We all know about Ryanair, easyJet and bmi baby, but now you can add another name to the budget airline list – Scoot.
The carrier will make its debut in mid-2012 and will cater for medium and long haul routes. It is part of Singapore Airlines and represents the company’s bid to cater to growing demand for low-cost flying across the area with the International Air Transport Association forecasting that air travel in Asia-Pacific will grow by 6.4 per cent during 2011 thanks to the economic success of the region. However, consumers may fear that this will be just another airline that offers seemingly good deals packed with hidden fees and unwanted surprises.
Catches on a budget
Most holidaymakers who book with budget airlines will be well aware of the ‘extras’ they can be charged for – ranging from taking bags and checking in; to even extra fees just for paying. So how can you dodge these extras?
The first step is to be savvy about the sort of deals you book. For example, Ryanair regularly offers sales that include “all taxes and charges”. This means you won’t have to pay the online check-in fee, or the EU levy, even though you have to pay them with all other flights. So make sure you look for deals that include taxes and charges upfront so you know exactly what you’re getting. Remember too that online check-ins are invariably cheaper than checking in at the airport – and you should always print your boarding pass off ahead of time or you could face a sizeable fee.
Charges for baggage are perhaps the biggest bane on a passenger’s life with each checked bag costing anything from £10-£70 to return. However, most budget airlines will offer around 10kg of hand luggage (some are less, such as 5kg with Thomson Airways) which may be just enough for a weekend break. Think about how you pack your hand luggage to reduce its weight – try and wear your bulkiest clothes, for example, when you’re flying, so you can leave the lighter clothes in your luggage.
Also bear in mind that most budget airlines will charge you for the privilege of paying by credit or debit card. However, many will not charge if you use a Visa Electron card – presumably because so few people have them. So it could be well worth setting up a basic bank account or using a special online payment system.
Remember that just because an airline is advertised as a “budget carrier” it doesn’t mean it will necessarily be the cheapest. You should still take the time out to use a comparison website and see if there are cheaper deals available to your destination of choice. Also be on the lookout for voucher codes for flights. Moneysaver.ie has an entire section devoted to travel and holiday voucher codes – so it’s well worth checking what savings are available before you book.