An Expat’s Guide to Budget Airlines in the Philippines
The Philippines is a paradise of white-sand beaches, green mountains, and world-class surfing and diving. Made up of thousands of islands, air travel is a must to explore the country’s attractions. Fortunately, island-hopping has never been more affordable. Whether you are exploring the Philippines or traveling internationally, there are plenty of budget airlines that can help you see more while spending less.
Cebu Pacific and Cebgo
Cebu Pacific is the country’s biggest domestic carrier. Along with its lower-cost subsidiary, Cebgo, it flies to 37 destinations in the Philippines including all major cities, holiday destinations, and provincial centers. It is the second-largest international carrier with destinations in:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
You can avail of special seat sale promotions by joining their rewards program, GetGo. GetGo points also qualify you for free and reduced airfares.
Philippines AirAsia is based in Manila, at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Known for excellent customer service, its parent company, AirAsia, has been the world’s number one low-cost air carrier for the past decade. It frequently has flash sales on its Facebook page, with fares as low as PHP99.
Philippines AirAsia offers the following international destinations:
- Hong Kong
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
It also offers domestic flights to and from Manila and the islands of:
Their rewards program is called Big Loyalty. The points can also be redeemed with Air Asia, which travels to over 130 destinations worldwide.
Jeju Air is a Korean airline offering affordable international flights from Manila, Cebu, and Clark International Airport. International destinations include China, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Russia, Saipan, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Refresh Point is their mileage reward program. Upon joining, you earn 1000 points. For every peso spent, you earn approximately one reward point.
Jetstar Asia is a budget airline with international destinations throughout Asia and Australia. Its website offers a Weekend Fare Frenzy with steep discounts. Their Facebook page provides more deals, along with tips on where to find cheap eats, hotels, and tours while traveling.
Jetstar Asia flies to 39 locations in Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan. All destinations are available from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. From Clark International Airport in Pampanga, 22 locations are offered.
PAL Express is the low-cost domestic arm of Philippine Airlines. It flies to 29 destinations throughout the Philippines, making it the second-largest domestic carrier. It also has a few select international destinations in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and the UAE. You can earn frequent flyer miles through their Mabuhay Miles program when flying PAL Express or any of its codeshare airline partners.
Scoot Airlines is the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore airlines. Its website offers frequent seat sales. It also posts deals and opportunities to win travel vouchers on its Facebook page. Scoot travels to over 60 destinations worldwide in Asia, Australia, and Europe. It does not offer domestic flights within the Philippines. However, it does have several regional hubs, with international flights departing from 27 Philippine cities.
Tips for Traveling Budget Airlines in the Philippines
The base fare is only one consideration when booking a cheap ticket. Here are a few tips to ensure you have a pleasant and affordable flight.
Check what’s included with your ticket
On many budget airlines, you are only buying your seat. Snacks, drinks, and in-flight entertainment may cost extra. Some low-cost carriers don’t offer these options at all. Pack snacks, blankets, and your own entertainment to remain comfortable without paying extra.
Many low-cost carriers recover lost revenue through steep baggage fees. Stowed luggage costs extra, and some airlines also charge for carry-on bags. Check with the individual carrier for baggage fees and restrictions on weight and size.
Research your airline
Flightstats is a useful site offering monthly performance reports for airlines. You can check what percentage of flights are on time, and the average time for delays. For example, for August 2019, PAL Express was on-time 81% of the time, and their average delay was 50 minutes.
Check your departure and arrival airports
Some low-cost carriers use smaller, alternate hubs. Getting to your primary destination may require additional travel via bus or taxi, which could add substantially to your costs.
Know when to go
Many travelers prefer to avoid the Philippines during its rainy season, which spans June through September. On the other hand, airfares cost less during this time, and accommodation is around 20-40% cheaper. Tourists may prefer to avoid Holy Week when prices can triple, and crowds are at their peak.
Budget airlines usually have smaller planes with basic interiors. Expect less legroom, less service, and less comfort in general.
The Philippines offers a variety of budget airlines, flying throughout the country and abroad. Signing up for rewards programs and following Facebook pages can save you even more on airfare. Researching your options before booking will ensure you don’t encounter any unexpected fees, and can stretch your travel budget furthest.