Budget Flying | Low-cost carrier options KUL-SIN

A last-minute trip to Singapore with mum got me into (not-so-frantic) searching for lowest airfare out of KL in less than a week time.

Singapore has always been an ‘expensive’ country for Malaysians, and our currency depreciation is making it worse. It’s as though I am traveling to Australia! I am thankful to be still spending my hard-earned Thai baths from my 1-year stint in Thailand’s advertising industry, so that softens the blow a little bit.

1 SGD = RM 2.80 (as at 30 June 2015)

1 SGD = THB 25.07 (as at 30 June 2015)

My chat with a friend’s mum triggered this blog post. This friend of mine just started working in Singapore, and she is still clueless about budget airline carrier options. They have heard of Skyscanner and intend to rely on it. I am not sure of the architecture of Skyscanner’s search engine, as D and I found that it is not 100% accurate all the time. Sometimes, we managed to find cheaper fare by going directly to the airlines’ site.

There are plenty of carriers to choose from: AirAsia, Jetstar, Lion Air and Malindo Air (flight sharing), Tigerair to name a few.

I was contemplating between Jetstar and Tigerair as both carriers have the cheapest airfares during my travel date. I chose Tigerair as it is more convenient for me.

All Jetstar flights are still using KLIA as their base, and I prefer KLIA2. Don’t get me wrong, KLIA is definitely the more ‘premium’ airport and *clear throat,  I do feel more uppity and hiso in KLIA. KLIA2 works better for me, taken into account of my transportation from home to airport. I normally get dropped off at 1 Utama, for my 1-hour reliable Skybus ride to KLIA2. Please do not rule out Jetstar if you are in the same shoes, as Jetstar flights will be moving to KLIA2 effective 8 July 2015.

Tigerair is partly owned by Singapore Airlines. So, I do get a teeny-weeny bit of rub-off effects from the big sister. Besides that, I flew with Tigerair before, and adore the Singaporean crew’s ‘clinical’ efficiency. At that time, upon landing at Changi Airport, I was also impressed with Changi Airport’s budget terminal. Budget terminal doesn’t has to look like a cheapo bus terminal (my sentiments of LCCT in Malaysia back then.)

And last but not least, after the recent seating issue I faced with my niece on AirAsia flights, I would like to shift my travel budget elsewhere. AirAsia, you earned my RM 12 for two rounds of seat change, but at the expense of my loyalty. Customer loyalty is priceless. How many times have I received brief from clients to build customer retention and loyalty? If you missed my earlier post, here is the link:


Tigerair allow 2 pieces of carry-on luggage, with a combined weight of 10kg. I thought that’s rather generous vs. AirAsia’s 1 piece of 7kg.

Tigerair charge RM 8.00 credit card processing fee for online payment, and this fee applies per person per sector. This means if you have more than one person in your booking, the processing fee will be charged twice. And if it’s a return flight for two persons, the fee is RM 8.00 x 4 = RM 32.00.

AirAsia likewise charge a processing fee. Processing fee for direct debit through bank account is cheaper at RM 4 per booking. So it’s really a good deal. Processing fee for credit card works out to be the same as Tiger Airways, i.e RM 8.00, per person per sector. So, if you fly regularly with AirAsia, make sure you apply internet banking with participating banks: Maybank, CIMB, Public Bank, Hong Leong Bank and RHB Bank. For Thailand, I have an account with Siam Commercial Bank (SCB).

“To ensure that our guests are provided a comfortable and safe booking environment AirAsia has invested substantially to expand, implement and maintain our online payment systems and especially, to upgrade, enhance and improve the security features for online credit, debit and charge cards payments. The Processing Fee is to subsidize the costs of the payment systems.” (Source: AirAsia website)

Mum’s ticket was only RM 58.92 (incl. RM 8 processing fee) for one way KUL-SIN, and mine was RM 159.42 (incl. RM 16 processing fee) for return flight.

Tigerair boarding pass comes with a list of privileges, in conjunction with SG50, Singapore’s golden jubilee. One of it was a very tempting Uber promotion. I was toying with using it, to enjoy one free ride (worth up to SGD 20) to or from Changi Airport. A quick check on Uber’s fare estimate indicates SGD31-40 on uberX. I decided to save the moolah, and use MRT instead. Yay! I resisted the temptation.


Uber fare estimate on Uber’s website

AirAsia has ingrained in me on self check-in, so I am used to web check-in to avoid queue (and bad service) at counter. So, I doubled, tripled check when I had problems doing the same on Tigerair website. The FAQs on Tigerair’s website were not crystal clear, so had me scratching my head for a bit. Web check-in is only applicable for flights out of Singapore. Huh? That is kinda backward, isn’t it? I guess it’s good as check-in is then provided as part of Tigerair’s service to passengers.

Tigerair check-in counters are located atbthe far end, Counter Z at KLIA2. A speedy check-in process, and they obliged our request for to be seated together, without any fuss. So refreshing vs. AirAsia’swe can’t do anything as seats are allocated by system” automated answer to passengers.


Check-in counters at Counter Z at KLIA2

Even though Tigerair is a budget airline, it is still very proper. Air stewardess look professional with hair in a bun and uniformed make-up look: no shocking electric eyeshadow nor pink lipstick colour. Not only that, I appreciate that reading materials: magazines, food and beverage menu, etc are stacked in orderly manner in all seats!

All stacked up in order in all seats

 F&B is expensive for Malaysian standards though. SGD 4 for all drinks: mineral water, soft drink, hot drink, etc, and hot meals at SGD 12. 

So, it was a pretty good experience and I don’t mind flying with them again. Read that the carrier is not doing well and is making a loss. Perhaps a maverick would help in turning around the carrier. Competition is beneficial for consumers, so I do wish Tigerair well. Fight on!!


Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.