Wego, a travel search site targeting the Asia Pacific and Middle East, is pushing low-cost options as a way to travel around the world for pleasure.
Typically, it is very difficult to plan a travel around the world purely using low-cost carriers or LCCs as you need to know all the special ways to get the discounts. However, says Wego, it’s not impossible.
“While aviation has evolved in so many ways over past decades, nothing has had a greater impact on the industry than the evolution of the low-cost carrier,” said Dean Wicks, Chief Flights Officer for Wego.
The low-cost carrier model means that flying is no longer an unimaginable expense, and airfares can be as affordable, or even cheaper than, some methods of overland public transport.
“On some occasions, it’s cheaper to fly from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur for the weekend, than take a taxi across town,” added Wicks.
However Wicks believes that, as travellers, we still don’t take full advantage of the world’s growing network of low-cost airlines.
“It is now possible to do an around the world trip solely flying on low-cost carriers, which means big savings for travellers,” Wicks continued. “Wego’s global airline partnerships include the majority of the world’s budget airlines across numerous countries. You can fly from and around South America, the United States, Canada and onwards to Europe. You can then jet off to Africa and the Middle East before an Indian adventure, then head through Asia down to Australia, and finally across the Pacific back to the US, all by low-cost carrier.”
“It’s a backpacker’s dream come true, the opportunity to travel further cheaply, is now open to all. Yet some travellers may not be aware of local low-cost carrier brands in India or South America, which is why it’s important to be aware of the local budget alternatives available,” he said. “With a little forward planning you can save an enormous amount of money on flights and see more countries in one extended trip.”
Wicks says that many budget airlines ostensibly remain profitable through the sale of ancillary add-ons, such as food, entertainment, baggage allowance, seat selection and upgrades.
“Flights are tailored to your specific needs, which works for both the passenger and the airline. It’s far more satisfying to forego a few small luxuries and have the ability to explore more than one country you thought unachievable due to an expensive airfare,” he added.
Full service carriers are also acknowledging the benefit of ancillary business and applying their models to suit.
“Southwest Airlines in the US pioneered the budget airline model, reducing operating costs by flying more frequently, and with more seats. AirAsia operates with the lowest unit cost per available seat, and has done so extremely well having been voted the best low-cost airline seven years running at the World Airline Awards.”
Today, six out of ten of the world’s most awarded budget airlines hail from Asia, including India’s Indigo.
“Making your bookings as far in advance as possible equates to even more savings,” Wicks said. “Flights between major Asian hubs, for example, can be as low as US$35 if you’re clever with timing your searches. Low-cost airlines also discount their regular fares periodically and the bargains can be incredible.”
While low-cost carriers initially focussed on short-haul destinations, Wicks points out that it’s now possible to obtain budget airfares on many long-haul routes.
“Indonesia AirAsia X has just announced direct flights between Sydney and Bali, and AirAsia X has hinted at the possibilities of future flights from Australia to London and Hawaii. Scoot flies from Singapore to Australia, and Jetstar carries 8.5 per cent of all passengers travelling in and out of Australia to 17 international destinations in seven countries across Asia, North America and Oceania,” said Wicks.
“Another great example is Norwegian Air, who fly from Bangkok to Europe, connects Europe with the US, and has just announced flights between the US and the Caribbean, beginning this Christmas,” Wicks added. “In the UAE, FlyDubai now serves a total of 94 destinations and has expanded with flights to home countries of many guest workers including Amman, Beirut, Chittagong, Kathmandu and Muscat.”
“There are enormous savings to be had if you become more familiar with the budget airline network, both in the countries you’re visiting and their long-haul options,” Wicks concluded. “Today you can fly around the world and back again, for much less than you ever imagined.”