The Hidden Costs Of Travelling With Budget Airlines

The Hidden Costs Of Travelling With Budget Airlines

Many of us are familiar with this situation – while browsing the internet, we see a great travel deal online and rush to purchase the tickets only to be saddled with a host of hidden charges when we check in at the airport.

With an increasing number of budget airlines competing for consumer attention by slashing prices, and a deluge of online sites like Skyscanner, Expedia and Traveloka making it easier than ever to compare routes around the globe, the average consumer is spoiled for choice when it comes to affordable air travel.

Before you pull out that credit card however, there are a number of hidden costs and surcharges that you need to be wary of before they take a toll on your wallet (and your holiday).

Jetstar

Jetstar is the Southeast Asian offshoot of Australian airline Qantas, and it’s one of the country’s most prominent low-cost airlines. While the carrier offers eye-catching flight discounts all-year round, consumers should be alert to the different add-ons that could potentially stack up:

1. Baggage fees
As baggage fees vary according to distance, we’re selecting flights from Singapore to Bangkok (one of the top three travel destinations for Singaporeans in 2017) in the interest of this article.

Baggage fees start at S$27.00 for the first 15KG of luggage and scale up to S$77.00 for 40KG of luggage. For flights to Tokyo, another top holiday destination for Singaporeans, luggage up to 15KG will cost S$46.39 while the top tier of 40KG will set you back $93.57.

Apart from baggage fees, Jetstar also charges a handling fee for oversized items such as golf clubs, surfboards, musical instruments and foldable bikes. Handling fees for oversized items will cost you an additional S$25.00 and will count towards your total checked baggage weight.

2. Travel insurance
Travel insurance is not included as part of Jetstar’s basic flight package and will cost you an extra S$20.00. If you opt not to purchase the insurance, the airline is not obliged to compensate you for items lost in baggage or if the flight is cancelled.

3. In-flight meals
Flights do not come with complimentary meals, sotravellers will have to buy meal vouchers that range from S$9.50 for a bag of chips and a soft drink, to S$19.00 for a full meal complete with a glass of wine.

4. Preferred seating
When it comes to choosing your seats, additional charges apply depending on the location of the seats in the plane. Travellers unwilling to fork out S$6.00 to choose their seats will receive randomly allocated seating. For travellers who want to be the first embarking and disembarking, seats at the front will cost S$9.00.

For total comfort that includeschoosing your seats, upfront priority and extra legroom on longer flights, travellers will have to dish out a total of S$25.00.

5. Processing fees and extras
Upon checkout, a host of processing fees will be added to the total cost including advanced processing fees for travellers who opt for preferred seating (S$1.44), arrival and departure fees (S$0.62), passenger security fees (S$8.00) and aviation levy fees (S$6.10).

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AirAsia

AirAsia is another popular low-cost airline that claims to have some of the lowest fares in the market. As with Jetstar, it is important to compare the list of add-ons that the company charges travellers to get a complete picture of all the costs involved.

1. Baggage fees
For extra baggage, travellers will need to pay between S$24.00 for up to 20KG, S$32.00 for 25KG, S$42.00 for 30KG and S$60.00 for 40KG. As with most budget airlines, extra charges also apply on overweight and oversized objects that exceed the standard cabin space dimensions. Adventure-seeking travellers should also know that AirAsia has a list of sporting gear and equipment that will need to be checked in and charged according to their oversized items policy.

2. Travel insurance
Compared to the other airlines on the list, AirAsia’s travel insurance charges are relatively reasonable at S$9.00 and cover standard cancellation and lost luggage claims.

3. In-flight meals
In-flight meals on an AirAsia flight cost an average of S$4.00 for a selection of local and international dishes such as Kung Pao Chicken, Lasagna, Thai Green Curry and Chicken Briyani. Additional beverages and snacks are also charged separately bringing the cost of a full meal anywhere between S$8.00 and S$15.00.

4. Preferred seating
Similar to a movie theatre, seating on AirAsia varies depending on the location of the seats in the plane. “Hot seats” or seats closer to the front of the plane cost an additional S$14.00 to S$16.00. For standard seats, passengers would pay between S$3.00 and S$6.00.

5. Processing fees & extras
Apart from standard processing fees, fares and taxes that can cost upwards of S$30.00, AirAsia also charges for amenities you would expect to find on regular flights such as neck pillows, eye shades and blankets. Expect to cough up an additional S$15.30 per person if you opt for one of their comfort kits.

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Scoot (formerly Tiger Air)

Scoot has emerged as a major player in the low-cost airline space since a merger with Tiger Air was finalised in July 2017. However, the company has maintained its business model that focuses heavily on value-added services.

1. Baggage fees
Scoot offers the option to upsize bags for S$24.00 for a 20KG allowance and up to S$64.00 for a 40KG allowance. Travellers that want to add extra carry-on luggage or a cabin bag will also be charged a flat rate of S$24.00 per bag.

2. Travel insurance
Scoot partners with insurance provider Chubb to offer travellers flight cancellation coverage, loss of luggage reimbursement and personal accident coverage for a flat rate of S$12.00 per passenger.

3. In-flight meals
Scoot’s in-flight menu is significantly pricier compared to its competitors, with meal sets ranging between S$17.00 and S$21.99. However, all meal sets include a drink and a snack. Passengers also have the option of changing their meal selections up to 72 hours before their flight.

4. Choosing your seats
Seats on Scoot flights range from an additional S$7.00 for standard seats, S$12.00 for ScootSilence (peace and quiet near the front of the plane), S$17.00 for ScootSuper (30% more legroom plus no seat in front) and S$27.00 extra for ScootStretch (50% more legroom, no seat in front, priority boarding and exiting).

5. Processing fees & extras
Like Jetstar and AirAsia, processing fees, fares and taxes can cost upwards of S$30 as well. Scoot also charges for a variety of different extras including a Snooze Kit (S$18.00) that’s similar to AirAsia’s comfort kit, WiFi (S$7.00 for a fixed data limit), priority boarding (S$6.00) and VIP lounge benefits (S$39.00).

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Conclusion

Although all three airlines advertise the lowest fares, AirAsia emerges as the most budget-friendly option with the highest savings when contrasting all additional costs. Jetstar may be the cheapest when it comes to extra baggage, but AirAsia edges ahead with flight insurance and meal plans that are half the price of its competitors. Travellers who do not mind paying a little extra can opt for Scoot with their wide range of extra services and add-ons.

Airline
Jetstar
AirAsia
Scoot
Baggage fees (during booking)*
15kg
S$27
S$24
S$24
20kg
S$30
25kg
S$37
S$32
S$34
30kg
S$47
S$42
S$44
35kg
S$62
S$60
S$54
40kg
S$77
S$64
Travel insurance
S$20
S$9
S$12
In-flight meals
S$9.50 – S$19
S$4 – S$15
S$17 – S$21.99
Preferred seating
Standard seat:
S$6

Up-front seat:
S$9

Extra legroom:
S$25
Standard seat:
S$3 - S$6

Hot seat:
S$14 - S$16
Standard seat:
S$7

ScootSilence:
S$12

ScootSuper:
S$17

ScootStretch
S$27
Processing fees*
Arrival and departure fees:
S$0.62

Passenger security fees:
S$8

Aviation levy fees:
S$6.10
Aviation Levy:
S$6.10

Passenger Service Fee:
S$19.90

Passenger security fees:
S$8

International Arrival and Departure Fees
S$0.60
International Arrival And Departure Fees:
S$0.62

Pax Security Fee:
S$8

Aviation Levy:
S$6.10

Pax Service Fee:
S$19.9

Extras (optional)
Preferred seating processing fees:
S$1.44
Advance Passenger Processing Service
S$1

Comfort kit:
S$15.30
Advance Passenger Processing User Charge:
S$1.44

Snooze Kit:
S$18

WiFi:
S$7

Priority boarding:
S$6

VIP lounge benefits:
S$39

*Based on a flight from Singapore to Bangkok

By Erik Gan
Erik is an ardent reader and writer whose favourite topics include tech startups, science fiction and pop culture. He is extremely passionate about the role of technology in improving lives, transforming businesses and reshaping industries. 
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