When you fly on budget airlines, cheaper is always better. After all, it’s not as if you get food, fantastic service or your own TV screen, so why pay a cent more than you have to? Luckily, most budget flights are short enough that this doesn’t become too painful. However, budget airline flights fluctuate in price much more wildly than regular airline prices do, and if you’re not careful you might end up paying even more than you would for a non-budget ticket. That’s like paying Prada prices for a wallet from 77th Street. Here’s how not to.
1. Sign up for the airlines’ newsletters
Budget airlines are constantly having sales. No kidding. They’re like that shop that’s been displaying a “closing down sale” notice in the window for the last 5 years. I get at least one or two notifications a week. Some of these sales last only a day or two, so unless you obsessively check the websites the only way to know is to sign up for the newsletters.
If you’re planning a trip in a few weeks or months, sign up for all the budget airlines’ newsletters and then watch their sales notifications until you find a sale that covers the dates you want to travel on.
In my experience, unless you’re trying to book a last minute ticket or travelling over a public holiday or the school holiday period, you can almost always find a sale ticket.
2. Know the booking fees each airlines charges
Unfortunately, comparing the prices charged by the various budget airlines isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. The booking or administrative fees charged by each airline can be as much as a whopping $20 and you don’t get to see this additional cost until you’re prompted to enter your credit card details, so don’t forget to take that into account when you compare prices.
Despite the rebates you can earn by using certain credit cards, because of the credit card fee, it may be cheaper to just pay by SingPost if the option is available to you.
Scoot processing fee – $20 credit card booking fee or $5 AXS booking fee for a return ticket, payment by SingPost is no longer available (Thanks to reader Stacy for this update)
Jetstar booking fee – $10 credit card booking fee or $8 eNETS booking fee for return ticket, payment via 7-Eleven and SingPost now costs $5 per traveller (Thanks to reader Felicia for this update)
AirAsia processing fee – $16 credit card booking fee or $4 direct debit processing fee for return ticket
3. Know which airlines include taxes in their ticket prices
That $5 air ticket listed on the airline’s website just might be too good to be true. The annoying thing is that some of the airlines leave out airport and other taxes in the ticket prices they display when you’re picking your flights, and then sneakily put them in when you’re about to check out. So you might think you’re buying a $50 ticket when it’s actually $90 with taxes. Others include the taxes in the displayed price, which makes their tickets look more expensive.
- Airlines that leave out taxes in ticket price: Jetstar and Scoot
- Airline that includes taxes in ticket price: AirAsia
4. If you’re paying by credit card, use one that gives you rebates, air miles and/or lounge access
If you’re booking with an airline that gives you the option of paying by 7-Eleven, SingPost or AXS in order to avoid the high credit card processing fees, then that’s probably going to be your cheapest option. Otherwise, if you really have no choice but to use a credit card, use one that can help you offset the cost a little by giving you rebates, air miles or lounge access.
Check out MoneySmart’s credit card comparison tool to identify the best credit cards for cashback and miles accrual.
How do you cut the cost of budget flights? Let us know in the comments!
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