Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Big, exclusive to the AirAsia group. See tune2big.com.
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?
Economy, 7C. A "hot" seat, one of 27 located in the first row of each section. It is a regular economy seat but opposite a bulkhead with more legroom at an extra cost of 110 ringgit ($37).
TIME IN THE AIR
Eight hours, 10 minutes.
THE SEAT STUFF
32 inches (81 centimetres) pitch, 16.5 inches (50 centimetres) width. A 3-3-3 layout for 365 economy-class seats.
The base fare does not include checked baggage. It can be purchased from 50 ringgit online for a bag up to 15 kilograms and 140 ringgit for 40 kilograms. More expensive to buy at the counter. Allowable hand luggage is one item up to seven kilograms.
The hot seat's extra legroom is good but I'm horizontally challenged next to a broad-shouldered chef from Tasmania and a sizeable English tourist. A comfort kit of eyeshades, pillow and a blanket is 35 ringgit online. Blankets can be rented, if available, for 10 ringgit. A great add-on to boost comfort levels is the "empty seat option" which means you can book an empty seat next to you if the plane is not full. Price fluctuates on demand, starting from 45 ringgit. It is refunded if the spare seat has to be used.
There is no in-seat entertainment but Samsung tablets with movies, TV and music can be rented online for 50 ringgit, which includes headphones.
Low-cost carriers suffer from a reputation of abrupt service, but I find it friendly and efficient at check-in and on-board. It certainly beats a recent flight with grumpy United. We take off on time and land 20 minutes early.
A salty chicken lasagne is served one hour into the flight. If I received this at a trattoria in Melbourne's Lygon street I'd send it back, but at 10,000 metres on a no-frills airline it's a shrug-of-the-shoulders meal. The menu also lists Thai green curry, Malaysian fried rice and chicken. Meals are 13 ringgit purchased online and 15 ringgit on board. There are 12 main meal choices online. Choices on-board are limited. Light meals are 12 ringgit. Cans of drink are 6 ringgit, coffee and chocolate bars 5 ringgit each.
ONE MORE THING
AirAsia X has a "quiet zone" from rows 7-14 where there is minimal noise, no children under 12 and soft lighting. It costs 35 ringgit to select a standard seat in this section.
It's a bit tight in the seats but otherwise this is a recommended no-frills experience with cheap fares, friendly service and a good range of add-ons if you are willing to pay more than the base fare ($165 on this route). The add-ons (such as seat options, food, entertainment, comfort kit and check-in luggage) are cheapest bought online.
AirAsia X flies nine times weekly between Melbourne and KL; seven times between Sydney and KL. Worth noting, the airline operates out of KL's dowdy Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT), not the main Kuala Lumpur International Terminal (KLIA).
Tested by Robert Upe, who flew courtesy of AirAsia X.