Saturday, 31 March 2012

Airfare Comparison Survey 2: AirAsia Cheap, Nasty and More Expensive Than Full Service Airlines

Breaking News!



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. 

"AirAsia +++"

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 independently verified Holiday Airfare Survey was conducted on Friday 30th  of March, with all flight searches being made online 10am - 5PM. In each instance, the lowest economy fare offered by each airline was the one selected and featured in the survey - all fare data was taken from each airline's own website, not from airfare aggregators such as For all holidays there was a standard departure date of 05/12/2012 and return of 31/12/2012, though the actual arrival and departure times obviously differ among the various operators, departures are strictly kept within 24hours. Screen captures at the base of this article evidence each. The term 'inclusive' means an 'ounce for ounce' comparison with, say, baggage allowances being allotted at the same weight that the full-service airline allocated to passengers for free, or a seating allocation was included. Optional insurance or extras like 'comfort kits' were not included in what were the 'extras' that AirAsia charge for and full-service carriers routinely offer free.

Another piece of regrettably inaccurate, yet ironic, 
AirAsia communication.

The Screen Captured Evidence

Kuala Lumpur - Jakarta 
KLM & Malaysia Airlines Better Value than AirAsia

Kuala Lumpur - Singapore [Budget Airlines]
Tiger Airlines Better Value than AirAsia 

Melbourne - Singapore [Budget Airlines]
Jetstar Better Value than AirAsia

Perth - Bangkok [Budget Airlines]
Tiger Airways Better Value than AirAsia

Perth - Kuala Lumpur [Budget Airlines]
Tiger Airways Better Value than AirAsia

Singapore - Bali [Full Service Airlines]
Qatar Airways Better Value than AirAsia

Singapore - Perth [Full Service Airlines]
British Airways Better Value than AirAsia




Anonymous said...

I laugh when I see unwashed people waiting for an AirAsia flight. It's kind of funny to see the plebs thinking they're smart and thrifty. The worst thing about your excellent blog is that the pedestrian trash might cotton on that it's cheaper to fly on a full service carrier. Please stop it! Cheers. lol

Anonymous said...

AirAsia have not been competitive for the last couple of years. Initially their flights were reasonable. Since then they have sunk to the lowest depths as far as customer service where they have cancelled numerous international routes and not refunded the money that they have taken off customers. Knowing that, I wouldn't dream of flying with them even if they were cheaper than the professional airlines. The fact that they are more expensive just shows how much financial shit they are actually in. Thank you for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

They are sinking .. sinking ... sinking .... blub ... blub ... blub

Anonymous said...

I am an organizer of one of Australia's biggest Herbalife franchises - and I'm forwarding your blog to all our tens of thousands of members. We are currently planning our yearly trip overseas - and this made the decision much easier. Thanks for the heads up, lovely bloggers. I will look forward to the next price comparison. Jean and the Herbalifers

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I must be one of the few people that 'shop around' - like you have - and I can personally confirm that AirAsia are frequently more expensive than their competitors. I fly within Asia-Pacific no less than forty times a year. I lost track of how many times they were late or cancelled that led to my committing to not flying AirAsia again. Dave.

Ida Zul said...

gosh!! we've spent more than we should when 8 ov us took AA to perth on 14th feb which happend to be lover's flying day!!!! s***!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am one of the thousands of people who have had our money stolen by AirAsia. I have contacted the police in Australia and filed a report of the crime. I recommend that others do the same. I will never use these con artists again. Thanks for this blog.

Anonymous said...

Nice comparison. For me, Air Asia are not low cost carrier anymore, even for domestic sector. On 18 Feb 2012, I booked flight from SDK-KUL. Air Asia ticket price was RM306++ (not included seat allocation, food, credit card charge and counter check-in) while MAS only RM 298.00. So, I guess you already know which airline I choose.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what corruption this bent airline gets up to in Malaysia, but I do care about the lack of maintenance and lies about being the cheapest budget provider, which is untrue. I won't fly AirAsia ever.

Anonymous said...

AA has been doing this for years. it is full of misleading deception.won't want to use it ever.