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Friday, May 30, 2014

AirAsia Chennai-Bangalore & back for Rs 829: Details

Air Asia has announced its India operations and as expected, they've started off with a fairly competitive price tag. I somehow feel they've chosen wrong cities to start with. Bangalore-Goa and Bangalore-Chennai. Bangalore Goa is somewhat fine, but Bangalore Chennai is not worth flying.

I've tried their Chennai-Kuala Lumpur, Chennai-Bangkok sectors and was looking forward for their India operations like everyone else.

This post is an analysis of Air Asia India's Chennai-Bengaluru schedule, fare, hidden charges and other pros and cons.

Since I do occasional weekend trips between Chennai and Bangalore, I am taking this sector first for comparison. Let us say I wish to go to BLR from MAA for the weekend.

How much air asia tickets cost between Chennai-Bangalore?
Return Ticket price starts at Rs 829 per person, only few seats per flight are offered at this rate. Next lot of seats are expensive by about 500 Rs per person one way. It is not known how many seats are available at what price, but my guess is less than 10 seats are offered at throw away price.

The promo rates are 60% cheaper than its rivals. Cheaper than Shatabdhi train or KSRTC bus fare. Need to see what will be their regular fare.

Looks like Chennai-Blr service is starting 20th June, about 1 week after initial Blr-Goa launch. Two flights a day sounds good and useful for business visitors who can return on same day evening and also for weekend travelers.

What are the other hidden expenses in an Air Asia India ticket?
1. Processing fee: Credit card payment costs Rs 319, while netbanking can save you 240 Rs (netbanking costs Rs 80). You can't skip this mandatory extra payment.
2. Meals: Optional, costs Rs 150 for hyderabadi biriyani. These rates are much cheaper than what other airlines charge and almost same as what a medium range hotel would charge
3. Seat selection: About 12 seats in the centre of the plane are sold for Rs 600 extra (Similar to Spicejet's MAX seats
4. Baggage: No free checkin baggage. 15 kg costs Rs 200 oneway.
5. Insurance: Optional extra
Unfortunately air asia is only starting flight operations. They're not starting a cheap taxi service. So we'll have to factor travel expense from city to airport and back. (While railway stations are well connected by city buses, airports are not so affordable to reach.). So I need to factor approx Rs (Rs 350 to Chennai airport, Rs 250 at BIAL to take Vayu Vajra, Rs 250 while coming back and Rs 650 from Chennai airport to home)- This amount adds up to as much as my flight ticket, if not more.

Air asia leaves Chennai at 7.30 AM and reaches by 8.30 AM. We need to be at airport by about 6AM. From Blr airport to heart of city will take another 1 hour. So we're looking at about 3.30-4 hours of travel time. Shatabdhi leaves at 6 AM and reaches by 10.30. 5.5 hours at about one fourth the expense.

So travel to airport and back will cost two times the ticket fare.  Thus Shatabdi or a KSRTC AC bus could be effectively cheaper if we consider end to to travel time and cost.

I feel airasia could have picked up some other sector, which can't be reached by overnight train. Something like Chennai-Pune, Bangalore-Kolkata, Chennai-Kochi etc. If such long haul flights are launched, more first time travelers would queue up to buy tickets.  Hope they'll cover these sectors soon.

What about Bengaluru-Goa on AirAsia?
Blr-Goa is priced at Rs 990 one way, so it is twice as expensive as Chennai-Blr. Further, the timings are in middle of the day, not early morning or late evening. So not very convenient to plan a weekend trip. I've my cheapest ticket ever- Rs 1444 for 2 people all inclusive from spicejet sale recently. AirAsia couldn't beat it.

It is not possible to book Chennai-Goa on their website. One has to book Chennai-Blr and Blr Goa separately. Ultra low fares are only for select dates and select number of seats, mainly to simulate market. Regular fares appear to be a bit cheaper than rivals. Let us see

I've booked a Chennai-Blr trip with AirAsia for July. Looking forward.

My earlier review of Air Asia

4 comments :

Prasad Np said...

Well they are a long term player as Tatas are involved and I am sure slowly but steadily they will make an impact.

Love the way you analyze the price and time and other factors of the flight...

Arun said...

I got BLR-GOA-BLR for Rs.1,000/-, including baggage fee. :)

Absolutely delighted.

It is not just the happiness of finding a cheap ticket. Visiting Goa in the monsoons was in the drawing board for almost 5 months now. Finally decided to do it, thanks to Air Asia's tempting fares.

TheAnand said...

I booked a ticket in July from Kochi to Bangalore on their promo offer for Rs. 500. Extra was Rs. 80 for netbanking payment. Seems 15 kg baggage is free with the ticket and extra starts at Rs. 498 for 20 KG. Looking forward to the flight!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Prasad: Thanks

Arun: Enjoy your journey

After DGCA directive, baggage upto 15kg is now made free

Anand: Enjoy your trip. Lucky you booked in time. Promo fares are all over in less than 48 hours. next set of tickets cost Rs 1699 one way