What if we told you that flying cheap might come at a higher price?
In May 2023, we surveyed 1,730 Singaporean adults on flight delays and cancellations. We found a problem few of us consider: Budget flight tickets might cost you less, but flight delays, cancellations and lack of compensation could mean you pay a higher price overall.
Among our survey respondents, the most popular budget airlines to fly with were Scoot, Air Asia, and Jetstar Asia. Is risking a flight disruption with potentially no or little compensation worth the cheaper flight? Which of these budget airlines had the poorest compensation track records in our study, and which had the best? Let’s take a look at how often Scoot, Air Asia, and Jetstar Asia compensated travellers, how long they took to do so, and how much compensation they gave.
Disclaimer: The findings we talk about below are all informed by reported data from Singaporean travellers, and are not definitive figures of flight cancellations or delays as reported by the airlines themselves.
Read the full survey results: Which Airlines Have The Most Flight Cancellations And Delays In Singapore?
The Price To Pay For Flying Cheap: Do Budget Airlines Compensate You For Flight Delays and Cancellations?
- Singapore, these are your most popular budget airlines.
- Up to 47% of our travellers’ flights were disrupted on popular budget airlines.
- Only 23-35% of delayed travellers were compensated by popular budget airlines.
- Over 3 in 5 travellers (63%) whose flights were cancelled got compensation from Jetstar Asia.
- Air Asia was the fastest to compensate delayed travellers among the popular budget airlines.
- 1 in 3 travellers waited up to a month to receive compensation for flight cancellations from Scoot and Air Asia.
- Travel insurers most often compensated passengers whose flights were cancelled within 1-2 weeks.
- Budget travellers most often received as little as 10% in compensation for flight delays from the airline.
- On average, travel insurers compensated delayed travellers up to 3x more than budget airlines did.
- So, is there a price to pay for flying cheap?
1. Singapore, these are your most popular budget airlines.
We all love a cheap flight. And among the budget airlines, these 3 came out on top in our survey:
|No.||Most popular budget airlines||% of respondents who have flown with the airline in the past year|
Is their popularity deserved? Hmm…
2. Up to 47% of our travellers’ flights were disrupted on popular budget airlines.
Considering the rate of flight delays and cancellations among budget airlines, it’s not looking that great.
|Top 3 most popular budget airlines and their rates of flight delays and cancellations|
|Popular budget airline||% of travellers who experienced a flight delay||% of travellers who experienced a flight cancellation|
Among the 3 most popular budget airlines in our study, Air Asia’s passengers experienced the highest rates of travel disruptions. Flight delays in particular were a big problem for this airline—almost half (47%) of all Air Asia travellers in our survey reported that they had experienced a flight delay with the airline over the past year. If you think the past might repeat itself, your next flight on Air Asia has an almost 50-50 chance of being delayed!
The truth is, Scoot, Air Asia, and Jetstar Asia didn’t fare the worst among low-cost airlines when it came to flight disruptions. Air India took the cake, with a whopping 78% of its travellers reporting flight delays, and another 71% reporting flight cancellations. Air China followed shortly behind, with a 70% rate of flight delays and a 64% rate of flight cancellations among our survey respondents in the past year.
Of course, the surprisingly high rates of flight disruptions on other airlines doesn’t excuse the 3 popular budget airlines we’re focussing on. Were passengers flying with these airlines fairly compensated? Or perhaps we should ask, were they compensated at all? Let’s take a look.
3. Only 23-35% of delayed travellers were compensated by popular budget airlines.
According to passengers’ reported data from the study, our 3 budget airlines only compensated passengers between 23% to 35% of the time for flight delays over the past year. Jetstar Asia fared the best, compensating 35% of delayed passengers.
It was followed by Air Asia, which compensated 33% of its travellers for flight delays.
Budget airline Scoot only compensated around 23% of travellers, either in the form of a flight voucher or monetary refund. This makes Scoot the airline least likely to compensate delayed passengers out of all the airlines in the survey. Yikes! We expected more from an airline owned by the Singapore Airlines group, owner of the World’s Best Airline 2023.
|% of travellers who were compensated for flight delays|
|Airline||Compensated by airline||Compensated by travel insurer|
The proportion of delayed travellers who reported receiving compensation from their travel insurance providers was generally slightly higher than the proportion who reported receiving compensation from the airline directly. However, do also note that about a quarter (23%) of the travellers we surveyed said they didn’t even have travel insurance in the first place, so they’d have had no chance of getting compensation from insurance.
4. Over 3 in 5 travellers (63%) whose flights were cancelled got compensation from Jetstar Asia.
Not too shabby at all, Jetstar Asia. In fact, across all the airlines, the average rate of compensation was 58%. That puts Jetstar Asia above average!
About half (51%) of the travellers in our study who flew with Air Asia reported being compensated for a flight cancellation. This could be one reason why 54% of Air Asia customers who experienced a delay or cancellation also said they were disappointed by how the airline handled the disruption.
Unfortunately, Scoot fared quite poorly, with less than 2 in 5 (39%) of its travellers reporting that they received compensation from the airline. It was behind even Air India (43%), the airline that also saw the highest rate of cancellations (71%) among respondents.
Across all airlines, nearly two-thirds (63%) respondents said they were compensated for their cancellations from their travel insurance provider—higher than the rate travellers were compensated by the airline directly (58%).
5. Air Asia was the fastest to compensate delayed travellers among the popular budget airlines.
Over a third (34%) of delayed Air Asia passengers received compensation within 1 week, and another third (31%) received compensation within 1-2 weeks. Speedy work, Air Asia!
Unfortunately, Scoot and Jetstar Asia weren’t quite as fast. The most common time taken to compensate passengers was 3-4 weeks for both Scoot (34% of travellers) and Jetstar Asia (38% of passengers). Less than a quarter (23%) of Scoot passengers and less than a fifth (19%) of Jetstar Asia passengers received compensation within a week.
Travel insurers were slightly faster at compensating travellers than airlines.
Generally, passengers who flew with Scoot and Jetstar Asia reported that they received their compensation faster from their travel insurers than the airline. For example, while 38% of Jetstar Asia passengers waited 3-4 weeks to receive their compensation for their travel delay from the airline, only 23% waited 3-4 weeks to receive it from their travel insurer. Furthermore, another 23% received their compensation within a week!
6. 1 in 3 travellers waited up to a month to receive compensation for flight cancellations from Scoot and Air Asia.
|Time taken for travellers to receive compensation for cancelled flight||Scoot||Air Asia||Jetstar Asia||All airlines|
|Within a week||20%||20%||16%||25%|
|More than 6 months||0%||3%||0%||1%|
About a third (33%) of travellers on Scoot and Air Asia waited 3-4 weeks to receive compensation for their flight cancellations from the airline. Another (luckier) third (33%) on Scoot waited just 1-2 weeks.
Jetstar Asia was a little faster than both Scoot and Air Asia. The most common reported waiting time for its passengers to get compensation was 1-2 weeks.
7. Travel insurers most often compensated passengers whose flights were cancelled within 1-2 weeks.
Overall, the time taken to receive compensation from the travel insurance provider was faster compared to the time taken to receive compensation from the airline directly. The most common period of time that survey respondents reported waiting for compensation from their travel insurer was 1-2 weeks for Scoot (35%), Air Asia (36) and Jetstar Asia (40%) passengers.
8. Budget travellers most often received as little as 10% in compensation for flight delays from the airline.
|Amount compensated by airline for flight delays||Scoot||Air Asia||Jetstar Asia||All airlines|
|10-19% of original flight price||37%||23%||23%||19%|
|20-29% of original flight price||19%||21%||19%||25%|
|30-39% of original flight price||6%||19%||23%||17%|
|40-49% of original flight price||6%||10%||0%||10%|
|50-59% of original flight price||15%||11%||15%||11%|
|100% of original flight price||5%||4%||8%||5%|
For passengers on all 3 popular budget airlines, the most commonly received amount of compensation was 10-19% of the original flight price. We are not impressed!
Scoot in particular gave almost 2 in 5 of its passengers only 10-19% in compensation for their flight delay. Travellers on Air Asia and Jetstar Asia reported slightly better numbers, with another 23% of Jetstar Asia passengers reporting receiving 30-39% of original flight price.
In terms of the average amount of compensation, our 3 budget airlines gave delayed travellers between 36% to 41% of their original flight price. Air Asia (39%) and Scoot (36%) were below average—across all airlines, our survey respondents reported receiving an average of 40% of their original flight price from the airline for their travel delay. In contrast, Jetstar was just slightly above average, compensating its passengers an average of 41% of their original flight price.
What about passengers whose flights were cancelled? The winner here was Scoot—they compensated 43% of its travellers the full cost of their flight ticket after their flights were cancelled!
|Amount compensated by airline for flight cancellations||Scoot||Air Asia||Jetstar Asia||All airlines|
|10-19% of original flight price||25%||11%||8%||17%|
|20-29% of original flight price||15%||17%||12%||21%|
|30-39% of original flight price||5%||15%||28%||16%|
|40-49% of original flight price||3%||8%||12%||10%|
|50-59% of original flight price||3%||11%||12%||8%|
|100% of original flight price||43%||8%||12%||9%|
Scoot also gave its passengers a high average amount of compensation, at 60% of the original flight price. Air Asia (51%) and Jetstar Asia (50%) didn’t do too poorly either, compensating travellers with around half of their original flight price. In fact, all 3 budget airlines were above the overall average across all airlines, which was only 46% of the original flight price.
9. On average, travel insurers compensated delayed travellers up to 3x more than budget airlines did.
Travel insurers most often gave delayed travellers on popular budget airlines 30-39% of their original flight price.
|% of original flight price compensated for flight delays||Compensation from airline||Compensation from travel insurer|
|Scoot||Air Asia||Jetstar Asia||Scoot||Air Asia||Jetstar Asia|
On average, delayed travellers received more compensation from travel insurers than directly from the airline. Among the 3 budget airlines we’re looking at, the biggest difference was for Scoot. The average compensation amount was 36% from the airline directly, versus 42% from the travel insurer.
|Airline / Average compensation amount (% of original flight price) for flight delays||Air Asia||Scoot||Jetstar Asia||All airlines in the study|
|From travel insurer||41%||42%||43%||42%|
When it came to flight cancellations, the most common compensation amount Air Asia travellers received was 2-3 times higher from travel insurers than from airlines.
|% of original flight price compensated for flight cancellations||Compensation from airline||Compensation from travel insurer|
|Scoot||Air Asia||Jetstar Asia||Scoot||Air Asia||Jetstar Asia|
While Scoot did well compensating its travellers for flight cancellations, Air Asia travellers weren’t as lucky…unless they bought travel insurance. While almost 1 in 5 (17%) of Air Asia travellers received 20-29% of the original flight price as compensation from Air Asia directly, travel insurers gave 21% of Air Asia travellers 50-59% as compensation.
10. So, is there a price to pay for flying cheap?
Who doesn’t love a cheap flight? We fly budget too. But the problems arise when our budget flights get disrupted. Flight delays and cancellations are more common than we think. If you choose to fly with Air Asia, you might want to consider that almost half (47%) of our survey respondents experienced a flight delay with the airline. Over a third (33%) of Air Asia travellers in our survey also reported facing a flight delay.
As long as you travel, at some point in your life you’ll probably experience a flight disruption. So perhaps it’s not about whether or not we’ll experience a flight disruption or how long it lasts. It’s about how we can be compensated for it. You don’t lose out by flying with an affordable airline—you lose out if you aren’t adequately compensated for the disruptions to your travel plans. This is the true cost of flying cheap.
The good news is that you can sway things in your favour on the compensation front. Among our Scoot, Air Asia and Jetstar Asia travellers, travel insurers gave higher average compensation amounts than airlines for travel delays. Travel insurers were also more likely to give compensation for flight cancellations on Air Asia and Jetstar Asia. And that’s after you consider that 23% of delayed travellers and 15% of travellers who experienced a flight cancellation didn’t even have travel insurance in the first place.
You probably don’t want to depend on airlines for compensation—based on our study, 47% of people said they were “extremely disappointed” with their airline’s handling of their delay or cancellation. So if you want to safeguard your journey, it might be wise to protect yourself with travel insurance. At as little as $5 per day, it costs a lot less than a flight ticket—and a lot less than the true price to pay for flying cheap.
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