Budget Airlines of Asia Get Together!

Value Alliance – The First Alliance of Budget Airlines in Asia

Value Alliance is a new alliance of seven budget Asian airlines. The airlines are Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, Jeju Air, Nok Air, Scoot, Vanilla Air.

Together, the airlines serve more than 160 destinations from 17 hubs across the Asia-Pacific region – covering one-third of the world.

Value Alliance has just launched a new website where passengers can create multi-destination and multi-airline itineraries provided by any LCC (low-cost carrier) that is a member of the alliance.

This cross-airline booking portal means that they are able to provide these types of flights at the lowest possible cost to budget travellers travelling across Southeast Asia.

Heads up! Right now, Value Alliance have a sale on all flights in the Philippines.

Bantayan Island, Philippines
Reaching some of Southeast Asia’s most secluded beaches just got easier!

Value Alliance Partner Airlines – 7 Popular Asian Budget Airlines

1. Scoot – Singapore

Motto: “Escape the ordinary.”

Created in 2012, Scoot are the budget offshoot of the award-winning Singapore Airlines. Flying from Singapore, the black and yellow aeroplanes provide budget journeys to 19 destinations across Asia and Australia.

Scoot Budget Airline - Crew with aircraft
The smiley flight attendants at Scoot!

2. Nok Air – Thailand

Motto: “We fly smiles.”

Nok Air is a budget airline based out of Don Meuang Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. The airline covers all of Thailand’s domestic airports and offers a cheap and handy plane-minibus transfer package for those heading to the Southern Thai Islands. If you’re wanting to get off the beaten track and into some less visited parts of Thailand, this is the airline for you! Nok also flies to China, Myanmar, Vietnam and Singapore. Nok means ‘bird’ in Thai and many of the aeroplanes are painted with a beak on the nose of the vehicle!

Lunch on the Nan River, Northern Thailand
Nok Air flies to the lesser-known, off the beaten track, places in Thailand, like Nan Province.

3. NokScoot – Thailand

Motto: “Fly Awesome.”

Based out of Thailand’s Don Meuang Airport, NokScoot is a collaboration of two Southeast Asian airlines, Nok Air (Thailand) and Scoot (Singapore). Operating since 2015, the airline flies to China, India, Japan and Taiwan as well as some domestic routes. The budget airline even has a business class section (called ScootBiz) in their Boeing 777 fleet offering 24 spacious and reclining seats!

NokScoot crew with aircraft.
The crew of NokScoot airline in Asia.

4. Cebu Pacific – Philippines

Motto: “Let’s take to the sky.”

The largest low-cost carrier in the Philippines, Cebu Pacific is actually Asia’s longest-running budget airline, founded in 1988. The airline’s fleet of Airbuses fly to Asia, Australia and the Middle East and are based out of Manila International Airport. The airline hit headlines a few years ago when flight attendants famously performed this Lady Gaga safety demonstration.

5. Vanilla Air – Japan

Motto: “Creating New Sky Experience.”

Owned by All Nippon Airways, Vanilla Air is based out of Terminal 2 of Tokyo Narita Airport. Currently serving Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, the airline has announced plans to branch out to Indonesia and the Philippines in the near future.

Vanilla Air are the biggest budget airline in Japan.
Vanilla Air is the biggest budget airline in Japan.

6. Jeju Air – Korea

Motto: “New Standard.”

Jeju Air is South Korea’s first and largest low-cost airline, named after Jeju Island off the southern coast of South Korea. Flying to 40 destinations (and growing) across Asia, the airline is regarded as a pioneer of air travel in the country and will soon be one of the first Asian airlines to deploy Bluebox Wow, a wireless in-flight entertainment system that can be streamed directly to passenger’s mobiles.

Jeju Air - South Korea
Jeju Air is South Korea first budget airline.

7. Cebgo – Philippines

Motto: “Let’s take to the sky.”

Owned by the parent company of Cebu Pacific, the budget airline, Cebgo, has operated under several names – formerly SEAIR, Inc., South East Asian Airlines and Tigerair Philippines. Based out of Manila’s Terminal 4, they offer low-cost flights within the Philippines as well as Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau.

Minalahos Island, Caramoan, Philippines
Cebgo currently flies to many of the Philippines 7,107 islands and growing!

The Growth of Budget Airlines in Asia

Over the past 10 years, more and more budget airlines in Asia have appeared, connecting major cities and towns with once off the beaten track and hard-to-reach destinations.

For backpackers on a budget, the developments in low-cost air travel have made getting around the continent easier than ever! A journey that used to take 15 hours by bumpy chicken bus is now only a short flight away!

The 27-hour Hanoi to Luang Prabang bus journey is considered one of the worst in Southeast Asia!

Safety of Budget Airlines in Asia

When it comes to safety, Asia’s budget airlines rank as highly as anywhere else in the world. Nervous flyers (like me!) will be pleased to hear that all of the budget airlines in this list have passed the international audit for flight safety.

What makes an airline safe?

Baggage Restrictions on Budget Flights

Baggage restrictions on budget airlines in Asia vary slightly depending on the airline, but most of them allow you to take one cabin bag (approx. 56cm X 45 cm X 25 cm) as well as a handbag or a laptop bag. The weight of the cabin bag allowance varies from 5-15 kg depending on the airline and the size of the plane.

If you’re looking for a backpack that you won’t have to check in and that will fulfil baggage requirements on most budget airlines, then we recommend the Osprey Farpoint 40-litre. (Unanimously voted best backpack for travelling by our readers!)

If you have more luggage than will fit in the overhead locker, it’s usually always cheaper to book it in online, at the time that you book your flight, rather than at the airport.

Air Travel in Asia won’t stop growing

According to this Forbes article, the Asia Pacific region now has the highest number of airline passengers of any region in the world, at over 1.5 billion annually (and rising!). The busiest airline route in the world is also in Asia, with Hong Kong to Taipei travelled by 5.4 million passengers in 2017. This is only expected to grow through 2019 and prices will continue to become more competitive as more budget airlines spring up.

For us backpackers… we no longer have to waste precious time and money or brave dangerous roads to get to those hard-to-reach ‘off the beaten track’ destinations. Of course, many eco-conscious travellers reject shorter-distance flights for ecological reasons. However, for most, 12-hour bus ride on mountain roads vs half an hour flight in relative comfort/safety has one very clear winner.

Sunset flight
Relax and enjoy a sunset out the window on your flight!

And, while some may reminisce nostalgically at the ‘more adventurous days’ of rugged travel in Southeast Asia when the chicken bus was your only option, many travellers are celebrating the increase in cheap budget flights.

Whatever you think, it’s clear that Asia’s budget airlines are in high demand by both locals and foreigners and are changing the face of travel across Asia.

Booking cheap flights, via flight comparison websites or portals such as Value Alliance, can save you time and money to spend on the more enjoyable things that travel can offer!

Further reading 

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