Flying on the cheap

Flying on the cheap

Budget flights now make up 30 per cent of Changi Airport's traffic and is likely to hit 40 per cent, said Mr Gary Ho, Temasek Polytechnic's senior lecturer in aviation management and services.

Budget carriers have also improved more than their full-service counterparts in the Singapore Management University's Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore - satisfaction levels for the budget carriers for the second quarter of this year increased 7.8 per cent compared to the same period last year, while the increase was 3.3 per cent for their full-service counterparts.

The survey polled more than 11,000 people.

The number of budget airline complaints that consumer watchdog Consumers Association of Singapore received has also fallen.

Here are some complaints from passengers and how the airlines dealt with them:

Late change

Never mind the recent Bangkok riots. Mr Timothy Kua, 32, was looking forward to his holiday in the Thai capital.

The Dec 6 Jetstar flight he booked would leave at 7.10pm, giving him enough time to dash from the office to the airport.

But the week before departure, in late November, he received an e-mail from Jetstar. His flight had been cancelled "due to operational constraints".

The alternative: Flying a day earlier, on Dec 5.

No way, thought Mr Kua. "The whole point of getting the original (night) flight was so I won't have to take leave to travel."

The online finance website co-founder then spent up to 45 minutes on the phone with a customer service officer discussing options, such as a noon flight on Dec 6.

Recalling that there was another budget carrier offering his preferred departure time, Mr Kua asked for a refund of $702, the amount he had paid for two tickets. Sure, he was told, if he could produce a letter from the human resource department stating why he could not take the rescheduled option.

Mr Kua said: "The officer kept saying it was part of the procedure." But he was not the one who forced the change, Mr Kua argued. Why make things so difficult?

In the end, Mr Kua received the full refund and a $50 Jetstar voucher, which he called a "cookie cutter measure" for the inconvenience suffered.

His colleagues shared his experience online. Within two hours of posting, the report garnered more than 20,000 views, Mr Kua said.

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