Air Asia: Our Worst Gamble in Macau

One of the reasons that I enjoy blogging is that it gives me an opportunity to relive our experiences. Most of the time I am excited to cover these topics and spend the time to remember moments from our trip. While I would rather focus on the positives, I also think that is important to share the negative experiences to help fellow travelers to make fully informed decisions. At this point you can probably tell that today’s post will not be entirely focused on the positive.

In February we travelled from Macau to Kuala Lumpur flying with AirAsia. This was our first time flying with this airline and we were excited to see what the experience would be like. The prices were a bit cheaper than other airlines and given the cost of checking baggage and needing meals, we decided it made sense to upgrade our seats to priority seats which included a meal and checked bags. In the end the price was reasonable and saved us a bit of money.

Now that I have set the stage I will share our story. The day began like any day after eating questionable poorly cooked street food… exhausted from a night spent puking in a very nice hotel. Fortunately my body was on the upswing as we checked out and made out way to the airport. We arrived at the airport and got into line to check in. Our line was probably a bit longer than the usual check in line but no big deal because we arrived with plenty of time to kill. We went through security and found our gate and began killing time. From here everything went as expected, we boarded the plane and I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

The idea of a private jet was more appealing than ever waiting for our flight to leave.

When I woke up I was surprised to see that we were still on the ground. There was an issue with the plane so we were delayed. No big deal, it happens all the time. Besides, if something is wrong with the plane I do not want them to risk all of our lives and fly anyways (especially while on a plane operated by Malaysia Airlines). We were told that they would fix it and we would take off in an hour. Again, it happens, no big deal. An hour later we were told that it would be a couple more hours and that we would disembark until then. So we climbed off the plane and entered the airport and were directed through security again. This was not an issue for Rachel and I but this when people began to get upset because going through security again meant that people had to give up all the beverages and alcohol they had just bought in the duty free shop prior to boarding the plane. Once through security we had no direction so we found an AirAsia rep who told us it would be a couple more hours. So we waited.

A few hours later, we still were not boarding so we went to speak with the AirAsia rep who informed us it would be another four hours and we were given food vouchers. Unfortunately the vouchers were not redeemable at the food court but only for airplane food that was handed out at a small table AirAsia had set up. Also, food would not be served for another two hours. Later we discovered the food was on a first come first serve basis and quickly ran out of the better options.

After our meal we checked in again and were told it had been delayed a few more hours. People were beginning to get upset but stuff like this happens so we continued to wait. Six hours after the first meal we were given additional food vouchers and fought for a place in the food line yet again. After this meal we checked in with the rep, again, and we had no further news other than “delayed”. At this point I was checking AirAsia’s delay policy which states that meals will be provided after two hours (which they did well enough) and a hotel is supposed to be offered when the flight has been delayed more than 6 hours (which was not delivered).

Around midnight an angry horde surrounded the AirAsia staff demanding answers and blankets as it was quite cold at night. Children were crying and the staff obviously had no idea what to do. We didn’t know what was happening because all the yelling was in other languages but in the end staff were able to provide about 3 blankets for the crowd. When dealing with the staff we were constantly told different stories about planes being on the way but it became evident that the stories were not true as the hours passed by and the stories changed. I am pretty sure the airline was strategically delaying us only a couple hours at a time to avoid sending everyone off to hotels which they would need to provide.

Finally, we boarded our plane 14 hours after arriving at the airport and slept through our flight (and sadly the meals we had pre purchased). At this point we were frustrated to be delayed but our main complaint was the way the situation was handled by AirAsia. We were not offered the opportunity to leave the airport and hotels were not offered in accordance with their Delay contingency plan. Furthermore when I followed up with AirAsia after our vacation they seemed really helpful as we began corresponding but after the first few messages back and forth they said they would look into it and never responded. I have tried contacting them numerous times in the months since and have not received any response.

If you are considering booking a flight with AirAsia, be aware that you will be flying on older, less comfortable planes that are prone to delays. Furthermore, if any issues should arise, be prepared that you are unlikely to receive any assistance. If this is worth gambling on to save $100 I wish youbetter luck than we had. In the end flying with AirAsia was the worst gamble from our time in Macau and I would not fly with them again in the future.

-Ried

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