Good news for New Zealanders! AirAsia X, a Malaysian-based discount airline is flighting from Kuala Lumpur to Christchurch. The airline will start taking bookings from the 3rd Dec 2010 for flights from 1st March 2011. The promotion is offering flights for $99 plus taxes, which I guess will be around $150, so $250 each way. The problem is that AirAsia X and its competitor, Tiger Airlines, which only flies to Melbourne and Perth often offer a very cheap single route, so you pay full price for the return. This is a problem if immigration at your destination country requires an outward-bound ticket. Its fine if you are leap-frogging because you need only have '1 leap' booked ahead, but that's lost flexibility.
I have yet to fly AirAsia X, but like a lot of discount airlines, expect to pay extra for food, beverages, checked baggage, excess baggage and ticket changes. These airlines offer a lot of discounts, so its worth waiting for a good deal. Consider the options:
1. Jetstar - flights from Auckland or Christchurch to Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, link to Jetstar or AirAsia X in Gold Coast or Melbourne for flights to Asia.
2. Jetstar - from Auckland direct to Japan (Osaka or Tokyo-Narita). Some discount airlines fly to/from Japan. i.e. Cebu Pacific, and Chinese airlines from Haneda Airport (Tokyo).
3. Air NZ - they offer cheap Asia flights for two in twin-ticket sales through the TradeMe website.
4. AirAsia X - they fly Christchurch to KL (Malaysia), with links to Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, etc.
5. Pacific Blue - their prices are generally not as competitive as Jetstar, but they do have sales, so worth a look. They are appealing for flights from Wellington to the East Coast of Australia.
More discount airlines for NZ is great news because it has been difficult for travellers to fly to NZ from Asia. Air NZ offers great service, but you pay for it. Jetstar and Pacific Blue also offer comparable service cheaply, but they have limited offerings. Wellington only offers a limited number of destinations because of its smaller airstrip. i.e. Confined to smaller planes. When booking flights from Wellington, unlike the other airports, they do not add their airport tax to the ticket price. This is wrong to me because passengers should be treated the same.