Sunday, March 31, 2013

Holiday Mood Edition : Searching for Flight Kuala Lumpur - New Zealand

It will be 12 more days before my second visit to New Zealand this April. This time around, I will be dragging both my parents, my brother and sister-in-law along. We will also drag my 10-month-old nephew along. This trip has been planned since September 2011 after I came back from my 14-days journey to New Zealand. It was originally scheduled to be in September 2012, since I grabbed the cheap tickets from Air Asia X at the price of RM700++ per pax. Early 2012 however, Air Asia X announced that the route from Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch is to be cancelled, forcing me to decide whether to re-route the ticket to another Air Asia X destination, or to route it to Melbourne / Brisbane / Sydney and take a connecting flight to New Zealand, or to opt for a refund. I finally opted for a refund considering a few factors - that my sister in law gave birth in July so bringing forward is not an option, and my change of workplace to a Company with financial year end June. That means, September is the time when I am still struggling with audit and financial statements preparation to catch 30th September deadline by Bank Negara Malaysia. 

But the plan as a whole was not cancelled - I was just not sure when it will be and using which airline. It wasn't until November 2012 when I decided finally that the trip will be in April 2013 - the time when I can breath a bit before the next financial year end in June. And it was then that I started to survey for cheap flight for our trip. The keyword is cheap - kata cheapskate kan.

So I started googling and searching, including using KAYAK to fare comparison to get the cheapest and most convenient option available. 

So what were the options I was looking at?

1. Air Asia X to Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane and then connecting flight to Auckland / Christchurch using Jetstar / Virgin / Air New Zealand
It is kind of easy to find reasonably priced tickets from Kuala Lumpur to any port in Australia via Air Asia X. And the connecting flights from Australia to Auckland / Christchurch can also be easily found. But as I said earlier, I am bringing my parents along, and they are not actively mobile. Air Asia X is a point to point carrier, hence, timing is important. We can't risk booking a connecting flight too close to the point of arrival of Air Asia X, for fear that if there's a delay in Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur, we might missed the connecting flight. But I don't want to transit too long either, for fear that both my parents will be exhausted with the arrangement. If I were to go there without my parents, I might opt for this option.

2. Jetstar from Kuala Lumpur - Changi / Melbourne / Sydney - Auckland / Christchurch
Jetstar is another budget airline to be considered. It provides various routes from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland / Christchurch, either transit in Singapore or Melbourne / Sydney in Australia. Jetstar can be cheap if we book for the tickets early enough. But by the time I searched for the ticket, it was already quite expensive for a budget airline. And that is before we include tax, seat and baggage allowance. For the date I planned to go, it was close to RM3k per pax all in all then so I thought it was not worth it for a budget airline - I might as well search for a premium airline with that kind of price. But if you can plan earlier, the ticket can sometimes be very cheap.

3. Malaysian Airline System (MAS) Kuala Lumpur - Auckland
This is definitely the easiest option. It is a direct flight from KLIA to Auckland. 10+ hours non-stop. I was about ready to opt for this option then. It was expensive, at RM3,600 per pax for the date chosen. And considering there are 5 adults and an infant, I gotta spend about RM19k for flight tickets. I was already prepared to buy this, but then I thought, there are times when MAS do last minute sale, so I thought, let me survey a bit more and if there's no other cheaper and convenient option, I will buy this. Meanwhile, let us pray that MAS will do last minute promotion.

4. Emirates Kuala Lumpur - Melbourne - Auckland
I've never fly with Emirates before. The reviews I read about Emirates are good, for as long as we don't transit at their home base in Dubai. I found Emirates tickets are considerably cheaper than MAS for the dates I selected. It was about RM3.2k per pax, with a 6 hour transit in Melbourne. RM400 difference is not much comparing with MAS if we are looking at per pax, but since there will be 5 adults altogether, RM2k saving can be quite something. Never mind the 6 hour transit, because unlike Air Asia X which is a point to point carrier, I don't have to think of flight delay or anything with this. The problem I have with their transit is not the number of hours, but the timing. The flight will land in Melbourne at 1am, and will fly to Auckland at 7am. I can sleep at the airport, but my parents? I don't want them to be tired by the time they reach Auckland!

I was still numb then, OK.. looks like MAS will be the most convenient option, for my parents' sake. So I was already prepared to dig RM19k from my savings to buy tickets. But then, God gave me some ideas. What about Singapore? What options I have from Singapore? It will not be difficult to get a cheap flight from KL to Changi, so if I can get a cheap ticket from Singapore to Auckland / Christchurch, that will be good. So there I was, again, using KAYAK, surveying tickets flying from Changi to Auckland / Christchurch. And was very relieved with the plenty of options available, and IT IS MUCH CHEAPER TOO!!

It was then that I found plenty of other cheaper options, including :

  • British Airways : Changi - Sydney - Auckland. The leg from Sydney to Auckland is operated by Qantas. It can be very cheap as in lesser than RM2k if the date chosen is right. And the transit is not long either, it is only a 1 hour transit. It was just that for the date I chose, the price was about RM2.6k so I didn't opt for this. 
  • Emirates : The route is Changi - Brisbane - Auckland. For the dates chosen, I found Emirates from Singapore to be much cheaper than from Kuala Lumpur. Even after we take into consideration of the flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Changi, it is still very much cheaper. But as I said earlier, the only drawbacks for me is the timing of its transit. 
  • Singapore Airlines : Err.. this one is of course not cheaper. It is a direct flight from Singapore to Auckland, but I don't see why I should choose this since it is expensive, I might as well choose MAS which will be slightly cheaper and more convenient. 
  • Qantas : This is another convenient option , the route is either Changi - Brisbane - Auckland or Changi - Sydney - Auckland. The transit is also just around 1-2 hours. And the ticket price is also not bad, in the region of RM2.5k.
  • Etihad : The route is Changi - Brisbane - Auckland, with the leg Brisbane - Auckland operated by Air New Zealand. Ticket in the region of RM2.1k, and the transit time is  only about 3 hours. And at quite an OK time too - because the transit is during day time so it is not that bad.
Apart from the above, there are also other airlines, like Southern China Airlines which can be very cheap at less than RM2k. The setback will be the transit is in Guangzhou, so you ended up traveling longer hours. 

I myself finally opted for Etihad Airways, at about RM2.1k per pax. From Kuala Lumpur, I just booked Air Asia to Changi. All in all, I managed to save about RM7k as compared with booking MAS. Lucky I didn't stop my research, otherwise I will be RM7k poorer. I hope it will not be too tiring for my parents. I booked early flight from Kuala Lumpur to Changi, and I will drop them in the transit hotel while I roam around later. And collect them back at night before the departure with Etihad. Wish me luck with my parents :)

9 comments:

  1. thank you for this good entry! i'm so jealous with your 2nd trip! have fun nanti! ;)

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  2. Udah tukar Henry Fox pulak nama dia :) Thanks dik.. am not sure whether I will really have fun.. this trip is dedicated for my parents... so I list down the itinerary following their pace.. which is... slow hahaha...

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  3. Good choice. Etihad ticket is definitely worth buying for.Like you said, kena rajin buat research.Baru boleh dapat harga murah. Some malas nak google sana sini. How's your vacay akak? =)

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  4. Really good info! tq soo much.

    nnt share la pengalaman travel ke sana dgn parents (ni pun saya punya wishlist tpt nak bawak my parents juga ni)

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  5. Thanks for sharing such useful information. The information provided is very very niche and this information is not available so easily.

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  7. vacay with parents and baby is really something which is not easy I tell you.. hehe.. nantilah bila-bila free I blog about it.

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