1. Pay for a premium seat.
The biggest problem with cheap airlines in Asia is the limited legroom. If you are anywhere over 6 feet tall, sitting on a regular seat is like being tortured in the fifth and seventh circles of hell. Simultaneously.
Lucky for you giants, many of these budget airlines sell ‘premium’ seats with a few more inches of breathing space. For a few dollars, you can ward off deep-vein thrombosis and enjoy a much more pleasant flight. Here are the prices of the premium seats as of January 2014:
Premium seats on the ATR/A319/A320 – PhP 230.00 (A little over USD $5)
Non-Dubai premium seats on the A330 - PhP 230.00 (A little over USD $5)
Dubai premium seats on the A330 - PhP 1,500.00 (Around $34)
AirAsia doesn’t charge for its ‘Hot Seats’ but you have to check in online, way ahead of your flight, to get fist dibs. The secret: Rows 1, 12, and 14 have more legroom.
If you’re flying Tiger Air, buy a ‘Preferred Seat’ on rows 1, 12, and 13. Here are the rates:
Zone 1: $10 Singapore Dollars
Zone 2: $30 Singapore Dollars
Zone 3: $30 Singapore Dollars
AUD 29 to AUD 35 (Depending on how many hours before flight time you buy a seat)
PhP240 (USD $6) for domestic flights
PhP900 (USD $20) for international flights
2. Use the online seat selector to get an aisle seat.
Don’t want to pay for a premium seat? The least you could do is check in online—at least a day ahead of your flight—so you can secure an aisle position. This will allow you to stretch your legs out to the aisle and get out quickly when you need to use the bathroom or wake up your calves.
3. Bring your own entertainment.
Don’t expect budget airlines to provide Oryx Inflight Entertainment (this isn’t Qatar Airways). When it comes to staying amused, you’re on your own. I personally like to watch movies on my tablet or laptop, my fantastic earphones drowning out the sound of chatty passengers and crying babies. You can also bring a book or your Kindle, of course. Forgot your reading material? Don’t worry—some budget airlines provide great magazines. Cebu Pacific’s ‘Smile’ is surprisingly entertaining and informative. It ranked #7 on CNN’s ‘World’s Best Airline Magazines.’
4. Eat before you fly.
Because flights around Asia are generally short, most budget airlines do not serve meals. And really—you don’t expect your super affordable ticket to cover a hot plate of Malaysian curry noodles, do you? To avoid famine, feed yourself before you fly. Grab a bite at the airport, or at least bring a pack of healthy snacks in your hand luggage. If you missed your chance to stock up, buy some food during the fight. Most budget airlines sell chips and sandwiches. They’re always overpriced and rarely appetizing, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
5. Bring a cashmere blanket and a bag of tea.
You’ll thank me when the plane gets too cold! When you’re feeling a little uneasy, just buy a cup of hot water from the flight attendant and dunk in your chamomile tea bag. The water shouldn’t cost more than $1 (you might even get it free). Wrap yourself in your cashmere blanket et voila—a slightly more luxurious experience right there in cattle class.
Do you have other tips for making a budget flight feel a little more comfortable? Share them here!