Flying on a Budget: Review of Low-Cost Carriers in SEA


With more budget airlines serving this region, travelers may enjoy some good flights to their desired destinations at a bargain! We put 4 budget carriers to the test, and avid traveller Fazli Mansor gives his take.

Air Asia

General experience: Air Asia probably has one of the best services for a budget airline. The have an efficient system, available online check-in that cuts queuing time at the airport. Their airport operations are efficient too, and I do not have to worry about the handling of my luggage. There were little blunders during the few times I have flown with Air Asia. Advice: Air fares are only cheap if you book in advanced, so book early.

Safety of flight: Flights are mostly on new aircraft, thus flying on Air Asia generally feels safe compared to any other budget carriers. The cabin crew were also very helpful and concerned on all the passengers.

Frequency of flight: There are plenty of frequent flights to many destinations all over the region. Air Asia flies from Singapore to the various destinations on a daily basis.

Destinations: One of the setback of Air Asia is it’s limited destinations for flights from Singapore. Flights from Singapore only go to a few destinations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Service: Excellent. Cabin crew were presentable and professional.

Rating (1-5 stars): *** (3 stars)

Jet Star

General experience: One of the greatest consolation for this Australian budget carrier is it’s exhaustive destination list from Singapore. It serves many destinations from Singapore, and has good rates if tickets are booked early. Has friendly staff, but seats on-board can get really tight. Not advisable for flights more than 4 hours, you may feel cramped after some time. However, they are efficient in their service too, and luggages are delivered promptly.

Safety of flight: Flight safety was fairly alright. Cabin Crew went through the basic safety procedures and evacuation plans before the flight. Flights are rather sensitive to weather condition though. The one time I flew on Jet Star from Singapore to Surabaya was a turbulent flight.

Frequency of flight: Flights are available daily, with about one to four available flights from Singapore to other destinations a day.

Destinations: Jet Star has one of the most exhaustive list in this region. Flights from Singapore include Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia.

Service: Good. Has a reputation for professional cabin crew. However, food served on board are basic, just snacks and drinks, but overpriced.

Rating (1-5 stars): **** (4 stars)

Tiger Airways

General experience: Online booking are not as neat as Air Asia and JetStar, which organizes the destinations by countries. Departure and arrival from Budget terminal not the best of locations, as travelers might encounter difficulty in getting to and from the city. Seats on-board cannot be adjusted, so may experience some stiff neck and cramps after some time. Nonetheless, it is very much expected from a budget airline, but with no frills and minimal embellishments.

Safety of flight: Cabin crew went through the basic emergency safety procedures and evacuation plans. Expect to go through some turbulence but during poor weather condition.

Punctuality: Flight was punctual and right on schedule.

Frequency of flight: Tiger Air flies generally twice a day to most destinations. But does not fly as frequently. Flights may be unavailable on certain days

Destinations: Has a fairly exhaustive destination list, including Australia, China and South East Asia.

Service: Flight staff could take better care of their appearance and attire, presentation of cabin crew was just alright.

Rating (1-5 stars): *** (3 stars)


General experience: Boarding and arrival from Budget terminal, which may not be convenient and accessible from the city centre of any destinations. Boarding of flight from the tarmac and need to climb up stairs to get on the plane, so may not be convenient for older passengers, as compared to walking through the aerobridge. One of the consolation on the flight however was that they provided free cake and water refreshments for passengers. No sales onboard flight however, or at least is information not provided. Seat allocation was bad.

Safety of flight: Cabin crew provided basic safety instructions, but that was about it

Punctuality: Flights are usually on-time

Frequency of flight: One flight a day to most destinations

Destinations: Not too exhaustive. Include Singapore, Malaysia, Koh Samui, Aceh, Medan and Batam

Service: Average service. Cabin crew were friendly.

Rating (1-5 stars): *** (3 stars)

Writer: Rasyida Samsudin




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