You can now fly to Singapore for less than Rs 15, 000. That's a return flight with all the taxes. This really is life changing. Singapore is virtually the only country on earth Sri Lankans can travel to without a visa and whatever your views on the city state it's well connected. So once you get there you have immediate access to all of South East Asia - budget flights to Burma, ferries to Indonesia the bus to Malaysia and Thailand. A whole world of travel and business opportunities opens up.
But ok there are a lot of unbelievable seeming flight offers out there - London for Rs, 60 000, Melbourne for even less etc. these prices, however, don't include taxes, involve arduous transfers and flights on some of the world's more eclectic airlines, so how is Tiger Airways different?
Well in my experience, and I've taken perhaps five return Tiger flights in the last year, their prices are for real and you get a modern, efficient and comfortable service. While getting a Rs. 15 000 return means booking about 2/3 weeks ahead even if you book at the very last minute (like I usually do) there are still returns for well under Rs. 25 000.
On Sri Lankan airlines (the next cheapest option) a return is Rs. 45 0000. That's a big difference and Tiger's flight make Singapore (and South East Asia) accessible to people with far less income than traditional frequent fliers.
But while you're paying a budget price you still get a really excellent flight experience. Check-in and boarding are swift, polite, and efficient and every one of my flights has taken off and landed on time. On board you do have to pay for your meals (but it's a 3 hour flight so who needs a meal?) and there's no in-flight entertainment system - again it's 3 hours so read a book or take a laptop.
While it's no frills there's no hardship either. The seats aren't smaller or worse than what you'd find in the sardine/economy class on any other airline and the planes seem to be new and safe. And included in your low fare is a 10 kilo hand luggage allowance - more than enough for a short trip.
Crucially. the online check-in system is easy to use and more streamlined than Air Asia (they've stopped Colombo flights anyway). While the arrival and departure times aren't perfect - you leave CMB around midnight and get in to Singapore after 5 AM - they arent awful. You dont have to worry about traffic and as long as you get a little sleep on board you land fresh and ready for the dawning day - the Subway (MRT) already running.
All round a very smooth experience and the ability to reach the globalized South-East Asian mainland quickly, cheaply and comfortably is an invaluable service. Now Air Asia has stopped flights this is our only cheap-link the East. Honestly it's faster and perhaps cheaper than driving to Nuwara Eliya (12000 plus for fuel - 4/5 hours) so you can lead a jet set life on cut-price flights. Highly recommended.
Note that like all budget airlines fares rise if you have check-in baggage, or order meals. If you really want to save money remember - pack light, eat before hand and take a light blanket of your own (on board you have to pay for them). Also to really cut costs take the Airport Bus
- to Katunayake and the MRT from Changi airport (I mean when you're paying just Rs. 15 000 for a return flight to Singapore, 2000 km away - Rs 2500 for an airport cab, 30km, just doesn't make sense).
Screenshot from www.tigerairways.com