Singapore's Tiger Airways, Malaysia's Air Asia, Thailand's Nok Airlines, Indian carriers JetLite, SpiceJet and GoAir, and Australian-based JetStar Asia Airways are among the ones to watch. Fares tend to be lower the earlier you book, though taxes, fees, checked baggage and meals can add up. Also be alert for the impact of rising fuel prices on fares.
Singapore is a low-airfare hub. A recent search of Tiger Airways found a round-trip ticket between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur of $37, though checking a 55-pound suitcase would cost you $27.50 more. The same round trip on Singapore Airlines: $223. A similar search on JetStar Asia Airways yielded a double-take-inducing one-way $1.56 fare to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur, though taxes and fees increased that to $23.50.
Random searches for the two-hour flight between Delhi and Mumbai in India yielded round-trip fares of about $144 on SpiceJet and $194 on JetLite, versus $223 on JetLite's full-fare parent company, Jet Airways. Buy-on-board food included north and south Indian-style vegetarian meals.
Lower fare options are cropping up even in traditionally pricey Japan. Fares on Skynet Asia Airways, Skymark Airlines and AirDo average 20% less than on legacy carriers Japan Airlines and ANA, with occasionally steeper discounts. A recent search found one-way fares for the 95-minute flight from Tokyo to Sapporo for about $430 on ANA and JAL, $238 on Skymark and as low as $202 on AirDo.