Yes, the result of our first quarter 2012 Airfare Survey is in, and two of the world's most renowned airlines, KLM & Qatar, turn out to be cheaper than AirAsia - even before any of its '+++' extras have been factored in.
Think about that for a minute. A skanky 'cut-price' budget airline - yes, we understand the irony in that label - is more expensive than a number of the best airlines in the world. How can shoddy AirAsia be more expensive?
Once you're hit by a few of those extras - that passengers get for free on any full-service luxury carrier - AirAsia [US$239] skyrockets to well above KLM [US$129] and Malaysian Airlines [US$207]. Still think AirAsia is cheap?
In case you think we're making all this up, all of the Survey airfares were submitted to - and have been independently verified by - Mr Ben Sandilands, Australia's foremost aviation journalist who boasts thirty years of airline observation in the Asia-Pacific. The parameters of the survey are below.
This from Sandiland's 'Plane Talking' regards the Airfare Comparison Survey: "A day before Air Asia X starts its Sydney-Kuala Lumpur flights a valid fare comparisons on the Air Asia Not Me website suggests that the airline will struggle to convince all but the laziest of shoppers that it is consistently cheaper at various value points. That comparison is supported by the screen grabs on the Air Asia Not Me site, never mind its reference to myself."
Why would you fly cattle class when you go 'first'? Forget about that, why fly with an airline renowned for leaving its passengers stranded? Here's an airline that is insolvent that will not - or can not - refund passengers after deserting them on the French, UK, India and NZ routes in 2011-12.
Remember our 2011 Survey?
A few moppets - probably AirAsia employees - in the Lonely Planet and Trip Adviser forums suggested the 2011 Survey wasn't a fair comparison, that we had conducted it immediately before Christmas when all AirAsia 'cheap' tickets had been snapped up. By that logic, the various full service airlines' cheaper tickets should have been snapped up too, but what the heck.
Notice our plus symbols "+++"? That means the AirAsia price - which was already a couple of hundred dollars more than a full-service airline - is not even 'all in'. You still had to choose seats, so you could sit with your family. Of course, you had more than carry-on luggage, so that was going to cost you dearly. It's not a short flight, so you probably needed some sustenance.
For a family of four, we estimate that is going to add another A$1000-1500 to your cattle-class flight. All free, including legroom, on a full-service.
So, we decided to conduct this NEW survey, pricing tickets nine months before takeoff. Presumably this one plays to the strengths of AirAsia, where you have many months to book the 'cheap' AirAsia tickets. And the result?
Those prices at the head of this article, well, they are the prices you get when you book AirAsia early. AirAsia are already more expensive than full-service carriers. And those fares rely upon their extremely limited promo tickets. It all goes downhill from here. Check again in September!
Let's try comparing apples with apples. We will level the playing field by showing the airfares to include the 'extras' that AirAsia charge for, but that don't show up in an initial head-to-head comparison of basic fares. Consider that renowned airline, Qatar Airways, is already cheaper Singapore to Bali than AirAsia, before they start piling in the added extras at hugely inflated prices. Why fly unsafe, badly maintained AirAsia, rather than luxury Qatar?
You've seen the 2011 Survey result for Singapore to Perth at Christmas where AirAsia was easily the most expensive. Ready for another one? It's a choice between British Airways and AirAsia on the Singapore to Perth route.
This time, the only 'extra' AirAsia could slug us with was that we included a suitcase weighing 25kg. So, how does no-frills cut-price AirAsia hit us for additional costs this time around? You'll love it. This is so bad, it's funny.
Firstly, AirAsia passengers must make a stopover in Kuala Lumpur [... so you actually start the journey heading in the opposite direction to your destination], while the British Airways jet is half way to Perth. But the funniest part is that they then charge you extra for the plane change in KL.
Yes, they charge you four separate times for your baggage - once for the leg from Singapore to KL, and then again from KL to Perth, and same on your return. No, we're serious. In the end, AirAsia charge S$120 for something BA give you free. Plus British Airways is easily cheaper than AirAsia overall.
So, as you inconveniently overshoot Singapore on the return journey for another plane change in KL, ask yourself if AirAsia was a terrific idea. British Airways offered you a generous luggage allowance, along with food, alcohol, seating allocation, inflight entertainment and terrific service.
And what is full-service comfort? Is it the free food and booze? Maybe it's the inflight entertainment and extremely spacious seats, or the fact that you chose your seat for free? Maybe it's something as simple as asking for a blanket, a newspaper, or a coloring book to entertain your children. Pragmatists would enjoy the fact that flights arrive and depart on schedule.
Of course, you'd never find KLM cancelling routes and failing to honour refunds after months of passengers going out of their brains. Take some time and read our articles on AirAsia dire financial status HERE & HERE - which might suggest why the airline is charging like a badly wounded bull.
The Screen Captured Evidence