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Accept It: Air Travel Is Now Dirt Cheap

Airfare is no excuse to not travel.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia- When I tell people how often I fly they look at me like I’m somehow either wealthy or otherwise privileged. I wish I could afford to do that, they often say. To which I look at them like they’re nuts.

I make less money than all of you.

While I do reasonably well for a traveling journalist / author, what I pull in each year is just barely what could be called an “adult wage.”

How I travel so much is not the stuff of secret formulas or insider tricks. The raw truth of the matter is that I rely on flying, and flying is now dirt cheap.

In fact, in some regions it is often cheaper to fly between two places that are over a few hundred kilometers apart than it is to take ground transport. Anyone who has traveled in Western Europe or East Asia recently knows that this is not hyperbole.

But my point is perhaps best made by what I just did a few moments ago:

I bought a round trip ticket between Kuala Lumpur and Brunei for $67 via AirAsia.

Brunei is a two and a half hour flight away from KL, embedded in the northeastern quadrant of Borneo, 1,455 kilometers away.

If I were to have booked this flight directly through the AirAsia website, the listed price on Skyscanner was $54. However, I opted to pay $13 more at the get go, as I learned from experience that AirAsia likes to add mandatory misc fees onto their listed base prices and I didn’t want to waste my time going through that rather convoluted ticket buying process to ultimately only save maybe a buck or two.

For just $20 more I could have flown round trip between these destinations on a non-budget airline.

Whatever the case, $67 for a roundtrip flight is not cheap, it’s dirt cheap. I’m paying $33.50 per flight. That’s the cost of a cheap inter-city bus ticket in many countries.

Another example:

My entire family — 4 full-price ticketed passengers — just flew from Taipei to Sydney, then from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur for $1,500 in total. Or $375 each. This includes $150 worth of check in baggage fees.

We are coming into an age where the cost of flying is getting so cheap that it’s becoming almost an afterthought in travel budgeting.

The kicker is that the cost of actually being in a place (food and accommodation) is getting more expensive.

This is the polar opposite expense dynamic than when I first began traveling 18 years ago.

The AirAsia business model:

Filed under: Air Travel, Brunei, Malaysia

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3703 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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