Having recently ‘survived’ a long-haul trip with Air Asia (Bali – UK in two legs), I thought I would share a few tid-bits of information for anyone else out there considering the same.First things first, Air Asia is a budget airline just like Ryanair in Europe or Virgin Blue in Australia; they keep costs down by cutting back on all ‘non-essential‘ details (‘non-essential’ in this case is their definition which might differ in meaning to that of an average passenger!). Expect to
have to pay for bottled water, this is particularly bad as the air-conditioning on the plane and the altitude increase dehydration so it can be a serious problem. Demand a ‘cup of water‘ from them at the back of the plane and they will giv
e it to you begrudgingly. A pretty big short-coming I think you will agree, especially as you are only allowed 100ml max liquid allowance in any one container to carry on yourself.
Second, all in-flight entertainment is non-existent; no TV screens in the backs of the seat in front of you, no screen at the front of your section of the plane, nothing. However, they do offer you a portable media player which costs about $10 US but the batteries only last 6 hours!! Not ideal for a 14 hour flight (KL – London).
Also, I would highly advise pre-booking your food (which is part of the order process). I did and was very glad for it – the lady in front of me didn’t and at meal time was told ‘I’m sorry we don’t have any other food left, is a doughnut OK for you?’. I don’t think a doughnut is really enough to keep you going on a long flight so definitely reserve your food as to save money they attempt to bring as little on board as possible and you will not be guaranteed any. It is also more expensive to buy it on the plane than it is online, if you needed any more convincing! The quality of the food itself was surprisingly good; it tasted fine and was comparable to most other airline meals I have had, much to my amazement! You can also stock up on sandwiches and other snacks at the airport as they didn’t stop me bringing through a muffin, fruit and other sandwiches. As I was going to eat them all on the plane, I can’t see the problem with it!
At the airport itself, with online check-in being possible and self check-in obligatrory (I think) it was very easy; there is someone waiting to help you with the check-in procedure and, at least when I went, no queues to speak of. The whole check-in and bag drop process took me no more than 5 minutes for both flights which I thought was pretty good! However, this may not be the same for all so do not take this as a rule of thumb!
If you are planning on taking a surfboard, Air Asia is definitely not the carrier for you; you will get charged an extortionate amount – a far better idea would be to buy a board in Bali and then re-sell it if you are intent on or can only afford to fly with Air Asia.
All in all, it wasn’t the best experience but it was what I expected with a few things exceeding my expectations (namely the queues at the airport and the food) with others being just as I thought they would (the drinking water situation). If you choose to go long-haul with them, try to hydrate yourself as much as possible before, take on as many snack foods as you can and maybe a pack of playing cards or some kind of board game set as it does get very BORING! If you don’t pay a lot in terms of money, you certainly pay for it in other ways!
How to Survive a Long-haul Air Asia Flight!