In a competition the airline claims is a first for Australia, budget carrier AirAsia X is offering social media devotees and hundreds of their Facebook friends the chance to fly free from Sydney to Malaysia return — exclusively on their own Airbus A330 airliner.
The competition winner and up to 302 of their closest friends will be the only passengers on board the flight, with three nights accommodation in Kuala Lumpur at a three-star (minimum) hotel, twin share, and KL airport transfers.
As stunts go, it's a big prize, which the airline says is worth more than $268,000.
"We believe this competition to win a flight sets us apart," said AirAsia X chief executive Azran Osman-Rani.
Competitions invariably dangle the glittering prizes in exchange for information and consent for various things from entrants, and this competition is no different.
Potential entrants, and anyone they might care to nominate as a Facebook friend, ought to read the fine print, labelled as a "draft" but sent to Fairfax Media as the final terms.
The winner and guests must consent to letting AirAsia use their name, picture or voice "in any media for an unlimited period without remuneration" for promotional purposes.
The prize winner must also provide a full list of their companions' details (including name, date of birth, passport number and passport expiration date) — putting the onus on the winner to obtain, collate and transmit sensitive passenger information.
The promoter, AirAsia X Services Pty Ltd of a post office box in Red Hill, Queensland, "collects personal information in order to conduct the promotion and may, for this purpose, disclose such information to third parties...", the fine print says, and "may, for an indefinite period, unless otherwise advised, use the information for promotional, marketing, publicity, research and profiling purposes...".
Passengers are responsible for being eligible to travel with the right documentation and buying their own travel insurance.
The winning passengers will have to reach into their pockets to pay for all the airline's normal "ancillary revenue" items such as food, drinks, inflight entertainment, amenities kits and baggage beyond a 15kg allowance.
As to who shares a hotel room with whom, "...each companion will be required to share a room with another companion, as determined by the Promoter in its absolute discretion".
Meals, other than the hotel's daily breakfast, and any in-room charges are extra.
The winner "may" have to present their credit card upon check-in to the hotel.
But what if your Facebook network does not extend to 300 people or you would like to take friends not registered on Facebook?
That's not entirely clear and was a source of confusion in the airline.
"Unfortunately you will only be able to add Facebook friends to your plane. If you have friends you want to add who aren't signed up to Facebook, tell them to sign up now," the airline says in relation to frequently asked questions.
But then, in a message posted to Facebook, the airline said:
"You don't have to fill the whole plane to enter, and you can leave seats empty for kids and other people not on FB [Facebook]," it said.
An airline spokesman later said this "doesn't seem to be quite right", adding the competition was being run through Facebook social networking.
The message about allowing non-Facebook friends has now been removed from AirAsia Australia's Facebook page.
Any spare seats won't be opened for general sale to the public — meaning it could be as intimate as an Airbus for two.
"It's certainly possible that a smaller group will take the flight – the plane still flies," the spokesman said.
The dedicated flight is set to depart on November 2 from Sydney and return from Kuala Lumpur on November 5.
Entries are open now and will close at 11.59pm AEST on June 5. The winner will be drawn at noon the next day. The airline says the winner will be selected by "a random electronic draw by an external legal team".
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