Budget air travel: Plan well or risk paying more

Published August 14th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
It may not be a very luxurious travel experience, but budget airlines transport passengers from point A to point B at minimal cost. (Wikimedia Commons)
It may not be a very luxurious travel experience, but budget airlines transport passengers from point A to point B at minimal cost. (Wikimedia Commons)

According to the latest data from the World Bank, UAE's total population is around nine million, out of which 80 per cent is estimated to be expats coming from all around the world. Being a large expat community, residents are always on the look-out for budget friendly ways to travel back home especially during summer and holiday seasons. However, with constant fluctuation in air ticket prices, travelling can be expensive if you don't plan in advance.

That's why budget airlines can be a life-saver for travellers as they offer significantly cheaper tickets and only do a few things differently compared to their full-service counterparts. Find out why budget airlines differ from other carriers and check out tips when planning your next trip.

You're more likely to pay for extra luggage: Full-service carriers have a weight allowance of up to 30kg depending on your destination and is included in the price of the air ticket. With budget airlines, you will be given a limited allowance and will have to pay additional fees for any extra weight. If your luggage is going to be more than the weight limit, it's better to pay for that extra when booking to avoid higher rates at the airport.

Food and drinks are to be purchased: Full-service airlines offer meals to passengers which is included in the ticket price. However, for budget airlines you would have to pay for meals or snacks. If saving is your objective, make sure to bring along some snacks.

Low cost carriers are very basic: When travelling with full service airlines, it's the comfort that's most appealing such as comfortable seats and entertainment systems. Budget airlines usually have smaller seats and limited entertainment options.

While there may be several distinctive differences, are budget airlines really cheaper than full-service carriers? Yes! The reason is simple; budget airlines eliminate all unnecessary services that other full-service carriers offer. These airlines cut down cost by reducing number of seats in the aircraft, limiting free entertainment options, having less number of ground staff, and usually using only one kind of aircraft. What this means for passengers is no meals in flight, no personal TV screens, no check in baggage, less leg room and you get what you pay for. By doing so, operating costs are brought down to the lowest resulting in lower airfare. It may not be a very luxurious travel experience, but it does transport passengers from point A to point B at minimal cost.

Few ways to save cash with budget airlines:

> Lookout for seasonal offers. Super low fares are offered during off-season.

> Early morning or late night flights are cheaper most of the times.

> Booking tickets in advance always work in favour (around three months).

> Check out if your credit card has a mile's programme and other travel benefits. On Souqalmal.com, you can find out more about the benefits and features of around 99 listed airmiles credit cards.

While budget airlines can prevent you from burning a hole in your pocket during your next holiday, there are still a few things your need to watch out for.

These include:

Transfer of luggage during connecting flights: For connecting flights, most low cost carriers don't transfer luggage from one flight to the other. Remember, you have to collect your luggage from the carousel again and check it in for the next flight. It's one of the compromises you have to make when travelling with budget airlines.

Only fly to certain destinations: Budget airlines don't fly to all destinations as they usually don't have similar alliances as other larger carriers.

Refunds, cancellation and other changes: A budget airline may have different policies when it comes to getting a refund due to delays or cancellation of your flight. Make sure to go through the terms and conditions to avoid paying extra on penalties.

By Ambreen Musa

The writer is the CEO of Souqalmal.com. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

 


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