We scoured the internet for the best flights to Thailand.
Air Asia X, known as the budget airline, saved us $600. We decided to book.
After all, $600 goes a LONG WAY in Thailand. It gets you 75 one hour Thai massages, 150 Singha beers, a weeks worth of accommodation, and 400 fresh coconuts to drink – Things to think about, right?
We have been budget travellers for many years so are used to sucking it up to save money.
More money saved, means more money I can spend in Thailand!
Seemed like a great plan.
Until we boarded the plane with two young children.
We cursed our stinginess all the way to Bangkok and all the way home again.
Air Asia is really not that bad, it’s just not for us, flying with small children. I flew Air Asia X last year to Kuala Lumpur and was relatively happy. But, I was flying solo – a completely different flying experience.
The BAD of Air Asia X
They are a budget airline, which means you will receive budget services.
You have to pay for all your extras: food, drinks, entertainment system, blankets, and pillows. This is okay. It’s not Air Asia’s fault and they don’t hide this. We knew this going in and bought what we thought we’d need.
Let’s go through what we did not like.
The Entertainment System
Firstly a confession. Craig stuffed up pre-ordering the entertainment systems online prior to departure.
However, do you think they had any spare for us to buy on-board? No. Which was really strange as we thought it would be a great way to earn X-tra money as it seems this is what they like to do.
Why Air Asia, Why?
You could easily store extra systems for “situations” that arise. People change their minds, online booking systems DON’T ALWAYS WORK! What if you ordered one and it broke 30 minutes into your long haul flight?
8 hours on a plane with two kids and no entertainment system is PAINFUL.
On the way back, we had the entertainment systems. I didn’t like them at all. The movie selections were extremely limited – like about 5 crappy choices, except for Pitch Perfect, the only one I watched and loved.
The entertainment system is on a Samsung tablet, which continued to freeze and was very awkward to place somewhere to watch when the meals arrived. Also not good for toddler hands that want to play with bright shiny objects.
We brought an entertainment system for Kalyra, which had no kids’ movies on it. Grrrr.
Make sure you pre-book your meals. The selection on board is really bad especially if you are vegetarian!
Mealtimes are one of my favorite things on a plane. It gives me something to do and I love opening the different packages to see what treasures await. I also love having my glass of wine.
Don’t expect this on Air Asia X. There is one small carton of food with no sides. Unless you order more meals 🙁
(Again, I knew this to be the case, I just lamented not having my one piece of luxury amongst two active and irritable children).
And of course, fill up before you get on the plane as it will take at least 2 hours for your first meal to arrive.
The system they have means they have to stop at every row and check off every passenger’s boarding pass to see what meal they ordered. They then had to accommodate those who were paying for a meal – Don’t hold your breath waiting for your meal if you are not first in line.
Also, cleaning of the tables was extremely slow, one hour after meal time. They were more concerned with bringing around the duty-free trolley (cha ching!)
Having rubbish piled up on your table (in front of your kids) means complete mess and objects flying everywhere.
As I said, I do love my glass of wine with my meal. I had finished my container of food before I was even offered the chance to buy a glass of wine.
Once again it’s that service thing. I also hated having to dig into the wallet whenever I wanted a drink. I missed ordering drinks on tap. I know-such a diva!
Air Asia X Service
The service on Air Asia X is ridiculously low budget.
I know, you get what you pay for!
I rarely saw the flight attendants. I found them quite rude and acted like you were inconveniencing them if you wanted to ask for something.
I find on other airlines the staff are so caring and accommodating to the children, not so on Air Asia X.
I’m sorry, but to parents, it makes a huge difference if you show us you care about their comfort and when they are starving, you kind of work with us to help organize some food, not act as if it is a giant pain in your ARSE!
Trust me; you don’t want screaming kids on the plane.
Air Asia X systems
Check in is slow. Not sure why they offer web check in as you have to line up anyway and baggage drop takes just as long as normal check in.
Their workers seem really stressed and don’t smile much.
We had to check in twice coming home.
After lining up for over 30 minutes, we were checked in with bags labeled all the way to Sydney. We were then asked to move to another check in counter where we had to supply more information. We had to line up there for another 15 minutes for them to check us through to Sydney again. WTF?
And we couldn’t stand the whole
“Show me your boarding card in order to verify the extras that you’ve paid for.”
With two small kids, toys and books shoved in the pockets, and babies sleeping in arms, it’s really annoying to have to dig them out again.
You’ve got it on your LIST, and I showed you four hours ago, that’s enough!
Craig was highly irritated with them when it came to originally booking the tickets online. The system was buggy and unclear and kept timing out and adding on extras like insurance.
You have to be really on guard to catch it.
Oh, and paper towels work so much better than tissues to wipe your wet hands in the toilet!! #justsayin
They Don’t Fly Direct to Thailand (from Sydney)
Again, we knew this perfectly well and thought we could handle it. We certainly would if it was just Craig and I, but with a 1 and 5-year-old forget it.
I met another parent of a one-year-old while on stop over in Kuala Lumpur. He was regretting his flying choices too.
An 8 hour flight, followed by a four hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, followed by another two hour flight is just ridiculous and unnecessary – lesson learned!
Families don’t do it – It will exhaust your children and yourself. If it’s your one-and-only trip for the year, the trip you’ve been dreaming about for 12 months, pay the $600 and FLY DIRECT!
You, and especially your kids, don’t want to arrive at your destination irritated. And you don’t want to be cursing about the return flight back whilst you are on holidays.
Sure, the journey can be half the fun, but not always! If it’s your one trip of the year and it’s meant to be a relaxing island holiday – get there as quickly and painless as possible!
Check out my children’s meltdown in the most important temple in Thailand the next day because of it.
Their Airports Suck
Air Asia land and fly out of the old airports. Don Meung in Bangkok is not too bad, and you can get into the city fairly easily, although not as great as the swift and efficient new airport rail link from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
But the airport at Kuala Lumpur was the most boring, drab airport in the world. There was nothing for my gluten-free, vegetarian self to eat, nothing really interesting to see, and nowhere comfortable to sit and relax.
Trust me, I know we are being nit-picky, but the nit-picky things add up to make an flight un
-enjoyable and I really like enjoyable flights.
All of these would have been bearable without the children, and worth the extra savings.
The Good of Air Asia X
- They are cheap.
- They are time efficient with departures and arrivals.
- They flew us safely.
- Air Asia has lots of cheap options to fly within Asia.
- You can have funny experiences like old ladies using the toilet during take off.
My final Recommendations
Air Asia is an EXCELLENT choice for flights if:
- You are a budget traveler and need to save money. It’s worth sucking it up for.
- If you have oodles of time and patience
- If you are flying short-haul. (They truly are perfect for this)
- If you are traveling long-term (and every penny counts).
Air Asia is a BAD choice if:
- You want to get somewhere in Asia quickly (other than Malaysia)
- You like enjoying a flight, full quality service, and all the trimmings that come with the more expensive, comfortable options.
- You have young children.
- You are flying long-haul.
- You are going on a short-term holiday.
Travel with children is completely different and we are learning many lessons with each new trip.
The most important thing when traveling with kids is that they are comfortable and happy. This usually means being well-fed, entertained, comfortable with ample rest time.
You really have to consider these, especially when flying as it is a drain anyway, without these extra challenges.
Kalyra is a dream flyer and managed beautifully with all our long haul flights we have done to the US. She was still pretty good on Air Asia X, but her patience was tested a lot more! We noticed the difference.
Again it’s up to you, sometimes a bit of sanity is worth the extra cost.
Your thoughts on Air Asia X?
Disclaimer: Part of our flight costs were covered by Thai Tourism