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Cheap Flights to Asia

Tips and Ideas for Finding the Best Airfare to Asia

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Left wing of an aircraft with red winglet, just after take off from Juanda International Airport, Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia.
Photo by Sayid Budhi/Moment/Getty Images

Crossing the Pacific is simply daunting. Anyone who has flown to Hawaii knows the pain of that long flight, particularly those flying from eastern parts of the United States. Now, take that flight and double it -- Hawaii is only roughly halfway to Asia!

With cheap food and accommodation, Asia is a great budget destination; however, one dilemma exists: getting on the ground in the first place! Unfortunately, cheap flights to Asia can be difficult to find; the ticket price proves to be a barrier for many Americans who would otherwise love to visit Asia.

Fortunately, there are some tricks for getting better fares, or at least reducing the pain of ticket prices a little.

Read about how to beat jet lag -- you're going to need it -- then use these tips for increasing your odds of finding cheap flights to Asia!

Get Yourself to Los Angeles

LAX tends to have a higher volume of flights to Asia than many other US cities. Good deals from other parts of the US to Los Angeles can be found from Delta, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, and Allegiant Air.

Consider actually breaking up your flight in Los Angeles. For example: Rather than booking a flight from Louisville straight to Bangkok, you may find a cheaper fare by booking a flight to LAX, then taking a different carrier later that evening from LAX to Bangkok.

San Francisco (SFO) is another great option for finding cheap flights to Asia.

Break Up Your Flights

As mentioned above, sometimes one carrier can fly to Asia for cheaper than another because of volume. Try using a domestic airline to get to the west coast, then switch to one of the Asian airlines for crossing the Pacific. Don't be hesitant about using Asia-based airlines; they often have better food and more legroom than our own airlines!

These Asian airlines fly out of Los Angeles and often have cheap flights to Asia:

  • Korean Air
  • Air China
  • China Southern
  • Asiana Airlines
  • China Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • Japan Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • China Eastern
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific

See the full list of airlines based in Asia.

Learn to Love the Budget Airlines

Although devoid of frills -- at least free ones, anyway -- Asia is blessed with excellent budget airlines. Tickets between countries can often be found for less than US $50. AirAsia -- based at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's KLIA2 terminal -- is the largest budget airline in Asia; they are your best bet for finding a cheap hop between large cities.

Finding cheap flights on budget airlines is usually done by booking well in advance. Otherwise, sign up for AirAsia's newsletter or follow them on Twitter to find out about last minute specials.

A handy list of budget airlines in Asia.

Always Fly Into Big Cities

Obviously, flying into Bangkok is going to be cheaper than flying into smaller airports such as Phuket or Chiang Mai. If you find a flight into a neighboring country for significantly cheaper than your planned destination, consider taking that flight, then making a "hop" using AirAsia or one of the other budget airlines that fly between capital cities in Asia.

Here are a few cities that serve as major hubs in Asia:

Consider Ground Transportation

Once on the ground in your target country, you have a few more transportation options. If time is less of a factor, consider taking the train or even a bus from the capital city onward to your destination. For instance, flying into Bangkok and taking the overnight train to Laos is often cheaper than just flying into Vientiane, the capital city.

Ground transportation prices in Asia are usually excellent deals; however, be prepared for crowded buses, bumpy roads, and delayed trains in developing countries.

Do Not Assume That All Booking Sites Show the Best Deal

Sometimes the large flight consolidators and booking sites do not have access to small budget airlines' databases; you may or may not be finding the lowest fares available, despite whatever promises are made.

Insider Tip: Sometimes booking sites use nefarious means to make you want to book a flight faster. They may show flights for days around the day you picked as more expensive, so that you assume prices are going up. Some sites will even save your previous flight searches -- because they know you want a particular flight -- then add an additional amount to that flight price when you return to the site. Try clearing the cookies on your browser each time to avoid these scams.

Use Frequent Flier Programs

Flying across the Pacific and missing nearly 10,000 frequent flier miles is a shame; two return trips to Asia could easily net you a free flight. Chances are that you'll be hooked on Asia the first time and will want to return -- why not let those miles add up?

These airlines offer cheap flights to Asia and participate in Delta's Skymiles program:

  • Aeroflot Russian Airlines
  • China Airlines
  • China Southern
  • China Eastern
  • Korean Air
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Thai Air Asia
  • Vietnam Airlines

Read more about getting the most from frequent flier programs.

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