One of the best things about living in Singapore is Changi Airport. It is easy, quick, accessible, and flights go everywhere! One of the things I have learned to do since I moved here is to find cheap airfare. Some expats get caught up in flying in style and good service. Honestly, I could care less about these things when my flight is only an hour long. How much service can you get in an hour?
There are 5 main factors to consider when booking flights out of Changi: travel dates, promotions, fees, flexibility and search tools.
First, the dates of travel are important. Flights on public holidays will not be cheap. I suggest that when you have a chance, get out your handy school calendar and decide when you want to travel. Plan those trips now! I can’t tell you how many Chinese New Year holidays we either stayed at home or paid exorbitant prices due to our lack of planning. When do you need to plan Chinese New Year trips? I suggest planning it by September. Other holidays can be planned a couple of months in advance or less, but Chinese New year is a really heavy travel time in Singapore. Buy it now or stay home. You can’t wing it here, and you really can’t go anywhere without an airline ticket, except maybe Malaysia or ferries to Indonesia. If you need periodic escapes, I can’t stress enough that you need to book early.
Second, utilize airline promotions. Get on the email lists of all of the discount airlines here. Take a look at this Scoot ad that I got today. Thailand for $39, Jakarta for $39. That’s in SGD, too, which is about $28 USD. One of my friends went to Kuala Lumpur on a $5 fare. This is how you decide where to go and when. Just make sure you book within an hour of receiving that email, as there are only about 6 tickets at that price on any given day, and I’m not the first to follow this strategy. My favorite airlines are Tiger, Scoot and Jetstar. The reasons I like these three airlines in particular are because they always have promotions, they are rated very safe, and they are owned by major airlines like Singapore and Qantas. Would I rather be on a Singapore Airlines flight on my trip to Taiwan? Yes, I would. However, for a family of four, it can mean over a thousand dollars in savings on the airline tickets. I can do a lot with a thousand dollars, like pay for my hotel! For example, I just bought tickets to the Maldives in the fall. I was able to get tickets from Singapore, round trip, on Tiger, for $1500 SGD (about $1075 USD) for four people. Now if only I can figure out how to get a discount on a hotel there! Just to compare, when we lived here before and Tiger hadn’t joined the market to the Maldives, tickets were around $800 each. Competition rocks.
Are these airlines crowded and ridiculous in their fees and rules? Yes, they are. Which brings me to point number three, minimize your fees. On our trip to Jakarta, we missed our flight on Tiger and had to take the next flight. I had to cough up $360 (cash only) to get on the next flight. Not cool. In fact, that’s about what we paid for the flight to begin with. I won’t do that again! However, I know this is the game you play with discount airlines and I try to minimize their ridiculous fees to make it a true savings. I never pay for luggage, except one bag (mine). The kids carry on, and Joel hates checking bags. My bag gets loaded up with our souvenirs and shopping. I don’t order meals (they are disgusting anyway), I don’t pay for travel insurance, and I don’t order blankets and comfort kits. Just the basics, please. I don’t pay with a credit card, I pay cash on the AXS machines with my debit card. This saves about $60 a trip, by simply walking down to the gas station near my house and using my debit pin. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you take four flights a year, you have minimized $240. That, my friend, is round trip airline ticket for one person on your next trip. It adds up!
When you book your tickets, be flexible. I don’t just mean be flexible about when to travel or how classy to travel, but be flexible about your destination as well. This brings me to my fifth point, utilize search tools. My favorite way to search for travel destinations is on Skyscanner. They have a “search everywhere” feature when you click in the “To” box. I put in Changi as my “From” then click in “To” and choose “Search Everywhere.” Then I can see what is trending cheap for the dates I want to travel. With an open mind you can see all sorts of places that probably weren’t on your radar.
How do you find cheap airfares in Singapore? I am always looking for new ways to save money on travel. Please share your tips and tricks!