Today flying to a destination is no more the cartel of the rich and the mighty; it has become almost the common man’s vehicle. While revolutionising travel, this transformation has also introduced many snags particularly with air-travel, which all passengers may not be aware of. Here are some of the insights and tips.
When booking flights, most are eluded by the price and not many look into the fare conditions – cheaper the price, more stringent are them. This is applicable to all classes of travel – Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First. Even within these classes, there are several subclasses, each of which has restrictions attached to it. To avoid confusion and surprises at a later date everyone needs to find out before paying what these conditions are. The most common ones to be aware of are rules and fees applicable for change of dates, cancellation, frequent flyer point allocation and even seating allocation. Most airlines now offer preferred seatings at extra cost, otherwise seat selection can only be done 48 to 24 hours before departure. Some of the cheap economy class tickets marketed as ‘super specials’ can be non-refundable in case travel plan changes. No different in case of cheaper higher class deals.
Upgrade to higher classes
Upgrades are only a dream now. These days it can possibly happen when the flight is overbooked (don’t be surprised as most airlines do it knowing, there are always last minute cancellations and no shows) and few passengers are moved to higher classes. This commonly occurs during ‘peak’ periods of travel like Christmas, School Holidays, Chinese New Year and alike. Upgrade priorities are given to loyalty club members of that airline, gold category membership receiving the call first. Like in case of Thai Airways, their Royal Orchid Plus Gold frequent flyer members will be given the first priority. Passengers travelling solo have better chances. There are other ways to upgrade, though they require some payment. Thai Airways, allow passengers to buy a standby upgrade at the airport for most sectors. Malaysian Airlines have a scheme called MHupgrade where eligible passengers are invited to bid for an upgrade, prior to departure.
Airlines like Jetstar, Air Asia, Scoot, Indigo, Easy Jet, Ryan Air and many more alike worldwide, who fly passengers from A to B at much lower price, are generally referred to as budget airlines. They achieve the lower price by generally optimising fuel consumptions, rationalising time on ground, selecting departure/arrival at nonpeak times and keeping corporate overheads low. Their base price doesn’t include meals, beverages, entertainment, baggage etc, which are all available at extra costs, providing savings to ones who don’t want it. Many budget airlines operate with new aircrafts and have premium classes which offer a good balance between cost, comfort and luxury. No airline compromise on safety for cutting costs, though the levels of acceptable risks may vary between airlines. However all airlines operating commercially are required to abide by all applicable civil aviation rules and regulations.
Modern day travellers can’t avoid this syndrome – jetlag – a fatigue caused by travelling across different time zones. Flying westwards the effects are not too bad, compared to coming back east when normal time cycle runs in opposition to body-clock. Experts suggest some simple methods during flights to minimise the effect. These include drinking plenty of water, eating small meals, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, doing light exercises and staying relaxed. My tip is as soon as flight departs set watch with time at the destination and then follow that to adjust mind to new time zone.
Inflight passenger behaviour
Many complain today travelling in economy class is becoming increasingly unpleasant due to poor inflight passenger behaviour. According to a recent study by Expedia the things that cause the maximum nastiness are passengers in front reclining seats without notice sometimes during meals, passengers behind pushing and kicking seat, talking loudly with lights on during ‘sleep time’, queue jumping during boarding and getting out, being inattentive parents, dirtying the toilets and filling up all of cabin baggage space. Flying can become more enjoyable if everyone keeps these in mind.