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Budget Airlines: Southeast Asia

I always had trouble finding budget airlines when I go to a new region, so I decided to start this page, and every time I explore a new region and find some deals, I hope to share some of my favourite airlines that help fellow travellers save extra bucks. The parenthesis indicates these airlines’ hubs.

Some general advice on budget airlines in Southeast Asia

Generally, there isn’t a huge difference between the flights. I find that both Jetstar and Cebu Pacific seem to have bigger seats. It doesn’t hurt to sign up for their mailing lists, as sometimes, you get notified about great deals. Although Tiger Airways’ prices tend to be slightly higher, sometimes, they do have excellent deals. For example, in 2010, there was a deal, whereby flights to most places were going for 1 cent. Even with taxes, a flight from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City costs 20 SGD.

Airasia (from Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore)

Based mainly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, internationally, it serves the whole region from Kuala Lumpur, and it also offers some long distance budget flights to London and Japan. It also has domestic flights within Malaysia.

Bangkok is also a hub for Airasia, with several international flights serving the region, and further flights going to India and China. There are also several domestic flights within Thailand.

Airasia started their own frequent flier program. I haven’t flown with them for a while, so I don’t quite know how it works. They also operate a chain of hotels, Tunes, that work on the same no-frills principle – nice bed, good shower at reasonable rates. It’s also part of their airline loyalty program, and generally a good option. Just be aware of add-ons, e.g. 12 hrs of A/C will cost X dollars.

Airasia also serves several destinations from Singapore, mainly to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Check out the route map.

Cebu Pacific (Philippines: Clark, Manila, Cebu)

Cebu Pacific is a Philippines budget airlines, and has international flights going out of the three airports listed above. Clark and Cebu mainly serve nearer destinations within the region, as far as Hong Kong, while flights from Manila go all the way to Incheon, Korea.

Check out the route map.

Fly Scoot (Singapore, Thailand, Australia)

Scoot is a subsidiary of sorts from the Singapore Airlines parent company, and started in 2011. They generally fly planes that are hand-me-downs from Singapore Airlines, so the fleet is fairly decent, if a little bit older. Their claim to fame is, they attempt to serve the mid-haul market (~5 hrs +) from Singapore to Australia, or other routes from Singapore to China/India, but with slightly more comfort. It is possible to fly business class on Scoot at a bargain, relative to full service airlines.

I have personally not flown Scoot, but have heard good things from friends, who felt that you could save a pretty buck on Scoot, and still travel in relative comfort. Their prices relative to other budget carriers in the region are competitive.

Check out the route map.

Jetstar (Singapore, Vietnam, Australia)

Based mainly in Singapore, it serves most destinations in the region (except Laos and Brunei), and goes to countries outside the region like Australia and China. Jetstar Australia also offers domestic flights in Australia, and there are some connections in Vietnam that serve less popular destinations like Hue. Jetstar is also a partner of Qantas, so at some fares, it is possible to accrue frequent flier miles.

Check out the route map.

Tiger Airways (Singapore)

Based in Singapore, it serves most destinations in the region (except Laos and Brunei). It also links Singapore to countries outside the region like Australia, China, and India.

Of all the different budget airlines based out of Singapore, for some reason of other, my friends like Tiger the least. I don’t really have a strong opinion on the matter, but I guess the legroom is tighter than Jetstar.

Check out the route map.

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