I know, i know. You get what you pay for. But Air Asia takes service to a level so low that the only point I can give them on 10 is because they eventually took me to my destination.
These are the reasons why i think Air Asia is the worst airline in Asia:
- Delays seem to be the norm; Singapore and its airport have spoiled me, yes. Before my flight to Bangkok on Air Asia, I couldn’t remember the last time I experienced a flight delay at Changi Airport. It may be because I seldom fly Air Asia, thankfully. The flight to Bangkok was officially delayed for an hour, which then got extended during boarding. The flight back was delayed 30 minutes at the gate (but you are still asked to present yourself at the gate a full hour before the flight). And all that, of course, without any apologies from Air Asia. Because you know: when you fly budget, you can’t complain.
- Prepare yourself for long waits, delays aside: Most airlines I’ve flown with take great pride in their web and physical automated check-in systems. These do make it easier on both the passenger and the check-in staff after all. At Air Asia, they somehow manage to f*** up that experience as well. We checked-in through their automated systems at the airport, expecting to do everyone a favour and speed up the process. Alas, with boarding passes in hand, it took us over a painful hour of queuing to reach the ‘baggage drop’ counter. In fact, it was taking roughly the same waiting time for someone who was checking in as someone who was just ‘bag dropping’.
- Incredibly narrow seats: I do understand that budget travel takes some compromise from the passenger. I frequently take other budget airlines including three of the most popular in this region: Jetstar, Scoot and Tiger Air. Seat space is usually reduced but I make do. With Air Asia, on top of squeezed leg space, the width of their seats seems to be significantly narrower than on other airlines. I was literally shoulder to shoulder with both my neighbours (middle seat for you). And don’t even think about sharing the arm rest. It’s barely wide enough to rest a quarter of my arm’s width. If you are wide-shouldered, then run. Run far, far away from that Air Asia flight.
- Inflexibility in managing bookings online: Since everything is an add-on on budget travel, it’s no surprise that we often find ourselves in situations where we need to modify our booking. Additional luggage space here, more legroom there. While it’s a hassle, I respect the fact that low cost carriers need to make money too. You typically go to the website, you key in your booking number, you choose your add-on and you pay. Simple, right? Not on Air Asia, no. Air Asia only allows you to manage your booking if you are a member. So I was not a member. I had to go through the long process to signing up as a member (when I obviously didn’t want to) just so I could add additional luggage weight.
- Unpleasant staff attitude: I believe in a minimum level of service. It isn’t all that hard to smile and be gracious, is it? Especially when you are in the service sector and you are getting paid to, well, serve. I usually applaud airline staff for accommodating difficult passengers, and even more so on budget airlines. It shows class. On Air Asia (and this does not apply to Thai Air Asia X whose staff were really nice), if feels like any service received from staff is a favour that I should be thanking them for. They get irate when you ask them for that bottle of wine (which you are paying for by the way) more than once, because hey! I’m busy chatting with my colleague, can’t you see and I’ll serve you when I decide to.
I’d like to add that, at SGD857, two return tickets to Bangkok from Singapore is not all that cheap. It was a busy period and Air Asia was offering the best time slots. Safe to say, there’s one airline I’m not going to patronize anymore.