Apr 142012

AirAsia is a Malaysia-based low-cost airline. AirAsia is Asia’s largest low-fare, no-frills airline and a pioneer of low-cost travel in Asia. AirAsia group operates scheduled domestic and international flights to over 400 destinations spanning 25 countries including China, Japan, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, Philippines,Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia,India, Myanmar, Australia etc. Thai AirAsia is a joint venture of Malaysian low-fare airline AirAsia and Thailand’s Asia Aviation. It serves Air Asia’s regularly scheduled domestic and international flights from Bangkok and other cities in Thailand. Thai AirAsia is the only low-cost airline operating both domestic and international flights from the Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport.

AirAsia A320 at Macau International Airport

Recently, I travelled with Thai AirAsia on its Delhi-Bangkok Sector (return flight), Bangkok-Macau Sector (return flight) and Phnom Penh-Bangkok Sector. Total, I took five flights with AirAsia during 15 days tour to Thailand, Hong Kong and Cambodia. Overall flying experience with Thai AirAsia was very good. I want to share some of the information and experiences of flying with Thai AirAsia. Although these experiences are related to Thai AirAsia, but being the same group company on same business model, it apply to other AirAsia flights also (Except long-haul flights which use bigger aircrafts like A330s and A340s). I also searched some extra information from the internet, which are not related to Thai Air Asia, but apply to AirAsia and AirAsia Express in Malaysia.

Since it is a low-cost airline, tickets are considerably cheaper than similar options with competing airlines in the same sector. For example, in Delhi-Bangkok sector, return fare starts from around 16000 INR with regular airlines like Air India, Jet Airways, while Thai AirAsia offers around INR 10,500 in the same sector. Indigo Airlines offer around INR 12000. AirAsia does not offer connecting flights (Only exception is FLY-THRU programme). So expect to book tickets from point to point.

Aircrafts Condition:
Air Asia’s A320 aircraft are generally new and seats are comfortable. No in-flight entertainment is available, even not a single information display screen.

Inside AirAsia

Extra Cost for a Seat of your choice:
You have to pay INR 450 to book a hot seat and INR 90 for other seat of your choice on Thai AirAsia. Guests who purchase a Hot Seat will have the choice of selecting seats from the first 5 rows of the aircraft or 2 rows at the emergency exit. Standard seats allow guests to keep their travel party. But why to pay extra money for a seat? I generally prefer a window seat, but any seat inside a plane is good for me. However, without choosing any seat at extra cost, I got my preferred window seat three times. So, don’t waste your money on seat option. Seats on row 11, 12 & 31 are non-reclinable. Persons with long led can pick a seat for extra legroom with seats on row 1, 12 & 14 at the cost of INR450.

AirAsia A320 Seat Configuration

As an emergency precaution, only able bodied guests between the ages of 16 to 65, who are neither hearing impaired nor travelling with infants can occupy the emergency seat together. There are no special rates for senior citizens and children. Senior citizens will be allowed to board after those holding a Hot Seat.

Check-in Luggage:
If there is any check-in luggage, then you have to pay INR 420 for luggage upto 15 kgs, INR 490 for 20 kgs, INR 750 for 25 kgs, INR 900 for 30 kgs, INR 1400 for 35 kgs and INR 1800 for 40 kgs.

Air Asia Insurance:
Air Asia offers its own travel insurance facility at the cost of INR 200-300 approx. However, if you have any other travel insurance, I do not think that it is advisable to get this insurance from Air Asia.

Cabin Baggage:
One cabin baggage only with dimension 56 cm x 36 cm x 23 cm and weight less than 7 kg is allowed either with a laptop bag or a hand bag.

Cabin Baggage Instruction

But, if your backpack is not looking so heavy, they do not bother to check its weight at check-in counter. Usually, they permit up to 8 kgs without any argument. If you have a bit heavy backpack, it is better to put your laptop inside the backpack and your camera in your hand. They do not take a laptop as a check-in baggage, so most probably they will allow you to carry that backpack without any extra cost, but even it should not be more than 10 kgs. Carry a backpack, which can easily fit in the cabin of aircraft to avoid any type of problems. This way, you can also save some time after de-boarding the plane, as you are not require to wait for your luggage from the luggage belt.

AirAsia in-flight baggage cabin

Check in and Boarding Pass:
AirAsia’s check-in counters open three (3) hours before and close sixty (40) minutes before (In India) the scheduled flight departure time. Check-in deadlines may vary at different airports and for particular flights. It is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with these deadlines, particulars of which are available at the time you make your booking. Check-in from almost anywhere with AirAsia’s Self Check-In services which are available online, at the airport and from your mobile. You can opt to Web Check-In, Mobile Check-In or Kiosk Check-In. After web check-in, you can take the print out of the boarding pass. Queues at AirAsia Check-in counters are considerably lengthy. To avoid the long queues at the counters, it is advisable to use web check-in to get the boarding pass. However, it is required to verify your passport with AirAsia counter at the departure airport. For this, You can go to any customer service representative who seems free at the counter, and it will take only 4-5 minutes.

Waiting area before outside departure gate@ Macau Intl Airport

Comfort kit:
A comfort kit comprises of a neck pillow, woven blanket, drawstring bag and eye shades and cost INR 367.

On-Board Meal:
There is no free-meal on board. You have to pay for everything, even for water also. Sometimes, they do not have every item listed in menu card. I avoided taking any meal on-board. In my opinion, for 2-3 hours flight, it is better to take a meal before boarding or after de-boarding the flight, because on-board meal will always be costlier from outside. Main attractions of the menu include: Asian Fried Rice Combo (155 INR), Assorted Sandwich Combo (124 INR), Beef Stew Combo (155 INR), Briyani Rice Combo (155 INR) , Caterham’s Pit Stop Panini (Chicken) Combo (124 INR), Chicken Rice Combo (155 INR), Chicken Satay Combo (155 INR), Frankster Combo (124 INR), Green Curry Rice Combo (155 INR), Mat Kelapa (124 INR), Nasi Lemak Combo (155 INR), Pancake Combo (124 INR), Cheesy Extravaganza Pizza Combo (124 INR) ,Roast Chicken Combo (155 INR), Spaghetti Bolognaise Combo (155 INR), SkyRider Club ACE Meal (155 INR), Tandoori Chicken Wrap Combo (124 INR), Vegetarian Oriental Combo (155 INR), Vegetarian Rice Combo (155 INR) MONTHLY PROMOTION COMBO: Special Promo Meal (218 INR). You can make payment either in cash or with credit card, but in case of cash payment, they will return the change in Thai Bath only. You can get priority service and some discounts in the case of pre-meal booking while purchasing the tickets.

AirAsia is accredited by the KL Syariah Index, and in accordance with Shariah law it does not serve alcohol or pork. However, this applies only to the regional AirAsia group flights, and not to the AirAsia X flights, which do sell wine and beer on board.

Connecting Flight Facility:
Air Asia is a point to point carrier. It does not offer any transit facility. It is responsible from only one destination to another, not for any connecting one. It means if you are having a connecting flight even within one hour of landing at an airport, you have to pass through the immigrations and customs. Thereafter collect your luggage and again check-in for your second flight.So, be aware of the visa requirements at the transit airport.

But a new FLY-Thru programme launched by Air Asia offers connecting flights and hence you can transit without visa facility in Malaysia, but this is applicable only for a maximum stop-over of 6-hours in Malaysia. With this you can conveniently connect between 2 different flights via transfer hall, with a minimum connection time of 90 minutes! As per Air Asia website, you have to book connecting flights only on Fly-Thru routes and you can make a single ticket booking for both of your flights. Bags are automatically tagged to your final destination. It also offers Free flight move to the next flight if first flight is delayed.

Do not expect aerobridges at every airport. Air Asia generally does not prefer aerobridge services. It helps it to reduce the operating cost at destinations like Macau, Phnom Penh. At Bangkok Suvarnbhumi Airport, you have to de-board the plane on the tarmac and then travel by bus to the terminal. But, at Bangkok Airport, departure is facilitated through an aerobridge.

AirAsia A320 at Bangkok Suvarnbhumi Airport with an aero-bridge attached

However, an aerobridge does not offer much difference to a traveler. Lots of smaller airports are not having aerobridge facilities at all or only having limited number of aerobridges. If you are not getting an aerobridge, chances are higher to experience a joyride in the bus within the airport operational area, which generally remains a prohibited area for travelers.

An AirAsia flight@Macau International Airport

Flight Delay:
Flights generally turned-out on the time. Except Delhi (1.30 Hrs delay), I never experienced the delay more than 30 minutes in any other sector. Do not expect any announcements or information display regarding 1-2 hours delay. I did not get any information at Delhi Airport regarding the delay. If you have the travel insurance with Air Asia, you can claim compensation if delay is more than two hours due to the airline faults. However, please keep in mind that being a point-to-point carrier, Air Asia is not responsible for any missed connection, even in the case of the delay because of airline’s fault. Their contracts with you start only from the place of the first departure to the first landing and then contract terminates. So, always keep this factor in mind while booking the connection flights on any low-cost carrier. But, in Air Asia FLY-THRU programmes, airline offers Free flight move to the next AirAsia flight, if first flight is delayed on selected FLY-THRU routes.

Special Assistance:
Guests requiring special assistance are requested to contact AirAsia’s Call Centre at least 48 hours before the scheduled flight departure time to make prior arrangement for the type of special assistance required. If you are unable to give them prior notice, AirAsia cannot guarantee that the service will be available when you arrive, resulting in the refusal of carriage. AirAsia can provide special assistance to a limited number of guests with disabilities. There is no additional charge for the guests flying with wheelchairs.

Disclaimer: Although it’s a review, it doesn’t has any type of influence and the reviews are done honestly. The views/opinions expressed here are my own.

  28 Responses to “Air Asia: A Low-Cost Option for Backpacking Across South East Asia”

  1. thank you for your valuable info Solobackpacker:)

    I am traveling to Cambodia(Phnom Penh) via Bangkok. I have the Cambodian e-visa. Will i require a separate Thai visa? there is a stopover at Bangkok for 3 hours

    • No, I think you can pass through the transit area without a visa. Actually, AirAsia is a point-to-point carrier, so they may ask you to pass through the immigration also at Bangkok Airport. In this case, you have to ask for a visa-on-arrival. It was happened with me at Bangkok Suvarnbhumi Airport. Don’t know the procedures at Don Muang Airport. However, during my recent trip to Malaysia by AirAsia, I passed through the transit area to catch the next flight without any visa. So, I hope, in Bangkok also, you can pass through the transit area.

  2. Sir,
    I wanna got to Indonesia in a batam island. i plan to go their in a budget of 1lakh rupees i want to know is it enough money to go their and spend 10 15 days their and i also want to know about any taxes, other things which are require for journey.

  3. thanks for sharing~~~~~~~~

  4. Is AirAsia providing one-stop solutions for backpacker? Such like hotel and so on.

  5. Hi,

    I am Ravi kumar and travelling first time in flight and I reserved flight ticket for my family wife and son (infant 8months old). Actually we applied for birth certificate long back but unfortunately it has been rejected for some reason. We are going to Rajamundry to provide other documents for the birth certificate for my son.

    After my flight reservation got to know that birth certificate is mandatory for infants.. Can I show the rejected form which I have applied in Me-Seva copy on boarding of flight / Can I get a letter from a gazzetted officer with my sons photograph (one of my friend suggested).

    • Hi, you can take an affidavit issued by the local SDM/Tahsildar or a letter from the gazetted officer/MP/MLA as a precautionary measure. Practically, for an 8 months old child, they don’t ask for the birth certificate. The main concern arises only when there is a good doubt exist, that whether a child is 2 years old or not. However, they may ask for the birth certificate anytime, so better to equipped with a letter already.

  6. Thank You

  7. Thank you very much for all the information.

  8. trip to macau to yangon wheel chair charges cost 260 mop (transit at Don Mueang)
    return trip yangon to macau it cost 35 USD
    it is really very very expensive. So costly.

  9. We would like to know, we are going to china 0n 18 th night from cochi to hangzhou via kuala lampur by air asia. we are having transit time of two hours for next connecting flight, do we requier any transit malaysian visa? please advoice
    Thanking you

    • Please check if your ticket is book under FLY THROUGH facility of Air Asia or not. If it is FLY THROUGH, you don’t require the Malaysian Visa. If it is not, valid Malaysian visa is required, even if you just change Air Asia flights at KL Airport.

      • By looking your ticket details, I can’t tell you whether its a FLY THROUGH ticket or not. Please confirm it with AirAsia. If its not, you must possess a valid Malaysian visa, each time at KL airport.

  10. Thanks for the info..was planning to travel by air asia 🙂

  11. Very informative article. I’ve been flying AirAsia quite often for almost 10 years. The services they provide are usually good. The prices are good also. Just be careful with your connecting flights. Give yourself plenty of time to make the connections or you might have to a buy pricey ticket from a legacy airline… to offset your missed AirAsia connection.

    I usually give myself a 2 hour window for domestic connections and 3 hours for international connections. I never do more than 1 connection in any given day. It doesn’t pay to miss an AirAsia connection. They might be able to sell you a seat for a later AirAsia flight, but it will cost you more.

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