Price wars in the sky

Price wars in the sky
Of all the various activities that have fascinated mankind over the ages, nothing has been as alluring as the promise of flying. But reality is not quite rose-tinted and the fact remains that a majority of the population still cannot dream of getting on a flight. However off late, the aviation industry is waking up to the untapped business potential of the first-time flyer and are offering a variety of discounts and sales to lure them to the runways.

Carriers like SpiceJet, GoAir, IndiGo and AirAsia are among the many companies that are offering heavy discounts to woo flyers. Shrinidhi Hande, business analyst at Accenture, says, “There is greater awareness about availing these discounts across both domestic and international carriers. The tickets are cheaper by almost 40-50 percent. I personally feel people should take a risk and book well in advance when the fares are very cheap. The only risk is that if you can’t travel at that time, you will lose most of the amount.”

Shrinidhi has himself made good use of these seasonal bonanzas. “I keep my eyes peeled for these sales. In April this year, I went to Japan on a round ticket costing Rs 20,000. The normal ticket rates start at Rs 50,000. I booked it 15 months in advance which was a bit of a gamble but I made massive savings on that. I am going to Phuket now on a return ticket which cost me Rs 9,900, booked 9 months in advance.”

Travellers are becoming street-smart when it comes to charting out their plans and the preference is visible across mediums. Says Balu Ramachandran, Head of Air and Distribution at Cleartrip, about the impact on the flash sale on the online platform, “This year we have seen a higher number of airline sales than in the same period in 2016, offering more flexibility in travel dates. Travellers have made the most of these sales. 67% of the Independence Day bookings were made more than 30 days in advance.”

Cheaper flight tickets are also goading people to pack their bags and head to places they would otherwise not have considered. Says Mounika Pothineni, founder of Gutsytribe, “We have been doing extensive treks in and around Bengaluru but of late, more and more people are opting to travel long distances, especially to places in the north. With everyone having limited number of leaves, we are able to go for such trips only because of cheap flight tickets. Train journeys are time consuming and AC tickets are not very cheap either. Recently, 16 of us went to Srinagar and all of us flew from Bengaluru to Srinagar.”

When asked about the kind of travellers these sales benefit the most, Shrinidhi replies, “It is helpful for those who can plan well in advance like independent professionals, those with flexible work schedules and all. Usually when people want to travel, they want everything to fall in place. They want their friends and family to give them company, they want their leaves approved beforehand and so on. I advise you to be flexible - if you are getting a cheap ticket, lock it and then plan accordingly. Flights are going to be the most expensive part of it so manage that first.”

Mounika adds, “These sales help solo travellers quite a bit because they are flexible with their dates and can adjust plans according to the ticket charges. Some groups will benefit because most of these sales combine offers on hotels too.”

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