AirAsia Trip Report – An Experience Like None Other

This is part nine of my Bali / Kuala Lumpur trip report and includes my first experience flying with AirAsia. The flight was a short 2 hours and 55 minutes from Bali (DPS) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) on the standard AirAsia A320. AirAsia advertises that they are bringing flying to the masses, and boy are they ever! I’ve flown on airlines all over the world, including small regional and low cost carriers, but this was an experience like never before. It was also probably one of my cheapest airfares @ $13.18 plus taxes and fees.

The fare was booked only a few days before with a base of $13.18 USD and airport taxes of $16.12 for a total of $29.30. I paid an additional $13.07 for up to 20kg (45lbs) of checked luggage. Malaysia Airlines, now a OneWorld partner, also operates on the route. Their fare for a flight 40 minutes earlier was $144 including taxes and fees and included up to 30kg (66lbs) of luggage for free. I had read a lot about AirAsia and wanted to try out their service, plus it was over a $100 difference.

Additionally, it was $1.96 to select a regular seat in advance and $10.35 for a premium seat (first 5 rows or exit row). There was also a processing fee of $2.94. I didn’t pay the additional fee to select my seat as the flight looked super empty. However, upon arriving at the airport and obtaining my boarding pass from the kiosk, I could see I had been assigned a middle seat with no other seats available. I went to the check-in counter and the agent informed me that the seats were blocked out but not actually sold. He gave me seat 14A, one of the emergency row seats! I also received my “boarding pass” which looked like a receipt from a fast food restaurant.

I had about 45 minutes until boarding and planned to grab some food, but as I walked by the lounges, I saw that they were accessible either with the free  Lounge Club membership that I received with my Chase Ink Bold and Chase Ink Plus or with the Priority Pass card that some may have from their Platinum American Express cards. The Lounge Club allows for 2 free visits a year per card membership and I rarely use it.

Boarding was simple as there was truly no one on the flight! Being generous there were probably about 40 people on the flight and I had the whole exit row to myself, as well as the two rows behind me, across from me, and in front of me. The flight attendants allowed passengers to switch seats but they were not allowed in the exit rows near me!

The seats were actually pretty nice with comfortable headrests and padded fake leather backs. Regular economy seats have a 29.5″ pitch and a width of 18″.

While the seats might be more comfortable than Ryanair or EasyJet, AirAsia uses several similar techniques to drum up additional revenue, including advertisements on the overhead bins and tray tables, a large menu of food and drink items for sale, and in-flight duty free shopping.

Reading through the in-flight magazine, I actually learned several interesting facts about AirAsia…

1) AirAsia won best low-cost airline in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

2) AirAsia Citibank Visa holders get free AirAsia X(AirAsia’s international operation) flat-bed upgrades. What a great perk and the T&Cs don’t even seem to restrict the upgrade to certain fares types – AirAsia X Premium Flatbed upgrade only applies to AirAsia-Citibank Platinum Visa Credit Card for tickets purchased in any fare class with the AirAsia-Citibank Platinum Visa Credit Card. Upgrade is only applicable when a Cardmember redeems through AirAsia X Service Counter and it is solely based on seats availability. Upgrades are for one way only.

3) Kenny Rogers Roasters is still kicking all over Southeast Asia!

OK, back to my flight and how AirAsia truly is bringing air travel back to the masses…

There were definitely a lot of passengers on this flight who had never flown before. We had two (yes, not 1 but 2) occurrences of passengers getting up during takeoff to use the bathroom. If you perform a google search, this doesn’t seem all that uncommon. Passengers kept their tray tables down at all times, cell phones were on and ringing, and flight attendants made multiple announcements pleading passengers to remain seated and fasten their safety belts for the climb! I had never seen anything like it. Several Asian carriers tend to have passengers that choose to ignore announcements more so than carriers in other parts of the world, but this was ridiculous.

Once up in the air, the next announcement reminded passengers that no outside food or beverage were allowed to be consumed on the aircraft. They then asked all passengers who pre-booked food to raise their hands and present their boarding passes for validation.

The flight itself was smooth and I spread out across my exit row. While there was no in-flight entertainment system, my fellow passengers were amusement enough. The flight attendants were extremely friendly and made multiple service rounds. My only complaint would be the landing, by far the hardest I’ve ever experienced, though most of my low-cost carrier flights outside of the US tend to have hard and fast landings.

There was one last unfortunate surprise and shame on me for now doing any research prior, AirAsia lands at the low cost terminal in KUL. While it’s still a part of the same international airport, it’s a 20 minute bus ride to the main terminal where all high-speed train options into the city are located. There are multiple buses and most cost only $2. However, don’t expect much room for luggage (no under-carriage luggage) or assistance lifting your bag on-board. I wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere as it was already late at night, but I’ll know for next time to consider all options. Perhaps the extra $100 for the Malaysia flight would be worth it to some.

In any case, AirAsia was a mostly comfortable ride and had great people watching for entertainment. The crew was overly friendly and we departed and arrived early.  For under $20, think about giving them a try for your next flight. That said, I don’t think I’ll be taking advantage of their Southeast Asia to Australia routes…

Up next, Hilton & Westin Kuala Lumpur…



  1. Did they weigh your carry-on bag at the gate? I’ll be flying them to RGN in March, and just now saw the blurb about not allowing two bags on-board. Had not planned to check my rollerboard, and I will have my backpack, so I’m not sure how that situation will work out.

    • @FriendlySkies- they weighed my checked bag but did not count or weigh my carry-ons. I had a backpack and duffle bag. You have an opportunity to add weight or bags during online check-in

  2. Thanks for sharing your AirAsia experience! I’m surprised they have a flat-bed option for their international routes… I wonder if that’s a first for low-budget airline carrieres.

    Did you order any food or drinks? That Chattime looked pretty good.

  3. I find AirAsia very good in Southeast Asia but they discontinued my favorite route a few months ago and they were the only carrier that had a nonstop flight. This was DPS-HKT which is Bali to Phuket.

    I always pay extra for the red seats and almost always have the whole row to myself.

    Great post!

  4. I’ve always been quite happy with Air Asia, as long as I’m aware of the limitations. Have flown with them throughout southeast Asia several times. The new low cost terminal is already being constructed and trains to the city wouldn’t be a big problem anymore eventually.

  5. Thanks for this report. I have to fly AirAsia HKG to BKK, next May. We really didn’t have a choice as Cathay and Thai were $600 a piece for this flight, AirAsia was $139 all in, including extra bag weight and hot seat. It was a no brainer as the savings was almost $1000. Our flights to HKG are an AA award in Cathay J. So, we couldn’t ticket thru to BKK as AA allows no stop-overs overseas. I have searching the net for AirAsia reviews. None really provided much info until I found yours. We did find cheap flights for HKG to BKK on Emirates and Royal Jordanian, but we weren’t interested in flying into a foreign city at 1AM. Thanks for the review!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>