Last updated 2-Dec,2011

You are the cost-conscious traveler. You are travelling in South-East Asia. You don’t want the frills, you don’t want the bells the whistles. All you want is to get from Point A to Point B at the cheapest price possible. How do you do it?

Budget airlines rule the roost here when you are travelling within the region. They are cheap, safe and the choice for anyone watching the dollars. Of course, your air miles can bring you further, but for travel within the region, nothing beats the budget airlines.

So which are the budget airlines offering the most routes, and the cheapest prices? For the latter, it is very much dependent on the offers put up at the period. Booking an air ticket during a promotion can get you crazy prices.

This article assumes that you are flying out of Singapore. If you are flying out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, then AirAsia is your best bet for cheap, unbeatable prices. In fact, if you have the time, taking a bus, train or flight out to KLCC (AirAsia’s low cost airport) and flying to your destination from there could actually net you lower prices than if you were to fly out of Changi, Singapore.

Ok. Let’s begin. The two largest operators out of Singapore are Tiger Airways and Jetstar. They fly to the most places, and the difference between the two is that Tiger Airways flies out of the Changi Budget Terminal, whereas Jetstar flies out of Terminal 1. Both charge extra for check-in luggage. Jetstar has many onward routes from Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, from its Jetstar Pacific arm in Vietnam. It also flies to various destinations in Australia, from the parent company Jetstar Airways.

Tiger on the other hand has its subsidiary Tiger Airways Australia, based in Melbourne, flying to various destinations around Australia. Thai Tiger, its joint venture with Thai Airways is scheduled to begin operations in May 2011, so expect onward flights to various Thai cities from Singapore. At the end of 2010, Tiger also has an agreement with Philippines’ South East Asian Airlines, to set a base in Clark Airport.

The third major budget airline in Singapore is AirAsia. Though not based in Singapore, it is nevertheless the largest operator in Asia, and has flights to major cities in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, with the latter two being subsidiaries operating out of Jakarta, and Bangkok respectively. AirAsia’s sister company, AirAsia X, flies long haul budget flights to faraway places like Paris (Orly), London (Stansted Gatwick) and other destinations in China, India, Australia and New Zealand. These flights involve a transfer at Kuala Lumpur’s LCCT airport, but with its revamped on-line ticketing system, travelers can book flights from Singapore, transiting in LCCT on a single ticket. It’s great really. I’m a big AirAsia fan, and my only bone with AirAsia is that it’s flights from Singapore are often priced higher than elsewhere. However, once you get to Kuala Lumpur, you will revel in the dirt cheap prices! The discerning traveler with plenty of time at his hands would find some way to get up to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore.

Those are the three major players. If you have time, then AirAsia is hands down the cheapest. But if time is a factor, then Jetstar and Tiger Airways are your best bet.

Next, we talk about the other lesser-known airlines flying from Changi. With a little research, these airlines could actually net you cheaper prices on some well-known destinations that the three airlines above fly. For example, did you know that Indonesia’s Lion Air does flights from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam? It’s a stopover from Jakarta, and it’s worth checking out, prices are competitive, and unlike the three abovementioned, there is a 20kg baggage allowance that comes with the ticket.

Since we are on airlines based in Indonesia, a couple of Indonesian domestic airlines flying to Singapore are Sriwijaya Air and Batavia Air. These fly to a few destinations in Indonesia, chiefly Jakarta, from where you can take one of the multitudes of airlines to an onward destination in Indonesia. All three, including Lion Air, has online booking facilities, unlike many other domestic airlines. There was a fourth airline, Mandala Air, but they filed for bankruptcy recently, though there is a high chance they may resume operations.

Ok. Malaysia. Besides AirAsia, there are a couple of other players. Firefly is the budget arm of Malaysian Airlines, operating out of Subang Airport in Selangor. They fly to a few places from Singapore, namely Subang, Kuantan and Ipoh. Then there is also Berjaya Air, flying to the northern Peninsula Malaysia resort islands of Tioman and Redang.

Next we have destinations to the Philippines. The main player is Cebu Pacific, and they fly out of Singapore to Clark, Manila and Cebu. From these airports, you can easily get to further destinations in the north, or even east (Palau?!). However, there is a second smaller airline flying to Singapore. AirPhil Express is a domestic airline based in Manila, and Singapore is their one and only international destination thus far. They fly from Changi to Cebu and Manila.

Another interesting destination is Koh Samui, Thailand. Bangkok Airways, while technically is not a budget airline, flies to the holiday getaway, and is worth mentioning.

Lastly, an airline to note  is AirIndia Express. While AirAsia X flies out to Mumbai and New Delhi, and Tiger flies to Tiruchirapalli and Trivandrum, AirIndia Express adds other destinations, flying also to Tiruchirapalli, and to Chennai and Kolkata. With this airline, it is also possible to get to Dhaka, Bangladesh, via a stopover in Kolkata.

Edit: As of late 2011, Indigo Air flies Singapore to Delhi and Mumbai.

So that’s it. A list of budget airlines to help you, the cost-conscious traveler, make an informed decision. Online flight search engines often leave out the budget airlines when their search results come out, so with the information above, you can go to the airline’s website and compare prices for your destination.


And now. Since you actually read through this entire article, here’s the reward, this link leads to a handy table of ALL the destinations that the budget airlines fly, out of Singapore. You can do your own filtering and hopefully get your cheap cheap tickets!

Now click this here link below:

The Budget Airlines Guide to Flights out of Singapore
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