This is my experience of booking an Air Asia flight from my recent Phuket travel. Air Asia is the best budget airline in Asia or perhaps the world. No question asked. How to get the most out of it is the question. In most happened occasion, Air Asia flight is just an carrier to send a person from 1 airport to the other. No transit, airport transfer or on board entertainment are provided. The published fares, unless otherwise stated, are usually air fares only without other airport taxes, fuel surcharge or service charges whatsoever. What are non-inclusive since January 2009 are your checked-in baggage, on board F&B as well as change of flight and so on. Whatever is it, as long as you stick to their rulas and regulations, you will have the cheapest fares to fly to your desired destination, as long as Air Asia flies there.
However, many times and many passengers do get caught, frustrated or confused over some of their special conditions, flight postponement tactics or hidden surcharge applied. So, you need to understand how Air Asia works and let it works for you, not the other way round. Based on my previous experiences with them to our trip to Bali, Langkawi and Phuket, I’ve put down here the Top 5 tips to book an Air Asia flight in order to have the least hassle travel: -
- If possible, pre-check in your flight – Currently, Air Asia allows passengers to either web-check in within 48 hours or kiosk-check in within 3 hours from your flight time. This is to ensure that your seats are secured. Though you could still check in personally at the check in counter in the airport which is normally open 2-3 hours and close 45mins before the flight time, there is always a risk, if you are late to the airport, let say 10 minutes from when the counter close, that your flight is full!! It happened to me personally in my trip to Bali. As we all know, being a norm in the industry, airlines do over sell their tickets! Because IMHO, some people will not turn up by that time, especially when people book for free few months ago and they have the ‘Book first and see how’ mentallity. So some might decided not to fly. Moreover, you could know earlier your seat numbers if you check in earlier. Unfortunately, the earlier you check in, the worse seats you’re going to get! Nevermind, proceed to 2nd tips… ;
- Pre-Select your seats – Not many people doing this though. Unlike flights before this year, where passengers are rushing to queue up and rushing on board to fight for good seats, Air Asia currently pre-allocate your seats number. You couldn’t select where you prefer like other airlines. So, for RM5 per seat, you can now pre-select your seats online for window side seat if you love to. Extra Tips: For Airbus A320 with a seat configuration of 3+3, select anywhere at window side, either A or F and avoid row No. 11, 12 and 31 where there are emergency exit ways that those seats are permanently upright and couldn’t be leaned down for more comfort!;
- Also you need to buy for your check-in baggage now – Try purchasing it online for RM10.00 per 15kg per serson if you have a lot to carry. If not, hand carry your luggage for a maximum load of 7Kg so can save you 10 bucks. Buy at check-in counter will cost you RM20.00. Anything beyond 15 Kg will cost you a bomb for 20.00 per extra Kg! So, pack your luggage carefully and check the weight before check-in!;
- Bring along MP3,MP4, story books, read the on-board magazine or sleep during the flight. – There isn’t any entertainment, movies and not even information monitor on board. So be ready. Unless you try to pick up those average Air Asia stewardess or stewards on board. Extra Tips: As a rule of thumb, to minimise the jet-lag effect (due to different time zone in your country of destination), sleep as much as you can if you are flying west while stay awake on your flight to the east.
- Be prepare to pay addtional airport charges when you are to depart from other country. - For some countries, you need to pay their airport charges separately in their airport before entering the boarding gate. They are not inclusive in your air fares! We didn’t pay anything in Phuket, but have to pay RM50 in Bali and my friends told me they have to fork out additional USD25 per pax in Cambodia!! Check the price carefully and add it into your ticket price to compare if your air tickets are still the cheapest!
Despite some of the rules and regulations of Air Asia sounds rediculous, I still could get away from their hand carry restriction of only 1 bag of 7KG in my Phuket trip. I carried a cabin baggage weighing 7Kg, a small backpack for all my travel documents and my camera lenses, as well as my Lowepro Cirrus TLZ15 with D60 on my waist. Hurray! – Travel Feeder.