a plane flying in the sky

That feeling when AirAsia doesn’t weigh your carry on…

For those coming from outside, flights within Asia can be an adventure. Asia isn’t exactly a small place, and at each turn, new airlines are springing up, aiming to capture just a piece of the wildly popular – and fast growing travel market. There’s no airline that’s been more successful, or made more headlines in this regard than AirAsia. With signature red crew uniforms, super cheap flights and unmistakable planes, the airline has been a rave hit with fans across Southeast Asia and beyond. Before you book a ticket, here’s what it’s like to actually fly with Air Asia…

a city with many buildings and a city skylineLegitimately Cheap

Booking in advance, or even last minute – Air Asia is almost always amongst the most affordable options in Southeast Asia, with flights starting under $20. If you’re planning to book some cheap internal Southeast Asia flights, it’s worth downloading the Air Asia app, where you can book flights and manage details through the “BIG” club. Why bother? Airlines are rolling out technology which offers “app only” discounts, which can turn good fares into great ones. For this adventure, Air Asia won on price, but also meant leaving from Bangkok’s aging Don Mueang (DMK) rather than the traveler preferred Suvarnabhumi (BKK) airport. In the end it was a small price to pay for cheap, direct flights.

a close-up of a couple of suitcasesChecking Bags

Just don’t. Checking a bag on a discount airline defeats the purpose of flying discount airlines. Especially in Air Asia’s busiest hubs, checking a bag can take a lifetime. Today’s journey through Bangkok, as well as a recent journey through Singapore offered incredible visual reference for just what a waste of time (and money) checking a bag can be, with queues easily pushing an hour. The feeling of wheeling a carry on past droves of circuitously snaked passengers, all waiting to check a bag is marvelous. If you are one of “those” people and must check a bag, expect to pay reasonable fees, of roughly $20-$30 one way, depending on local currency.

a group of women in red uniformsBasic Economy

As U.S. airlines continue to launch abysmal “basic economy” fares, which don’t even include access to a full sized carry on or overhead bins, Air Asia’s fares begin to look more and more medium frill, and less low. All passengers are allowed a full sized carry on, and a small personal item. The full sized carry on must fit in the overhead bins with ease, and must weigh under 7kg. In practice, anyone with an “extra legroom” seat, with “Zone 1 Express Boarding” generally won’t find their bags weighed, though there’s never a guarantee there. On this trip we had purchased extra legroom seats for roughly $10-20 each, and were first to board. Given that there was easily 15kg in each carry on, and 10kg in each rucksack, it was a big win. Thank goodness…

a group of containers of foodPre Order Meals

Food and drinks are simple with AirAsia. You pay, you eat. You pay, you drink. Otherwise, sit back relax and enjoy the clouds. For those who must enjoy a mid flight treat, pre ordering meals is wise, and can offer excellent value. Air Asia sticks to regional classics and delivers quite a punch with their catering department, and preorder meals are generally served first. Meals are also available on board, as is a full service, but if you don’t pay for anything, don’t expect a single thing. Nope, not even peanuts.

a plane flying in the skyPunctual Flights

When AirAsia is good, it’s great. The airline is running with a 72% on time performance thus far in 2018, and averages roughly 75% per year.  For reference sake, the worlds very most punctual airlines generally run about 88%. Much like other discount carriers around the world, the airline has a long way to go in the customer service department however. When flights are delayed or cancelled, there’s very little that can be done to help. Most later flights end up full and the airline generally refuses to rebook passengers onto other carriers and the next flight may not leave for a day. Advice: if you can afford to be late, you’ve got very little to lose. If you can’t…

two people walking on a beachOverall, It’s Great

Customers must always check expectations against price, competition and other factors. When you score a great deal, such as a mobile exclusive $10 ticket, you receive tremendous value. With such great value, paying an extra $10-$20 to secure a great seat and express boarding can quite literally pay dividends. Once on board, life is simple. You get what you pay for, they try to sell you stuff (even on the overhead bins) and you reach your destination at a great price. Perhaps a 10 hour flight wouldn’t tickle the fancy, but for a couple hour ride offering direct flights to fantastic cities, it’s one of the best ways to go.

Have you flown with AirAsia? How was it?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I fly AirAsia at least 5x/year and have always enjoyed the experience. The crews are great. Back in 2010 flew them at least a dozen times on fares as cheap as $1 when they were really expanding. Still my preferred LCC in SE Asia, although Scoot is nice, and of course Bangkok Airways with their ‘lounge’. Flying through DMK is fine as that airport has gotten some major renovations recently. I don’t like their KUL terminal as much, with the exception being there is this paratha vendor that makes it all worth it!

  2. we have used Airasia a few times BKK/HKT rt. good for the money NOk air is also good.
    you get what you pay for ( and much more than similar flights in US) for cost its good, just pay attention to the details and book early.

  3. Use the AirAsia app to check in for flights. It’s easier and faster than using the kiosks at their airport. The minimal additional fee for exit row seats is worthwhile.

  4. My experience with them have been good. Just know what to expect with the price you paid and they do weigh your bags so try not to over pack. Made that mistake once and paid the price for it.

  5. i actually HATE flying with AirAsia (X). I’ve found Norwegian and Level to be completely fine for long haul cheap flights in comparison. The food on AirAsia is terrible (definitely get what you pay for), no entertainment, they bring the temperature down REALLY low so you have to buy a blanket (luckily I always pack one), and the planes were very old and grimey. I wouldn’t fly with them for anything over 4-5 hours personally. And I’m not an airline snob, I LIKE Norwegian and Level and don’t mind Ryanair or Vietjet.

  6. Dreadful, dreadful airline.
    Placed my wife, myself and my 2 year old son in seperate seats on seperate rows on a recent flight. Completely ignored numerous emails from us regarding the issue and the only way to correct the matter so that we could sit together was to pay extra for selecting seats. Cheap airline – cheap tricks!

  7. Been flying SE Asia for donkeys with Air Asia, Nok Air, Lion Air , Cheap as chips if you book online and in advance less than a cockle for an inbound flight say from DMK to Hat Yai one way. Baggage allowance is 7 kg . Cheapest taxi service in Thailand unless you’re a leftist backpacker

  8. Well, in my opinion they beat United in economy…
    My biggest issue is that the seats seems to have been designed for shorter people, which makes them uncomfortable when you’re 185cm, extra legroom or not. To be honest, if you’re over 175cm, you’re going to want the extra leg room seats. Never had a problem with checked luggage, but I’ve generally only flown with them on one hour flights, with a couple of exceptions. Not a bad airline for the price though and a lot of low cost airlines could do with leaning from them. As someone pointed out above, Bangkok airlines are obviously way ahead of the competition.

  9. I’ve flown them dozens of times and can’t really come up with one complaint. AirAsia are just the air taxis of SE Asia. Miss an international flight, just jump on the next one, in an hour, no problem. I do know that US based airlines can learn a lot, and I mean a lot, from them. Just tried Nok last month and they were pretty damn good also. An extra 12 bucks for their “first class” …hell yeah.

    Lets see…
    @Nelson …agree, great, smiling, helpful crews
    @Christina …right over your head (no pun intended). Why are you using them for long haul flights?
    @Chris Haslem …I bought a Big Mac one time and McDonalds refused to give me a filet Mignon, so I know what you mean.

  10. I have no complaints about AirAsia. Used them several times, usually on time, comfortable, charming staff, great prices.

  11. I have to say I really enjoyed flying on your airline the people were courteous the plane was clean it was quite a good experience

  12. Sounds like they could teach some “premium” British Airlines a thing or two inc on food What the article outlines sounds like an upscale version of BA’s intra European service with added courtesy, real meals BoB (not snacks) and of course for a price that genuinely competes.

  13. I like your simple summary “It’s Great!” and I’m totally converted having recently flown on the new Brisbane to Bangkok AirAsia X long-haul flight – in economy! There were some highs and lows, including not having entertainment onboard for 9 hours! Rookie mistake. But generally its so cheap and safe. More money in my back-pocket. Wondering what their reward program is like though?

  14. I had experienced lifetime’s worse travel experience with Air Asia. Their on duty ground supervisor Mr. Wassim and customer support staff are totally rude and unprofessional. Just because of air asia I got huge loss on my personal end which is uncompromisable. I couldn’t submit my tender which was so important for me to get this JoB Work. This missed flight made my huge financial loss. Not only travel expanse, I couldn’t get my Job work.

    Reaching Before 30 minute from the departure time, the air aisa staff didn’t let board in flight No I5 715 Date 12th Mar 2020 flight departure time 05:20 hrs from Mumbai to Delhi. I arrived at counter 04:50 hrs at the Terminal 1 mumbai airport. I was coming from Virar East and I got stuck in roadside traffic onthe western expressway, still I arrived at counter before 30 minute.
    The ground staff had marked wrong punch time 04:56 hrs in their log knowingly to protect themselves.
    Even no one was ready to listen my words.
    Forcefully they stopped me to board in flight and I couldn’t reach in my loved one’s funeral. It was my huge loss with Air Asia.
    I requested a lot with the available staff Mr wassim but he didn’t listen my request and denied.
    I asked the Mr. Wassim to connect with me the Manager available on airport, he said No one is here I am the one, he also misbehaved with me.
    I complaint on air asia feedback but they just close my case without any investigation or taken any steps. Air Asia Customer service is also misguided me.
    I didn’t missed my flight only, my life changing project too. I will never travel with Air Asia a pathetic airlines. Also I will request everyone to never fly with Air Asia.

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