who are the watsons?
We are a 30-something married couple who decided to leave behind our home, careers and comfortable Silicon Valley lifestyle to try a new course. Join us as we travel the world to learn about other cultures, lifestyles and ways to generate income beyond the traditional 9-5.

10 reasons to avoid budget airlines

Waiting area at Sukhothai Airport

Everyone knows the reason to fly budget airlines: they’re cheap! But if you have a low tolerance for bullshit, the reasons to avoid budget airlines just might outweigh that one positive. Here are just a few examples from our travels in Australia:

1. Upon arrival at the airport, there is a sign indicating that if you’re using Airport Check-in but were signed up for web check-in, there’s a $25 check-in fee.

2. If you haven’t prepaid for your checked bags, you’ll pay twice as much as you would have prepaid to check something.

3. Your carry-on bags are limited to 7kg in one bag or 10 kg in two bags. If you’re over the limit, you must stand to the side and repack or “lose” some weight, meaning put it on your person instead of in your carry-ons. For example, I had to take my camera bag out of my backpack to qualify for the bonus weight, put our travel hard-drive and snacks in my pockets, ”pants” my iPad, and hand-carry my water bottle, all of which I did right next to airline personnel and in sight of a security camera. Then I miraculously qualified to board the plane, with exactly the same weight as I was originally carrying.

The airlines need to ask themselves two questions regarding this policy: 1. Does it accomplish anything? 2. Does it endear you to your clients? The answer to both is no. Why then does this policy exist?

4. Weighing your carry-ons means more delay and standing in unnecessary lines which, as noted above, accomplishes nothing.

5. They nickel and dime you non-stop. Want to pick your own seat? There’s a charge for that. Want to be first on board? There’s a charge for that, too. Parched? There’s even a charge for tap water.

6. Hot beverages must be consumed before boarding, or discarded. Why just hot beverages? Brian believes this is an instance where they claim they’re doing it for your safety but, in reality, the policy exists solely so they can sell you hot beverages on the plane. Nice one, guys!

7. Every time they make a change announcement it is “for operational reasons,” with no further explanation. Maybe they should just blame an act of God. There’s no arguing that one. Can’t you see it now: “Due to an act of God, flight 896 will board from gate 2 instead of gate 1.” “Due to an act of God, beverage service will not be available on today’s flight.”

8. “If you’re on a budget fare and have a piece of oversized hand luggage, you may be charged an upgrade fee of $80,” says the announcer while we’re sitting at the gate.

9. When we board, we’re told to leave our seat belts unfastened during fueling. Never heard that one before. Maybe it’s so that we would be “safely” thrown free of the aircraft should it explode in a violent fireball of kerosene.

10. On international flights, you still have to pay for meals, drinks, blankets, pillows and entertainment. And, even though you’re paying for them, the entertainment units often leave something to be desired (poor sound, scratched screens, etc.)

In contrast, we flew Bangkok Airways, “Asia’s boutique airline,” from Sukhothai to Suvarnabhumi (Bangkok) today. We checked two large backpacks and one 60-inch tube for free. Although our carry-ons undoubtedly weighed more than the 5kg limit, no one said a thing. In the waiting area, we enjoyed complimentary beverages, snacks and an array of magazines. On our 55-minute flight, we were served lunch and beverages. All for the not-quite-bargain but definitely reasonable fare of $100 per person one-way. How’s that for service?

I wish American carriers still provided that level of service. Of course, I’ve been out of touch for almost a year now. Any positive travel developments you’d like to share?


  • Frank

    Nope, still sucks.

  • http://watsons-unleashed.com Kate

    Sorry to hear that, Frank! We’ll be experiencing it soon enough.

  • http://watsons-unleashed.com Kate

    Sorry to hear that, Frank. We’ll be feeling the pain soon enough.