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We have some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: hell hath officially frozen over. This week Ryanair debuted their newest service feature, andhere's the good newsit's not another fee! The addition is actually just an official blog (named "Into the Blue") from the notoriously ultra low-cost airlines based in Ireland.
Why do we say hell's frozen over? Well, for years Ryanair maintained positions of not engaging with their customers, eschewing everything from social media to a website with even a shred of consideration for the user experience. But things have changed, beginning with Ryanair's joining Twitter in late 2013, which was quickly followed by a clean redesign of their site. The airline then ditched their annual calendar of bikini-clad flight attendants, and promised a more family-friendly approach in the future.
New Airline Alert / Up by El Al / El Al / Israel Travel / Europe Travel / LCC / LCCs / TLV / → All Tags
The past few years have absolutely been high times for full-service airlines to stretch their legs and enter the low-cost carrier market. Singapore Airlines has Scoot, ANA has Peach and Vanilla Air, Thai Airways has Nok Air, Air Canada has Air Canada Rouge, and these are only a few examples. Now, El Al is getting in on the fun with their own little brother of an airline, UP by El Al.
The new airline will fly from Tel Aviv to five cities in Europe, giving cost-conscious travelers a new option between Israel and Berlin, Budapest, Kiev, Prague and Larnaca. Offering the typical à la carte service model we've come to expect from budget airlines, Up will save passengers some cash with tickets to Prague and Budapest starting at $69, and the other destinations from $99 one-way.
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It seems like pretty much each and every airline is considering—or at least has or had—a low-cost carrier sibling. Competition is pretty strong out there, so if you’re able to offer up a cheaper alternative it’s probably a good idea.
The latest carrier to throw their hat into the budget ring just might be Aeroflot, as there are rumors that the Russian carrier is thinking of launching an LCC beginning at some point in 2014.
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The airline industry is notoriously super competitive when it comes to saving cash and adding some extra fees to make bonus bucks. After all, look at Samoa Air charging passengers per kilogram.
Don't worry, we aren't going to announce a new ridiculous fee from a low-cost carrier; instead the news comes in the form of cost savings from a private Indian airline called Go Air. The 8-year-old LCC has announced they are hiring new flight attendants, no doubt to expand their services in India and the region, and they only want females. The rationale for this sexism? In theory, women weigh less than men and that equates to fuel savings..
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In all truthfulness, low-cost airlines get a bad rap for being more bottom-line conscious than customer focused, but on a recent flight from Thailand to Cambodia, we wanted to truly see for ourselves if Air Asia was as bad as the reputation of other LCCs would have us believe.
Earlier this week, we showed you how Bangkok's Don Mueang (DMK) is primarily used by Air Asia and other budget-carriers, so after wandering around the nearly vacant terminal, we headed downstairs to hop on a bus that took us to our bird.
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Back in March we were excited to talk about the news of a new budget airline coming to Thailand. Our excitement was then justified as Thai Smile took to the skies in August. Now, the little Thai LCC has already overhauled its service model.
Going from a modern offering of mostly economy with a few EconomyPlus-type seats flying domestic routes and key regional international routes, the airline has now moved to a full-service airline similar to its parent company, Thai Airways. The reason for the change? Thai Smile cites "poor reception" from flyers for the Thai Smile layout.
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Just in case you haven't walked within a few feet of the greeting card section of your local drugstore, this week is Valentine's Day. Consider this fair warning if you haven't already scrambled to buy chocolates or flowers, but if you don't have a special one just yet, Jetstar has the solution to your problem. "LoveJet"! (cue the cheesy music)
The Australian low-cost carrier has hooked up with Aussie dating site, RSVP, to bring the world some real (multi-)mile-high dating. Last year, we saw KLM try to pair passengers looking for interesting conversation and a possible love connection, but Jetstar is actually planning on making the relationship magic happen.
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The world won’t be complete until each and every major carrier spins off its very own low cost carrier, and honestly that’s fine with us. Sometimes we don’t need handholding through each step of the booking and boarding process, and getting there with a cheapo carrier is something half the fun—kind of. Anyway, it looks like Lufthansa is the latest to focus on the discount model, and they’ve got all kinds of plans ready to go.
We haven’t had a chance to check out the PowerPoint, but it sounds like the mission involves merging their European and domestic options into a new carrier in hopes of shaving costs and improving efficiencies. These flights will be blended into the Germanwings brand as of January 1, as the carrier looks to fend off the competition in the region. Flights doing their thing with the Lufthansa livery out of spots like Frankfurt and Munich will continue to do so, as the plan doesn’t involve mixing things up at these two hubs.
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On one hand, EasyJet shows all the signs of being an ultra-budget LCC. The airline isn't as obnoxious about their exorbitant fees and/or lack of services as Spirit Airlines or Ryanair, but they did pointedly ring up Prince Harry on a bunch of fees the last time he flew with them. They even charged him extra for checking through his green army bag, which was issued to him while he was serving in Afghanistan, among other places. Thoroughly charming.
On the other hand, the British airline has made a number of moves implying that they want to be something more than a "frugal LCC" also-ran. They've led the way on genuinely innovative features like offering in-flight trip insurance, and they were the first UK commercial airline to coat their planes with nano-paint so they could fly more efficiently.
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...it's like being on The Oprah show when she gives away her favorite things.
Back in early 2010, we brought you the story of iPads being launched as in-flight entertainment options; it just took a while for plans to come to fruition. This week, our friends "down under" at Jetstar actually came through and rolled out new in-flight entertainment options. The LCC is now offering passengers in all cabins the option to rent an iPad on flights from Oz to New Zealand, plus other short-haul internationals. Eventual roll-out across the whole domestic network is in the works.
This is the first time iPads have been offered in the short-haul economy cabin and, frankly, this really makes us super giddy. The rental cost of $10-15 AUD (depending on flight duration) isn't too bad either, considering the entertainment options. Each device is preloaded with TV shows, new release movies and music with a line-up of the hottest games *ahem Angry Birds*, e-mags and e-books.
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AYCJ 2010 officially ends this evening, whichall things consideredis kind of a huge bummer. JetBlue's All You Can Jet website is displaying a sad banner that says "we're sorry... the last date of travel is October 6." Tragic. Potentially even more tragic is that there's no promise of an AYCJ 2011 on the site.
So will there be a third annual AYCJ? It depends on whether the LCC thinks that the program has been a success. There are easy ways to imagine why it might be a loser for them. Certainly if all of the AYCJ flights were purchased by the passengers at full price, JetBlue would have made more money.
And it's not like the airline is straightforwardly getting new customers, since most of the people who buy the passes are travel junkies who buy tickets based on price and already search JetBlue. But that logic can be a little deceptive because there's no reason to believe that those full-priced ticketsthe ones that get used "for free" by AYCJ pass holderswould have been purchased. Those seats may have just gone to waste.
We get excited whenever a low-cost airline launches flights to a new and exotic destination, and the start of Pacific Blue flights from Brisbane to the Solomon Islands sounds like something to jump up and down about.
We admit to knowing little about the Solomon Islands (although we know they sometimes get tsunamis), but anywhere in Melanesia with a thousand islands has got to have something attractive. But we're not so sure that Pacific Blue's new flights are actually cheap: A return flight from Brisbane will cost you A$498 ($347) at first, soon rising to A$758 ($529).
On the other hand, if you fit some very specific criteria and promise to fly on a Tuesday, the national carrier Solomon Airlines will get you to Brisbane and back for A$436. Unfortunately it's only for locals and Aussie tourists, but it's a whole lot cheaper than the "budget" airline.
[Photo: Graham Crumb]