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Thursday, 27 November 2008

Chronicling A Budget Airline Holiday - Part 1

Although I have travelled several times on budget airlines with the family for our holidays locally, this would be the first time I will try their hotel and flight package and I thought I might as well chronicle it. Our destination will be Kota Bharu and the holiday will be a four days three nights stay at a reasonable hotel within the city. As you may know we have three national airlines to serve us for domestic destinations, and for the past month I have checked out their respective websites to shop for the best deals. Let’s call them the full service airline (FSA), jet budget airline (JBA) and turboprop budget airline(TBA) respectively based on the type of service they offer.

Well let’s start with their websites shall we. Being the pioneer, I must say JBA has the most user-friendly and easily accessible website with the least down-time or refresh needed when you are on-site. FSA website is slightly better than TBA’s in terms of access, but is the worst in terms of user friendliness if you want to book a package holiday online which incidentally until now I cannot find the page to do so. Meanwhile even though TBA basically tries to replicate JBA’s functions, it gets a no-no because of the slow access speed and frequent downtime, tendency to crash that requires you to refresh the function and slow processing of requests. While writing this I am now on Firefly’s website and I must tell you that I am still on a white screen for the last ten minutes.

Coming to the main event I have noticed that the price for these holiday packages actually are quite stable even for a period of one month unlike the price of their flight tickets. Nonetheless this where both budget airlines’ price indication differs and if you are not careful you may actually be paying more if you just accept without reading the fine print properly. For JBA their prices are all inclusive meaning you pay what they quoted, while TBA’s will charge additional taxes and fees that actually makes their nett price more than their rival's. Even though TBA serves refreshments in their flight, a glass of fruit juice and a muffin is not worth an extra two hundred bucks in my books. That is basically the additional cost of the package that I have to pay to TBA if I had opted for their package to stay in Renaissance Hotel In Kota Bharu. Although TBA offers two hotels with the other being a two star hotel, it surprised me that theirs cost more for basically the same package. And the funny thing is that TBA no longer offers Renaissance when I first logged in last night but I manage to get it after trying several times but I finally dropped it after doing a last minute comparison with JBA’s quotation which saved me the two hundred bucks. In fact if you logged in now, you will no longer get to book at Renaissance although JBA continues to offer the hotel in their inventory. So I have managed to make a booking at a five star hotel at a good price, better than if I had made separate bookings.

Well what is the comparison between booking the hotel and flight tickets separately you might ask. You can actually reserve the hotel rooms at a good rate from the hotel’s website but when you add up the cost, it can actually cost you an extra four hundred ringgit than if you buy the package from JBA. Surprisingly TBA’s final package price is quite similar to the price of booking separately, so there seems to be no reason to buy from them unless you buy your flight ticket early on. However I must say that both airlines are actually having promotional fares for the period that cost less than seventy ringgit one way which I suspect would be quite similar in pricing if you had bought it early. Well at least I have finished the first step in the process to having the budget airline holiday, and when the departure date strikes nearer I will write on how I prepared to travel on the budget airline with their numerous restrictions especially baggage limits and how to overcome them. I stop with the following travel tips from JBA’s website! Cheers then!.

Travel Tips

Go Holiday offers low prices packages (combining flights and hotels). Here are some ways to keep your costs down.

Depart on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. These days often reflect the lowest fares.

Check for "low' periods. When you travel during off peak periods, there are less people and
fares are lower.

When you see a good deal, buy it! Inventory changes constantly for both flights and hotel. A good deal might not be available later.

Travel just after a major holiday. Holiday travel is always in demand, and prices often drop as the demand does.

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