If you want to fly and arrive at your destination late, choose Air Asia. An airline that prides itself on being the “best low cost airline in the world”, it seems overall that doesn’t mean much? Just that other ‘low cost airlines’ are a lot worse? In fact, Air Asia has a reputation of having late flights frequently. So frequently in fact, most of my friends in Thailand now refuse to fly them as they say “They’re always late”.
When time is money, paying an extra $25 on another airline, which is often the only difference in price between Air Asia and another company, is worth it. Not only do you usually arrive on time with another airline, you also get checked baggage without having to pay an extra fee, and in-flight food also included in the price – unlike Air Asia, where everything is an extra charge. I guess there’s a reason why they’re ‘low budget’. It seems to equate with ‘low quality’ too.
I say all this as I write while sitting at LCCT airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,with my Air Asia flight to Bangkok delayed, yet again. Bad enough that LCCT is one of the worst airports in the world to be stuck at, but to not even be surprised any more that an Air Asia flight is late shows how terrible this airline really is. This is my 29th flight on Air Asia, and it’s late. As, incidentally, were 27 of the 28 other flights I took with the airline. In fact, out of five years flying with Air Asia, only one flight has ever left on time.
On the Air Asia departure board at LCCT airport right now, there are eight flights listed as departing in the next two hours. One has already been canceled and four are delayed. A prime example of Air Asia’s terrible reliability.
On top of that, Air Asia’s website doesn’t work correctly, so won’t accept most American credit cards. That meant, for this trip, I had to trek to the Air Asia office in downtown Bangkok to pay for my flight by cash. Two and half hours of my time wasted, just to book a flight. Talk about inconvenient and an added expense. Then, when I paid in cash, Air Asia still charged me a $6 charge for a ‘booking fee’. What the hell?.
As of today, I am officially finished flying with Asia Asia. When they can only get one out of 29 flights to leave on time, it’s beyond ridiculous, it’s deliberate.
My guess is, the main reason for Air Asia being cheap is they over schedule flights, cut too many corners, and don’t have enough planes to fit their schedule, like other airlines do, if something goes wrong with another plane. So, when they have a problem with a plane (which seems to be often), they don’t have another plane to fill the gap. Thus the delay.
The reason my current flight is late is the flight coming in, which is the plane I will be on going back to Bangkok, is late. That’s usually been their excuse on every other Air Asia flight I’ve taken too. Which tells you there’s something wrong with their scheduling, if this is how most of their flights run – basically fly in in, deplane the passengers, get refueled, board new passengers, and leave again.
It doesn’t bode well for their safety either because, if most Air Asia flights are late, then they’re not spending the time they should be spending between flights to check rudimentary maintenance. They can’t be. There simply isn’t enough time.
In fact, Tony Fernandes, the owner of Air Asia has admitted they cut a lot of corners to keep costs down. Corners that, I’m deciding for my safety, shouldn’t be cut. One example of the cost cutting is something admitted to by Fernandes, who several years ago said, “My engineers talk to my pilots about how to fly the plane more efficiently, “We went from 80 landings per set of tyres to 180. We showed them how to brake on the runway, how to use the reverse thrust, how they should descend. We burn just 770 US gallons per hour of fuel. Malaysia Air, using a similar plane, burns 1100 US gallons.”
Now, if other airlines only make 80 landings on one set of tyres and Air Asia is making almost 2 1/2 times more landings, as a passenger that doesn’t make me think “Wow, good for them”. Instead, it makes me think “I’ll be booking my next flight on Lufthansa, as it sounds like an Air Asia plane could be a death trap upon landing”.
So, if you absolutely have to get to your destination on time, avoid Air Asia like the plague. With more flights leaving and arriving late than any other airline (**my flight eventually landed in Bangkok 45 minutes late), and cutting corners to save money that, in my opinion, could end up causing an accident, Air Asia isn’t the airline to use if you want reliability.