Review: Flying AirAsia

A Thai AirAsia A320 in Bali
We went to Southeast Asia for nearly two weeks and getting between destinations required flights of a few hours. AirAsia was usually the cheapest for a non-stop, although sometimes Malindo Air matched them. Malindo offers free checked baggage, but I found their ticketing process cumbersome to the point I couldn’t even book a ticket. Meanwhile, AirAsia’s process was very straight forward with the usual upsell.


Currency

AirAsia’s site detects the country where you’re browsing from and presents prices in that country’s currency with the “≈” in front of every price. Your transaction is actually processed in the currency of the country you’re departing from. For example, if you are browsing in the United States for a flight from Singapore to Bali it will present prices in ≈USD, but your transaction is charged in Singapore Dollars. I recommend only looking at prices in the currency you’ll be charged then doing the exchange yourself to get a more accurate price.


Operator

AirAsia has many affiliates throughout Asia. Each country has its own AirAsia brand such as Thai AirAsia or Indonesia AirAsia. Each has their own safety record and minor differences in service, but overall they’re pretty similar (you can see the entire structure here).

Our Value Pack total for two people plus
credit card processing fee
We flew both Thai and Indonesia. There wasn’t a large difference. The Thai crew paid respects to the country’s recently deceased king in accordance with the mourning period. Indonesia offered cheaper on-board Duty Free prices.

Extras and Value Packs
The first upsell you’ll encounter is the Value Pack and Premium Flex. Prices vary by route, season and promotion. For our flight, AirAsia charged $25 SGD for a 20kg checked bag. It also offered a Value Pack for $28 SGD.

The Value Pack includes a 20kg bag, sandwich and assigned seat. For $3 SGD it was a no-brainer. It relieved any stress of potentially not sitting together and provided a small meal with water. Remember, Value Packs are only offered when booking online and cannot be purchased after the sale is completed.


Travel Insurance
AirAsia will automatically sign you up for its travel insurance during the booking process. You must select the option to decline it. Personally, I prefer to use the coverage from my credit card, but check with your bank to see what coverage, if any, is offered for free.

Processing fee
Finally, expect to pay a fee for buying the ticket. For the ticket to Bali, AirAsia charged $8 SGD per ticket when paying with Visa. Almost every method requires some type of additional fee with credit cards costing the most. Remember to expect it when comparing airlines.

Check-in Experience
AirAsia non-vegetarian assorted sandwiches
AirAsia staff directed us to the check-in kiosks in Singapore. Our reservation was properly loaded and showed the Value Pack. The only hassle was tagging the luggage. In Singapore everything is done by machine. We put the tag on the top of the bag, but the system works better with it on the side. It took a lot of effort to get it to scan properly even with the help of the staff. We also had to get an override for the identity verification because the machine didn’t match our passport picture to the picture it took of us. Apparently it’s a work in progress.

Finally, we were allowed to go through passport control and enter the terminal.

Our inbound aircraft was about 20 minutes late. Staff made no announcements explaining the delay. The boarding process also seemed haphazard with no clear process. It did not appear they were checking the size or weight of anyone’s carry-on bags. Some looked obviously oversize.

On-board
An assortment of chicken, tuna and cheese
The flight was basic. The cabin crew seemed a bit unorganized, but got through service. I found the sandwich included in the Value Pack disappointing. It was small, lacking flavor and a bit mushy. There was only a thin layer of each filing. Each flavor represented about a third of a sandwich. I’d be upset if I paid full price. I hear the hot meals are better, but I’m not sure I’d be willing to try it given this experience.

Overall
AirAsia offered the cheapest flight at a time that worked best for our schedule. I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again if they are still the cheapest price.

Review: Flying AirAsia Review: Flying AirAsia Reviewed by Brandon on November 30, 2017 Rating: 5

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