This article is part of my trip report 'Westward bound'. The trip report index will appear below once all posts have been published.
I have flown on Air Asia a couple of times but this is my first review here 🙂
Malaysia Air Asia is a well oiled machine – it handles a big number of flights from it's home base and the whole team seems to be focused on punctuality and friendly, efficient service. It's clearly low-cost but with a friendly notch. Air Asia has unbundled parts of it's products but there are no ridiculous charges. You can still check in at the airport for free and there are no charges for carry-ons.
Siem Reap airport is just 15 minutes away from town and there is no rush hour to speak of – my ride at 7.30 AM on a Monday morning did not look different than my arrival Friday 11.30 PM. My driver dropped me off at the terminal which is brand new and compact.
Now one thing AirAsia has charges for is to check in luggage. When booking the flight I thought I'd be traveling with a carry-on only but given the arctic temperatures I'd face in Germany I abandoned that plan. The ticket price was around $75 and to check in just 15kg of luggage the on-site charge was $36 payable in cash only. So I ended up wearing winter boots and Fjällräven polar jacket in the terminal. While it was cold enough there I had to walk to the plane and from it in KUL at 100 degrees heat …
There was no lounge at REP airport that I could find or had access to with my Lounge Club membership. However the terminal itself is very pleasant with a number of small shops.
The inbound flight came in just 25 minutes before departure but you walk to the plane in REP so unloading/loading was done in less than 20 minutes, allowing for an on-time departure.
The seat layout was in typical AirAsia fashion, new leather seats but rather tight seat pitch. Again I had the pleasure of a middle seat but my seat mates both shared their Cambodian travel stories with me so the 'gamble' paid off 🙂
KUL airport seems to have gotten a new arrival hall (after you walk for miles to get there) with a speedier immigration. Also Malaysia seems to have gotten rid of the paper landing card. Now it's just a quick glance in your passport and a stamp.
Right at the luggage belt you can get a local SIM card from multiple vendors and while picking up my bag they installed and activated it. If you fly AirAsia the SIM card is free, you just pay the top up charges.
I than took the super comfy airport bus (look at these [email protected]) for US$2.30(!) for the one hour drive to KL Sentral. How cool a price is that compared to the $35 that the Heathrow Express charges (granted is a bit faster)?
If you arrive at KL Sentral go to the Taxi counter and prepay for your cab – regular taxis won;t take you without the prepaid ticket. The charge is minimal for destinations anywhere in the city center ($5 or less).
AirAsia is a godsend for short trips in Asia. It's usually on-time, very little chaos, the crew is genuinely concerned about getting passengers from A to B and has a friendly, rather competent ground staff. AirAsia's ticket was just 30% of the price shown on ITA for the same route. Now that Malaysia Airlines joined OneWorld you can also use Avios for short trips in SE Asia as an alternative.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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