Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why I Want AirAsia to Succeed - From a Frequent Flyer/User Perspective


As a stakeholder and frequent user of AirAsia I have a few compelling reasons why I want it to succeed based on my experiences and facts. I have flown with them at least 85 times from 2004-2008 mostly international. Perhaps this gives me some standing to comment.
1. Cost-Effective
I will choose to fly AirAsia esp. those flights with below 4 hours flying time. The main attraction is the price. It’s cheaper or shall I say much cheaper most of the time.

2. Convenient
I rather fly direct with AirAsia from KL to Vientiane/Chiangmai/Manado (and many destinations in many countries) with AirAsia. MH do not fly there and other airlines fly there via another city. 'Via' is a bad word to frequent-flyers. The word ‘via’ means inconvenience and will translate into longer travel time and layover at the transit airport. Most likely I will take a very early flight out of KL. Furthermore, transit and layover may incurred an overnight stay.

3. Choices and Options
When I was living in Bangkok a couple of years ago, I thought it is a haven in terms flights availability throughout the day. When I want to get to Phnom Penh I have 5 flights a day. To Ho Chi Minh City up 5 flights a day. I can fly into Ho Chi Minh in the morning and be home in the evening. Now AirAsia has done just that. It has given me some very decent choices to many cities in Asia some up to 6 flights a day. This is a boon to any traveler: for business and/or pleasure.

4. Cabin Comfort and Safety
The fleet age of AirAsia is perhaps one of the youngest in the world with brand new planes. Generally it means comfort and safety. Having flown with 20+ years old planes more than 10 times I knew the difference. Hardware aside I expect stringent controls on the human factor especially in the flying and maintenance. AirAsia (Malaysia) is not in any international safety board blacklist.

The leg-room is good compare to the early AirAsia days with almost no discernible difference from regular airlines. My Asian built helps. I don’t go for express boarding and do not see the need to queue but remain seated until the last minute. I always get to cherry-pick an aisle seat and mostly with no immediate adjacent seatmate so that I can have the arm-rests all to myself.

5. Credit Card Internet Payment
All my transactions are through the Internet. No problems whatsoever. User-friendly, fast, safe and convenient.

But AirAsia Needs to Improve in These Areas

1. Connectivity
I know of folks who took risks to transit through LCCT, where they will catch another flight to their intended destination. I used the word ‘risk’ as AirAsia does not guarantee connection to passengers to their onward destinations even though the next leg is with AirAsia. It is expected of full service airlines to do this. If this can be done wherever they are based that airport will surely become a LCC International travel hub. The now defunct LCC Adam Air (Indonesia) provided this connectivity to their customers through various hubs in Indonesia.

2. Call Centre
A Call Centre serving the entire AirAsia international community is due to become operational mid-February 2009, integrating the airline services into a synergistic whole. This will definitely improve the overall service delivery and reduce the many complaints of bad service in this aspect. I have good services through similar call centres provided by Dell and Belkin.

3. Cancellation, Punctuality and Baggage
Overall, I am happy with these services but expect better and higher standards. I have experienced 2 flights cancellations but mitigated by early information via SMS. I am out with the next flight the same day. There were many ½ to 1hr delays. Full-service airlines are not punctual a lot times too. I have experienced it plenty.

The RM200 compensation if a delay is more than 2 hours is a good start towards better service. It stands to lose RM36,000 if the plane is full. I assume the price for cancellation is RM200 plus other compensations as required. However, good service is more than compensation. Losses through emotional distress and physical discomfort is hard to quantify.

I have a mishandled baggage once. As for baggage coming out from the carousel, I definitely get my luggage quick enough most of the time. But I hardly check-in my luggage if possible when I am coming home through KLIA for obvious reasons.

I am awaiting the US Airline Passenger Bill of Rights though stalled now be fully implemented in the US by 2011 thus setting a new benchmark for service excellence that airlines must comply or shoot for.

4. Cost-Shaving
I am sure the price can come down further for some sectors. The high price may reflect a low key cartel-like price fixing among 2 to 3 players operating that route esp. if the demand is high and there are limited flights. Perhaps some ‘adult supervision’ is required.

5. Comfortable Airport Facilities
I have never had problems with checking in as I am flying with a 180-seater short-hauler with much less baggage and 1/2 the passengers load compare to a super jumbo on long-haul flight. But still space is tight in between the queues.

The new LCC Terminal should raise the comfort level of the terminal. Better and warm finishing. Elderly, children and disabled friendly. Spacious and Airy. Free Internet and Wi-Fi. Padded seats. Restroom with showers. Lounge areas with comfy chairs for transit passengers. More eateries and shopping. Money Exchange booths and ATMs. Good intra- and inter-airport connections and public transportation.

8 comments:

SimpleGirl said...

I agree with your points that some flights are cheaper, but not all, don't forget they are no frills. But, some destinations other established airline with better in flight service are better. The add on items, like baggage, comfort set, pre seat allocation, are quite expensive, this is how they make money!!??

I hate the call centre also, and I don't like the "no change" policy if we book promotional ticket.They need to be more flexible.

worldwindows said...

I hope they are listening to your grouses!

CUMI & CIKI said...

well put! happy CNY!

Tummythoz said...

Err.. sometimes promotional MAS tix are way cheaper that AA's promos. Just have to be more vigilant in checking around I guess.

Oh Hapi Ox Year.

Selba said...

So far, I only have been flying 4 times for return flights using AA. Always got delayed though not very badly.

My mom just flew with AA last week from Yogyakarta to Jakarta because her Batavia Air got delayed for more than 4 hours thus she changed to AA that was just going to depart, luckily that the AA delayed for 2 hours from its original time.

worldwindows said...

CampC... Have a blessed Lunar New Year.

TT... And MH good price I supposed came about because of AA :-)

Selba... I sincerely hope that they upgrade services. AA Indonesia is on EU blacklist incl. Garuda...surprise. Maybe its the age of the planes or maintenance or regulatory issues. The planes are not allowed to fly in and out of Europe. I am not sure why AA Indonesia is on the blacklist.

Angie said...

So are we wishing tony fernandez a Happy and Prosperous New Year?!! haha...yes..thank God for AA. If not, MAS would still be ruling the Msian skies and yet going bankrupt! With more competition, there's bound to be improvement.

worldwindows said...

Yeah we can wish him by buying AA tickets. I have 2 trips planned for Clark and Bali.