Air Asia will be opening Philippine offices by the third quarter of 2011, with an initial offering of regional flights as it studies the viability of domestic flights. Meanwhile, Air Asia Berhard (the mother company based in Malaysia) has been flying out from Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (aka Clark Airport) to locations in Southeast Asia.
The Air Asia group currently has over 60 destinations. Filipinos can use the low-cost airline to fly around the region or use its hub in Kuala Lumpur to board flights on Air Asia X, its long-haul service, to destinations in Australia and Europe (London and Paris).
AirAsia is considered the region’s largest low-fare, no-frills airline and a pioneer of low-cost travel in Asia, with its founder Tony Fernandes having pushed for open-skies agreements. Air Asia won the Skytrax World’s best low-cost airline award in 2009 and 2010.
Fernandes heads the Tune Group, a holdings company that has entertainment and leisure groups that include the Air Asia service, Formula One team Lotus Racing, and the low-budget Tunes Hotel.
For Air Asia Philippines, Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco is chair, Michael “Mikee” Romero is vice-chair and Marianne “Maan” Hontiveros, former president of Ballet Philippines, is president and CEO. Air Asia Philippines is also considering flights to and from the west coast of the United States.
Air Asia uses the Low Cost Carrier Terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The terminal is a distance from the airport, so keep an eye on the arrival and departure times of your flights if you plan to take a long-haul flight on Air Asia X but will be using another airline to fly into Kuala Lumpur.
You need to make sure your arrival time into KL will leave you with enough time to make it to the terminal for your departure, though bus and taxi services are available.
AirAsia X offers up to half the price of some other long-haul carriers and is an option for budget travelers. Ticketing for both Air Asia and Air Asia X is conveniently done through a single website.
Costs are cheaper compared to other airlines because everything else you’d expect from a flight has to be purchased piecemeal. Budget travelers will have to use their jackets or coats if they find the air-conditioning chilly; otherwise, comfort kits consisting of a blanket, an eye mask and a neck pillow are available for purchase in-flight.
Even if people now can have a single gadget, say a smartphone or touchscreen tablet, that contains technology for music, games and ebooks, the ones who don’t have one or whose batteries have run out have the option to purchase an entertainment console. The consoles are like thick iPads that contain music, TV shows or movies. Best to pre-order online as the planes have limited units on-hand.
The consoles are useful for staying awake when travelling from Asia to Europe, since the flights will arrive at night time in London or Paris. This way, you’ll feel (hopefully) sleepy when you land there and mitigate jetlag.
Hot meals are also available (cheaper if you pre-book them online, do it at the same time you book your flight), with international, Asian and vegetarian options available. The menus are available for viewing online and all meals are Halal. Snacks like instant noodles and fruit cups (on certain flights) are also available.
Its version of business class is called Premium Flat Bed. The seats have adjustable head and foot rests and the seat reclines to vertical.
If you leave, say, Europe in the morning and manage to sleep for the duration of the flight, you arrive at the Kuala Lumpur airport early in the morning of the following day. If you manage to stay awake from that time onwards, it should help reset your body clock.