Airline review: AirAsia X economy

THE PLANE

Airbus A330-300. AirAsia has 26 of these aircraft in its fleet.

THE ROUTE

Sydney to Kuala Lumpur.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

BIG, exclusive to the AirAsia group. Visit www.airasiabig.com for details.

CLASS

Economy, seat 47K.

DURATION

Eight hours.

FREQUENCY

Daily.

THE SEAT

There are 365 standard economy seats, each with a 32-inch (81cm) pitch and 16.5 inch (42cm) width. Premium class has just 12 flatbed seats in a 2-2-2 formation, with a pitch of 60 inches (152cms) and a 20-inch (51cm) width (and a 77 inch full-length recline). Economy seats are in a 3-3-3 formation except towards the rear, where the fuselage narrows at row 44 and only permits a 2-3-2 configuration (where I am). 

BAGGAGE

Checked baggage allowance is 20kg, along with one piece of hand luggage.

COMFORT

For a low-cost airline, the seats are pretty schmick, with adequate leg room, and a very smart grey-and-red leather livery. Comfort kits, pillows and blankets are all available to buy or rent. Also for a little extra, you can choose to settle in the exclusive reserved Quiet Zone area, just behind the premium seats from rows 7-14, which is unavailable to passengers travelling with infants and children under the age of 12. There are a whole host of optional extras, like early boarding, or an empty seat next to you if the plane isn't full, all for a price. 

ENTERTAINMENT

Don't do what I did and get on board to be shocked by the absence of a screen in the back of the seat in front – that'll teach you to read the small print, mate. Luckily I had a book or it would have been a long eight hours to KL. You can rent a Samsung Galaxy tablet for the trip (it has eight hours of battery life) for $17 pre-booked online or $21 on board. It comes loaded with a few movies, TV series, music, e-mags and games. The selection isn't vast but it is adequate for the time available. Book the tablet in advance if you can, to be sure of getting one.

SERVICE

Slightly scatty at times, and some of the accents were a little hard to fathom but, overall, pretty good for a low-cost airline. Though if you're going to warn us to cover our faces while you spray the cabin it might be better to do if beforehand, not 30 seconds afterwards.

FOOD

Meals are, you guessed it, extra. My nasi lemak​, a traditional Malaysian meal, costs $10 and consists of coconut rice served with chilli sambal and chicken rendang​ accompanied by fried anchovies, ground nuts and boiled egg. It's hot, spicy, excellent, and comes with a bottle of water. Other offerings include macaroni and cheese with chicken meatballs, chicken teriyaki, and a vegetarian biryani​. Again, book online beforehand to be sure you get what you want – and at a slightly cheaper price.

THE VERDICT

Like most low-cost carriers, it's extra this, extra that from the moment you step on board, but with return fares to Kuala Lumpur in the region of $487 (including all taxes and fees) and one-way fares from $249 what's not to like? See airasia.com.

Tested by Keith Austin, who flew courtesy of AirAsia X.

See also: Flight test: China Airlines economy class
See also: Flight test: Thai Airways economy class

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