I just came back to Bangalore after an awesome 7 days in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. Having used Airasia for my international itinerary for the trip and seeing how cheap flying is really possible with them, I thought of jotting down the following tips to help you save big bucks on your next travel with Air Asia.
Now everyone can fly, But just be careful
When you book an Airasia flight online, you have to be really careful about how and when you are doing it. The following are some guidelines for you based on my personal experience with them during multiple bookings.
#1. Never book Airasia in your first attempt
AirAsia’s online booking system is a pretty smart spy that seems to track what you are trying to do in your multiple attempts under pressure. It will persuade you with some impressive numbers/statements and session timeout warnings etc. You have to make sure that you take your own sweet time before committing to a booking because there’s no refund (Also read the next section on how to uncheck unwanted options)
Since they use cookie based tracking, try clearing cookies or use alternate browser (or even a different PC / Laptop) on your subsequent booking attempts.
Also, try your booking options without logging into you your AirAsia account because if you do so, they clearly know your history.
#2. Uncheck addons during booking
This is where exactly you save big bucks. AirAsia’s default options are meant to extract money from you and the following are the recommended AirAsia booking options in most cases.
(Please note that you have to do the below settings for each and every traveler. Refer to the image above)
(a) Enable web check-in: For each passenger on your list , they will charge you RM10 (Malaysian Ringgit) if you opt for counter check-in. This means, that if you are a four member family, you can save RM80 on a roundtrip. Web check in can save you from a lot of trouble in front of the checkin counter.
(b) Discard Airasia insurance: This option is at the very bottom of the online booking screen. AirAsia’s insurance add-on doesn’t provide a lot of value for the price you pay. The insurance in this case is opted on a point-to-point basis which is not exactly what you want on an overseas trip. Instead, you can get very cheap online travel insurance for the whole trip from other vendors – especially when you are travelling from India to countries like Malaysia on tourist visa. For example, for my entire one week’s trip for a three member family, I had to pay only Rs.1400/- for all medical and air travel losses covered. The premium can much cheaper when you opt for the right insurance companies – of course, I didn’t do enough research on this before buying a travel insurance policy from Bajaj Allianz.
(c) Deselect checked baggage: By default, for every passenger in the itinerary, they add 20Kg of checked in baggage limit at the cost of RM30. If you are traveling as a family and if you need only 20Kg or 30Kg max, make sure that you bundle all that stuff in one travel bag. Then you can choose this option ONLY for one passenger and deselect all others. If you have only cabin baggage to carry, the situation is even better!
(d) Don’t opt for KL Sentral to Airport bus transit: The bus transit, if you opt for, is a cheaper mechanism to travel from LCCT to KL Sentral or vice versa. However, when you buy from them with all their add-on taxes, it doesn’t work out really cheap. You can buy it anyhow from the airport later or you might even decide to go for a taxi for comfort reasons. Hence you can defer this option while doing online booking.
(e) Don’t pick hot seats unless you really want it: Hot seats in AirAsia are those seats dressed in red color headrest cover while all others are black. Hotseats offer better leg room but be very careful while choosing them because NOT all those dressed up seats offer significance difference in leg room in a typical Airbus A320 carrier that AirAsia mostly operate. Row 1 and the ones near the exit doors (12 and 14) definitely offer a lot of leg room than other hot seats (Check this link) Hence, unless you get these seats, don’t pay the extra RM10 per hot seat. Even otherwise, unless you are a six-footer, for short journeys (i.e. less than four hours), you don’t really need a hot seat.
(f) Buy inflight food in advance: The inflight menu of AirAsia , though limited, is a great bargain when you buy in advance during online ticket booking. For example, the RM10 Nasi Lemak (typical Malaysian food) is an excellent in flight food for such cheap pricing.
Why pre-booked food when you can buy it on board? Because, those who pre-booked their food is first served and on a small carrier like A320, it takes the crew about 30-40 minutes to complete this task. Only after that, others can buy food and that’s exactly why it makes sense to prebook AirAsia’s awesome cheap food from the inflight menu.
However, you may really need to do this if the flight journey is say, three hours or longer. Again, it is a matter of personal preference.
By the way, AirAsian in-flight cuisine is mostly good for Non-vegetarians. The vegetarians have very limited options but still fine for the price at which they come.
#3. Be careful while booking onward journeys
Since AirAsia can postpone or reschedule your flights by a few hours, be very careful while booking your onward journey. If you have planned for just two or three hours break between flights (from the same airport even), think again. You might want to keep a good 8 to 10 hour gap between connecting flights if you are flying AirAsia. The typical rescheduling seems to be by four or five hours as per my experience with AirAsia on two occasions.
#4. On travel day
Due the point explained in #3, you have to make sure that you contact them at their desk before starting to the airport on travel day. Sometimes, their SMS alerts just don’t reach you on time. I was surprised that I got alerts regarding my return flight’s postponement but never got any alert for my onward journey on time. I accidentally found it out during web check-in. An alternative to calling them up is to cross-check the web-checking portal (http://checkin.airasia.com) to verify the new departure time.
Further, if you are in India do your web check-in using your email ID rather than opting for mobile alerts. Because, I never managed to get my 2D check-in code via mobile in India.
Regarding the baggage weight: If you are checking in from an Indian airport, don’t even imagine in your wildest dreams that you can exceed even 1kg from the prebooked weight. The AirAsia crew in Indian airports always go strictly by the numbers and they are very stubborn if you exceed the limits by even a kilogram. They would force you to take the next 10Kg block which costs you about RM80 or 100 when you are buying it at their counter. I experienced this myself last week and they are very cunning on that part.
Outside India (e.g. KL LCC Terminal) they have a flexibility up to 1 or 1.5Kg exceeding the limits, but again you have to pre-book your baggage weight in advance to save money. Read point #5 below.
#5. Add more weights just before travel
Since tourists are likely to have more baggage weight on return journeys, it is always better to top-up your baggage purchases on your return flight. In AirAsia, you can do this top-up job up to four hours before your travel and that’s a good thing because you can take a decision after packing up.
However, there’s a catch here. Between 20Kg and 25Kg, there’s only a difference of 6 Ringgits but if you cross 25Kg, the next option (i.e. 30Kg baggage) is rip off with doubled pricing as compared to 20Kg. And if you opt for 40Kg, that is even worse at 4 times the charge of 20Kg. And imagine, if you didn’t pre-book it before travel, you will be robbed by a few hundred Ringgits on the counter.
Hence be very careful while deciding your baggage options. The advantage of the AirAsia website is that you can access it from your mobile phone using any of the free Wifi options. I used the Hotel wifi to quickly add another five kilograms when I returned and that really saved me a lot of money.
Please note that, once you have done a web check-in and later you top up more baggage weight, you don’t need to do another check-in or modify anything. Their system will anyhow capture the changes.
That is pretty much I have to share in this edition of AirAsia flight booking tips. In essence, if you book and opt everything in advance, everyone can fly cheap in AirAsia as per their real claim. But if you vary even a bit from your options chosen, they will rip you apart.