The Guide To Philippine Budget Airline Fees

budget airline fees

Photo: Nick Harris

With the sheer number of budget flights available internationally, you might think that the listed fare is all you need to prepare to get started on your trip. But the real reason these flights are so cheap is that you’ll have to pay for almost everything else — food and drinks, the privilege of selecting a seat, checking bags, changing your ticket, checking in and others. And the lowest fare class will have the most and highest fees; paying for higher fare classes will often give you perks like free seat selection and in-flight vouchers for drinks, but at an upfront premium.

Having said that, a flight on a budget airline, even including all the fees, can still be cheaper than a traditional mainline air carrier’s fare. But budget airlines have some of the most stringent fee structures out there, so it pays to know your way around them.

Here in the Philippines, there are three major budget airlines operating: Malaysia’s AirAsia, the Philippines’ own Cebu Pacific, and Australia’s JetStar. Each has its own schedule of fees, and charges differ from airline to airline. To make it easier to compare these airlines, we’ve rounded up the major fees involved with the lowest fare class of budget airlines. Know how much you’ll have to shell out if you need more than the bare necessities for your next flight:

Philippine Budget Airline Fees

Airline Ticket Change Fee Baggage Fee (pre-book) Baggage Fee (counter) Excess Baggage Fee (per kg) Seat Selection Fee Cancellation Fee
AirAsia varies P750 (20 kg) – P1,950 (40 kg) P1,050 (15 kg) P650 P100 – P520 P1,600
Cebu Pacific P2,000 P450 (15 kg) – P1,800 (40 kg) P900 (15 kg) P300 P150 – P400 P2,750
JetStar Asia (converted from Singapore dollars) P1,650 (online) / P2,300 (via phone or at airport counter) P750 (15 kg) – P2,200 (40 kg) (for direct flights only: may be more for others) P1,975 (15 kg) P660 P230 – P1,350 (for direct flights only: may be more for others) P1,650 (online) / P2,300 (via phone or at airport counter)

source: Airline websites. Rates are for one-way international flights on the lowest fare class. Prices subject to change.

When you’re travelling on a budget airline, there are plenty of ways to keep your costs down by avoiding the extra cost of these add-ons. Check out five ways you can pay the minimum for your international flight on a budget airline:

  1. Travel with hand luggage only. Save yourself the baggage fees and only carry. Plus, you won’t have to wait around the baggage carousel after your flight; you can walk right out of the airport and get started on exploring straight away.
  2. If you must, pre-book your baggage (and mind the limits). If baggage is inevitable, pre-book it. Not only will it save you at least P300, you’ll also be able to carry more. Paying at the counter limits you to only 15 kg, while pre-booking lets you carry up to 40 kg. However, mind the limits — you’ll be charged a fee for each kilogram your baggage is overweight. If you have a lot of heavy baggage, it may be cheaper to split your load into two regulation-weight bags.
  3. Skip the pricey seat selection. If you don’t mind too much where you end up sitting, save yourself the couple hundred pesos and don’t bother choosing a seat. If it’s a pretty short flight, you won’t even notice the difference between 6A and 34D.
  4. Make sure all your data is correct the first time around. Change fees for budget airlines can be quite hefty, and that’s on top of the fare difference of your new flight. And some airlines won’t allow name changes at all if you type yours wrong. Double-check your dates and airports to make sure you don’t make a mistake that can cost you thousands of pesos later.
  5. Add everything up; don’t just look at the sticker price. When all the fees and taxes are added up, is that flight advertised for P4,000 truly cheaper than the P6,000 one? Make sure you take into account all the associated taxes and fees involved so you know the true price of your flight.

A cheap flight is never as cheap as you’d hope it would be. But by knowing how much you’ll get charged for extras, you can keep your flight costs to a minimum, and you’ll have extra money to put toward your actual trip. Now that you know how to avoid the major fees, your overseas holiday is just a few clicks away.

For more tips on traveling on the cheap, check out 10 Ways to Travel for Less and the sequel, 5 More Ways to Travel for Less.

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