BUDGET airlines allow us to visit desirable locations at an affordable price, but they haven't done much for our productivity.

In fact, there is a good case to be made that the ease of cheap travel brought about by low-cost carriers is one key factor behind our falling level of productivity that the Government is so concerned about.

You know those long weekends? Say the one that has just passed, Good Friday. Tack on Thursday or the following Monday and you would have had a four-day break.

As soon as some people know that they can get a four-day stretch, their one thought is to escape Singapore for a long weekend break.

People spend a lot of time at their desks surfing for good hotel and flight deals, and the best timing options - the ones that allow you to leave late on Thursday and then depart from Phuket or wherever at close to midnight on Monday, just in time for you to roll into work on Tuesday.

Heaps of options are now available - Hong Kong for a few hundred dollars and several flights a day. Ditto for Bangkok, less than two hours away.

Bali is better - even though the flights are difficult to get. An island getaway for not more than $1,000. That amount would barely get you and your partner a fancy meal at the Marina Bay Sands.

All well and good, and I don't have any beef with people wanting to rush, pack and jostle with loads of other passengers to head somewhere that may well be as hot, crowded or expensive as Singapore.

People don't realise how much the journey takes out of them. It's only those in their 20s who can pull this off most of the time.

For days before that, you would have had to pack, organise things and rush to finish any last-minute work. Worse still if you do your packing only on the day itself.

Then the day of departure dawns. Stress levels rise as you have to remember your passport, and perhaps take your luggage to the office, while as usual, the boss will have some urgent request that needs to be sorted out before you can leave.

Be that as it may, most people manage to make it on time, knowing that they are safe as long as they can collapse at the check-in counter minutes before it closes.

Then it's a squeeze on the budget airline, and because it's a holiday, the thinking is that they can't waste any of this precious time.

Activities are crammed into the four days - trying new restaurants, partying, shopping. Who pays good money to sleep in a hotel room? Sheer lunacy.

All too soon, the trip is over and it's time to head back home. Then it's more stress over packing all the goodies that can't be found at home as well as being exhausted from too much drinking and partying.

Back home, near midnight, it's just too much of a drag to get to the office the next day. Besides, you can feel the beginnings of a stomach flu, sore throat or some other plausible ailment. It's better to call in sick and spend the day in bed.

Even if you manage to struggle into the office, it's a bit of a lost cause, made worse by a blinding headache caused by replying to the e-mail messages that have been piling up.

Well before the day is over, you know you need another holiday, and frankly the thought of the next trip is the only thing that keeps you going till the end of the week.

Given that thousands of us are doing this sort of mad dashing about at every chance we get, that's how the effects on productivity across the economy get to be pretty dire.

See, budget carriers, you have a lot to answer for.