When you’re travelling with a family of 5 like us you tend to rely on the budget airlines. Budget airlines in Australia have made air travel accessible to a lot more people and we have certainly taken advantage of that. The thing with budget airlines is that there is no flexibility, its their way or the highway.
Now we’ve all heard the stories, I was 5 mins late and the gates were closed, I didn’t realise I had carry on only and my luggage cost me a fortune, yes yes there’s plenty of these stories. Regardless of all the stories we still fly with Jetstar or Tiger Air as the prices are just too good to go past compared with Qantas and Virgin these days.
Budget airlines in Australia:
Just recently I had my own issues with Jetstar. I booked flights last May to Queensland for the March long weekend as the kids have curriculum days on the Thursday and Friday before. I was lucky enough to pick up 2 for 1 flights which was awesome. Problem was, I booked the wrong weekend! I booked the weekend before.
After the tears cleared, I called Jetstar late one Saturday night and spoke to the off shore operator. She told me it would cost $800 ($80 per person per flight) plus the difference in the fares, the 2 for 1 wouldn’t be honoured. It was going to cost us nearly $1800, back to tears! It didn’t work, she wouldn’t let me speak to a supervisor and there was no flexibility that could be shown.
Now I wasn’t expecting them to change the flights for nothing, but I did expect to pay a fair and reasonable price. Maybe $100 and the difference of the flights, we all make mistakes right. I was upset and angry enough at myself, I had chosen that weekend to ensure Craig had to use minimal leave from work as he is always short of leave (thanks to our holiday lifestyle!) and now he would need to take an extra day of leave.
The call centre was not showing any flexibility so I decided not to take it any further. The next day Craig called Jetstar customer service centre in Australia and spoke with a supervisor. He explained the situation and she agreed to drop the $800 for changes to flights but unfortunately the flight difference due to it being a long weekend was still $1000 and she was unable to show any flexibility on that. On this occasion it was still too much for us to justify making the changes so we continued on with our original booking.
I do appreciate Jetstar showing flexibility and I think they get a bit of a bad wrap, I fully take responsibility for the mistake that I made. I wish there was a cheaper way we could have agreed on but it is what it is, they met me halfway and that was more than I expected. I have learnt to be more careful when booking flights and I hope it won’t happen again.
I am not sure if I would have gotten the same response from Tiger. I have flown with Tiger and so far have been lucky enough to have no issues. I always ensure I have plenty of time and that my luggage is not over weight as they tend to weigh luggage every time I fly with them. I have noticed that Jetstar is regularly weighing carry on luggage now, this is relatively new and maximum weight is 7kgs. I have even purchased a new carry on suitcase that is lighter than my current one, this suitcase weighs 1.5kgs and is the lightest I have been able to locate (yes I paid top dollar for it too!).
Last time I flew Tiger was from Melbourne to Perth return, I was alone with the 3 kids. Craig flew Virgin as his flight was paid for by his work. I got to the airport very early and the couple in front of me had just missed their flight check in by 3 mins! I felt for them but Tiger showed no flexibility at all. The people were devastated and I felt for them but here I was with 3 kids alone and I was 2 hours early so that wouldn’t be me! The people were at fault and then continued to abuse the lady behind the counter – not cool!
Tips for flying budget airlines in Australia:
So what have I learnt about flying budget airlines:
- Get there early, allow yourself plenty of time particularly if you are travelling with kids,
- Weigh your luggage before you leave, it’s easier when you have a family as you are able to spread the weight a little easier, if you’re overweight expect to pay the big bucks,
- Don’t expect 5* service when you are paying for 3*! Don’t expect too much, be flexible, go with the flow, they don’t have delays just to stuff you round,
- Make sure the kids have been fed, if there is a delay there is nothing worse than tired, hungry kids as well,
- Before booking check and double checks the dates are correct, because
- If you need to make changes its going to cost you! You can make changes but in my experience its often cheaper to just purchase new flights if you can get them on sale,
- Don’t ever book budget airlines on a tight connection, they will not show you any flexibility should your first flight be late (and possibly even if it is the same airline), I have not taken my own advice here as I have a tight connection time with Air Asia for our upcoming trip to Japan transiting through Kuala Lumpur,
- Did I mention check your dates…!
We will continue to travel on budget airlines, when you are paying for 5 it makes a big difference in our travel budget, I am learning as I go. The new terminal 4 at Melbourne Airport appears to be running like a well oiled machine. I like that they do not provide you with a gate number until they are ready for you to board. It forces people to stay in the transit area and not hanging around the gate. Once the gate number appears on the departure board, you walk straight down to your gate and board the plane. Boarding seems to run a lot more smoothly.
We have also flown with budget airlines overseas including Air Asia and VietJet, click on the links to read about our experiences with them. My biggest bugbear is pre-purchasing seats on budget airlines. I always thought when you purchased a ticket, you purchased a seat! Apparently not these days.
Have you had any airline issues? Please let me know in the comments box below.
Safe travels and play by the rules!
Sal & Co!