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Low-Cost Airfare Can Come With Surprisingly High Fees for In-Flight Snacks and Services

June 27, 2016 Statistics & Trends No Comments Print Print Email Email

Low-cost carriers (“LCCs”) such as HK Express, Jetstar, and Tigerair have become increasingly popular among Hong Kong travellers. While these carriers provide amazing savings on airfares, some fliers are unaware of what other fees and markups can apply. To help travellers budget more accurately, KAYAK.com.hk reveals LCCs’ snack markups and other extra fees.

Pack some snacks or pay sky-high prices on board

Travellers often expect to pay more for snacks and drinks while travelling on LCCs. But research has revealed that some are charging prices for snacks and drinks that are just ‘plane’ crazy.  For example, a beer costs, on average, 360% more up in the air than at a supermarket. Bottled soda was revealed to be the worst offender. A 250ml can of soda costs HK$22.60 (S$4.00) on Tigerair, and just HK$5.60 for 500ml on the ground (a 707% markup). Sky-high prices were also uncovered on everyday snack items; HK Express charges as much as HK$25.00 for 40g of potato crisps (HK$68.75 per 110g) while the supermarket price is only HK$12.50 for 110g – a three figure increase of 450%. To avoid high markups, have something to eat prior to flying, or pack some snacks to bring on board.

Pack light and nice or pay a heavy charge

LCC tickets normally allow travellers to bring hand luggage with a weight of 7-10kg onboard. However, if travellers wish to check baggage in the hold, extra fees apply. HK Express, Jetstar, and Tigerair charge HK$150-260 for a 20kg baggage allowance during the initial booking process; note that this is per short-haul flight. At the airport, if travellers wish to purchase the equivalent baggage allowance, this cost can increase up to HK$570 (a 280% increase). Avoid these hefty fees by planning ahead or simply by packing light.

Nicer seats come with a price tag

When booking flights with LCCs, travellers will often have pre-assigned seats. Additional charges will be incurred should travellers wish to change their seats. Among the same 3 popular LCCs in Hong Kong, the option to reserve a specific seat online is available with varying price tags. A standard seat costs HK$34, HK$35, and HK$45 for Tigerair, Jetstar, and HK Express, respectively.  Seats near the front or seats with extra legroom range from HK$73 to HK$200. To avoid extra costs, travellers should arrive at the airport a little early to request a seat change, at the check-in desk.

Table 1: Pricing Table – Comparison of snacks and drinks on low-cost carriers and local supermarkets

  Bottled soft drinks (price per 100ml) Canned beer (price per 100ml) Canned potato chips (price per 100g) Cup noodles (price per 10g)
HK Express HK$5.0/100ml HK$9.0/100ml HK$63/100g HK$4.7/10g
Jetstar HK$4.5/100ml HK$14/100ml HK$56/100g HK$4.5/10g
Tigerair HK$9.0/100ml HK$8.0/100ml HK$57/100g



Table 2: Pricing Table – Comparison of baggage allowance fees on low-cost carriers

  Initial booking

(price per 20kg)

At the airport

(price per 20kg)

HK Express HK$260 HK$570
Jetstar HK$150 HK$320 with Jetstar Asia

HK$290 with Jetstar Japan

Tigerair HK$152 HK$290 per 15kg

Excess baggage at HK$150 per kg

Table 3: Pricing Table – Comparison of seat selection fees on low-cost carriers during initial booking

  Standard Seats Seats closer to the front Extra legroom Seats
HK Express HK$45 HK$100 HK$180
Jetstar HK$35 HK$130 HK$200
Tigerair HK$34 HK$73 HK$140

All of these extra fees add up and need to be taken into consideration when travel planning. Debby Soo, Vice President APAC at KAYAK reminds travellers to be mindful of the airlines’ terms of use and all extra costs before booking tickets to find the most suitable travel product. “KAYAK.com.hk strives to be Hong Kongers’ best travel companion, providing the best tools for travel and planning. To help budget efficiently, our Fee Calculator allows travellers to select a preferred payment method, the number of checked bags, and includes any extra fees in the total price when searching for flights.”

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