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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…

Legitimately 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.

Checking 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.

Basic 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…

Pre 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.

Punctual 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…

Overall, 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?

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