Well, speculation that budget airlines will eventually rule over mainstream airlines is probably coming to an end soon, if the sentiments of passengers who were hit by the revised luggage rule were anything to go by. Passengers going by Tiger Airways will only be allowed to have a 7kg carry-in hand luggage and speculation will have to be made on the weight of the check-in luggage. That means, passengers not only have to weigh their luggage before flying, they have to estimate how much it will weight when they return.

This is usually not a problem when they are on short, non-holiday trips which does not require much shopping, especially souvenirs-shopping for themselves and friends. However, this seem to be a good and valid reason in the future:

Friend: Eh… how was holiday? Got buy anything back or not? You can’t be that ngiao right?

You: No lah… what ngiao? The airline now charge me for bringing things back, ok? Can lah, I bring souvenirs back for you, you pay for the luggage lah.

See? Problem solved. Or course, the other issue that some other forummers in straitstimes.com have with this rule is on the topic of erm… mass-challenged passengers. One forummer commented that:

It’s entirely logical to charge by the weight but it should logically be the combined weight of passenger and luggage. Heavier passengers and those with heavier luggage should pay more.

Posted by: Baikinman at Sat Jun 07 10:44:47 SGT 2008

While another said that:

When airlines start resorting to these practices, as an investor, I know that the sharks are circling. The business is going down. Though the fuel cost is rising, the airlines have to be honest and fair. Charging a person according to weight also is fair. Charge by passenger weight category. In bands of 20kg which the passenser declare. If exceed at check in time, passenger pay weight penalty surcharge like lugguage. The difference between heavy and light passenger can be over 50kgs.
mkhheng

Posted by: mkhheng at Sat Jun 07 14:17:41 SGT 2008

I am not sure how many people actually agree with him, or at least snigger along, but there are people who are really challenged by their weight and there’s very little they can do about it. I am one good example. Of course, I can exercise, take less carbo, and all, but at the end of the day, I might just have a higher propensity to put on more weight and it’s just probably genetics.

However, one thing I am beginning to take note of is that budget airlines are no longer that "budget" any more – given the sky high taxes that passengers have to pay. I am not sure how much a budget ticket inclusive of tax costs on a budget airline, but one such airline (and actually, a few) can fly you over to Bangkok for less than S$300, tax included. I’m not sure if that’s a lot, but it’s a mainstream airline and I don’t have to put up with walking on the tarmac under the hot sun and not having any trolleys.

Budget airlines and The Budget Terminal is beginning to signal to be that they are running on a budget and that passengers will have to pay more for them to sustain their business, which is really the direct opposite of what’s supposed to happen. I still think getting restricted economy tickets on a mainstream airline is still the way to go.

PEEVED passengers are speaking out against a new decision by Tiger Airways to charge for checked luggage.

Some travellers are calling the new ruling, which came into effect on May 29, unreasonable and wondering how they will be able to keep to the budget carrier’s limit of 7kg for hand baggage.

‘If it is called a budget airline, it (Tiger) should stick to being budget,’ said housewife Kim Chea, 47, before boarding a flight from Changi Airport to Perth, Australia, on Thursday. ‘Otherwise, there is no point in us picking it over the major airlines.’

Tiger used to give its customers a 15kg complimentary baggage allowance, but has cut back to reduce fuel and ground handling costs, the airline said.

Now, it costs between $5 and $40 to check in luggage if you notify the airline at least 72 hours before take-off.

If not, the charges are higher – $20 for the first 15kg and $12 per kg after that.

One man, who was flying from Changi, said those provisions will result in some guesswork for passengers.

‘It is not fair to penalise us if we predict wrongly the weight of our supposed luggage,’ said Mr Shiong, who wanted to be known only by his family name.

‘It will be very restrictive. On holidays, I will not be able to buy more souvenirs for friends.’

Others also said that keeping to the 7kg hand luggage limit is going to be a tall order.

Mrs Chea said: ‘If you go to Perth during this time, when it is colder, your luggage will definitely be heavier than 7kg as you have to pack winter clothes as well.’

Mr Zhang Gao Shi, 69, a businessman who was travelling to Darwin, Australia, said he had mixed feelings about the charge.

‘This is an open market so if we do not agree with this policy, we can always choose other airlines.’

Then again, he said, what’s to stop the airlines from tacking on more fees and surcharges? ‘If prices keep going up, budget will not be budget any more.’

When contacted by The Straits Times, a Tiger Airways spokesman said excess baggage raises fuel and handling costs.

She said: ‘By separating the cost components of air travel, passengers pay for only what they use, instead of having to subsidise other travellers.’

Encouraging passengers to carry only what they need lowers operating costs ‘which in turn translates to cost savings for customers’, she added.

Airlines around the world are grappling with rising jet fuel prices which have doubled in the last one year. They are pulling out all the stops to cushion the impact – cutting routes and capacity, grounding aircraft, holding off on new planes and, in some cases, axing jobs.

Apart from Tiger, some other carriers in the United States and Europe have also revised their baggage policies.

Other airlines that serve Singapore said they have no immediate plans to follow suit. The list includes Singapore Airlines, Qantas, British Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.

karam@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 7th June 2008



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