Low Cost Airline Horror Stories, Anyone?
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Monday, 16th August 2010
I wish I had a good low cost airline horror story to tell – I know, it's a strange thing to wish for and the reason will become evident at the end – but really, flying budget in Asia is pretty civilized compared to the experiences I've had in Europe.

The worst experience and thus the best story I can tell is that of an Easyjet flight from Rome to Berlin where the queues were long and disorganised, the check-in staff rude and surly and the customers equally rude and mostly burly.

Once onboard, I just wished the flight would be over as soon as possible because I felt like a Hobbit in a land of Orcs.

In Asia, I fly low cost pretty often and the experience has gotten better over the years. When AirAsia first started flights almost 10 years ago now, everyone was new to the concept. The airline didn't know what to expect and passengers didn't know how to behave.

And so in general, there was a lot of shoving, rushing and pushing.

Today, more and more people have become accustomed to the whole experience. Look at how many are snapping up AirAsia seats during each sale – this airline, I am sure, is setting its sights on entering the Guinness Book of World Records for breaking the most number of records for seats sold in a single day or something like that.

Today too, we can book our seat, pre-order food and buy extra baggage allowance so there's less hassle all round for everyone. Of course, this all comes with a price – I recently booked a Jetstar flight to Penang and realised that after I had booked the seat, bought insurance, paid credit card fees – the fare was pretty much similar to what I would have paid for a traditional airline.

It's not the first time I've had this epiphany, of course, but I keep being drawn to the "mind blowing" low fare like a moth to a flame.

The other thing I've noticed is that low cost passengers also seem to be better behaved all round. Perhaps I've been lucky but I've yet to encounter the "passenger from hell" on any of the flights I've been on.

This is important because as we know, often you have to be a good customer first to get good service.

And as we read recently, a JetBlue attendant got really mad with a passenger who reportedly swore at him when he told the passenger not to get his bag from the overhead compartment while the plane was still moving.

This made Steven Slater got angry that he picked up the intercom and offered an obscenity-laden resignation over the PA system once the plane landed at JFK. Then he deployed the inflatable emergency chute, slid down it and took off running, according to reports that are by now plastered everywhere on the web.

So back to low cost airline horror stories – the worst experience and thus the best story I have is that of a 10-hour delay on a Jetstar flight from Penang to Singapore. What made it worse was I was flying with my mother who's not terribly confident of travelling alone. The good news is, we had time to bond over that delay.

So to my mother and to everyone who's has a low cost airline horror story to share, I dedicate this video. I think it could become the new anthem of online travel.

Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com . Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.

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