AIRLINE TRAVEL TIPS: AIRLINE RECOMMENDATIONS
AIRLINE TRAVEL TIPS: AIRLINE RECOMMENDATIONS- pt 2
I received lots of feedback on my first Airline Travel Tips article, Recommended Airlines. (Though the comments are all on my old website, where I originally published the article: here) Readers added a lot of personal input on Air Asia, one airline I highly recommended for travel in Asia. Some people also recommended alternate airlines that I haven’t used much, and one that I’d never even heard of. Thanks everyone!
As a result, I decided to write this ‘follow up report’ to include other travelers’ perspectives and some new information.
In my first article, for top-quality airlines in Asia, I recommended Malaysian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Airlines, JAL (Japan Airlines), ANA (All Nippon Airways), Korean Airlines.
Readers further recommended Emirates, Qantas, Finnair, and Asiana. I’d never heard of Asiana before, but apparently it’s regularly voted one of the best airlines in the world! Worth checking out.
B. Perspectives and news on Air Asia
A few people who’ve been traveling around Asia extensively, like I have, were not as enthused about Air Asia as I am. They’ve found Air Asia flights not so very cheap. They’ve been able to find flights on other airlines at the same or even lower prices. Another person pointed out Air Asia’s strict luggage weight policy, which made it difficult for him to carry his dive equipment in addition to his personal gear. He’s a dive instructor, so that’s an important consideration. Another reader pointed out Air Asia’s very fussy online booking procedure, which keeps popping up pages with optional ‘add-ons’ that you can buy- such as travel insurance, seat booking, meals, luggage, and so on.
I have to agree that the last time I booked an Air Asia flight I found the complex optional add-on pages quite annoying. And I realized that Air Asia has changed a lot since I first started using them back in 2004. Back then, their online booking system was really simple and straight-forward. They definitely did not have all these extra steps, optional purchases, and extra fees for everything.
I also have to agree that Air Asia’s luggage restrictions have sometimes made my travels a bit difficult. For example, I know I can never take my bicycle when I use Air Asia. If I really want to take my bike, I use a different airline. On the other hand, in recent years Air Asia has offered the choice of several different weights of luggage: 15 kg / 20 kg / 25 kg / 30 kg, each with a different fee. Now they even offer 35 kg luggage! If you pay the baggage fees online at the time of booking, they are really very low, amounting to about $10. I find those flexible baggage choices really handy. That has pretty much eliminated any problems I used to have carrying my luggage on Air Asia, including my own dive equipment. Maybe I’ll try taking my bike next time!
It’s also true that in order to get super cheap flights on Air Asia, you must book pretty far in advance- at least one month, but usually 2-4 months in advance will get the best fares. If you’re booking last minute, other airlines’ flights might be a similar cost or even lower.
While Air Asia has been growing steadily over the years, continually adding new destinations, recently they actually eliminated 2 major ports, namely, London and Paris. That really surprised me, considering their rapid and steady expansion. I had been looking forward to even more European destinations from them, rather than fewer. So much for cheap travel from Asia to UK and Europe!
Air Asia’s flights to London and Paris were a big part of why I recommended them so highly in my original article. In fact, a couple years ago I was able to fly from Malaysia to London for just $400 RT! I booked myself into a hostel in London the first night, then stayed with a friend the remaining time. So with the cheap flight, hostel dorm and friend to visit, a trip from Asia to UK was affordable even for a budget traveler. Sadly, Air Asia’ recent retreat from Europe is a big blow to budget travelers.
* Despite the annoying online booking, I still find Air Asia a great and inexpensive airline in Asia. When searching for flights, I do check other airlines, including Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, but I usually find the Air Asia flights much cheaper and at convenient departure times. Too bad about the cancellations to London And Paris!
* Always check around for flight prices rather than relying on just one airline or online booking service.
* Air Asia is great for cheap flights if you’re booking far in advance. You’ll now have to deal with a bunch of ‘add-on’ options when booking with them. Their luggage weight options are handy.
* Check out Asiana, as recommended by several other travelers in Asia.