to be able to eliminate the fuss of further spending before , during and after the flight (on long journeys) would make travels so much better knowing everything is paid for in advance and all you need to think about is the holiday ahead.

So in conclusion, the most important aspect of the flight for me is the experience and not the money I spend as I’ve always seen the flight as a part of your holiday (the beginning). However if there is very little to no difference on the flight experience I am choosing from, then why should I spend just for the sake of a brand.

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Review: Cebu Pacific

The Airline

Cebu Pacific air is a budget/ low cost airline in which their main hub is Manila NAIA airport. The airlinecebu-pacific-old-logo.png flies both internationally and domestically. As of 2018 the airline has a fleet of 59 with around 50 airbus aircraft and 20 ATR aircraft. The airline’s ambition to improve are shown with 32 airbus aircraft on order till 2021.

Brief

I have flown with this airline in many different occasions, mainly to their domestic destinations such as Palawan, Cebu and Boracay but I have also flown with the airline once internationally to Hong Kong.

At the airport

Cebu Pacific’s main hub is in the new NAIA terminal 3, however they do use Cebu as another secondary hub. Terminal 3 of NAIA airport is the newest and most modern of all terminals in the airport, it is medium in size and serves both domestic and international flights. Arrivals are in the ground floor whilst Departures are in the floors above. There are tight security to enter the terminal and only passengers can enter within the check-in area. A floor above the check-in area there is a food court with many restaurants including Philippines top chains such as Jollibee, Fruitas and many alike. There are also plenty of shops within this area.

The gates are sectioned between domestic and international obviously because international traveller need to go through more such as immigration checks and a more comprehensive security check. Both sections are long but there are travellators available in the airport.

Cebu Mactan International Airport is smaller in comparison, it is still divided between international and domestic and major shops are available only more compact.

Aircraft, Service and Flight

As a budget/ low cost airline i don’t really expect a lot. Seats have the usual leathered seats with a magazine pouch, table and a generous leg space. The airline whether domestic or international do not have an IFE (entertainment system) but the international flight do have games such as ‘show me’ which is cheesy but pretty cool. Foods vary from snacks or warm meals, they are much more expensive than the usual retail price, but hey its an airline.

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Through my many flights with the airline, delays are more frequent than desirable and changes in flight itineraries do happen. But flights are comfortable and clean, staff are friendly and do attend to your every needs.

Conclusion

Cebu Pacific is a good airline to take domestically, it is fairly priced with a service not much different to its competitors in the Philippines.  The only downside to this company is its reputation to keep up with its own schedules so if your chasing something like a meeting then op for something else.

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Reference

https://www.cebupacificair.com/

Photo

Logo (https://www.cebupacificair.com/)
Prop plane (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/32862712181)
header image (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RP-C3343_Airbus_A330-300_CEBU_Pacific_Air_at_Sydney_Airport

Review: AirAsia Zest

The Airline

AirAsia Zest is formerly known as300px-AirAsia_Zest_Logo.svg Zest air and Asian Spirit.  The name AirAsia Zest is a rebranded name for the airline Zest air after Airasia strategically joined in alliance with one another. The airline is another of Philippine’s budget/ lowcost airlines which flies domestically and internationally as Airasia. Stats from 2016 states the airlines has a fleet of around 20 airbus aircraft flying throughout the country.

Brief

Just like Cebu Pacific Air, I have also used this airline a few times domestically around the Philippine islands. I still remember when Airasia Zest was still the former Zest air, nothing much has changed but the uniforms and A/C colours which do well to give a luxury feel, even for a low cost airline.

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At the airport

Airasia Zest bases at Manila NAIA airport terminal 4, a very small domestic terminal. It is a one floor building that only really consists of 3 rooms  Check-in, Security and the Gates. There are not much shops and restaurants in this terminal.

Aircraft and Flight

AirAsia Zest is a budget/ low cost airline which in my opinion shows  a little more luxury than its competitors. Firstly the staff uniform shows that the airline means business, rather than just a plain t-shirt (which other low cost airlines have) AirAsia Zest have a formal white shirt (black for men) complete with a red blazer and a decent skirt (black trousers for men), the same as its partner company and name sake ‘AirAsia’. Furthermore the seats are complete with the standard magazine pouch and foldable table with the legroom similar to its competitors. Food and drinks are available for purchase, they vary from cold snacks and also hot meals all a bit more expensive than your retail price. The cabin was always clean and I have never experienced anything to be out of the ordinary.

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Conclusion

Overall I am very happy with Airasia Zest as a company to travel as it just enhances your low cost airline experience. The airline varies in price, it just depends when you book and how busy the flight is. Flying domestically I like to fly the cheapest possible as it is only approx. 1- 1.5 hours flight around the different areas of the Philippines, not much to care about the flight experience. However if AirAsia Zest and its competitors were equal in price, I would edge to fly AirAsia Zest due to their little improvements into their cabins and staff standards.

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References

http://news.abs-cbn.com/business/09/21/13/airasia-zestair-launch-rebranded-airline
http://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/AirAsia%20Zest.htm

Photos

Logo from AirAsia.com
main image at https://www.flickr.com/photos/byeangel/18017744354/