Risky Airlines

Booking through a travel agent is a better bet than booking online if you wish to avoid problems when arranging travel or while travelling.

Seven out of 10 Australians run into difficulties when travelling or preparing to travel, a survey by consumer group Choice has revealed. Over a quarter of those problems concern booking online – with hidden fees topping the list of peeves. http://www.tourismlegal.com.au/

The Choice (consumer review magazine) research was based on responses from a nationally representative sample of 1100 Australian travellers aged 18–75 who had travelled for leisure domestically (ever) and internationally (in the past 12 months).

Most commonly encountered travel problems were:
•Booking online (26%)
•Flights (24%)
•Transport (taxis, buses, trains) (19%)
•Booking with a travel agent (18%)
•Mobile phones (17%)
•Car hire (14%)
•Accommodation (14%)

For those who struck problems with booking online, 57% complained about hidden fees. Nearly 30% also struck difficulty fixing mistakes online and/or encountered technical website issues.

Booking with a travel agent caused problems for less than two out of 10 travellers, ranking it only as the fourth most common problem travellers encountered. Of those with gripes who booked through agents, 34% said they had difficulty fixing mistakes, 29% objected to hidden fees. Another 19% said they didn’t get quite what they paid for, such as preferred room types.

Choice reminded its readers that “the compulsory licensing scheme for travel agents was abolished and replaced with a voluntary accreditation scheme called ATAS on 1 July 2014. The scheme provides some protections and recourse, such as full and partial refunds, if you are wronged.”

Choice advises consumers to do their research and find a reputable agent. “Agents with accreditation, such as ATAS accreditation, are required to meet minimal professional standards family and friends can also be a great source for recommendations.”

Of the 24% of respondents to the Choice survey who said they had struck some sort of problem with their flight, about half (51% ) said flights were either delayed or cancelled.

Choice advices travellers to obtain travel insurance that covers delays and cancellations. AFTA advises the same.

Is a budget airline really cheap??? Care required as marketing often creates an illusion!

Which low-cost carriers have the cheapest fares, many travellers wonder. The cheapest low-cost airlines in the world are mainly in Asia, with first place going to Malaysian airline Firefly.

Firefly’s total average fare, including checked baggage fee, is only AUD 43.92 which is less than half of the price of the cheapest European airline, Pegasus. That’s according to research by the flight search engine WhichAirline.com

Firefly is followed, according to average ticket price, by SpiceJet (AUD 75.25) and Onur Air (AUD 80.24). While many would expect AirAsia to be the cheapest, it only comes in at fourth place with AUD 86.62. Popular Asian airline tigerair is ninth with AUD 104.50. In the world comparison, Pegasus comes in at seventh place, Ryanair at 19th place only.

Ryanair is the cheapest in Europe, right? Well, not quite. Ryanair has many hidden fees, which make a big impact on the final cost. In fact, when all costs are counted, five other airlines come out cheaper in Europe: Pegasus Airlines, Air Lituanica, Vueling, germanwings and Wizz Air.

Which is the cheapest of them all in Europe?

In its research, WhichAirline.com compiled two lists to compare the cheapest airlines: the first based on average basic prices of tickets (without fees) and second based on the prices of tickets including checked baggage fee for a 20 kg bag. http://www.miceasiaexhibition.com/

The common perception that Ryanair is the cheapest airline is erroneous, the research shows. Ryanair comes second (after Pegasus Airlines) when comparing the basic fare without fees. When the total fare is counted, including checked baggage fee for a 20 kg bag, the cheapest carrier is Pegasus Airlines with a total average price of AUD 93.12, followed by Air Lituanica (AUD 117.21) and Vueling (AUD 140). Ryanair comes in at sixth place with AUD 145.

Only four out of 34 European low-cost airlines came out with an average fare including fees under EUR 100 (AUD 144). Apart from those mentioned above is germanwings with AUD 142.61. On the other end of the list, some airlines have relatively high prices. The average flight with fees operated by Smart Wings costs AUD 310.52, making it three times more expensive than Pegasus and more than twice the price of Ryanair.

Be careful where you click…

Low-cost airlines make a lot of money on their various fees, and their creativity seems to be endless, WhichAirline.com advises. The company’s research indicates that consumers self-booking their own travel face a minefield of hidden fees. Flights that seem cheaper to book direct can end up costing more than if booked through a savvy travel agent who knows the ropes.

When booking flights with Ryanair, for instance, WhichAirline.com says consumers should be very careful in every step of the booking procedure.“Ryanair hides some of the fees very smartly (e.g. travel insurance),” the site warns.

“Travelling low-cost can be a minefield with all the companies trying to ‘offer’ you extras. These optional features can cost you a fortune and their real value is questionable. Priority boarding for example will not make your journey shorter. You will spend the same time waiting for your flight, just more of it in the aircraft itself instead at the gate. And finally, try to fit everything into hand baggage and pay with a debit card, as payment with credit cards often leads to extra transaction fees.”

If you went to many websites dedicated to flight booking you would not know the following. Some airlines still using these aircraft may end up in your booking. Whilst we can never claim to be 100% aware of every such situations in the world all the time, we do get regular updates and can then warn people off!

NZ warns about risk of flying Tongan aircraft

New Zealanders have been warned against flying on Tonga's national airline. A travel advisory issued by New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) relates to the Real Tonga airline which has just purchased an MA-60 aircraft.

"This aircraft has been involved in a significant number of accidents in the last few years,'' MFAT said. The MA-60 was not certified to fly in New Zealand or other comparable jurisdictions and would not be allowed to do so without a thorough certification process under Civil Aviation rules, the advisory said.

"Travellers utilising the MA-60 do so at their own risk,'' the advisory warned. NZ foreign affairs minister Murray McCully said the aircraft had been the subject of "serious concerns'' amongst aviation experts.

"The New Zealand Government has put support for the Tongan tourism industry on hold, and we will not be spending taxpayer money promoting tourism in Tonga until we are satisfied with the safety and reliability of this new air service,'' the minister said.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another report on the same issue:

The civil aviation authorities of Indonesia and Myanmar have grounded two Chinese-made MA-60 aircraft fleets.

Risky Websites

We are a bricks and clicks travel business. You can call us, visit us, or deal with us by email. As you know from our website we have been dealing with Russian travel programmes for 25+ years. We can organise any internal airfares in Russia with safety.

Recently others had a different experience dealing with a Russian online (ONLY) system.

Consumers putting their trust in online flight agencies sometimes receive a rude shock. It can happen when the screen goes blank, or when they think they have booked but find they haven’t.

A more serious glitch has just occurred in Russia. Many Russians who reserved their post-New Year travel through the Russian discount online travel agent (OTA) website Eviterra.com found to their shock that their tickets had been cancelled without refund, the English-language daily Moscow Times newspaper reported.

The flights were still operating but the tickets they had bought had been voided. TAT-banner250X250px

A statement carried on the Eviterra.com website on Sunday said that more than 6000 tickets had been voided because of a “financial conflict” with the Russian travel agency through which it booked the flights, Avia Centre, the Russian News Service reported.

Eviterra founder Nikolai Zayarny reportedly told the Roem.ru website that Avia Centre began voiding tickets over a dispute about Eviterra’s lack of promptness in settling bills for 10 days worth of services.

A page on a social contact network, apparently a bit like Facebook, was set up. One consumer using it said his tickets to Thailand worth nearly USD 7000 had been annulled and he anticipated further losses on non-refundable hotel reservations.

By Monday, however, Eviterra was said to have posted a new announcement on its website – stating that negotiations with Avia Center over the dispute were underway and all tickets for flights scheduled to depart on Monday through Saturday were valid once again.

“As for the departures that are scheduled to take place after January 12, the negotiations are still going on, and we will without fail inform all our passengers,” the statement said, according to the Moscow Times.

The company also pledged to honour the return tickets of travellers who had already departed, regardless of their return date.

The whole episode sounds nerve-racking and consumers must feel they have been used as pawns.

Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency has opened a telephone hotline for Eviterra customers, the Russian News Service reported.