19 January 2011

7th January

Note: This is in the series of blog posts I wrote about my preparation to move to New Zealand. Although I am already in Auckland, I'll be continuing with this and completing the series in a few weeks. The original date stamps will give you an idea of how time-consuming migration takes. The 'New Zealand' tag will bring up all related posts.

[Originally written on 4/10/2010]
I started researching for the cheapest flight to Auckland more than 6 months ago. Saving a few hundred dollars could mean surviving jobless another week, so price was everything.

I had initially pinpoint Royal Brunei as the cheapest way to go. For about RM2.2k, it will take me from KUL-BWN-AKL. I just had to add another RM150 for a MAS flight from PEN-KUL. Total damage < RM2.5k.

Before discovering that Royal Brunei actually flies to Auckland, I had shortlisted either Malaysia Airlines (RM2.6k on their MHlow fares) and Emirates (RM2.4k thereabouts). Singapore Airlines was just too expensive (RM3.1k) while both Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific did not offer anything below RM5000 for a one-way ticket.

So I thought I was pretty smart for finding Royal Brunei.

Ahh... if only.

The phone interview 2 weeks ago gave me hope that I might secure a job offer before the end of the year, so I held off on purchasing the ticket. However, it's a well-known fact that the NZ recruitment process can move at a leisurely pace, and it quickly became obvious to me that it was true in this case.

I decided to buy the ticket now, and lo and behold, Royal Brunei no longer had the RM2.2k tickets! They were now going for almost RM2.5k, which meant it was probably better to go for Malaysia Airlines (Royal Brunei is a 3 star airline vs the 5 star MAS).

Lo and behold (again)! MAS ran out of MHlow fares as well! The next step up, MHbasic, was RM3k, which meant it was probably better to go for Singapore Airlines (I keep hearing it's better than MAS...).

And lo and...! OK, not really. SIA stayed at the same consistent price of RM3.1k.

I was initially going to go for SIA since it was just RM150 more than MAS, but I read the fine print and found out that MAS charges less for itinerary change/cancellation fees. That was really critical in the event that I needed to go earlier or even cancel my journey altogether (*touch wood*), so in the end I supported our national carrier (which really isn't that bad, except for their short-haul economy class meal boxes that really reeks of economy-ness).

Malaysia Airlines plane (taken from caribb)

To cut a long story short (for those who jumped straight to the end), I bought my MAS ticket for RM3035, about RM500 more than I had initially budgeted for. RM500 could cover one week's expenses in Auckland, so it's quite a big hit any way you look at it.

There's yet another story to come about my travel plans. Due to the wording on my visa, I may need to show proof of outward travel. That will be another post for another day.
[End of original post]

In the final paragraph above I mentioned about the proof of outward travel. As a protection against overstayers, Immigration has the right to see (in my case as it's written in my visa) my ticket to leave New Zealand at the end of my stay.

I got the brilliant idea to buy a ticket to Sydney as it would constitute 'leaving NZ' and I could visit Ivan at the same time. There's strong competition for trans-Tasman routes and so it's very cheap to fly between Australia and NZ.

With extra research I found better news - Air New Zealand's tickets can be fully refunded with the "Flexibility" option. For an extra $300 I could change and cancel my bookings anytime and be given my money back. So in the end that's what I purchased and got a refund for.

But they never asked to see my ticket.

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