Now Everyone can Fly, indeed.
Tempting sales, hundreds of routes around Asia, super-smart marketing and affordable fares almost all year long – that’s AirAsia for you. And what’s not to love?
As it turns out – the fine print. And AirAsia has plenty of that. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of flying Asia’s favourite airline or wondering why that incredible deal doesn’t look as incredible by the time you’ve flown with them:
When booking / Before you fly:
- Pre-book your baggage: There’s no checkin baggage on the standard booking. You have to pay to check your bags in. Pre-book this online – the cost of buying at the counter is almost double of pre-booking. If, like me, you have trouble taking only cabin baggage (7 kgs only) for a trip longer than a week, remember to do this. Check-in luggage weight purchased on the same booking can be shared between passengers. E.g. if you book 10 kg for each of you, two of you would be able to use it even as 12 kg + 8 kg in two bags.
- Don’t count on being able to sneak in a bigger or heavier bag into the cabin: This probably doesn’t always happen, but I’ve seen people pulled out of the queue for their bags to be weighed and then asked to go back and check their overweight bags in.
- Surcharge on credit card payments: You will have to pay a surcharge for using your foreign credit card to pay (3% I think) if you’re booking online from outside the specific flight’s ‘home country’. And these are charged per passenger. They do have a payment option without these extra charges but I’ve seen that available only for certain banks in certain SE Asian countries.
- Insurance: Insurance for the flight is added automatically to every booking but costs very little (less than 5 USD I think) so doesn’t needed to be avoided.
- Always web check in and print that boarding pass: There are stories around the internet of having to pay extra to have the people at the counter check you in and print your boarding pass (we did get an updated boarding pass for free in Bangkok, but that could just be a random nice person at the counter). To give the airline credit, they do open check-ins on the internet two weeks before the flight, giving you plenty of time to get things done. Alternately, you could self check in at the kiosks (if available) in the airport and print your boarding slip / voucher from the kiosk.
- Stick with the system-allotted seat: If there are two or more of you flying on the same booking, they sometimes try and split you up when you’re doing the web check in. For example, on our Siem Reap – Bangkok flight, they allotted two seats to the two of us on the same booking that were not next to each other. If you change your seat from the system-allotted one, you pay extra. (we took the separate seats, all these extra charges were annoying me and a couple of hours of parting weren’t going to kill us :))
- Don’t expect refunds in case of changes / cancellations: This is true for the discounted ‘low fares’, the ‘premium flex’ fares usually have more flexibility but cost the same as other non-budget airlines.
On the flight:
- Meals are also cheaper when pre-booked but also avoidable as the variety is limited most of the flights are short-haul.
- There is no free drinking water served in the flight and what’s offered is overpriced. Try and buy or fill up a bottle at the airport once you’re past the security check. Thankfully, you don’t have to pay to use the plane restroom. Yet.
- Don’t ask them to move you to the extra-leg space seats even if they’re empty after the flight’s taken off. They WILL want you to pay extra for them. Why they don’t understand a ‘sunk cost’ fails me.
Crummy, old low-cost airports and surly stewardesses aside, it’s still a comfortable flight and an airline with a good safety record for the price you pay (especially if you’ve managed to book in one of their legendary sales). Just that I’m a happier flier when I know I’ve not been stung. As they say – it’s about reading the fine print and having the right expectations.
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons
Have you flown AirAsia?
Which one was it for you – ‘Give me that Loyalty Card!’ or ‘Never again!’?