Why I Never Fly With Air Asia

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars)
Update 2016: AirAsia has changed the way you book their tickets online, so part of this review is not relevant anymore. In the new system, there are no more tricks to make you book unnecessary upgrades and add-ons.

I am surprised that Air Asia can still get the title of "World's Best Low Cost Airlines" in 2013 considering it is by far the worst company and the one company I always try to avoid when flying in Asia.

It seems like AirAsia is so good with its marketing and advertising that people are brainwashed into thinking that they are receiving a 5-star service when flying with them. I hear people excited about taking AirAsia, when the truth is that they will pay more for sitting in a super tiny seat without any food or service and probably departing late.

AirAsia is more expensive than any other low cost airlines in Asia while it does not give back any thing to its customers. Obviously, they do cut on their services and operating costs but the money saved with this rationalizing is not used to decrease flight ticket prices, it is just more profit for the company. I applaud with both hands at how smart it is.

I would accept the level zero of service provided by AirAsia if they were more cheap than anybody else. This would be my reward for accepting such a shame service. But it is the contrary that happens.

My problems start with their website. It is the trickiest and most dishonest booking website that I have ever come across with.

If you use flight comparators such as skyscanner, you may have had this problem of clicking on an AirAsia flight because it seemed to be the cheaper options, and in the end realizing that when you add the taxes, the fuel surcharge, the luggages, the seats, the meal, the check in fee,  the payment fee, the priority seats, and the priority boarding, it ends up being more expensive than Singapore Airlines.

Avoiding to pay additional charges will require your full attention: For instance, if you don't want to have AirAsia Insurance, you have to refuse once, and then cancel your refusal. Tricky? Canceling your seats is so complicated as well that I booked them inadvertently at least 3 times... Same with the priority boarding that I forgot to un-tick...

Charging for additional fees is the specialty of AirAsia and its most lucrative business. They will find any possible way to make you pay additional fees. You want to add additional luggage weight to your booking at check in time? This will be charged beyond reasonable. You want a bottle of water on the plane? Take out your wallet. All other companies will give you something free even though they are cheaper: Lion Air for instance do not charge if you request a special seat and they allow 15 kilos of luggage for free. Sriwijaya will give you a free snack (very limited but still), Citilink lets you choose your seat for free, etc...  Within the price range of AirAsia, you can actually often fly with regular companies where the service is beyond any comparisons.

With AirAsia, no only do you get nothing free, you also get less for what you pay for (unless you pay more).

When you arrive at the airport, you will notice that AirAsia is the only company that forces you to check in with a machine instead of a human. If you do not check in online, you will have to pay an additional fee. The company would probably reply that it helps keeping its costs low and its prices lower, but the prices aren't lower. They are higher. It is an additional constraint on passengers that is increasing AirAsia's margin while not benefiting to the customers. Maybe one day Executives at AirAsia will find a way to make passengers clean the plane by themselves...

Let's talk about space now: I am a rather tall guy so I'm sensitive to the space between seats in an airplane. All low-cost companies are usually uncomfortable, but AirAsia beats all records. If you are more than 180cm and you didn't buy priority seats with extra leg space, your flight with AirAsia is a torture. You have to fold or squeeze your leg so that you will miraculously fit in the tiny space. If you are more than 190cm, I do not believe you can fly in those seats. If you are more than 190cm and you ever managed to fit in an AirAsia seat, please give me your testimony below.

AirAsia usually flies from and to second class airports, not the main ones. This is true in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok. Those airports are low-cost with less comfort, less shops and restaurants, and more queuing and disorganization. If you have to connect to another flight, unless it is another AirAsia flight, you will lose precious time running from one part of a city to the other.

Air Asia is very very often late and it is not just a personal impression. Just have a look at flightstats.com. You will see that some routes like Denpasar-Jakarta are on time on average 29% of the time only... Try to get any kind of compensation or excuse from a delayed flight and you will understand what is the meaning of low-cost services...

At last, the flight attendant of AirAsia are obviously recruited on their generous looks and it makes for a pleasant flight if you are a male like me. In terms of skills and attitude, they are probably on average more snobbish and arrogant than with other low cost airlines. Comparing them with flights attendants from regular companies like Singapore Airlines is a blasphemy. In terms of skills, I am not so sure but you should probably wish that nothing goes wrong during the flight...

My conclusion:

Personally I always avoid AirAsia because I consider that they are priced as regular airlines while offering the lowest standard of low cost service.

Be smart when you book a flight and check what is the real final price you pay and what kind of service are offered.

I would say book with AirAsia only if you can get a real promo and if you are flying without luggage, and without any need for extra services. You may also be sensitive to the safety issue as the record of the company doesn't show any deadly accident (but you may want to read this article though: Accident with AirAsia).

29 comments to '' Why I Never Fly With Air Asia "

  1. Tunes Hotels, Air Asia's sister company are even worse :)

  2. Yes but at least Tune Hotels are cheap!

  3. I agree 100 % with ur conclusion


  4. Air Asia: Now Everyone Can Cry....

  5. Completely disagree - its a low-cost airline and you get what you pay for. I've flown Jetstar, Nok, Firefly and others - they are all run on the same model - a bus that just happens to get airborne. Other than the Penang-BKK flight running late virtually everytime I've taken that flight, I have zero complaints. If you want Singapore Airlines, pay for Singapore Airlines - for me, any frustration is forgotten the instant I get in the cab at my destination.

  6. Hi Anonymous on January 19, 2014 at 4:27 PM, I'm not comparing AirAsia with regular airlines but with other low cost airlines.

    My criticism is that AirAsia is the most expensive of all these low cost airlines because of all the additional charges they have.

    And in spite of being more expensive, you get less than with any other low cost airlines.

    I've flown Jetstar and you get much more leg space for instance. I've flown Nok and they give you some drinks and snacks, etc...

    This is why Air Asia sucks in my mind.

  7. Fair enough, thibaud, but I still prefer AA to Jetstar, and I'm an Aussie FWIW. You mention staff arrogance - I find the Jetstar staff to be extremely curt and their smiles are patently fake - they've learnt well from the QANTAS overlords. Peace out.

  8. Don't t compare air Asia with lion air their plane falls apart no fly in many country one of my friend on his last trip with lion at danpasar have to swim to the shore

  9. I agree with some of your points especially the website trying to trick you into buying super inflated insurance however I enjoy the quick and easy machine issued boarding passes at the airport and I don't find the extra IDR100,000 or so too bad for the exit rows seats and prices for tickets tend to be around the same for other LCC's Tiger and Jetstar give or take with the exception of Lion who are obviously saving money in the wrong places as they have the dubious distinction of destroying more next-gen Boeing 737's then any other airline. As to your point about landing at second class airports. I much prefer landing a T3 in Jakarta as it's is faster to clear immigration/baggage and Bluebird. & Silverbird taxis seem to be always available in my experience which is not true of the main terminal especially at peak times. In KL they of course have there own terminal and in BKK they were effectively forced without choice to move back to Don Mueang as the new airport was reaching capacity and the authorities preferred to have full service carriers landing there. On the plus side Don Mueang is closer to the city and a cheaper taxi fare even if the food and shopping options are not as good as the bigger airport.

  10. Ya I agree, Air Asia a terrible airline. Not that cheaper than the big 2 out of JKT to BKK (my regular flights). On my last flight I paid extra for seat of choice (near exit). Just before take-off, they asked me to move to a crap (middle) seat near front of plane because some bloke wanted to sit next to his wife. I told them I'd paid extra for this seat, they told me to take it up with customer relations. I did, but they never answered the phone or emails. Fuck Air Asia, I'd rather swim.

  11. Air Asia is fantastic. Obviously if you book last minute you'll pay the same as a full service airline. Depends on the route too. On some you make huge savings. On others very little.

    I have never had trouble navigating their website and have never been tricked into paying for something I didn't want.

  12. Airasia..."Now Everyone Can Fly"......LATE!!!!

  13. I totally agree that air asia sucks beyong beleif...But its no shock is it????
    They are just the same as the street vendors in jakarta, they will cheat you for anything they can, as after all its a hard business and they are a relatively young company, with very little experience in customer satisfaction...
    Any way i would also rather land in the sea and get my feet a bit wet than be cramped , moved around and spoken to rudely, for a seat i also had paid for , which also was far more expensive than all other cheap airlines... I told them to stick it up there a holes, and will never fly AA again..

  14. AirAsiaReallyShitMay 9, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    Air Asia is a despicable airline. Its brand represents deceit, arrogance, lousy service and insult to passengers.

  15. I believe I have only flown once on AA and I agree with the Authour...AA is just about marketting and I think they are the worst among the budget airlines..If you want people to pay, let them decide, do not pre-select and increase the cost of the tickets with all kind of extras...Gives me the impression that Fernandos is begging for money...I have taken jetstar many times and I do rate them high.

  16. Not really... Lion Air is waay worse... I got left behind for my honeymoon flight despite checking in 2 hrs before take off... And the damn plane took my luggage. I believe this is against FAA directive for taking luggages without their owner...

    and those ground staff at destination airport could not find my luggage as well. I had to take the next flight (Garuda) and discovered my suitcases sitting nicely in the lost-and-found room.

  17. THE WORST AIRLINE I had a unluck to use. THe food was HORRID- had to give it away. Everything was bad..from service and attitude and whore-looking stewardesses.

  18. Agree with all the points above. What do you expect?

  19. LOL. The thing is, you were not good in booking Air Asia ticket. I swear that i consistently managed to bought tickets under RM 50 (that is around 17 SD yo!) to travel around Malaysia. Just do not add seat, insurance, baggage or food. The longest flight in my country is 2h30 m. Just make sure, when there is promotion, you are the 1st one ready to buy, cause they are selling even faster than any other airlines ticket

  20. AirAsia's website and prices are the best. I had terrible experience with LionAir whose website never works and when it does, they refuse to accept non-Indonesian credit cards, etc. AirAsia is the best airline in SEA.

  21. I always put AirAsia at the bottom list of my choice. Since there are so many incidents of uncomfortable landing and over shooting on the runaway, also recent crash and flying without permission and permit [Surabaya and Singapore flight], I have no more confident in Air Asia and deleted it completely from my list.

    Another report from Australia that all AirAsia planes do not have weather detected equipment that can detect weather in advance.

  22. More than 6 months and Airasia still haven't refund my double payment!

    I will never fly airasia again.

  23. I would never ride this plane even if its free. Its the worst plane ever

  24. Sure. The worst in the world.
    Airasia can find 100+ reasons to reject your service request immediately after you paid the ticket.

  25. I've flown dozens of flights on Air Asia since it's inception a decade ago. I've always been happy with their service and flights. I agree when they started the planes were old and often late but that was a long time ago. For the past 5 years at least, the planes are all new, one time, and the crews pleasant. Sure, it's an ala carte service and you can pay for what you want. I like that model because I don't need any food or checked baggage when I fly and i don't have to pay extra for it. They also have a very good safety record (yes, they had one crash but shit happens) and that can't be said for most other LLCs operating in Asia/South East Asia. Basically, you get what you pay for and I still always find AA 20-30 percent cheaper on any given flight than the mainline carriers (with often better flight times and routing to boot).

  26. I totally agree with the author as well, Air Asia could very well be one of the worst low budget? carrier in the world! They will try to rip you off in every chance they could lay their hands upon. I don't know how the travel date of my booking (through Traveloka) skipped so many months (from September to December), but both Traveloka and Air Asia do not want to help and just simply changed the date. Everything has to go through procedure, and the obvious reason would be no doubt, making more money. I will never fly Air Asia again!

  27. Last three flights with Air Asia each had an issue at check-in that required me to pay more money. To top it off they always try to charge me in a different currency than my credit card (e.g., charging me US dollars for a MYR ticket, on my SGD-denominated credit card "to make it easier and more convenient" for me). Sorry Tony -- your brand exudes abuse and fraud. Never again!