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Budget? Well, not really

I found this article in The Guardian about Air Asia X, another allegedly budget long-haul airline: 'This is budget travel. We demand to suffer'

Ryan, a 33-year-old electrician standing behind me in the queue, is moving to Melbourne with his girlfriend to start a new life. "I tried to book as soon as I heard about the £99 deal last November," he says. Sadly he missed out (only about a fifth of travellers, says AirAsia X, will travel for the rock-bottom fare) and had to settle for a - still rather impressive - £171 one-way fare [London to Kuala Lumpur). A tall chap, Ryan admits he is concerned about the legroom.

Well, excuse me, but £342 for a return flight between London and Asia is not that special.  Virgin and other airlines have been offering return flights from Hong Kong to London for HK$2,000 (yes, I know that's not the price you actually pay, but I'm guessing that the fare quoted for Air Asia X doesn't include taxes and surcharges either).  So what was it like on this so-called budget airline?

Finally we board, and I'm in for a shock. The legroom is not just OK, it feels rather generous. There are eight seats across the cabin, with two aisles running between the pairs of window seats and a central island of four. Even though the seats are reportedly 15.8in wide, rather than the standard 16in, and the pitch between the rows of seats (the distance between one point on a seat and the identical point on the seat in front) is 30in compared with the usual 32, it doesn't feel a problem. And yes, contrary to rumour, the seats even recline. Quite a bit.

Well, yes, that's only slightly less than Virgin and BA, who offer you a 31"  pitch (Cathay offer 32"), and of course it's rather more than on short-haul budget airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair. 

What really amused me about the story was the correction they published a few days later:

AirAsia X is not the first budget long-haul airline to fly from Britain to Asia. Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, which went into liquidation in April 2008, beat them to it when it launched flights between London and Hong Kong in October 2006.

Well, except that Oasis clearly wasn't a budget airline (32" seat pitch in economy, free food and drinks, free films, etc., etc.), as I may have mentioned once or twice.  At least Air Asia behaves a bit like a budget airline (charging for food, drinks and entertainment; flying from Stanstead), but it really ought to be obvious that the true budget airline model can't be used on long-haul flights.


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have you googled "Chip Tsao" lately? It seems is the only HKG blog that doesn't mention him.

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