There are already so many reasons why I dislike flying Air Asia. Is this a sign that I should finally give up on them?
|Seat layout for Air Asia's Quiet Zone|
The little green bars are baby bassinets
For anyone booking seats in the Quiet Zone, take a look at the seating chart. There's a baby bassinet two rows in front of the Quiet Zone and another one behind the bulkhead at the back. So, primo babyzone bookends the Quiet Zone. Unless you are also getting a Cone of Silence, will Air Asia be able to deliver on their promise? If your seatmate gets a little too chatty, do you get to point at the Quiet Zone sign and shush him? That laughing couple the next row over? Kick them out. For those people who say, "I didn't spend all this money on a flight just to have it spoiled by loud children," may I suggest that you'd be more comfortable on one of Air Asia's private chartered flights. Then you can fill the plane with people of your choice. Isn't that what you're really after? Getting to pick and choose who deserves the privilege of flying with you.
If you're not familiar with Air Asia, they're a budget airline based in Malaysia. It's the Asian version of Southwest Airlines except with less frills. Much of what bugs me are the cost-cutting measures that make it so cheap.
No free drinks
Nothing is free on Air Asia. Don't expect a little bag of peanuts or a drink. Not even water is free. (Although in their defense, this is typical at Malaysian restaurants.) One small bottle is only US$0.30, but it just irks me to have to hand over money for water when it's complimentary on other airlines. To exacerbate my annoyance, some airports like Singapore make you dispose of liquids at the gate waiting area.
Carry-on luggage must not weigh more than 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) combined.
Air Asia has a weight limit for carry-ons, and yes, they will check it. When I realized that my rolling suitcase weighed 3.2 kilograms (7 pounds) empty, it was time to dig out my light duffel bag. The kids were a little perplexed about why they couldn't bring along as many books as usual. I felt like we were prepping for backpack camping where every little ounce counts. (For the record, I have never gone backpacking.)
Bags may not be checked through to final destination.
My friend took an Air Asia flight from Penang to Taiwan which had a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. Imagine her surprise when she discovered that her bags would not be transferred to the second flight even though it's on the same airline. She was supposed to retrieve her suitcases in Kuala Lumpur and then re-check it in to continue to Taiwan. Her original layover wasn't long enough to do this, so she had to change to a later flight at an extra charge. Air Asia now has Fly-Thru flights where they'll handle the baggage transfer for you, but it's only on specific routes.
Your passport must be valid for 6 months after travel date.
To enter Malaysia, your passport must be valid for 6 months. Air Asia also requires this in order to leave the country. Last December, we flew back to the United States with plans to renew passports. Air Asia refused to sell us tickets because the passports were only valid for 5.5 months after our departure. I called Customer Service, fully expecting to change their minds by explaining that we needed to leave because our passports were expiring. Nope. I ended up booking our flight on Cathay Pacific which had no such restriction. But these tickets were about US$400 more. With the 5 of us, that was an extra US$2000. Ouch.
Kuala Lumpur's Low Cost Carrier Terminal hits new lows.
This is the worst run terminal I have ever been in. None of the Arrival/Departure info screens worked, so we didn't know our gate or flight status. We tried using the Air Asia iPhone app, but it wasn't updated. None of the gates had our destination on it. In this large waiting area packed with customers, Air Asia employees were scarce. When I finally found one, he pointed to a gate labeled with another city than the one we wanted. Our departure time came and went with no announcements. We had no clue what was going on! Finally, the speaker crackled to life and told us it was time to board. It turns out that the gate the man had indicated was right but no one had changed the sign.
Cheap prices keep luring me back.
Why don't I finally give up on Air Asia if they bug me so much? Their prices are incredibly cheap, and they fly nonstop to many places we want to visit. Other airlines are at least twice as expensive, and I'm buying tickets for five people. Boycotting them would effectively place family travel outside of our budget -- no more quick getaways every few months. Using Air Asia is one of the reasons why we travel now more than we did in America. Air Asia, I just can't quit you.