I vaguely remember my last holiday to Taiwan with my parents. We’d camped out on all the budget airline sites like Scoot, Jetstar, AirAsia and just picked the dates and times when they had the best promotions. After bouncing between a Scoot booking and Jetstar one for 5 days, we decided the Scoot promotion was cheaper.
With all that camping, you’d think we got the best deal… until I realised the fares were not inclusive of many of the travel comforts my parents actually needed. Such as a comfy seat for them to get some shut-eye during our 2am flight. Here’s 6 times your budget airline tickets may not be so cheap after all:
1. When you’re packing heavy
Budget airlines do not include baggage in their flight prices. Whether you’re travelling for a long period, hauling back a huge loot of shopping buys, or going to a cold country where you really, really need those thick down layers and accessories…If you don’t buy check-in baggage in advance, it can actually wind up costing more money.
For example, Jetstar’s checked baggage can cost you anywhere between $21 (15kg) to $66 (40kg) more while AirAsia’s charges range from $64 (20kg) to $147 (40kg) if added on without their bundles. If checked-in baggage are added-on at the airport, prices could increase as much as 45% more. These days, airlines even charge for specific items! Jetstar charges an additional $25 for every oversized item (longer than 1 metre) you’re bringing along, while AirAsia charges up to $214 for sports equipment (depending on the weight of equipment).
2. When you’re on a long haul flight
We’re lucky that we’ve budget airlines offering long haul flights to selected places in Europe and USA. But unless you’re able to go on an empty stomach for 14 hours (you can’t sneak your own food in, smart alec), you’ll have to pay for additional food and beverage on your flight. Even water costs money!
Unless you’re willing to stuff your face and then proceed to knock out on the plane for anything in excess of 10 hours, it might be best to pre-book your meals. Sure, you spend more money but this will prevent you from spending even more buying individual items.
3. When you’re travelling with a large troupe… of last minute kias
You know, we all have those friends that’s always always one-of-a-kind last minute…
Last minute say want to come along on your vay-cay.
Last minute late for check-in and you’ve to check-in first.
Chances are, you won’t be able to sit together on the plane unless you’ve paid for pre-selected seats. Instead, you’ll be randomly assigned any available seats there are. Expect to pay an approximate $3-$7 extra just to pre-select seats. And no, your selection does not include the emergency or front rows. Just the standard ones. Which brings me to my next point…
4. When you’ve long legs/ achy bones (or you’re travelling with people that do)
It’s okay if you’re not particular about who you’re seated with on the plane…But if you’re a stickler for seating with your holiday kakis, and someone insists they get the emergency/front rows for the added legroom/space… You’ll have to top-up for this additional “comfort”. On Jetstar, that extra legroom would cost you an approximate $29 more on each flight.
5. When you’re paying for your budget airline tickets with your credit card
Most of us are used to paying with a credit card when we’re booking our flights online. Because well, it’s usually free and we get to accumulate air miles! But budget flights would actually require payment of additional booking fees.
For example, Jetstar transactions incur a $10 booking fee while AirAsia fares have a $40 processing fee when you pay by credit cards (unless you’re using the airline’s branded card). And oh, some budget air flights do not qualify for miles.
6. When something pops up and you can’t make it for your original flight booking
Since tickets are already dirt cheap, most budget airlines do not allow refunds on tickets and your add-ons. Changes to your destination are also not allowed. The only thing you’re allowed to do: reschedule your flight or make name changes, but that also comes at a fee that’s charged on top of the fare differences that you may lose out on/ have to top up for. Here’s some quick links to Scoot’s , AirAsia’s, and Jetstar’s current fees.
At the end of the day, I guess it all boils down to how much you need these additional comforts. Budget flights are the perfect solution for experience seekers. But if you’re looking to travel in comfort or if you’re someone that needs them, then maybe an all-inclusive fare from other airlines would suit you better. Sometimes, what’s cheap for others might not be the same for you.
Do you have any budget airline horror stories? Share them with us.