Malaysians forced to take transit flights to 'balik kampung'

Malaysians forced to take transit flights to 'balik kampung'
Home bound: Wong heading to the check-in counter at Beijing Capital International Airport with his children Kristen and Jun.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

BEIJING - Malaysians here have begun to head home for Chinese New Year, although the journey for some has not been plain sailing, or rather, flying.

Although they started leaving as early as the beginning of this month, air tickets to Kuala Lumpur have been selling like hot cakes and prices skyrocketed as the festival drew near.

Owing to the pricey airfare, some travellers were forced to opt for transit flights, which took them up to a full day to reach home soil, compared to six-and-a-half hours by direct flight.

A check on the Internet on Sunday found that the remaining economy class tickets on all direct flights were priced at more than 2,700 yuan (S$565).

Normally, a one-way ticket to KL International Airport costs around 750 yuan (S$157) on a budget carrier.

Award-winning film director Michael Wong, who bought his tickets five days before his journey, took almost 13 hours to reach home, with a transit in Hong Kong.

He said that he was busy with work and did not expect the direct flight tickets to be snapped up so fast that the price would shoot up like that.

Wong and his family left Beijing at 12.30pm on Thursday and arrived at around 1am the following day.

“It was tiring but it’s all worth it because I get to see my family, relatives and old friends, not to mention savour all the delicious food.

“After all, returning to the tanah air (homeland) is a once-a-year occasion for me,” he added.

Sim Ri Sheng has a lot of catching up to do when he gets back to Penang.

He said he has a long list of things to do and food to eat back home.

“I want to go to the seaside and take a stroll down all the familiar roads.

“Penang Hill is another place I want to go to watch the sunset and see the night sky,” said the student at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, adding that he also planned to have breakfast at several different coffeeshops.

He paid 700 yuan more for his airfare, although he bought it more than two months before the departure date.

Cheryl Liew, who is from Miri, was not as lucky because she can only come home on the second day of Chinese New Year.

The sales manager of a hotel has to be on duty.

“I’m looking forward to it (coming back). I miss my family, siblings and Sarawak laksa,” she said, adding that she would also do some shopping for skincare products as they were more expensive in China.



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