If you’re a first time buyer for budget airline (Eg: Jetstar, Tiger Airways, Scoot…etc) tickets, here are 5 basic guidelines to follow:
1. Compare, compare, compare: Do your research. Follow the budget airlines on social medias (Eg: Facebook) or subscribe to their newsletters to keep yourself updated on the ongoing promotions.
2. If time is not an issue, book the red-eye flights: Airlines usually offer lower fares for the first and last flight of the day.
For example: I managed to book return tickets to Hong Kong this January for SGD $77 per person. Cheap yes, but it was a midnight flight departing Singapore at 1.50am (reached Hong Kong at 5.45am), and then departing Hong Kong at 6.50am for the return trip.
3. Purchase checked baggage, meals, insurance and seat preferences only when needed: I usually don’t select any of those options. The 10kg cabin baggage allowance is more than sufficient for short trips and it’s cheaper to eat at the airport.
For seat preferences, I’ll approach and ask the check-in counter staff nicely. It helps if you are able to check in early, so that your request gets a higher chance of being fulfilled. This works too if you are travelling in a party and have booked your flights separately.
4. Don’t pay by credit card: Paying by credit card will nearly always increase the cost of your tickets (see image below). However, sometimes you can escape paying the booking fees by choosing an offline payment method such as SingPost for Scoot and Jetstar. Always choose that option if available (Scoot usually removes offline payment options during their promo sales).
For Tiger Airways, you should choose to pay via AXS for a one time $5 fee, as compared to $9 per trip.
5. Pay using vouchers: This has been my all time favourite way to escape paying the credit card booking fees. Look for people selling airline vouchers and buy over at a discount. Later when there is a sale, book your flights and pay using these vouchers. Recently, I managed to buy a Jetstar voucher valued at $200 for just $150. Using this voucher not only saved me $50, but I also get to escape paying the booking fee.
Do read the terms and conditions before buying over a voucher. There is a clause for Jetstar vouchers which states that all outstanding balance must be paid using another voucher or credit card. However, using a credit card will add back the booking fee, so you should try your best to keep total charges below the voucher value.
And… That’s all the basic guidelines I have at this moment.
Keep reading to find out how I managed to avoid paying booking fees despite the total cost of my airfare exceeding the $200 Jetstar voucher and for a bonus tip at the end.
HOW I BEAT THE SYSTEM
I wanted to book a return trip to Taipei with checked baggage included for both ways. The total price was $226, but I only had a $200 voucher and really didn’t feel like paying the $17 credit card booking fees for the outstanding $26 due. So I removed the checked baggage for the outbound trip and brought the total down to $199. Just nice.
After the initial booking, I went to “manage bookings” and add back the checked luggage for the outbound trip. Payment this time round is easier because no booking fees are charged for credit cards.
6. Dare to take risks: Even though Jetstar states that adding checked baggage after the initial booking would be more costly, I found that the opposite was true. A 15kg checked baggage add-on was $26 during booking and only $23 during post booking.
I’m so glad I took the risk because I got to save even more money!
I do hope this guide has been useful to you. Do comment if you have any more tips on how to save money on airfares.
Take care and have fun!