Bare-bones travel


BANGKOK, 4 September 2017:  Current flights and fare trending in Europe and North America will generally end up being adopted in Asia some time soon.

An example of the so-called bare-bones flying experience was highlighted by the Los Angeles Times at the weekend. It identified Norwegian selling a ticket to the US for USD89 one-way and Iceland-based airline, Wow Air, shaving even that fare to an incredible USD69.

That’s about the same price as a low-cost airline quote for a roundtrip Bangkok to Chiang Mai flight.

We think that is just fine, but it all looks a little mean when Norwegian pops almost the same fare for travel across the Atlantic Ocean.

Usually bare-bone fares are limited to certain off-peak days and nothing, absolutely nothing, is included except for the seat and the right to use the toilet. Checked bags, food, blankets, water, seat selection all costs more.

According to the Los Angeles Times, American Airlines’ senior vice president for revenue management, Don Casey, told an aviation summit, last week, the airline was considering offering bare-bone  fares on certain international flights.

Well we don’t expect much from American Airlines at best, other than to be tufted off a flight.

Like other US-based airlines, American is already selling a “basic economy” fare on domestic flights that offers absolutely nothing other than a seat at the back-of-the-bus, next to the galley and toilets.

Absolutely nothing also means there is no free carry-on. You have to pay for the right to bring even the smallest of carry-on bags.  They must all fit in the overhead bins and not exceed 5kg.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Casey refrained from using the term “basic economy” when he talked about the new international fares.

He called them “unbundled,” which is the airline industry term that tells you are about to be bundled in the smallest of seats with minimum leg-room, possibly that dreadful middle spot between two other travellers; the seat no one would ever select.

Industry sources suspect American Airlines will introduce “unbundled” flying some time next year on routes to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Interestingly, there are indications that airlines in Asia, that claim to be a notch above low-cost, are going to spring bare-bone fares on Asian travellers.

Nok Air is apparently “unbundling” it free check-in luggage from its lowest fares, but it does allows a a carry-on bag of up to 7kg.

Of course, Thai AirAsia was the creator of unbundled fares in the region and we have no complaint with that.

For what it’s worth, I do appreciate the bundled fare, even on a domestic sector that I travel frequently.

Bangkok Airways might be THB200 more expensive on the Chiang Rai-Bangkok sector, but it comes bundled with a quality airline meal and check-in luggage. Then there is the bonus; a comfortable airport lounge, coffee, snacks and free Wi-FI.  Bottom line; you are way ahead having escaped the daylight robbery of the airport snack trap that will sets you back considerably more than THB200.