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Saturday, August 27, 2011

AirAsia low cost carrier: travel feedback

June 2014 Update:
AirAsia begins India operation. Chennai-Blr fare analysis

August 2012 Update:
Made another trip to Thailand, thanks to Air Asia's cheap tickets. Return trip costed about 8300 per person all inclusive, booked 6 months in advance. Bought 1 check-in baggage- 20kgs extra- costed Rs 420 for onward journey and 700+ for the return journey (bought return check in baggage late, by that time they'd increased the check in baggage rate). Service standard was same and performance was on time. No complaints.
Photo by Vidya Mayya

Bangkok doesn't have a low cost terminal like Kuala Lumpur, so Air asia passengers get to use the regular international airport.

Air Asia is expanding rapidly- now Air Asia Thailand, Air Asia Indonasia and many other subsidiaries are in operation. Let me see where else we can travel next.

Original post (August 2011)

Few months ago, when I spotted a tempting fare at AirAsia from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur, I decided to take my family on a short trip and booked tickets. First two tickets costed me about 7000+ and 3rd ticket costed around 8000+, about 30% cheaper than other carriers.

Knowing that it is a low cost airline and we can’t expect any premium services, our expectations were set to zero. The flights went well and this post shares the feedback.

Seat Selection: If you wish to select your preferred seat at the time of booking, Air Asia will charge you Rs 450+ tax extra per seat. For 3 people, return trip, that is about Rs 3000 INR down the drain. We chose not to select any seat and try our luck while boarding.

Couple of days before the flight, when I did web checkin, system allotted me seats. We wanted 3 seats in sequence (next to each other) and we got it. Air Asia’s System seem to assigns seats in sequential order, so all passengers in a ticket will get seats in a sequence, except in cases wherein couple of seats in between is selected by someone else as preferred seat, at the time of booking. Our gamble paid off and we got seats together, without having to spend a lot.

Also on both flights good number of seats were empty (about 20% of the seats were vacant I guess). Budget passengers made their own makeshift business class upgrades, by sleeping across the 3 seats row.

Food: we had preordered the food- veg biryani at about INR 170 and it was served promptly. As in all airline meals this is not adequate to fill stomach, but can help keep you alive during the flight. Air asia sells other items: 300ML water at Rs 50, 200ml minute maid at Rs 75, snickers at Rs 75 and so on

Entertainment: None, except children crying in neighboring seat or a passenger arguing with crew as to why a particular item costs so much when it is available for 10 times less back in Chennai

Cleanliness: Flight was clean. No issues detected

On time: Chennai-Kuala Lumpur was almost ontime (20 minutes delay that stated time) and arrival was on time too. Kuala Lumpur to Chennai: Boarding happened ontime, but we were delayed by about 90 minutes. Some sort of emergency at KLIA is stated as the reason for delay.

Crew: Were good and helpful. No issues. When my mother was hesitated to buy a mineral water as it was expensive (300 ml at Rs 50), the air-hostess smartly said "Sir, the flight is for 4 hours", meaning "You better buy it"

In-flight magazine: Magazine has less articles and readable content, but whatever present was good. Magazine also had few pages to highlight why air asia and its cargo division is great. Magazine claimed Air Asia has above industry average performance when it comes to “flown as booked” and they have lowest “No of clicks it takes to complete a booking” (Both these are related to AriAsiaCargo)

How Air Asia saves money
Air Asia is about 10 years old and has been winning best low cost airline award since past 3 years. AirAsia may not offer luxury and comfort of premium carriers, but can take you to your destination at half the price of a full service airline.(if you book their promo fares)

Below is how AirAsia saves money:
Breakdown the cost structure, charge extra for everything- Customers can save money by not opting for checkin-baggage, not selecting preferred seats, not opting for inflight meals and so on. If you avail all these services, ticket costs will still be 20-30% cheaper than full service airlines

Dedicated Low Cost carrier Terminal (LCCT): Malaysian Capital has a dedicated low cost carrier terminal, called LCCT. (because people may not get what LCCT means, all buses that display LCCT will usually display AirAsia in brackets.). LCCT is a bare minimum facility- you get down from the plane, walk about 1 km to immigration counter. No shuttle buses, no walkalators or other services. Because of simple infrastructure and no expenditure like buses etc, Air Asia saves significant amount of money compared to full service airlines. Full service airlines go to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur international airport) while low cost carriers divert to LCCT, though both use same runway. LCCT is practically across the runway from KLIA but is 20km by road. The airport is about 60km from city (KL Sentral) and is well connected by buses.

Modern airports charge considerable amount  (few hundred rupees for domestic passengers and few thousand rupees from international passengers) as User Development Fee, which airlines pass to passengers. If these airports can build a low cost terminal like the one in Kuala Lumpur, airlines can lower their cost and pass on the benefits to the customer.

We found Airasia cabin crew and captains also taking buses to go home from LCCT. Assume the airline doesn’t arrange taxies for them and crew might be getting a share from airline’s savings on taxi expense.

Will I fly Airaisa again? Yes, if I come across any irresistible promo fares

Also be informed that Indigo is launching low cost service to Bangkok, Dubai, Singapore, from Mumbai and Delhi, from September 2011. Spicejet already flies to Colombo, Nepal and few other places

There’re some talks of Air Asia and Malaysian Airline tieup-hope that brings more offers to passengers.

Cons: No cons as such, but couple of factors you may wish to keep in mind:

In KUL they have tie-up with Skybus to take you from LCCT To KL Sentral. Skybus tickets cost RM 9, while it is not that popular or frequent. Another operator ferries people from LCCT to KL Sentral for about 8 RM and this bus fills up faster compared to Skybus.

AirAsia tempts us to buy skybus tickets along with airline ticket, but there’re no advantages of buying the skybus tickets so much in advance. Better buy it on the spot.

AirAsia prices that appears on travel portals like Makemytrip can be different from what is quoted on Airasia website. Sometimes promo fares may not appear on travel sites. Be sure to cross check


Air-Asia charges extra for payment through credit cards. Not sure if they have any payment option which doesn't cost extra. All in all, expect to end up paying 60% more than the amount quoted in promo fair. Thankfully they don;t charge extra for oxygen mask and emergency door usage

Related posts: 
Kingfisher Experience *  Spicejet vs jetlight *  A travel App no one has * Malaysia posts digest *

6 comments :

Team G Square said...

Elaborate feedback

Shrinidhi Hande said...

thanks

Deguide said...

Got to keep air asia in the loop, seems to be no frill airlines. Good feedback Hande

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Umesh Sir

Loggy : லோகி said...

how was the seats? was it cramped? compared to our domestic lcc's?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

All of 2011 I've not taken a single domestic flight and did only 3 international trips...

I think leg space is at par with domestic LCCs