Is Spring Airlines’ ticket price of 99 yuan really cheap?

Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day are here, and the mood for traveling is getting ready again.

It is difficult to get tickets for high-speed rail, ordinary planes are expensive, and the benefits of low-cost airlines are written in their names: cheap air tickets.

However, some people who have experienced it feel that the low fares are a source of frustration, and angrily call them "green skins in the sky."

If you fly on a low-cost airline without reading the instructions, you won’t feel like you’re saving money.

Low-cost airlines are probably one of the most contractual places in the world.

If this is your first time flying a low-cost airline and you haven’t read the instructions carefully, you may feel that you have been deceived, and your luggage is the first hurdle.

9Yuan Airlines will politely refuse luggage that can be boarded directly without checked luggage on ordinary airlines, because this is a benefit only available in high-end economy class.

▲ Picture from: Jiuyuan Airlines official website

▲ Picture from: Spring Airlines official website

Spring Airlines also clearly states in black and white that you can only carry one piece of luggage on the plane that is 20×30×40 cm and has a maximum weight of 7 kg. It will be as much as you have agreed upon, and I will even use a ruler to help you measure it with the rigor of an experiment.

▲ Pictures from: Xiaohongshu @Momo (travel version), @小金鱼 aluminum luggage

In addition to whether the carry-on baggage is compliant, whether there is a free checked baggage allowance is also clearly written on the ticket purchase interface.

It’s easy to handle if you have excess luggage. You have two options. Spend money, and spend money.

You can either pay to upgrade your carry-on baggage allowance or upgrade your cabin, and the size of the luggage you bring into the cabin will also be upgraded; or you can pay to check it in. Low-cost airlines have repeatedly warned on their official websites to buy checked baggage allowance online a few hours in advance, which is better than at the airport counter. Temporary repairs are cheaper.

▲ Charges for checked baggage on domestic routes. Picture from: Jiuyuan Airlines official website

It's okay if you have time to replenish it at the counter, but the worst thing is to be stopped at the boarding gate. Baggage that exceeds the limit will be collected on a per-piece basis, which may be more expensive than the ticket itself.

To put it simply, there is one price on the official website, one price at the counter, and another price at the boarding gate. Buy early rather than late. If you can do it online, don’t do it offline.

▲Charging standards for excess baggage at the boarding gate. Picture from: Spring Airlines

There are many discussions on the luggage regulations of low-cost airlines on Xiaohongshu, a well-known lifestyle search engine. There is also an unwritten rule circulating that low-cost airlines have a relatively loose attitude towards backpacks compared to suitcases. Therefore, netizens try their best to dress themselves up as luggage racks.

▲ Pictures from: 小红书@Duquanyou, @小美

It’s finally time to board the plane. If your plane is parked at a remote location and you can only take the shuttle bus and cannot board the plane directly through the bridge, then you have no choice but to admit defeat. This is not necessarily true, but in order to reduce takeoff and landing fees, low-cost airlines will indeed use more expensive airport facilities as little as possible.

▲ Picture from: wiki

Only when you board the plane can you immerse yourself in the difference of low-cost airlines. Spring Airlines, founded in 2004, is the earliest and largest low-cost airline in China. Probably because of its wide audience, it has the most complaints.

The distance between the front and rear seats is close, the width of the tray table is narrow, and the angle of the backrest cannot be adjusted, replicating the right-angle seat experience of the green leather train.

▲ Picture from: YouTube@Order Aviation

But there is no need to be anxious. The stewardess will take you to do broadcast gymnastics, shaking your head, arms and legs, to help you relax and activate your meridians after sitting for a long time.

▲ Pictures come from: Xiaohongshu@颢zazao, @AAA bather Lao Xiao, @我爱吃bagel

Since you spend less money to buy a seat, you have to pay for other optional things. There is no in-flight entertainment. If you are cold, thirsty or hungry, blankets cost 12 yuan, mineral water 10 yuan, and of course in-flight meals also cost money. Passengers who were unprepared seemed to be stabbed in the back by not receiving free shipping for their purchases.

▲ Spring Airlines’ prices for pre-booked meals.

Those who don’t know how to sell are not good flight attendants. The carts that come and go after a stable flight are not for serving meals but for selling goods. Maybe when you are sleepy, the stewardess will broadcast for half an hour with a loudspeaker, selling After the airplane model sold foundation, and after introducing souvenirs and duty-free products, I thought I had traveled to a short video live broadcast room.

▲Pictures from: Douyin @的rainbow, @同好看

Taking all factors into account, the cost-effectiveness of low-cost airlines has become Schrödinger’s cat, and you will only know if it’s good or bad.

If you are an experienced driver, bring your own coat to keep out the cold, use a cup to collect water, do not eat in-flight meals or check in luggage, wear noise-canceling headphones and ignore what is going on outside the window, then low-cost airlines will only have low prices and speed. Quick, save the student party and long-distance relationship.

If you are not careful and add money here and there, it may not be much cheaper and the experience will not be good enough.

This confirms two truths, one is that opportunities always come to those who are prepared, and the other is that there is no such thing as fast, good, cheap and easy in the world.

I am stingy with my passengers and even more stingy with myself.

The external performance of low-cost airlines is low air tickets, but ordinary airlines also have special fares from time to time. Low-cost airlines have maintained low prices all year round because of their different business models.

Why can it be so low-priced? Of course the cost is lower. How to control costs? One way is to cut the parts mentioned above that are visible to almost everyone, such as catering, checked luggage, in-flight entertainment and other non-essential items.

It not only reduces procurement costs, lightens the aircraft load, saves fuel expenses, but also makes money through additional services.

Other ways for low-cost airlines to save money are more invisible. Spring Airlines is an excellent representative who is well versed in the law of stinginess.

From the beginning of selling tickets, Spring Airlines must firmly grasp the initiative, develop its own IT system, increase the proportion of direct sales of tickets, and do not use third-party systems such as TravelSky for distribution, reservation and settlement, thereby reducing sales costs. .

Although the ticket price is low, you can "buy it and leave it".

Spring Airlines' refund fees are quite high. If you cancel a ticket from 2 hours to 24 hours before departure, 80% of the original ticket price will be used as the refund fee. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a cabbage price. If it’s over a thousand, my heart will be as cold as RT-Mart’s fish-killing knife.

▲ Picture from: Spring Airlines Mini Program

Allowing passengers to print their own boarding passes or check in online is also a way for low-cost airlines to save money. Spring Airlines previously considered "manual check-in and charging service fees", but ultimately did not put it online, but other low-cost airlines do do this.

During the 2020 epidemic, Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia introduced a "counter check-in fee" of about 31 yuan for domestic flights and 47 yuan for international flights to encourage contactless independent check-in. Ryanair, a European low-cost airline, has earlier introduced regulations to charge airport counter check-in fees, and the price is also more expensive, about 55 euros.

▲ Self-service check-in.

Using a single aircraft model is another way for Spring Airlines to save money. Its aircraft are basically Airbus A320 series. Because A320 is one of the most mature and popular aircraft models in the world, the costs of procurement, maintenance, and parts replacement are higher. Controllable.

The A320 is already very cost-effective, and Spring Airlines can still find ways to increase the number of seats and reduce the passenger transportation cost of a single seat.

Ordinary A320 passenger aircraft have 158 seats. Spring Airlines has reserved space in the first class cabin to develop economy class and reduced the seat gap by 3 to 5 centimeters, increasing the number of seats to 180. The so-called business class only adds legroom.

In 2015, Spring Airlines took delivery of its first 186-seat Airbus A320, which is a new model improved after Airbus followed Spring Airlines' suggestion to halve the kitchen space; in 2020, Spring Airlines is pleased to offer the Airbus A321 , the fuselage size is lengthened and the seats are increased, but the pilots can share them, and the engines are also of the same model.

▲Spring Airlines mainly has 3 types of aircraft. Picture from: Spring Airlines official website

In addition, manpower and time are like water in a sponge, and there will always be squeeze.

In the same 24 hours, Spring Airlines has to compete to do more work than other airlines. Its daily flying hours can be 11 hours, which is higher than the industry average of 9 hours, and it flies before 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. There were a lot of "red-eye flights" later on, just like the person who stayed up late to study and study.

Spring Airlines also "makes the best use of each employee" for its employees. Reflected in the data, the man-to-machine ratio (the ratio of the number of employees to aircraft) is lower. In 2021, Spring Airlines' man-machine ratio is 79:1, which is generally more than 100 for ordinary airlines.

With various ways to save money and charging standards, coupled with efficient operations, despite the low air tickets, the number of aircraft and time resources cannot compete with the three major airlines, Spring Airlines has higher occupancy and more stable profitability. .

In May this year, China Southern Airlines' passenger load factor was 75.25%, China Eastern Airlines' passenger load factor was 70.03%, and Spring Airlines' passenger load factor was 87.84%. In addition, "Caixin" reported that with the recovery of the aviation industry at the beginning of the year, Spring Airlines was the first among the airlines to announce its first-quarter financial report to achieve a year-on-year loss.

No matter what way to save money, it seems that the essence is to pay close attention to details, and the money earned belongs to Spring Airlines itself. As Wang Zhenghua, founder of Spring Airlines, once said:

Half of the money is earned and half is saved.

An airplane is just a means of transportation between two points

A very interesting phenomenon is that in the comment area of ​​low-cost airline lightning protection posts, many users always stand up and sing the opposite:

It's because you didn't see it clearly. Low-cost airlines helped bring down the price for your family. What kind of bicycle do you need at this price?

This is true. There is no water, no meals, no baggage allowance, and no free checked luggage. The only purpose of low-cost airlines is to get you to your destination safely. It doesn't think you're poor, but don't think it's crowded. For ordinary passengers, saving money is the most practical thing.

The opposite of low-cost airlines are full-service airlines, which have shaped the way we think about airplanes. The stewardess said welcome aboard with a smile and handed out meals in a gentle voice. We raised our eyes to watch TV. Travel magazines were stuffed in front of our seats, and newspapers and blankets were always available.

Full-service airlines charge higher fares in part because the cost of these services is shared equally among everyone, but not everyone needs them. As Lin Tao, a flight policy researcher interviewed by "Upstream News" said:

In fact, more than 60% of passengers do not need checked baggage and in-flight meals, but all air ticket prices include baggage allowance and meal services.

Low-cost airlines actually show that the mode of air transportation services can be more diversified and personalized. Services such as luggage and meals have changed from "free" in the fare to clearly marked charges, which can be purchased by individuals on demand.

Of course, there would also be a problem if low-cost airlines deliberately obscure the additional fees so that users can easily fall into the trap. For first-time passengers, low-cost airlines especially need to provide rich and clear charging standards and place them conspicuously.

▲The blogger Xiao Zhang became popular for teaching "common sense" such as how to take high-speed trains and airplanes.

The founding of Spring Airlines is inseparable from the influence of Southwest Airlines, the originator of low-cost airlines. Spring Airlines founder Wang Zhenghua first ran a travel agency. After reading a book about the successful experience of Southwest Airlines, he became exposed to the business model of low-cost airlines.

Southwest Airlines' philosophy is: "To move the passenger flow from the highway to the sky." The originator of low-cost airlines has maintained a profit record for 47 consecutive years since 1973, which was only broken during the epidemic.

In contrast, Spring Airlines believes that its biggest competitor is high-speed rail. Routes of more than 1,000 kilometers hope to be cheaper than high-speed rail. In line with the lower fares, Spring Airlines flies many routes in third, fourth and fifth tier cities.

▲ Picture from: China Railway

"Yuanchuan Research Institute" pointed out that it is difficult for Spring Airlines to obtain first-line route resources and can only open up new battlefields in the second and third lines. This has also made it a "local snake" in cities such as Shijiazhuang and Shenyang.

It is also in these places that more people want to experience the speed and convenience of airplanes. The fact is that the vast majority of people in the country still have never flown. Air travel data shows that between 2016 and 2020, only about 340 million passengers took an airplane.

Perhaps something that can compete with high-speed rail is that Spring Airlines' on-time performance has remained high in recent years. According to statistics from Freightliner, Spring Airlines ranked TOP3 in punctuality in arrivals in April this year, and it even ranked first in September 2022.

▲ Picture from: Fei Changzhun

In 2021, Spring Airlines Chairman Wang Yu told the China Civil Aviation News that safety and punctuality are the core criteria for evaluating civil aviation services. Spring Airlines has spared no effort in investing in improving safety levels and improving punctuality:

Delivering passengers to their destinations safely and on time, and providing them with optional services, is a relatively good product.

In the history of aviation, the "Queen of the Skies" Boeing 747 also has a similar popularity significance. It is the world's first mass-produced twin-aisle wide-body jet airliner and can carry up to 524 passengers.

The Boeing 747 significantly increased the number of passengers carried by civil aviation, reduced the cost and price of air tickets, connected cities that had never had direct routes before, and contributed to the deregulation of air travel in the late 1970s, making it possible for the general public to travel around the world. . Before it, the average family couldn't afford to fly from the United States to Europe.

However, Spring Airlines, which regards low prices as its label, has also caused negative public opinion that is inconsistent with the spirit of the brand.

In July this year, a Spring Airlines stewardess said on social media that "everything can be flown on the plane", which caused public outrage and was quickly grounded.

After all, the plane is just a journey from departure to landing, but all the gifts given by fate have been secretly marked with a price. What low-cost airlines require may be your attention and ability to pack your luggage. If you buy a low-cost airline when traveling during the holidays, you might as well read the various instructions again!

It is as sharp as autumn frost, and can ward off evil disasters. Work email: [email protected]

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