THE days of making a last-minute decision to travel, especially for a vacation, are over.
By the new definition, it means booking an air ticket at least three months before your holiday to get the best rates.
Demand for flights has shot up since the borders began to reopen with less health Protocols in many countries. And now airlines, including Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia, are expecting high bookings in the coming months.
Pent-up demand means there is a huge need for seats, but that would mean cheap fares will be gone.
At the same time, the price of fuel is at a 14-year-high since the Ukraine war broke out.
Yesterday, global petrol and diesel prices spiked again, the 13th hike in 15 days, as worries about global energy continue to escalate.
Malaysia Airlines has already imposed fuel surcharges on passengers and air cargo in selected markets since last month in a move to mitigate unprofitable routes.
AirAsia has also announced the same measure for all its domestic and international flights for all new bookings on and after March 8.
In short, air travel will be expensive.
Travelers must now realize that air fares will never be the same as two years ago.
But before we even go there, Malaysian holidaymakers are known to make last-minute bookings. However, even decisions made a few weeks in advance won’t do.
Perhaps, it cannot be helped that family vacations have to be during the festive season because it is tied with the school holidays.
So, if one books travel during the Hari Raya holidays, which includes the two-week school holidays, it won’t come cheap.
Likewise, in Europe, with summer holidays starting from June, this period would not be the best time for vacations over there as you will be competing with Europeans for accommodations and restaurants.
Having been hit during the Covid-19 Pandemic, this is the time for the tourism and service industries to catch up and make up for their losses.
During the Easter holidays last weekend, it was a bad time for traveling due to crowds and chaotic scenes at airports and train stations.
But let’s get back to pricing and why one must plan.
Most Westerners plan their holidays, sometimes up to six months ahead. However, Malaysians are not that disciplined.
For example, if a businessman chose to fly Turkish Airlines and bought his business-class ticket in March as a return fare to London from Kuala Lumpur, it would cost him over RM9,000.
The flight with a three-hour transit in Istanbul, would now cost about RM22,000 if the person Buys his ticket today, for the same travel date in May.
Always check for offers – as now seasoned Travelers would know.
In March, KLM offered a return business class ticket from Kuala Lumpur to London at RM7,500. The snag is that one must fly to Singapore for a connecting flight in Amsterdam before continuing to London.
So, if one is not in a hurry, it’s a great offer, but with the offer period over, the same flight arrangements now cost over RM26,000.
Most airlines practice dynamic pricing, also called surge pricing, demand pricing or time-based pricing, which is a strategy in which businesses set flexible prices for products or services based on prevailing demand.
Simply put, as airline seats are being snapped up over the hours of the day, the ticket prices will keep going up.
Malaysia Airlines is always in the news because it is a national carrier. We also expect the airline to make profits, but we also insist it carries out national service.
For Malaysians traveling to London, it is the preferred choice because it is a direct flight. London is used as an example here because it is a popular destination for Malaysians for work, holidays, education and a gateway to Europe.
Last week, the Ministry of Transport had to intervene following complaints that economy class airfares to Sabah and Sarawak were too high.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said based on observations by the Malaysian Aviation Commission last Saturday, the one-way fare for economy class from April 27 to May 8 was between RM105 and RM1,398.
For flights during the Peak period between April 29 and May 1, the one-way ticket was between RM195 and RM1,398. From this price range, the majority of all Sabah and Sarawak routes are economy class during the monitored period was only between RM300 and RM500.
But the situation was different before and on April 14, when the price range was between RM105 and RM2,084 during the monitored period, while during the Peak period, the one-way fare for economy seats was between RM195 and RM2,084.
Dr Wee offered some advice – plan your travel and buy airline tickets early to benefit from possibly lower prices.
Malaysia Airlines will probably now have to cancel some flights to some Asean cities to meet the demand for Hari Raya, but it also means passengers who had chosen Malaysia Airlines to fly to these Asean cities will now be told that their flights have been canceled or postponed .
Malaysia Airlines would now need to work with other airlines serving the affected routes to enable these Travelers to fly – and now it is likely the national carrier would have to absorb some additional costs.
But now it is likely Malaysia Airlines will get the rap again from some customers who want everything their way.