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Tiger Airways & AirAsia: Budget Airlines - A viable option or a traveler’s nightmare?

Updated on May 13, 2013


First and foremost, the thing to keep in mind when travelling on Tiger Airways or Air Asia is that it is a NO FRILLS BUDGET AIRLINES. Period. If you are the type of traveler who is just interested in reaching from point A to B with minimum fanfare and willing to sacrifice luxury in exchange for very low fares, then these are the Airlines to go for. I for more, am more interested in spending my hard earned money on my vacation itself, experiencing the different foods and culture a vacation spot has to offer, rather than going overboard with my airfare or hotel bills. So if you are someone with a similar mindset, then you’ll have no problems with Tiger Airways & Air Asia. However, this is not to say that Tiger Airways & Air Asia don’t have its pros and cons, which I shall come to a bit later on.


As the name implies, a budget or low-cost carrier is an airline that usually has lower fares and lessor comforts. Such airlines usually charge the passenger solely for the ticket (for travelling on the airlines) with a minimal baggage weight (usually 7 kg hand luggage). If the passenger wants additional facilities, such as increasing baggage capacity, in-flight food, pre-selected seating arrangements, priority boarding, etc., then additional charges shall apply. Similarly, Tiger Airways & Air Asia charges an upfront amount for travelling to a destination which includes 7 kg hand luggage within the airfare, and charges extra for more baggage, in-flight food and pre-selected seating arrangements.

From time to time, I hear people be-moaning that “Oh, budget airways do not provide in-flight food” or “Oh, the seating arrangements are not certain and you may be separated from your group”, or other statements of that sort. However, I personally love the level of flexibility provided by such budget airways. Budget airways such as Tiger Airways & Air Asia provide the traveler with the choice. YOU get to decide on the amount of your luggage capacity and get to pay accordingly. YOU get to decide which food to eat (or NOT to eat at all) by selecting from the menu online prior to flight or even during flight. So ultimately, in my opinion, you, the traveler, is empowered and are in control of the amount you spend! When compared with other luxury airlines, such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, etc., you only have to pay about HALF or even less when travelling on a budget airline!


I recently purchased return tickets to Singapore from Bangladesh and traveled on Tiger Airways and as I said previously, there are certain Pros and Cons associated with such a Budget Airways. So, what are the benefits of travelling on an airline such as Tiger Airways?

· VERY VERY CHEAP: This is by far the most significant advantage of travelling on a budget airline. Compared to other traditional Airways, the cost of flying is half or even less. For example, it costs around BDT 50,000 – BDT 55,000 (approx USD 600 – 660) for a return ticket in airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways or Malaysian Airways. On the other hand, it cost me about BDT 27,000 (approx USD 325) for a return ticket to Singapore on Tiger Airways. Similarly, Air Asia’s airfares are also much lower, even one-fourth of the price of other traditional airlines during promotional periods! So be sure to keep a close eye on these budget airlines’ official websites or subscribe to their newsletters if you are planning to fly budget in the near future!

· TRAVELLOR HAS OPTION ON ADD-ONS: Another great advantage is that the traveler is in control of his/her budget and can choose his options according to his/her needs. For example, you decide if you need more luggage capacity or if you want in-flight food or even whether you want to choose your sitting arrangements (or not).


However, as mentioned above, there are certain cons associated with budget airlines, which includes but may not be limited to the following:

· LIMITED OR NO IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: Budget airlines have almost no in-flight entertainment options. Traditional airlines nowadays have in-flight personal LCD screens where each traveler may watch movies or videos or even play video games or listen to movies. There are also good magazines or newspapers to read. On the other hand, budget airways are almost always barren! No fancy LCD screens or other gadgets to pass the time on and no magazines/newspapers other than their own airlines related or sponsored magazines or brochures. So be prepared with your own entertainment system (i.e. music or videos in your tab or phone!)

· THE COMPANY YOU WILL KEEP: They say that a man is judged by the company he keeps! I guess whoever invented the saying did not know about budget airlines (lol). This is because it is highly likely that over ninety percent of your fellow travelers will be of the worker/labor class. I have nothing against the working/labor class, however, people of such a class tends to be very loud and furthermore, they are unaware and/or do not know about normal travelling etiquettes. What this practically translates to is that, your fellow travelers will always be rushing the queues or will all at once try to rush out of the airplane after it lands and will also be loudly conversing with fellow passengers and/or over the phone with complete disregard to the airhost’s direction to turn off cellphones during take-off or landing.

· QUALITY OF SEATS & BREATHING SPACE: The quality of the seats is not business class or even economy class when compared to traditional airlines. Furthermore, the seats can only be reclined to a certain extent (not as much as compared to traditional airlines). Leg room and breathing space is a bit of an issue; they are a bit scarce! Usually budget airlines carry about 180 passengers in each plane. 6 passengers sit in each row, split into 2 columns. So, basically, there’s an aisle in the middle and 3 seats on each side of the aisle. I am about 5 feet 8 inches tall and I can sit quite comfortably in a middle seat (with two passengers on either side of me). As can be seen from the photo below, there’s quite a bit of space between my knees and the front passenger’s seat. However, if you are a big guy, you may get a bit cramped! So, be aware!


So, you may be wondering, what’s the bottom line? Sure there are some pros and cons, but is it all worth it? I say, that the answer depends on each individual passenger. If you are more interested in your destination than how you travel, if you are willing to sacrifice luxury or frills in exchange for significantly lower airfares, than budget airlines is the way to go for you! However, if money is no matter and comfort and luxury and travelling in style are your thing, than no need to go for budget or low-airfare carriers! Just go for the premium! Happy travelling!

Please note: Please check out the concerned budget airlines’ official website and/or contact your local travel agent prior to making any travel related decisions.


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