Friday, April 18, 2008

Bye, Bye the Budget Airlines in the Sky

With Ron going back to the States for three weeks this summer, I was looking for some get-away for the two of us when he returned. I will be working on another Frommer's book due in by July 15th and will need a summer escape. Not too long ago, the budget airlines discovered Budapest and we were on everyone's flight path going to the usual (Paris or London) or the more obscure (Malmo, Sweden). We did take great advantage of these services and just about throw a party when a new one landed in Budapest or added new routes. At one time, I needed both hands and extra fingers to count our airborne blessings with fourteen budget buddies to share adventures with. Then fuel prices went and ruined it all. One by one they dropped out of the Budapest sky, some not even as much as giving a good-bye kiss before running off. Wizz Air targeted SkyEurope and advertised their plans to strip them of the Magyar majesty and they accomplished their goal for over a year. SkyEurope will give us another go come this June 8th with the paltry offering of flying from here to Trieste, a place we had not been. Thinking this through, a flight to Trieste would give us a couple of days there and then a short train ride to Ljubljana, where we really wanted to go. We could take the train directly to Ljubljana, but eight hours on a train is a waste of four hours of vacation time. Loaded with dates and alternative dates, I logged on to the SkyEurope website once I retrieved my old log in information. Score! I found a fare of 790 forints going and 2,900 returning. For $23.06 each, we could have that budget vacation this summer. For that price I did not even check with Ron. Onward budget soldiers, get that fare. Click next to continue. Next screen, add 2,550 forints to check in one piece of baggage. Well we travel light, our carry-ons are below regulation, but we have been refused bringing on board. To be safe, pay the fee. Click next to continue. Next screen, choose your seats. Wow, we can make a choice so emergency row, here we come with four long legs to stretch out. Click next to continue. Next screen, confirm your names, addresses, phone numbers. Everything okay? Click next to continue. Next screen, pay the piper. Total cost 65,989 forints ($437). Wait, there must be a mistake. What happened to the $23.06 round trip fare for each of us? After adding the luggage fees, I went back to find there was a charge to choose our seating each way, and the rest or the lion's share was taxes. Eight hours on a train can be so relaxing. You can get up and work around, they now have plugs for laptops, and think of all of the reading I can catch up on.

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Anonymous said...

It's not just fuel prices. There are two more important reasons: high airport charges and Hungarians' reluctance to travel, the latter obviously due to the dire economic circumstances.
I wouldn't have booked Skyeurope either. Chances are that the airline will soon go bankrupt, maybe even leaving passengers stranded.
If you want cheap flights, try Ryanair. Besides being the cheapest, they're reliable.

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