With the holidays well and truly in full swing, it’s time to think about where this vacation can take us. For many, time and financial restrictions mean that a staycation is top of the agenda with Korea’s quieter and lesser known gems left to discover. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Asia has continued to become a travel mecca with a lot of cheaper, more plentiful options becoming available. Korea itself has embraced the concept of low-cost travel and has over the years established a number of low-cost carriers for our vacation needs. Whether you are looking for a cheaper way to head to Japan or going further afield to Thailand, the region’s low-cost airlines have the right fares for everyone.
Carrier: Air Busan
Motto: Fly to Busan
Based in Busan and an offshoot of parent Asiana Airlines, Air Busan is a great connection to Asia in the south. Formed in 2007, the domestic Seoul to Busan route remains the most popular with flights to nine other countries across the region including Japan, Cambodia, and Guam. The airline also has a “fly and fun” service aimed at frequent travellers with many discounts and offers available with affiliating hotels, tourist attractions, and hotels.
Carrier: Jin Air
Motto: Fly, Better Fly
Jin Air has run since 2008 and aims its service at a younger audience. With a set uniform of T-shirt and jeans, this is more of an informal airline that aims to get you to your destination with ease. With three domestic flights and 27 international destinations under its wings, the airline now even flies to Honolulu. With maintenance and training carried out by national carrier Korean Air, Jin (meaning “truth”) guarantees that you will be in good hands. For longer flights, Jini Play, the airline’s inflight entertainment service, can be accessed through the rental of tablet PCs or from your own Wi-Fi supported electronic device.
Carrier: Jeju Air
Motto: Join & Joy
Part of the Aekyung group, Jeju Air has been operating since 2005. Completing its first voyage between Seoul and Hiroshima, the airline is perhaps Korea’s largest low-cost carrier with six domestic routes and 23 international destinations. Kota Kinabalu, Sapporo, and Phuket have just been added this year, with some destinations offering two flights per day. The airline offers a frequent flyer program, Join and Joy, with special promotional periods available for members. Get on board and be greeted by the staff donned in Jeju orange.
Motto: Exciting Flying
Formed in 2007, Eastar is based at Seoul’s smaller Gimpo International airport, serving 14 destinations in eight countries with main routes in Japan and China and recent South-East additions Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Eastar also flies to the smaller ports of Cheongju and Gunsan and continues to grow.
Motto: Happy T’Way: It’s Yours
Flying since 2010, T’Way operates from its main base of Daegu. Previously known as Handung Airways, T’way now flies to 27 different destinations. The Gimpo to Jeju route continues to be the airline’s most popular, with four domestic routes on offer. Newest routes Sapporo and Saga were added at the end of 2013 and the airline has continued to invest in increasing their fleet for more services planned in the future.
To book tickets….
- Go online. Most accept Korean credit cards but work mainly when the website is in Korean mode.
- Most information can be sought in English with special promotions, saver fares, and fully flexible seats available.
- Contact call centers for bookings in English. Most of the call centers have an English option when connecting or a call-back service to assist you with your booking.
- All these airlines offer flights from Incheon or Gimpo International Airports – check the specific websites for further information.