How to avoid charges when flying low-cost
If you are flying with one of the low-cost airlines here in Asia like AirAsia, JetStar, Cebu Pacific or one of the many others, you will find out that the final ticket price after adding all the charges can sometimes be double the base flight price. You will be charged for checked baggage, food, drinks, insurance, credit card, and preselecting your seat, to just name a few. Luckily the domestic Indonesian airlines do not (yet) charge for the extras. This does though make comparing ticket prices more difficult. We at Utiket show for each flight result how much checked baggage is included since this is often the biggest extra cost you face. It is with this easy to see that for example AirAsia does not have free checked baggage and Lion air even has 25 kilo free baggage, which makes comparing their prices easier. Unfortunately it is impossible to include all charges in our flight comparison. But how to avoid these charges or minimize them? Here are some tips to fly cheaper with low-cost airlines:
The extra fee for checked baggage is the most painful extra you face. On a promo ticket for a short flight the cost for checking in a 30kg bag can be half the base ticket price. For example a promo ticket with AirAsia from Jakarta to Denpasar would cost only Rp. 295.000, but adding a 30kg checked suitcase would add a whopping Rp. 150.000 to this price. So how to avoid this? First try to only carry hand luggage. On all low-cost airlines you are allowed to carry 7kg of hang luggage free. They do not really check the weight but be careful not to get a lot over this 7kg with your hand luggage and be aware that it should be fairly small. If you are travelling with more people, make sure everybody in your group has a full hand bag with them. If you do have to check in a suitcase you can save money by booking it online instead of paying at the airport: charges at the airport can be 20% higher then pre-booked. Also, be aware that it is cheaper to check in one big bag of 30kg than two small bags of 15kg. If possible reduce the amount of suitcases you carry.
Pre-selected seats and Priority boarding charges.
Most low-cost airlines offer the Priority boarding option: letting you board the plane first. Since you already got your seat when checking in, getting into the plane first does not have any real advantages. Most seats in the terminal are more comfortable and have more space than in the plane, so best is to just wait as long as possible. Also, often you have to walk to the plane on the tarmac; those who did not pay this fee can just walk fast and pass you while walking to the plane. All this makes the Priority boarding charge something you should not take. The pre-selected seats can be handy if you are travelling with a group to make sure everybody sits together. But if you are only with a few people just make sure to check-in on time and the airline will try to put you together anyway. Most flights are maybe quite short which makes not sitting together for one or two hours not a disaster. Maybe you even meet nice new people!
Charges for changing flights or names
Especially with low-cost airlines the charges for changing a flight or a name can be excessive. While booking, a mistake is easily made so check thoroughly if the flight times and dates are correct and all the names are spelled correctly to prevent you have to pay these charges
Opt out of all the extra charges
While booking with a low-cost carrier you will get a lot of pre-selected extra options: in-flight meals, insurances, busses etc. All are already selected and if you do not pay attention you will be paying for things you do not need. Best to just deselect all and only select those you really think are a good deal for you.