We talk a lot about and promote the use of low cost airlines. When is a “low cost” airfare not a good deal and what should you expect when traveling on a low cost airline?
On my trip last week to Australia I choose to fly on a low cost airline, mostly because of the time I wanted to fly more than the price of the flight. However, when you are looking strictly for price, are low cost airlines really the best deal? Lets look at some pricing. A one way fare from Sydney Australia to Melbourne on Virgin Australia on average will cost $85. The same flight on a low cost airline like Tiger Air will cost $43, a savings of $42 or about 1/2 the cost.
For the $42 savings you will need to travel light because you have a carryon limit of 7Kg or 15.5Lbs. If you want to carry on more you will need to pay an additional $18 if you prepay or $17 if you want to check a bag up to 20Kg or 44Lbs, so now your $42 saving almost got cut in half now saving only $24. If you are going to both check a bag and have more than 7Kg of carryon then your net savings will only be $7. For this you will have to pay for any snacks, drinks, your legroom is cut and your seat does recline but only a smidgen.
Because I was packing light and could carryon I still had a decent savings, but it is always the unexpected that gets you. Mind you, this could happen on any flight but it seems to happen to me more on low cost airlines vs a more traditional flight. As we began to taxi away from the terminal to take off a few drops of what looked like water dripped on my jeans from the luggage bin above. As we turned towards the runway the drip turned into a constant stream and it wasn’t water, it was clear oil. As we took off down the runway, the force of the take off directed the now pouring oil to the seats behind me. It was quite the interesting dilemma and when we could we opened up the luggage bin to find out it was someones massage oil. When you through policy, encourage people to carry on items they would normally check, these are sometimes the results.
In the end, all was well. I reached my destination and had something to write about. In the long run was it worth the savings? Probably not in this case, but it was a short flight and the time of the flight was the most important to me. It is good to check all the cost of flying and all the extras can really add up. However, if you are a light packer, can live with a smaller space and a few other inconveniences, low cost airlines are a way to save you money.