air ticket

HK Express booking tips

HK Express is branded as Hong Kong’s budget airline. I have flown with them to four destinations this year. So far so good and no delay on all flights.

Budget = no frills. You have to pay extra for many things – checked in baggage, choose your seats etc. You are not allowed to consume outside food or drink, so you have to buy everything onboard, including water. If you are cold on the plane, they won’t give you a blanket; they sell it to you!

For short haul flights, I have no problem with these. I actually find it more peaceful when no food is served and the plane smells less. HK Express is also quite generous with carry-on baggage. It allows one 7kg piece plus a handbag. They weigh the bigger looking carry-on baggage and don’t weigh the handbag. So you can get away with carrying quite a lot in two bags.

At the end of October, HK Express celebrated its first anniversary and offered $1 ticket sale. I am a perpetual deal finder and become quite familiar with their website. I write below some step by step tips, hopefully would be helpful to you in their future sales.

Checking:

- “Like” www.meethk.com facebook page and you will see its posts. Meethk updates airlines sales even faster the airline’s email distribution/promotion. During the $1 HK Express sale, Meethk updates availability of $1 seats throughout the day which is very helpful. Try the dates that it says it’s available first. But other dates not listed on Meethk may also be available.

- On HK Express website, key in dates, press “search”.

- if it says “Sorry, there is no available flight”, it means the system is busy, rather than there is really no flight flying on those days. Just keep trying or choose different dates.

- Once the search result is loaded, you will see the fare. If it’s not the discount fare that you are looking for, try different days and flight times combinations. From experience, departing Wednesday and Thursday is cheaper than departing on Friday or Saturday. But it really depends on the chosen days.

- When you try to search for different dates, you cannot click on the tabs that show the dates. It will go into an error message. You have to do a new fresh search for new dates.

- Airfare changes and varies a lot. Can go from $1 to $1060 and then back down again. So just have to keep trying.

- from experience, there is no advantage to book late at night when you think the website has less traffic. The system actually crashes just as much.

Booking:

- Once you find your desired flight, click “Book now”.

- booking page will load. First you have to deselect Travel Insurance. If you wait till you input all information, I have had experienced the travel insurance part disappeared on the screen. Then you will be forced to buy insurance.

- key in your contact details.

- for adult 1, click “passenger detail same as contact person”.

- you have to input date of birth and passport expiry date in the calendar that pops up. Non-sensical and very slow way to input dates. Be patient.

- Deselect check in baggage if you don’t want. Worth noting that if you want to add check-in baggage after booking the flight, you cannot do so by managing booking online as you would expect in other airlines. You will have to call their call centre (which costs money), or just pay even more when you check in luggage at the airport.

- then just scroll down, no need to purchase any extra services like choosing seats, receiving SMS etc. if you don’t want.

- click “Continue”, tick to agree to terms and conditions.

- Click “Purchase”. If it says “there is a problem during the booking”, it means you can’t buy the tickets. You will have to start all over again. This happened to me four times when I tried to book my $2 flights to Nagoya. Now you realise why I am so familiar with the website.

Paying:

- if you go to the payment page, choose the payment method other than 支付寶. The other method is for credit cards.

- then pay

Confirmation:

- if everything goes well, confirmation page will load. You will receive a confirmation email from HK Express almost instantly.

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Borneo(2): 5月4日

一星期一次的露天雜貨市場Sunday Market就在酒店門外,熱辣辣流住汗都要去逛逛。冇咩好買,但有時去旅行就係咁,明知冇嘢好睇都硬係要去睇吓先至心息。

在KK city 周圍行吓,真係冇乜好行。全KK最high class的shopping mall Suria Sabah有幾個國際品牌,可以唔去。其餘幾個shopping centres 就更加up dup到唔想行入去。

海岸望出去小島,個view幾靚,但水質不太乾淨,幾多垃圾。

Night market 日間原來是個car park! 真係唔知點解在咁嘅地方食嘢我都冇肚痛!

在酒店旁邊的Old House White Coffee,話自己係馬來西亞咖啡始祖。見到好多遊客帶着旅遊書入去,我當然要跟風!咖啡幾好味,不過後來我才知那是個chain store,不是unique的。

KK一日有三班機去Kuching,單程機票只需HK$122!我們幸運地坐Air Asia的100th plane,隻機有特別painting,幾cool!

由Kuching airport坐50分鐘車,去到Santubong Peninsula。入住只有14間房的boutique hotel Village House, no children under 12 allowed! 酒店好靚,mood lighting,唔怪得知Tripadvisor的reviews都話it’s a hidden gem.

Staff friendly and polite, 但我遇上了一插曲。沖涼時shower unit成個玻璃架連三大枝玻璃shower gel shampoo從牆上跌咗落來, 爛晒,all broken glass in the shower unit! Miraculously 我冇受傷!我去同個manager 講,佢第一instinct係話我打爛嘢,要收我錢!It took a few minutes to explain it’s not my fault. I should be charging them for the danger and shock! Then they agreed not to charge me,算冇事啦。

剛剛趕得切行去沙灘看日落,美!

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坐Emirates去Dublin

由今年1月9日開始,Emirates Airlines有航班由杜拜直飛Dublin。以後由香港去愛爾蘭,又有多一間航空公司選擇了。由香港去Dubai直航只需七八小時,Dubai去Dublin要七小時。平時去Ireland要飛12個鐘去Europe,再駁一程short haul flight。經Dubai就可以平均分配兩程機的時間,比較舒服,決定試試。
Emirates最近promotion,$5800 all inclusive就去到歐洲,超平!全因中東國家大把石油,不收fuel surcharge。相比其他航空公司單是燃油附加費和税就要$3700!
昨晚在Emirates website訂機票,老公和我同一時間找到同一班機,各自在自己電腦book一張機票。我們同步進行booking,一齊輸入所有資料(包括credit card details)後,最後click Confirm and Pay。我就成功買到機票,但老公只收到個email話機票價錢有變,cannot complete booking!!
從未試過online booking入完所有資料後會最後突然唔賣機票!馬上再search website, seat unavailable, 只得business class!!!一定是我買了最後一個經濟客位!其他airline websites一般search時都會寫明是last few seats,等人知道機位tight,但Emirates就全無warning!
兩個人得一張機票,怎麼辦呢?
今早打電話去Emirates,他們沒有任何helpful solution,只叫我們自己再試book。等了一天,他們才email my husband,但錯誤地send去我的email address,offer him one seat,不過比昨晚貴$800。如果要之前的online discount fare,就只可自己keep trying on their website。我覺得有點被屈買貴機票,not too impressed.
未曾出發,已對他們的service有點失去信心。本來book air ticket是旅行的第一步,應該很興奮,但今次被個booking engine攪到好stressful,要不停check住機位,唉!連我這個天生travel agent都變成trouble agent!

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2011聖誕trip: 因禍得福

外國人的聖誕節有如中國人過年,重視一家團聚。到外地居住的子女都會回到父母老家過節。結婚多年,我都未試過聖誕節去愛爾蘭,所以想今年去一趟。

歐洲經濟不景,航空公司減價促銷,今年的機票比往年便宜得多。為了確保每班航機達到一定乘客數量,航空公司會平價售early bird ticket,用墊底價賣機位給墊底客。對我來講,不理墊甚麼底,抵就得了!

從香港没有直航機去Dublin,必須要經歐洲其他城市轉機。聖誕節前人人都趕着回鄉,機位緊張,那程由Europe飛去Dublin的short haul flight隨時貴過Hong Kong/Europe的long haul。坐歐洲航空公司一套機票由香港飛Dublin比分開買兩程機票較為著數。

Air France在六月時推出winter web fare,機票未連稅只需$3690就可飛到Dublin,空前筍價,還可以12月24日星期六早機出發,同日夜晚抵達Dublin,趕得及在Christmas day Dublin airport close之前去到,perfect timing!平到唔信,我馬上book了!

前日收到Air France的email,話去Paris班機cancel了,安排我們早一日出發。作為律師,我當然要捍衛消費者權益,怎可讓他們話改就改?看過Air France的terms and conditions,那張本來non-refundable的機票可以因為flight cancellation而refund。再check check其他airlines,Air France依然最平,我想去個trip,不想refund呀,所以就研究坐其他航班。

今早成功地要求Air France更改來回程機票到我們的first choice,比起原先booking的日子時間好得多。之前嫌貴而不book的航班,現在無端端不需額外付款就有得坐,今次真是因禍得福!Mark Six moment!

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貪婪的人類

人類的慾望是無止境的,我體會了。

正在如火如荼地計劃東非之旅,在其中一個hotel booking website見到Qatar Airways的promotion,HK$2890去歐洲多個地方。好奇click下Easter時候的air fare,Oh!是真的,連稅才$5800!坐其他歐洲airlines如British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa要差不多HK$9000呀!

因為今年Easter連續有三個long weekend,連埋annual leave放就最著數,我本來就打算在Easter同Honey回鄉探親。現在有Qatar這個cheap option,就索性揀選其中一個地方去個side trip,玩完再飛Ireland。Qatar飛往很多個Western European major cities,但如果香港本身有直航機去的地方,例如London, Paris,就會覺得要在中東轉機慢三四個鐘頭,費時失事。相反,去東歐和北非,平時多數要去London轉機飛返轉頭,所以在中東轉機就更顯順路。衆多destinations中,我就揀了去羅馬尼亞。

不過不知何解,Qatar Airways的air fare好飄忽,就算同一日出發去同一個目的地,價錢都成日轉。$5800只在我第一次check時出現過,之後check親都要貴成千蚊。我這個機票格價王,又怎可能讓自己買貴機票?正如我有個friend講,唯一可以令我情緒波動的就是訂貴了機票!於是我日日就好似D人睇住外幣和股市一樣,不停check住機票價格走勢!終於在前晚,價格回落了!$5800的lowest fare又再重現!

更正係$5800 allow open jaw tickets,即可以去羅馬尼亞,然後由另一個地方回來,變相免費去多個地方。這就fit晒我的schedule,去程玩完羅馬尼亞,再飛Ireland。回程時不必走回頭路回去羅馬尼亞轉機,而可以去另一個地方玩,然後再飛返香港。因為我不想轉機太多次浪費時間,就focus on Dublin有direct flight去的地方,結果就決定去凶牙利的Budapest!

我都覺得自己好貪心同誇張,都未去Chinese New Year trip,就book定Easter。但$5800,實在太irresistable!你都快點看看有没有想去的地方啦!Honeymoon熱選Greece Athens都是$5400咋!

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Fly me to Fiji

I am going to Dubai this Thursday for Easter holiday and have booked a trip to Shanghai Expo in June. This morning my cousin was talking about organising a good food trip to Taiwan in May…… which, for many is hard to resist. Amidst all this trip planning, I still managed to sidetrack to look at other deals. A special promotion package to Fiji caught my attention.

Air Pacific began its direct flight service to Hong Kong in December last year. I have been keeping an eye on good deals to go there in the better travel months, May to October. Finally, some travel agents offer packages which are valid till 30 June 2010.

If you book flights on the Air Pacific website, the ticket price starts from $5099, including all taxes and charges. It is very reasonable considering it’s a 10 hour flight. Strangely, the same codeshare flight costs $6140 if you book through the Cathay Pacific website.

I thought the air ticket was a good deal until I found the packages on offer. Flight + 4 nights accommodation in 5 star hotel starts from $7520. I have made an initial enquiry and it’s available on the dates that I want to travel – I am not going to tell you my dates here, in case you go ahead and book the same dates and they sell out the cheapest class of air ticket…. Heehee… From my preliminary search, Miramar Travel offers the lowest price for the same flight + hotels package.

I feel greedy in planning so many trips, so I tested the water to see how my husband would react to yet another holiday. His response goes like this:

“You’re not greedy! I suppose we just have one life – why not live it. I’m interested!”

Seriously, there are reasons why I keep loving him!

Fly me to Fiji!!!!

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Brunei – Practical Information

Planning a trip to Brunei is easy. I share with you in this blog some practical tips when planning a trip to Brunei.

Travel books
Brunei is not big in tourism, there is only limited tourist information on the country. I bought a pdf version of the Brunei chapter on the Lonely Planet website, which costs me only US$1.75. It provides sufficient information to plan the trip so I didn’t read the Borneo Lonely Planet guide.

Flight
Royal Brunei Airline codeshares with Dragonair and flies direct to Bangar Seri Begawan. I booked my ticket on Royal Brunei Airline’s website, which mysteriously costs less than the Dragonair flight, even though they actually are the same codeshare flight. It costs me only $1800 for the air ticket (including taxes and charges), while it uusally costs more than $3000. Just keep checking until you find dates that have cheaper flights if you are flexible. Flight duration is 3 hours, but flight times are not that good. Departure flight leaves HK around 3pm. Return flight leaves BSB around 11am. So there is not much you can do on the first and last days of the trip apart from flying.

Hotel
MUST STAY at the Empire Hotel. I stayed in Sheration and went to visit another 5-star hotel Rizqun Hotel. Empire Hotel is so much better than the other two 5 star hotels, but doesn’t cost much more. Empire Hotel is further away from the city centre, but it is served by public bus. It is worth spending the extra time to travel to the Empire Hotel. The sheer extravagance of the hotel makes it a tourist attraction in its own right.
For budget travelers, 3-star hotel costs around HK$400 a night. However, smoking is very common in Brunei, so don’t be too upset if your room smells of cigarette. You get what you pay for. [click title for more......]

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北海道之旅:計劃篇

我不算是日本通,但可以在這裏share一下這次我用的research和booking tools。

機票

去札幌直航機有國泰和香港快運,機票都不平,package就通常都包同一個地方多過一晚的酒店,我覺得不夠flexible,迫住要stay在同一city。ANA有自駕遊package,可選擇天天因應行程住不同酒店,住的酒店又不錯,幾抵。至於用Asia Miles換機票去札幌就最抵,但經常爆滿,要預早成年book。如果不怕轉機,可以分別book去東京,再加一程內陸機去北海道,用的里數一樣,較容易book到機位。

酒店

去日本book酒店很多時都是講個信字,不用落訂。為了不影響香港人的聲譽,book了就千萬不要no show。要找酒店,我會browse www.jalan.net,我覺得它最平和cover最多民宿和不同類型的酒店。因為jalan.net一定要有日本地址才可以book房,我會再去www.travel.rakuten.co.jp看看有無同一個deal。Rakuten雖然有英文版,但cover得好少hotel,我寧願用日文版估估下。估不到的我會用Google translation (http://translate.google.com/#)。在Rakuten訂房是不用預先付款,book完print個booking confirmation就得。如果Rakuten沒有good deal,我會試下直接打電去酒店book。不過一般民宿都不講英文,所以盡可能找個識日文的friend打去book。

租車

在香港可通過電話或上網book車。Toyota的website(http://rent.toyota.co.jp/top.asp)和call centre有最多英文support,不過去到的ground staff一樣一句英文都不會講,所以沒太大語言的advantage。 新千歲機場有很多租車公司的counter,可以去到才shop around 格價。淡季,用visa咭簽賬,生日等等都會有不同的discount,要格價就要有精明眼和耐性。

日本人喜歡開很小的車,細到在香港是很少見到的。去之前我們book了第二細的車,認為車大一點會舒服一點。但去到見慣全街都是細細的車仔,居然到我們取車時覺得我們book的車太大(其實在任何國家都依然屬於很細很細的車),要換細一款的車。揀車size時注意,不要貪大。

在日本差不多架架車都有GPS,入個電話號碼就可以找到目的地,幾小地方都找得到,連地圖都不用看,非常方便可靠。不過英文版本的GPS就不是每一個車款都有,租車前要問清楚。就算租不到英文版的GPS,記緊問職員拿英文instruction,其實加上日文漢字估估下,大約operate GPS 都不會有問題。

旅遊書

我一句日文都不懂,但都覺得日文的travel guide好有用,圖文並茂,看圖識字,有很多local資料很有用。在香港可以去Sogo樓上買,亦都可等到去到日本才買。中文書方面,長空自遊系列的內容夠comprehensive,幾好用。


環遊世界

Round the World ticket是環遊世界的機票,有幾間航空公司都有售,一般要$20000多。最近留意到Air New Zealand promote可能是市場上最平的Round the World ticket,只需$10800,可以去新西蘭Auckland,美國Los Angeles和英國London,及另加一個自選地方,可選San Francisco,Vancouver或太平洋島國Samoa或Tonga。


眾多的自選地方中,最吸引我的是Samoa和Tonga。這兩個國家都是divers paradise,水清沙幼的陽光海灘。單單看旅遊書的封面就已經好想去。由香港去太平洋島國,必須經新西蘭或澳洲轉機,要飛很多個鐘頭。所以round the world可以順道去Samoa或Tonga,真是大好機會! $10800可以去三大洲,飛越太平洋和大西洋,真是好抵呀!

Lonely Planet Samoa & Tonga 封面


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