Airasia: The Best Budget Airline…For Real?

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

“AirAsia being the best low-cost airline”


Since 2008, AirAsia was won the awards for the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Airline’ for over the past nine consecutive years at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. You can be surprised how this airline has beaten other low-cost carriers, such as Tiger Air, Jetstar Airways, Aegean Airlines, Southwest Airlines to name a few. Although they flew on different routes in other countries or continents, they provide a similar level of services to passengers.

AirAsia sure sold promotional or last-minute deals from time to time. However, you need to think of other costs which are not included such as baggage allowance, meals, beverages, seat selection, in-flight entertainment, in-flight comfort and travel insurance (Tune Protect). The minimum cost will estimate about RM 130 per way. So, the fares do not make any cheaper than its competitors after all, every now and then.

It used to be one of my favorite airlines and have been traveling for the long-distance journey. During my uni holiday breaks, I frequently fly from Perth in Western Australia back to my hometown in Kuala Lumpur to visit my family, relatives and friends. I also traveled to Beijing in 2008 and Hong Kong in 2016 by this airline.

But, a bad news hit me this year not just once, but twice after booking a flight for my next year’s March trip from Kuala Lumpur to Bali. The airline runs a special promotion for passengers who booked their flight in June 2017 and travel during January to July 2018 period. I saw this amazing deals offered and was felt with joy that had the opportunity to visit the beautiful beaches, cultural sites, paddy fields and its big volcano.

My planned itinerary was to visit Bali and Labuan Bajo, the island known for Komodo dragons. The last flight of the day is 2.20 p.m., therefore the only option is to take the earliest flight with AirAsia which is 7.45 a.m. This gives me sufficient time to collect my baggage, get a quick meal, pass through the immigration checkpoint, recheck-in to another airline (Wings Air) and board the plane.

Bali Airport is one of the busiest airports in Indonesia which handle thousands of passengers. Travelers especially from Australia flock in every day just to enjoy its tropical climate and surf on its big waves. Being the first time there, I decided to book a 7.45 a.m. flight, just to play safe. Which means, it gives four hours for me to transit.

On the mid-October, an email was sent to me to notify me that my flight was canceled and reschedule automatically to 10.30 a.m. and with indefinite would not be able to catch my connecting flight. I contacted the call center via Live chat and re-booked my new flight timing to 8.20 a.m., the latest earliest flight. I was glad that staff managed to get a seat immediately with no much problem and my e-ticket has been reissued and confirmed. It seems a little rush and given only three hours, but I take my chances.

Now just only two weeks before Christmas, I received another email, telling me that my flight at 8.20 a.m. has been canceled and reschedule again to 9.30 a.m. Feeling half panicked and half frustrated, I contacted them again to check the next available and earliest flight. The agent informed me that 9.30 a.m. flight is the earliest flight and arrive at 12.35 p.m. I totally have no chance whatsoever to hop-on to my connecting flight. An even more stupid question I was asked if I would want to reschedule to travel on 16 March!

Is this a joke?

My trip is less than three months. My domestic flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo (Komodo Island) has been purchased. All hotel bookings were made. Local tours and transportation also have been re-arranged with the local travel agent. The agent expects me to reschedule everything. That’s ridiculous!

Okay. Enough is enough.

So, a quick decision has been made. I told the agent to cancel the flight and asked for a full refund. The agent cannot promise anything if a full refund will be given or the time frame to get the refund back. Anyhow, the matter with AirAsia will be put on hold and see what news will bring. I book with another airline, Malindo Air which is slightly cheap and same flight timing at 7.45 a.m., although I have not taken it on the long-distance journey before.

At Christmas Eve 2017, AirAsia finally got some answers and will take 30-60 days to process the refund. Well, I have to wait and see now.

My point being said that when it comes to the part when everything starts to ruin your holiday plan, you have to go for an alternative. Either it has been named or awarded as the best airline, cruise ship, hotel, resort or tour company. Choose from other option or never go for the same idea again after having a terrible experience with a company.

Lesson learned.


Share your AirAsia experience if you flew with them before. Drop your comment and love to hear your story. Good or bad, doesn’t matter.

Happy Traveling!

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