AirAsia has been changing the way Southeast Asia and Australia are connected for many years now. The 10-hour journey can be bought for under $200 one-way – a price most legacy airlines can’t match. I found a fare for $119 for my dates excluding bags and food. I got excited and booked the non-refundable, one-way fare from Melbourne right away.
Two weeks after the booking, I started receiving emails from Optiontown about upgrades to the AirAsia X Flatbed – and yes, I really wanted to try it. Unfortunately, though, whenever I followed the link it would show me no flatbed available as an upgrade for my flight. However, I found the option to buy a whole row in economy through an upgrade as well. I had a whole row on my last Norwegian flight to Oakland and thought that was awesome.
The upgrade was offered at $40. You have to pay right away but will only know if it clears up to 4 hours before departure. If not, the amount is refunded in full. 24 hours before departure – just after I had checked in online – the upgrade would clear. It seemed like it was manually cleared and everyone around me seemed to have gotten a whole row each.
Boarding pass and upgrade confirmation in hand, I went through security at Melbourne Airport – no check-in stop required. Boarding was relaxed, despite a good 200 people showing up.
When boarding, I saw that the business class cabin (with the flatbeds) was almost empty – I wish I would have had the option to upgrade. The seat looks much more like angled lie-flat business class – similar to Air France’s older business class seat or what I just flew on Aircalin.
There were plenty of people who wanted to switch into my seemingly empty row but the flight attendants helped me keep it.
After takeoff into the clear skies over Melbourne, I asked if I could take off a seat cushion as a pillow and none of them objected. AirAsia X has had trouble with a number of A330s lately, where they had to return to the departing airport after engine problems. No engine problems on this flight and I could keep my prayers to myself.
About 90 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants served food. I had ordered hot noodles and water for just $4 in total.
MasterCard and Visa are accepted with a transaction minimum of $10 but any cash currency is accepted with no minimum and with fair exchange rates (though change is given in Malaysian Ringgit).
There is no IFE on these planes and power is only available at the bulkhead seats for some reason. There are power banks for rent for $5 if you need to charge your phone.
I ended up paying $159 for my flight – that is almost as much as just the fuel surcharge would have been when using miles from Australia to Southeast Asia – and another connection to my final destination of Bandung.
I’m very happy that AirAsia exists; now please improve the maintenance standards so the planes will stay in the skies!
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