Photo: Wong's Bar, Bangkok.

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Southeast Asian low-cost airlines: The good, the bad and the ugly

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/2/2013 at 19:13 admin

You may already have heard about how Qantas-offshoot Jetstar recently refused to allow the grieving mother of a New Zealand man killed in a shark attack to change her flight on compassionate grounds (if you haven't you can read all about it here) -- and while we've long been non-fans of Jetstar in particular, it seems all the low-cost carriers can behave idiotically with disturbing frequency.


We've had our fair share of manic, or, well, unusual moments with low-cost carriers (like the photo above on a flight to Phnom Penh), and now we'd like to hear yours.

Let us know your worst experience with one -- we'll bring the best of them together in a story on the non-wonders of low-cost flight.

Oh, and if you've had a great experience, please share that too.

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,021
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Posted by kaytype on 28/2/2013 at 21:11

A lot of people have complaints about Air Asia, I live and work in South East Asia, I use Air Asia as a first choice and have never been inconvenienced by them. A few years ago I flew to Paris from KL and it was a great flight. Last week I flew back from Jakarta to Bali. The pilot was European and gave the clearest and most calming announcements as we approached, entered and exited a thick chunk of bad weather before landing. You do get what you pay for, there are no frills, but there are smiles, there are no complimentary slippers but there is service when you need it, and I do feel that Air Asia provides well for its customer. My grievances with low cost airlines is more often with the behavior of the passengers, yes, everyone can fly, and they do! Mobile phones on, sms messages coming in and going out during take off and landing , jumping out of seats as soon as the plane lands, and the cattle herd mentality that everyone should pile on top of each other to board a plane - I think some passenger etiquette training is as important as the safety rituals, and while just as likely to be ignored at least it could be suggested !

#2 kaytype has been a member since 17/1/2012. Posts: 1

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Posted by NYTim on 1/3/2013 at 09:56

Though not technically a South East Asian airline, we flew China Eastern from New York,to Shanghai, Bangkok. Rock hard seats, no personal video monitors, overhead TVs showing Chinese langage movies, no room for knees, and the plane was so old it still had ashtrays. Oh the food! Imagine bad Chinese food then imagine bad Chinese airplane food. It was unrecognizable as edible. When we changed in Shanghai, there was only one person doing the transit thing. It took forever. The flight to BKK was on much a newer plane so that was nice. Of course China Eastern did not have any imigration forms so at 2 am we had to get the the form at BKK then wait in line for almost two hours. Now the good news, I think. Our flight was $850.00. the next cheapest was $1200 but even so, it was a nightmare. I fly back to BKK in December. I have booked on Korean Airlines for $1200. They are truly the best

#3 NYTim has been a member since 11/9/2009. Posts: 106

Posted by daawgon on 1/3/2013 at 11:07

Jetstar Pacific (Vietnam) is the one I avoid - really old equipment, flights that are rescheduled with crazy new times, and just plain undependable. Air Asia is a dream after Jetstar.

I don't believe that China Eastern is considered to be an LCC

#4 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 1,159
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Posted by UsTwo on 1/3/2013 at 18:42

I've had it with Jetstar.
EVERY time I've flown with them, the flight has been delayed, from forty minutes to three and half hours. Vietnam Airlines for me, with Air Asia second.

#5 UsTwo has been a member since 22/4/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 72
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Posted by mooball on 1/3/2013 at 22:34 TF writer

I've flown Air Asia a lot and have done for years and they've usually been pretty good. But I've never had to deal with their customer support until just recently when they cancelled their route from KL to Colombo. On this occasion they provided possibly the worst customer service I have ever received.

When notified that the flights were cancelled via email, I was given 3 options. Refund, credit shell or fly there before the service stopped. Given I was notified just 2 months before the flight was due to depart, I had nowhere to go. I couldn't move it earlier due to other commitments and I certainly couldn't book another flight as they were all quite expensive due to it being short notice. I wanted air asia to book me onto another carrier's flight at no cost to me. I thought that was reasonable and they had done specifically this when they cancelled their flights to Europe some time ago.

They refused. The person I spoke to on the phone was in another country and unauthorized to make any decisions. Just to give a refund on that sector of flight.

So he told me to fill in an e-form online and wait for a response. I did that with a promise of a 5 day turnaround. It took weeks before anyone responded. At that time it was - "we've looked at your request and escalated it". So I got onto their live chat function on their website. After a 30 minute wait, someone came on the line, but because they were so slow in responded to my questions and requests, we didn't get very far before... THEY AUTOMATICALLY HANG UP THE CHAT. Yes, they hang up after 10 minutes even though things aren't resolved. Nor do they want them to be.

So I waited further. Finally I get another email offering a refund and for me to claim it online. By this stage, I had given up going to Sri Lanka and just wanted my money back, including connecting flights. But the online system wouldn't allow this.

So I waited until a few days ago I got a random call from someone at air Asia. I told them I just wanted my money back and to just forget about getting me a flight on another carrier. I was spent and didn't have any energy left to fight for what I deserved.

Well, they were happy to refund my KL - Colombo flights but not my connecting air Asia flights as there was more than a 24 hour gap between me arriving in KL and departing. The time was about 30 hours and therefore I should either forfeit the connecting flight or accept a credit shell which would have to be used within 90 days. I couldn't accept that so I went apeshit on the phone.

In the end she said she'd call me back. She did and said she'd give me a full refund -- but that it would take about 6 weeks! I still don't have the money and am not sure I ever will.

At every single turn air Asia were trying to cut their losses by taking money off me. I booked those flights with that airline in good faith and when they weren't able to deliver, I expected them to make things right. Not just give me my money back and act as if we never had a deal together. They just abandoned all their passengers on those cancelled flights and destroyed all the goodwill they had taken years to build up. For me, it seemed like a stupid business decision. Worse, they just treated people like crap, failed to communicate and became an anonymous beast trying to steal money.

I would love to say that I will never fly airasia again. But I will as they are one of the few airlines which serve my home airport. But from now on, I will always look for a different carrier. In the past I never did -- I just flew air Asia.

And with that, I bid a big up yours to air Asia. You're a disgrace.

#6 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439
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