Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Never Fly AirAsia!

For those of you who don't enjoy reading my rants.. skip this one ;)

Stolen indirectly from

I’m flying Malaysian Airlines to Kota Kinabalu. It’s costing me 30 pounds more than AirAsia, but I’m still so happy doing so. Why? Because unless there are incredibly compelling reasons, I am NEVER flying AirAsia again, and I strongly suggest you do the same.

1. They have a weight limit of 15kg for checked luggage. Given that almost every other airline in the world has a limit of 20 (or more), this can be somewhat inconvenient when connecting. Did I say connecting? Oh silly me, AirAsia are a “point to point” airline:

2. AirAsia do not care about your plans or whether they screw you up. I was notified on a Friday afternoon that their Sunday flight had been retimed (the one I booked a week or so before). Why? The airport (Terengganu) was being renovated. Did they have a few hours notice of this? Of course not, one can see on the ground it has been going on for months. This retime meant that my brother would miss the flight, as he was coming in from the UK. AirAsia’s problem? No. When I asked them for help liaising with Cathay to move my brother on to an earlier flight to KL (which would connect with their new times) I was fairly abruptly told that this was not their problem. I tried to find out more about the warning they had of the airport being renovated and was blanked. Grounds for legal action around interpretation of “reasonable” notification?

3. They are a quick turnaround airline, i.e. each plane does 10 flights a day or so. One problem and the whole day’s schedule is out. This one can say goes with the territory of the low-cost carriers, but of course if there are delays, there is no recompense, and no flexibility the other way. You’re one minute late and you pay again, we’re 10 hours late and that’s your lot:

4. Today, the last straw for me, I arrived 45 minutes before my flight. They say it was 44 minutes. So no check in. Of course it slipped to 44 whilst we debated. All I was told was “it happens all the time”. So can you move me on to the next flight if there are seats? There are more flights with plenty of seats, but you’ll have to pay. Are you serious? Yes.

5. In fact, this was the second time I’d paid for that flight already, as I had booked for the day before, and of course no changes allowed within 48 hours of flight. Get this though – I try to change it more than 48 hours before and their website bounces me saying no changes *2 days* before! As in two full days before your day of flight, which is a completely different thing. So, as you can guess, I snapped. There is no way I am paying AirAsia 3x for the same flight. I considered leaving Malaysia and heading straight to Thailand, but then I thought about Europe and the way I solved my brother’s issue. In Europe, I practice and preach always trying BA before the “so-called” low-cost airlines. More often than not, they are competitively priced, and you don’t get messed about. Same here. AirAsia to be fair to them did force MAS to restructure, but now they are leaner and when I checked KL to Terengganu, were about the same price as AirAsia.

6. No-fixed seating means a scrum getting on board. Again, with the territory, but AirAsia now have “Xpress Boarding” where one pays extra to board first.

7. AirAsia now hub out of the LCCT – the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in KL. This is supposed to be part of the same airport, but is in fact a 20 minute bus ride away. It’s almost like they tried to construct the terminal to look shabby. The luggage belts are just bolted together without any covers. The security is a complete farce – the officers don’t look at the screen as bags (and you chose which bags to scan) come through, they are too busy peeling stickers off a reel to put on. The LCCT also means a 1hr15m bus ride into KL instead of a 35m train. Dirty toilets.

8. AirAsia check in. I knew I was in for a battle with my 20kg bag. As I understood it, they were fairly strict about checked luggage. Hand luggage no issue. So what do I have to do? Repack everything heavy. Except liquids of course. Although with AirAsia and the security at LCCT this probably wouldn’t make any difference. I did all I could, put my bag down. 16.0kg. In fact 16.3 but I pointed out the cheeky 0.3 that was already on there with no bag, so she reset it. She didn’t just discount the insignificant amount. She asked me to remove my bag, reset the counter and then re-weighed. 16.0kg. It’s over, she says, she has to charge me for the 1Kg or I can repack. Are you serious (again!)? Yes. Oh, and if you repack, you need to rescan your bag. You’ve got to be kidding. Nope. So I remove a piece of paper or so from the bag and put it in my hand luggage that I am taking on the plane anyway – 15.9kg, then go back to have another sticker stuck on the bag. Total farce. If you wanted to smuggle anything on to those planes, a bomb, anything, it would be no issue whatsoever. If they’re going to make such a token gesture, why bother at all? It’s just incredibly inconvenient and a total waste of time for them too if they’re going to allow it all through in hand-luggage.

9. The planes are relatively okay – at least the ones I’ve used, though the seats are absolutely bolt-upright, something to consider if it’s a longer flight. And the stewardesses are often rather fetching, but very rarely friendly.

Well that’s about it for now. My basic point is that every single time I’ve used AirAsia I have had issues and stress, and now I’m writing this from the proper airport, KLIA, having a completely stress-free time flying Malaysia Air, for a couple of pounds more. The crew is sitting in the gate waiting for the on-time plane. It’s all good. I suspect AirAsia was moved to the LCCT because the main airport’s statistics on flight departure times were being destroyed.

I’m not saying I’ll never fly AirAsia again. My options are open. However if I ever have a choice and there’s not much in it, I know what I’ll be doing, and it isn’t pathetically repacking shorts into my hand-luggage because they’re cotton and therefore slightly heavy! Don’t fly AirAsia!

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