Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Adventures in Flying: Chinese Budget Airlines

While jetting around Southeast Asia is fun, flying every couple of months can get expensive.  In an effort to cut costs, we have started to fly the budget airlines. 

Flying regular-priced airlines in China is like flying in the US in the 80’s.  Most airlines serve a full sized meal or snacks on any flight over one hour in plastic trays, don’t charge for baggage, and have comfortable seats.  Airlines like Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air will make you feel downright spoiled.

Budget airlines like Air Asia, and Spring Air are a little different.  You pay for what you get, no more no less. By the way, you have to pay for every little thing.  The plus side is many of these airlines have evening flights so we can get a jump start on our holiday without taking time off work.

Budget airlines may not offer you in flight water on an international flight, but you may get a complimentary seat exercise class.
If I continue to fly budget airlines, I would more than likely fly Air Asia.  On Air Asia you pay for what you get, but the good news is you can buy some pretty nice perks like 24-hour buttermilk pancakes and seats in a childfree quiet zone.  You can pre-pay for your beverages, but if you don’t pre-pay there usually are some drinks to buy on board.  They have some duty free items you can purchase from the magazine in the plane seat in front of you.  You have to pay for checked baggage, however if you pre-book your luggage you get a discount.  The seats are comfy, the service is good, and the flights are cheap!

I'm not kidding when I say you have to pay for everything.  For $2.75 USD you can rent a blanket.  You can rent a power bank for twice that.

The pancakes were definitely the highlight of my overnight flight from Shanghai to Bali. I highly recommend them!

A Coke Zero was well worth the $2, but in the future I will carry on.

This is the first airline I have flown that offers selfie sticks.

Chris was less than impressed with the Taylor Swift gear.  
One airline I hesitate to fly again is Spring Air.  With Spring Air, what we saw definitely wasn’t what we got.  We decided to go to Japan at the last minute, and Spring Air gave us a semi decent price on the airline tickets. The flight to Kyoto was less than two hours so we figured we could tolerate it.  We were wrong. The drama started from the minute we checked in at the airline counter.

I was able to carry on my bag (pictured on the right).  Chris was forced to check his smaller bag (pictured on the left) because it had wheels.  All wheeled luggage is required to be checked in. 
I think the Spring Air seats were a little snug.  They were the first non reclining airplane seats I have ever flown in. 

I'm about 5'7" and my knees touched the seat in front of me.  
All I wanted to do was sleep on the flight home.  Unfortunately, every Spring Air flight comes with a 40 minute duty free infomercial.  No, I don't want to buy a plastic plane or cigarettes.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  The over head commercial killed that plan.

After the infomercial, it was time for our in seat aerobic class.  I was amazed that an airline that did not provide water provided in seat calisthenics.

After stretching, it was time for eye exercises.

My only advice is when flying budget airlines is buyer beware.  Sometimes you get what you pay for.

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