Back from Xiamen via Spring Airlines

I wrote about Spring Airlines three years ago. At that time, the low cost airline just celebrated its first anniversary. Now, it not only broke even, but also made decent profit, and grew very fast. I am a Spring Airlines fan. Let me tell you why.

I Always Fly China Spring

Recently, I really enjoyed flying with China Spring. Wendy, me and Yifan fly back to Zhengzhou via Spring Airlines, and fly to Xiamen and back via Spring. The 99 RMB flight ticket is very attractive. But there are more than that. As a business person, I appreciate what Spring Airlines did.

Low Cost with Relatively Bad Experience

Many people complained about the airline. They complained this and complained that, but they never complain about the price. The secret the airline keeps the ticket so low is very wise.

The seats are very tight. It is very compact. They re-arranged the seats to allow 20% more seats than most other airlines. It is tough and painful to sit there, but other than complaining about it, how can people refuse to take that airline? The ticket price is low!

There are no food, not beverage, and no any service on board – just a bottle of pure water. My guess is, if it is not required by the government, they will remove that also (since it is not allowed to bring any liquid on board, they have to offer something to drink). You have to pay for anything else.

They sell things! This is the part they got most complain. From the beginning of the trip to the end, the flight attendants sell stuff at the front of the seats, and use the on board broadcast system. People complain that they cannot fall asleep. They sell from Disney toys, to MP3, to shaver, and they have plan to sell real estates, and cars. Everyone complain about it, but that is the way they keep the flight ticket price low. I would say they are genius to make the decision to intentionally offer bad experience to keep the cost low, and it works very well. Everyone complains and most of them continue to choose that airline.

On the baggage allowance, they are the lowest. On the time for reserved ticket, they are the shortest (if you don’t pay in 30 minutes after reservation, your reservation will be automatically canceled). On the turn over time, their flight will take off again after 20 minutes of landing, so they push the limit to move passengers as quick as possible, no matter you like it or not. They require you to use their website or call center to book (no other agents and dealer), and you have to have your online payment account ready before you are qualified to buy a ticket from them. Bingo! I love their style.

They also have unified aircraft – A320, and they fly 14 hours out of the 24 hours – compared to 11 hours of the industry average. It is common sense that aircraft only makes money when it is in the sky.

They are also planning to sell standing seats if they get the approval from the government. Yes. You see it right – standing seats on the plane. I believe if approved, they can further push the cost from Shanghai to Zhengzhou, or Shanghai to Xiamen to under 10 USD on regular basis.

I Love China Spring

I admit the operating philosophy of Spring Airlines sounds great for me. Every business wants to use good words to describe themselves – the best experience with the lowest cost! But we are not genius. The only way that works is to give up a dimension of value, and only focus on the other. Spring Airlines stands for low cost airline, and they stand firmly on that area. I firmly believe they will be doing very well in the future, and will buy their stock if they go to IPO.

12 thoughts on “Back from Xiamen via Spring Airlines

  1. Standing seats? Really? that seems dangerous- how would you buckle in? Maybe there could be some kind of board that you lean against.

    There was a rumor that RyanAir would charge to use the lavatory. Seems like it was joke though.

  2. Man, thanks for giving us the name of this company, I will NEVER use Spring Airlines. 20 minutes between each flight ? Mmm … says quite long about security issues that can happen there …

    I much prefer to :

    – wait a little longer to exit the plane

    – pay a little bit more

    … in order to get decent comfort and more security …

    Just my 0.14 RMB

  3. Whew, I though our airline in the Philippines is the only one functioning like that, Anyway I am not really against their new policy’s or new style on how to maximize their earnings. But it helps people too if they lower flight rates and lessen the comfort inside a plane.

    Cebu pacific don’t even give a 1 bottle of water. Just free seats and free air hahaha…

    But it’s really low rated ticket.

  4. Dear Jianshuo ,thank you for you understanding and trust to Spring Airlines. I wish you enjoy more in Spring Airlines ! Best regards. Zhang Wuan from Spring Airlines

  5. More on the issue from WSJ

    Some ideas.

    They could also sell trip related things, for example Hotel reservation, transportation, flight packages, Holiday trips, etc…

    On airplanes equipped with in-flight entertainment systems, use it to complete the transaction through a web like interface.

    The in-flight entertainment system could also be used for advertisement…..

    Just my two cents.

  6. My only complain or suggestion is to improve Spring Air’s seats. They are quite uncomfortable.

  7. JS, you are right, the most profitable carriers today are the no-frills operators. The five-stars carriers such as CX, SQ & QR are cutting down the size of their F class to make room for lower classes, may be in the future, there will not be any flag carriers, and air passengers are more treated like cattle rather than people.

  8. I have flown Spring on short flights and it is not that bad, but man, anything longer than 1.5 hours and I don’t think I could take it; the seats are really really tight.

  9. I’ve flown Spring twice but never again. Cheap, no doubt, but I don’t believe passenger’s comfort has to be compromised for being cheap. Selling stuff over the broadcast system at full volume is unnecessary.

    With 20 mins turnaround time, it is no wonder this airline has a reputation of delay. Anyway, if any of you are flying with them, just a point to note, pushing the limit to move passengers as quick as possible translate to misleading passenger with a 30 mins earlier than scheduled departure time. Not that it matters since the delay is hardly verifiable by passenger that it is the airline’s fault. Read the BIG print from the airline webpage on SPECIAL NOTIFICATION OF LIMITATION OF LIABILITIES IN CASE OF FLIGHT DELAY OR CANCELLATION.). I’ll be curious to see their on time performance chart.

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