Airlines in Asia have often had lower fares than those in Europe or the United States. Recently there’s been an explosion of discount airlines added to the mix.
The majority of these low cost airlines operate in and out of countries in Southeast Asia but you’ll also see cheap flights to other countries in Asia as well.
How do they do it?
So, how do they do it? Why do airfares on the big airlines cost hundreds of dollars while the same flights to the same locations sometimes are offered for dirt cheap prices by the low cost airlines?
Here are some of the ways low cost airlines are able to cut their costs and pass the savings on to you:
Less customer service Many airlines take only online bookings and if a problem arises it can be quite a chore to get ahold of someone who can help you.
No frills When you buy your ticket you’re buying a seat on the plane and that’s pretty much it. There’s no entertainment on board and if there are food and drinks available you have to order them a la carte off a high priced menu.
Upselling From the time you go online to when you’re sitting on the plane you’ll be constantly barraged with upselling. You’ll be offered everything from priority seating to scratch off lottery tickets. Just take it in stride, sit back, and enjoy the show as your flight attendants turn into buskers.
Off peak times The cheapest flights are almost always late at night or early in the morning. It’s not unusual to see discount airlines offer flights at 11:30 at night or 4:00 in the morning.
Secondary airports Alot of low cost airlines will fly in and out of secondary airports that charge lower landing fees. They’re also less congested which means there’s less danger of flight delays which costs the airlines money.
If your flight is in the early morning hours, transit may not be running and you may be faced with an expensive taxi ride!
Low cost airlines
There are quite a few low cost airlines operating throughout Asia. Some are more localized and only fly in and out of certain countries.
Here are links to some of the more popular budget airlines in Asia:
Extra fees are the bread and butter of low cost airlines. Every year they catch countless unprepared passengers who end up paying much more than they had to.
For the most part, if you’re prepared, follow the rules, and read the fine print you should be fine. Here’s some common things low cost airlines will charge you for.
Check-in fee The majority of discount airlines require you to check in online and not at the airport. If you forget they’ll charge you a huge fee up to $150 to do it at the check-in desk.
Boarding card fee If your airline requires you to have a boarding card ticket, you’ll have to print it yourself on your own printer (A4 paper only). Failing to do this will incur a fee.
Bag check A carryon bag is almost always free but airlines are very strict about it’s size and weight. They will carefully scrutinize your bag and if it doesn’t meet their strict standards they’ll require you to check it for an extra fee.
Rule of thumb
Change ticket fee Double check everything before pressing the “purchase” button online. If you spelled your name wrong or your passport number is wrong or heaven forbid the dates are wrong, you’ll have to pay an extra fee to change it. The fee is so large sometimes that it’s actually cheaper to just throw your ticket away and purchase a new one.
Credit card fee Not a big fee but considering tickets are sold exclusively online and only credit cards can be used, everyone will have to pay a fee of usually 2% on top of their ticket price.
Priority seating Some airlines will allow you to choose the seat you want for a fee. Others don’t assign any seating and it’s first come, first serve. With these airlines you can purchase priority seating that allows you to board before the other cattle.