Budget Travel

The AirAsia Paradox

The Air Asia Paradox Cover

Ever seen those AirAsia billboard adverts with their air stewards who smile and welcome you on your way to what could possibly be your fantasy dream getaway vacation? With the so-called low initial prices for relatively long and medium haul flights to various destinations around the world, it easily favours the budget and frequent travellers, enticing anyone to have their travel fantasies come to light again.

My advise based on my personal experience: 

Be very careful when you travel with AirAsia or you may spoil your well deserved travel plans and fantasies altogether.

After an incident at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport while catching my flight to Phuket, I thought maybe it was just my unlucky day that day. I did a search for some recent reviews about AirAsia and a whole list of wretched articles and negative feedbacks popped up. So I concluded, this incident has nothing to do with my luck after all.

Now everyone can fly….**for those who bought checked bags only!

Firstly when they say “prices from”, it is simply a marketing gimmick to attract and entice. I think the more accurate word should be “prices was”. The information stated is completely untrue and a total deliberate act of misinformation and misdirection. After scouring and searching their website for all available promotional dates on the valid flying periods, I never could find what they advertised. Even the cheapest and closest was about 20% more expensive, which was still fine with me. AirAsia loves to hide behind the over-used excuse of “promotional indicative prices” and “subject to terms and conditions” to mask all the differences in advertised prices against actual ones.

The “lowest fare destinations” is a hoax and their widely advertised prices are a total sham. Do not be fooled by AirAsia and their so-called cheap one way fares. Their add-on fees for checked baggage alone make your total flight ticket more expensive than the bigger carriers flying the same route. For the total price you pay for a one way trip and check in baggage with AirAsia, you can hop on a better and much more comfortable airline with just a bit more research. AirAsia’s flight times for their so called cheap flights are usually so awkward that you would end up spending more time on private transportation to get to the airport or to your hotel. So my advise is ‘why bother with AirAsia?’ Check out other low cost carriers like Scoot or Malindo.

From my experience, those promotional prices stated are only ONE way for ONE pax carrying nothing but his or her passport and the clothes on his or her back! The return ticket is averagely 3 to 4 times the price you paid going there!

But wait, your real hurdle begins at the airport on the day of your maiden flight. Your 7kg carryon bag allowance is virtually non-existent with AirAsia and their ONE hand carry policy, making them complete numbskulls. Imagine a frequent flyer like me who carries the basic minimal of things that includes a laptop, adding all other accessories like handphone charger, laptop adaptor, wireless mouse, headsets, tablet, power bank, action camera and drone with accessories, travel cosmetic bag, lingerie, bikini, some clothes, a pair of lightweight trainer shoes, my handbag, purse and keys. All of these add up to 6kg. The AirAsia staff at the baggage blockade insist I check in 2 of my 4 bags? Oh come on, your hand carry limit stated is 7kg isn’t it? My total bags combined haven’t even reached 7kg! 

If I do check in my bag, I will be left carrying just my electronic gadgets and portable electronic devices, which by the way aren’t allowed to be checked in, in a plastic bag or in my arms throughout my flight. And if I checked in only my clothes and cosmetics in my small backpack, it weighs less than 4kg! What is the rationale of forcing me to buy a 20kg allowance to check in something that weighs a fraction of what I paid for? What about the inconvenience of having to wait at the luggage carousel to collect and check my baggage to ensure none of my items are damaged or stolen? I have travelled with all kinds of different airlines including budget airlines of different countries for so many times to so many destinations and this is the first and most ridiculous restriction I’ve encountered.

This is the reality check guys and gals… AirAsia is just desperate to earn on your coerced last-minute check in baggage fees and any other ‘for-the-sake-of-avoiding-inconvenience’ fees, which inevitably, makes your dream of a simple cheap getaway crash before your eyes as they greedily and unforgivingly punch numbers into your credit or debit card at the airline counter. So much for the cheap low cost flight that turns out more expensive compared to more reputable medium and large carriers that automatically include checked luggage and has way more professional and courteous staff to serve you.

One bag to rule them all and in the darkness, bind them.

I have travelled with many airlines around the world including many low cost budget carriers that zip me around short distances to neighbouring countries in Asia. From now on, I would definitely avoid AirAsia. Their staff, on top of being rude and unprofessional, would also try to stop you from heading to immigrations despite already having your boarding pass legitimately printed and issued to you. In all legal terms, this is illegal for AirAsia to refuse my entry to the immigrations and checkpoints because of my hand carried luggage. If my legal counsel is right, it is illegal for any 3rd party or entity from stopping you from heading to the immigrations except for warranted officers of the government, customs or police. If they wanted to impose such ONE bag only term, they should have stopped me before issuing my boarding pass in the first place. We ladies carry a handbag to carry our purse, keys, passport, some gadgets and accessories and that shouldn’t be counted as a carryon BAG as part of their ONE bag policy.

Other competitive airlines like Scoot and VietJet are so much more professional and even allow more than one hand carryon bag as long as their combined weight doesn’t exceed 7kg and conform with the allowable dimensions. That is more fair rather than counting the bloody number of bags in my hand and on my back! What if I shopped for souvenirs or local delicacies at the airport’s duty free zone? Does each plastic bag or shopping bag count as one each?

I also witnessed AirAsia stewardess carrying way more bags and carryon luggage than any single passenger heading onboard. They simply breeze through the AirAsia baggage blockade as air crew and end up taking up the space in the rear overhead compartments. To think that those compartments are meant for paying passengers to use? Why aren’t their cabin crews also complying with the so called ONE carryon bag? Ever heard of lead by example?

Many AirAsia passengers are forced to open their bags to repack and redistribute weight amongst their fellow travelling companions just to satisfy this mockable one bag 7kg criteria and later having these companions simply repack again after immigrations! Why bother? Furthermore, what if we did shopping in the duty free zones after immigrations and had tonnes of more hand carry bags? Are they also gonna ask us to check in those items?

Under international customs and duty laws these items must be hand carried at all times and sealed with a receipt for proof of the exemption of duties and taxes from the disembarking location. If AirAsia claims that their ONE cabin bag policy is to facilitate smoother boarding and disembarking for passengers, AirAsia should go fire those policy makers for using their arse and not their brains. The delays caused by disembarking and boarding is often caused by the duty free shopping goods some tourists buy that half the time don’t comply with the so called ONE carryon bag and size limits!

If you want to discourage oversized and bulky hand carryons, explain to the passengers the risks and have them also rationally consider the convenience of all remaining passengers and offer a more reasonable checked luggage fee to encourage passengers rather than punish them. For example, Malindo airlines does a way better job by including a 20kg checked bag for every flight ticket. This makes Malindo more affordable and attractive than AirAsia. If I had known better, I would’ve flown with Malindo instead.

The IATA also spells out regulations on hand carryon versus checked bag items and specifically details that gadgets or items with rechargeable lithium ion batteries that are subject to a maximum capacity and other electronic devices must be carried onboard the aircraft and NOT checked in. So how can AirAsia overrule this international regulation of the IATA when I also carry a drone and its spare batteries in a special carrying bag which is separate from my camera bag, laptop bag and other travel gadgets? Why should I then be forced to check in my bag when it doesn’t even exceed the cabin bag allowance but only because I have several bags on me? Why is the quantity of bag a issue when I am simply complying with IATA regulations?

AirAsia thinks that with all their gibberish fine prints and terms and conditions, they can blindside the unwary passengers. AirAsia is only thinking of how they can coerce passengers to pay up. Or else, you will miss your flight and every other travel itinerary you had paid for in advance at your destination. By overwriting the international regulations or bending them to their favour, they easily bind passengers left in the dark and feed on their desperation and confusion on their first leg of travel.

For any of you who want a peaceful and happy holiday trip, do give a consideration to other carrier options altogether! Even AirAsia’s flight delays and sudden cancellations will catch you in the dark. If you didn’t buy their so-called travel insurance, they’d leave you blaming and hating yourself without remorse or guilt and simply ask you to rebook another flight without compensation! Nowadays even the larger airline corporations like Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways are offering cheaper and hassle free ticket booking experiences with the luxury of spacious seats, meals, checked bags and other value added services included in the price.

Sometimes we have to factor in the perks to justify the price differences and treat ourselves to a worry free holiday.

AirAsia’s Unapologetic truth of Inconvenience!

As evident in any major airport with an AirAsia counter, the queues and crowds of budget travellers tricked into using them spread for miles around the departure floor. They only open so few counters for check in and worse still, passengers are forced to repack their stuff to distribute weight or else pay the price to avoid such inconvenience. Hence, everyone is sprawled everywhere to try to open bags and repack their travel shopping, causing much anxiety to other passengers at other counters travelling on different airlines. It is always AirAsia causing such inconvenience and anxiety to their passengers and other stakeholders with their ignorant baggage policies and unapologetic attitude toward “budget conscious” travellers who don’t want to buy checked bag allowances or their other value added services.

Airports should penalise AirAsia and or any airline carrier that cause congestions along the public walkways or airport departure halls, making the airport look more like a refugee processing centre with the long lines of people and airport trolleys massing all the way to other counters and queues. The long queues at airports due to the inherent understaffed and inefficient AirAsia crew causes disruptions to other airline operators whose passengers have difficulty getting across these lines to their respective check in counters. Even as the halfway mark goes, the check in times for other AirAsia flights to other destinations overlap the unfinished lines causing confusion and panic for some of the earlier flight passengers way back of the lines who can’t see the noticeboard yet. Imagine the panic and security threat when passengers scramble to get checked in for their flight.

Airports should require AirAsia to open more counters for check in especially if they have frequent flights hourly back to back for any particular destination. They should employ more ground staff to facilitate passengers checking in rather than just automate everything and leave passengers in the lurch and confused.

For any holiday goers, their experience flying to and from are the most critical impressions that will keep them coming back for more. Hence airports should want to make a good impression for tourists with efficient and comfortable airport and check in facilities. By penalising such havoc and disoriented airline operators such as AirAsia, it will beef up airport security and keep disruptions and delays at bay. It also gives a lasting impression of the country and the go to word for destination for many other social travel and business influencers.

Most travellers have always admired and seen the beautiful and captivating images of locations and travel destinations and their means of travel always begin with their choice of airlines and the airports where they are going. In most cases, we travel mainly to destress and not pile on another load of stress. For a complete stress free travel, stay far away from AirAsia. Otherwise, you’ll come home with loads of unforgiving memories and a heart full of regret. Not to mention also the damage or lost baggage liability restriction by AirAsia. They will make things so difficult for you to make a claim in the event of loss or damaged baggages. Worst still, they may never reply any of your emails and ask you to call and call again.

In my opinion, AirAsia starts off by putting you in a pickle about a cheap one way flight price and makes everything else inconvenient for you thereafter, including your random choice of seat. After all, ‘when you pay peanuts…you get monkeys’. Even the timing of their flights either require you to camp at the airport the night before or skip your sleep and get a “peak hour” transport all the way to the airport. How else to ruin the rest of your day by giving you more inconvenience about the number of bags you carry. Unless you begrudgingly pay for your “upgrade”, be prepared to be treated like a miser and be forced to repack items in the public areas and be last to board and disembark while everyone that has airport shopping bags fill up the overhead compartments and take several minutes to gather them up.

Travel should be stress free and I share this experience to warn others of the unforgiving truth behind the unapologetic inconveniences of AirAsia’s cheap flight paradoxes. Travellers should avoid the paradox of thrift with AirAsia as their coerced last-minute upgrade fees are unforgiving. You may compare their fares and find them not any cheaper than other airline operators such as Nok Air, VietJet, Scoot or even the larger carriers like Malindo, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways that have regular promotional return flights which are more reputable and comfortable in every way.

Personally, I’d be happy to pay a bit more to another airline than be forced to check in my personal belongings that do not even exceed 7kg.

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