Budget Airlines, Cheap Air Travel But What About Safety. 

You hear it everywhere and in every country, budget airlines providing cheap air tickets. The airlines often make it sound like a social service by claiming that, they wish to bring air travel within the reach of everyone! The low ticket prices drop even lower when accompanied by some marketing hype and gimmicks. Book a month in advance and get 50% off, book 6 months in advance and pay only 30% of the already low fare. While we do not want to make air travel a prerogative of the rich and powerful, doubts about the safety of such budget air travel cannot be brushed aside. We get down to some serious ramble below.

 Switch back to pre-budget airlines days, a round trip from Bangkok to Singapore cost you around 400 U.S$. The flight always seemed to be overbooked, your agent made you wait until the last moment to get you a confirmed seat on the flight. Those were the days when fuel was at least 40% cheaper than today. They were also the days when air staff salaries were around 30% to 40% cheaper than today.

Now back to lovely today, welcome to the budget airline era. All running costs have increased by around 40% and this includes fuel costs. But that same return trip to Singapore is now going to cost you just 130 U.S$, yes it is true. You might have to buy and pay for the ticket few months before the flying date but, that is really not significant.  

We once spoke to a guy who loves these budget airline deals. Asked him to compare a trip on a budget airline with a trip on the conventional airline. He mentioned a few things and we share them with you. The budget aircraft according to this traveller seemed to be a bit squeezed up. The airline probably shoved a few more seats in the same place. He also mentioned that there were no free drinks served and no meal despite it being a lunch time flight. Each passenger got a small  bottle of water and a tiny packet stuffed with 2 finger sized biscuits.

There was no mention of lack of toilet paper in the toilet but, he probably didn't have the need to use the toilet. At least not after consuming a small bottle of water and two tiny biscuits. For the above cost cutting, a price reduction from 400 U.S$ to 130 U.S$ seems like a great deal, but probably not.

Talking to few more people with better knowledge of the airlines industry, we got some more views about cost cutting. We were told that some low cost airlines also cut the baggage weight allowance that flyers were allowed to carry. This is understandable and it does not compromise on safety in any way.

The issue of cramped seating might not be a problem for short duration flights. In our example, Bangkok to Singapore packs in a flying time of around 2 hours which is not too long. But for flights that are longer than 4 hours, you might need to be aware of the 'Economy Flight Syndrome' or DVT as it is medically called. This is a medical condition that can result in death, risks are higher when a person sits cramped in a small place for more than 4 to 5 hours.

What about quality of staff, we are not referring to those flying fairies also referred to as air hostesses. Let's talk about pilots, co-pilots and even ground staff who check the aircraft before it takes off. There is a whole network of operations that involves take off, communications and even landing. Are budget airlines really operating without any cost and quality compromise in these areas.

Budget airlines need to get staff at lower salary payment, there can be no doubt about this. If this is not the case, they need to get more mileage from their pilots and co-pilots by making them do more trips or fly longer hours. A pilot would accept lower salary only if he could not get a job with a salary that is on the normal pay scale. Such a pilot would most probably be someone with less flying experience or a drop out from some other airline. Ask yourself whether you would feel safe in the hands of such a pilot.

Coming to the aircraft technical condition, many budget airlines use second hand aircraft purchased from other airlines. You can also expect that the engineers who maintain such aircraft are hired on standards that the budget airline can afford. In a rush to recover their overheads, the airlines might push their aircraft for more flights. This can be dangerous as the flight gets overused and the engineers do not get sufficient time to thoroughly check the aircraft between flights.

You might want to keep this article in mind before you make your next budget airline flight. After all, there could more compromises made than just, reduced drinking water and lack of a wholesome meal!.