How to beat AirAsia, Jetstar and Tiger Airways’ extra flight charges

Recently while booking flights for a friend’s hen’s trip, I was once again frustrated by the extra credit card processing fees, as well as the opt-in luggage and insurance charges. Our one-way flight was a steal at $50 per person (on promotion – see Step 1!) but turned out to be $99 at check-out!

I almost forget: there are many hidden costs that can be easily avoided. Outsmart the airline systems with the steps below and get your flights at the right value.

Step 1: If you know you’re travelling in the next 6 months to a year, sign up for all airlines’ digital newsletters.

$50 for a one-way ticket to Bali is dirt cheap and we knew of it from AirAsia’s newsletter. We had Tiger Airways’ newsletter in our inbox as well.

It’s time-consuming to constantly check on every airline websites daily. While Skyscanner gives an all-inclusive overview, you may be doing your travel research during a non-promo period and miss a deal by just a day.

Wait for the promo mailer to arrive in your inbox, compare the prices between airlines and voila — lowest price ticket in your pocket!

Step 2: Click on “I just want the best price” instead of “I need to fly on this date”.

Choosing to view ticket availability based on price rather than date offers an overview of the cheapest flights within your travel period. Tickets are priced higher during public holidays and so if you add a day or two to your travel itinerary, you may save on either your departure or arrival ticket.

Unbelievably cheap flights? Here are some loopholes to look out for. 

Also, please note that some airlines do not include their taxes in the displayed price.

  • Jetstar and Scoot leave out taxes in ticket display prices
  • Tiger Airways and AirAsia include taxes in ticket display prices

Step 3: If you need to refresh the webpage, remember to clear cache and cookies before loading again

This trick was shared by many backpackers across Asia. I’ve met many in hostels and at cafes who strongly believe that all airline’s websites are able to track purchasing interest and increase the prices on your next visit.

Personally, it was frustrating as prices really do increase after I’ve found cheap tickets, left the site to discuss with friends/family, and return to purchase. I did a small experiment: using two laptops (one with cleared cache and one without). They weren’t kidding, this trick works!

Step 4: Skip the value bundle, you’d probably won’t need all of the add-ons!

AirAsia, for example, adds $24 for 20kg baggage allowance, a meal and seat selection. On their own, the 20kg luggage allowance costs $19 and a meal is as low as $3.80. Choosing seat costs $3. All in all, $25.80. You’d think you’re saving $1.80 but really, do you need all of those? Save where you can!

Step 5: Uncheck opt-in add-ons of luggage allowance unless you really need it

The extra luggage allowance is an additional $19 per flight. For two-way tickets, that sums up to $38… more than half your one-way ticket price! If you’re going on a shopping trip in Bangkok for example, then pack a flat duffel bag for your shopping loot and purchase the add-on only for your return flight. If you have a tendency to overpack, here’s some fun(ny) food for thought.

Step 6: Scroll down and click “No, thanks” for the insurance

If you do not look hard enough, your purchase automatically opts in for the insurance with the airline. Most of us would have our own travel insurance handled by external agent. So click “no” if you do!

Step 7: Almost there! Choose the payment method with the lowest processing fee!

This is the part that gets on my nerves most… “After all the careful selection to avoid unnecessary spending.. I can’t do anything about this one?!” Unfortunately, yes and no. We can however lower the fee to a minimum.

  • AirAsia: Credit card booking fee of $16, or direct debit processing fee of $4
  • Tiger Airways: Credit card booking fee of $18, or AXS booking fee of $5
  • Jetstar: Credit card booking fee of $16, or $3 per passenger for payment via 7-Eleven and SingPost
  • Scoot: Credit/debit card processing fee of $18 to $20

So there you go! If you’re as much a budget backpacker as I am, these few tricks can save you approximately $36 per flight!

Anna lives to explore. She loves digging toes into warm sand, diving, hugging trees, eating with locals, yoga and meditation. She enjoys stuffing her face with good food and prancing through back alleys of urban spaces. Some say Anna lives carelessly, she says "live wild, live carefree."