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Monday, 7 January 2013

Paris/London: which airline?

I convinced myself that a DIY holiday trip to Paris is doable, and May is the suitable month to go. Just the two of us (me and wife), we won't bring our munchkin. Sorry kiddo, this time you'll stay with your atuk and nenek. Although the nearest airport from our home is Penang (PEN), we think its better to send our son to my parent in Johor first, and then depart from Kuala Lumpur (KUL).

After some survey, I found that if booked few months in advance, the average return flight tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Paris (CDG) is roughly RM6k (economy) for two people. There are many 3rd party sites that provide up to date flight information and ticket price such as skyscanner, kayak, and farecompare. Some of it are online travel agents too.

I shortlisted the airlines for my trip to Paris:

Malaysia airlines:
Being a Malaysian, I first surveyed our national airlines. I have flown MAS only in domestic and regional sectors. I have no doubt about the flight quality and its crew hospitality. The main advantage is direct flight from KUL to CDG. KLIA also provides excellent facilities for travellers. Return tickets for two ranged between RM6k to 7k.

Singapore Airlines:
I've never fly with Singapore before (only Silk Air for short trips PEN-SIN), but always have good perception on them. I read many positive reviews from other travellers. In my previous journey, stop at Changi Airport was a pleasant experience for me. Its facilities are great, and there's plenty of things that can fulfil your time while waiting for the next flight. However, ticket to Paris is a bit pricier than other airline, about RM7k to 8k for two.

I have no experience with the four following airlines but these are my summary.

KLM
From Kuala Lumpur, there are two routes options: Fly to Amsterdam (Schiphol) and then a short haul to Paris, or fly to Singapore and then second leg straight to Paris. The latter will be flown by Air France. Flight tickets within my budget, RM6k for two.

Qatar Airways
From Kuala Lumpur, stop and change flight at Doha before second leg to Paris. Price is competitive at RM5k to 6k.

Emirates
From Kuala Lumpur, stop at Dubai and change flight to Paris. Ticket price for two is comparable to KLM, roughly RM6k return.

but at the end...
I booked my tickets with Etihad Airways.
Picture from wikipedia

Like Emirates, Etihad is UAE carriers. From Kuala Lumpur, we will fly to Abu Dhabi and then take the next flight to Paris. Why we choose this airlines? Because their promotional fare is exceptionally cheap! I only paid RM4.2k (return) for both of us. I booked the ticket right there and then. Without doubt, our trip is now official! Off course it is restricted class E fare, with no refund but change is allowed with fees. Later, I found out that the KUL to AUH phase will be flown by Virgin Australia, one of Etihad's partner airlines. Not that matters too much for me. The 6 hours layover at Abu Dhabi during our return journey is a bit long, but still bearable I think.

This booking was made about two months ago, the promotion period expired by now. Today when I check the fare for the same flight, it is around RM5.3k, still one of the cheapest. I read mixed reviews about this airline. Many travellers compliment their flights, foods and crew services, but some occasions things turned pretty bad when there's flight delay or overbooked. I think it can happen regardless of airlines, hope this won't happen to us though.

Etihad is full service carriers, so there's 20kg luggage allowance per person and meals provided, along with the personal IFE and other comfort creatures you can expect. According to Etihad's website, all the foods served are halal.

A small note, to choose the best seat, I always refer to seatguru.com. Here I can review advantages or concerns on any particular seat. My favourite area is window seat just after the wing section, so I can have unrestricted view outside.

Picture from seatguru.com



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