AirAsia BIG Loyalty
7 hours, 55 minutes
Twice daily, 10.35am and 22.45pm from Avalon
40kg checked baggage and two pieces of cabin baggage not exceeding 7kg.
There's only 12 flatbeds across two rows in a configuration of 2-2-2 and I'm seated in 2G, an aisle seat. There's plenty of room, with a pitch of 60 inches that expands to 77 inches in full recline position and a width of 20 inches. You can tweak the seat's recline to whatever feels comfortable. A universal powerpoint is in easy reach under the seat; there's also a sturdy tray table, space for storing shoes, slots for magazines or an iPad, and a small pocket for headphones and water bottles, plus two reading lights. The rows immediately behind in economy are designated "quiet zones", and child-free – an added bonus.
The seats are surprisingly comfortable and legroom does not taper inwards like in some airlines, giving plenty of space to my 170cm frame. AirAsia has to be commended on its choice of warm, fluffy duvet instead of the usual blanket and matching pillow – cosier than what most airlines offer. However, there's a few oddities, such as the awkward downward slant of the bed. You're closer to your neighbour than on regular business class seats, with nothing but a narrow armrest and small, shared space for propping drinks in between but there's a divider you can slide across for more privacy.
If you're smart you'll bring your own entertainment – but if you didn't, AirAsia provide tablets in this class for free with a small but adequate amount of entertainment options for an overnight flight. Movies are your best bet – with about 40 titles to choose from. At best was Crazy Rich Asians – at worst, new schlock horror The Nun, which worked well with my sleeping tablets. TV options were a no-go, and in-ear headphones are not noise-cancelling, but on this quiet flight, sufficed.
Two things to bear in mind when you choose these tickets: this is not called business class and you should not expect business class service. This is also a short long haul overnight flight, and you'll spend most of your time sleeping. Service is always friendly and polite, but it's light on. Attendants pass around water bottles after take off. Two attendants then make their way around the 12 seats and ask which meal you'd prefer, and that's about it. If you want to buy drinks or extra food, you'll have to hail an attendant as there's no call button. But as most of the time in the air is spent sleeping, you'll really have to weigh up if any of this is at all important.
I've always been pleasantly surprised by the food on AirAsia. There was a choice of four in this class, one of which is included in the seat price – nasi lemak, which is excellent and subsequently on every flight; a spaghetti marinara, chicken satay, or a cheese omelette with mushrooms, baked beans and a chicken sausage. It's late and I've already eaten, so I'm choosing to have the omelette before arrival. It's basic, with a little butter over the mushrooms and tasty baked beans, accompanied by some dicey apple. There's free soft drinks, coffee and tea in this class but alcohol must be purchased – with fun names such as Jagernizer (Jagermeister and Red Bull, MYR 28) – you might be tempted to hit the ground running.
The last word
This is a lie-flat bed with a price tag that competes with economy seats on other airlines and a game-changer if you're flying overnight.
One other thing
In KL there's a dedicated counter for premium passengers, but no fast-tracking through immigration and security. Over the other side passengers can enjoy the new Red Lounge that has decent food and beer available for RM15. It also has a nifty loft with bean bags overlooking the airport and small lockers for charging your phones.
Rating out of five