Waiting in line: Passengers waiting to check in at the AirAsia counter at Changi Airport. -The Straits Times / Asia News Network
IF it were up to some budget airlines, low-cost travellers at Changi Airport would have to wait longer to check in than those who fly full-service carriers.
While Changi has proven to be a bustling hub for budget air travel, some airlines do not care for its “10-minute rule”.
The standard, set by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), requires all carriers to ensure travellers do not wait more than 10 minutes, from the time they join the queue, to check in.
Some budget airlines have asked the CAAS to let them bust that limit, arguing that they do not offer the same product and experience as full-service airlines.
The CAAS is reviewing the rule.
Changi Airport Group, which runs the airport, and the national consumer watchdog do not think there should be different standards for budget and full-service airlines.
Said the executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore, Seah Seng Choon: “Why should the standards differ? Budget carriers especially are very strict when it comes to closing time for check-in counters.
“If they take too long to clear people, travellers will end up being left behind. We have had people giving us such feedback.”
In just a decade, budget carriers such as AirAsia, Tigerair and Jetstar have gone from zero presence at Changi Airport to accounting for about a third of both travellers and flights currently.
With strong demand for low-cost and regional travel in recent years, budget carriers have been adding capacity and opening up new routes.
The boom in traveller numbers has put a strain on check-in and other resources and, in turn, affects service turnaround time.
To add resources would add to costs, budget carriers said.
Logan Velaitham, who heads AirAsia’s Singapore office, said: “Instead of 10 minutes, why not give us 15 minutes? It is a reasonable waiting time, and makes a difference to our costs.” — The Straits Times / Asia News Network