The Frugal Flyer – How little can I spend to get from Australia to Asia without going hungry?
To celebrate low cost carrier Air Asia X announcing new services between Adelaide and Kuala Lumpur, they released a limited number of introductory fares between the two cities from AUD$99. I managed to purchase one of these tickets and my plan was to see how little could I spend by the time I arrived in Kuala Lumpur. 🙂 Interestingly, the airfare component was a mere AUD$6 with the airport taxes and fees coming to AUD$93 – of course there was a processing fee so lets add AUD$8 to that total as well.
I arrived at Adelaide Airport exactly 3 hours prior to the scheduled departure, the time Air Asia X check-in counters open, and made my way to the departures level. I was quite surprised seeing the signage for check-in to be on the ground floor, so I made may way downstairs to a small room beside the baggage carousels in the arrivals hall to check-in.
The check-in process was pretty quick as I’d prepaid my baggage online when booking the ticket. My 1 bag could weigh up to 20kgs which I paid an additional AUD$27, paying upon check-in would have cost AUD$45. My bag weight came in at 18.5kgs – phew – excess weight is charged at AUD$20 per kilo. I was also allowed one carry on bag + a laptop bag (or handbag) to take on board – each weighing no more than 7kgs. The young fellow, who checked me in, told me the gate number, handed me my boarding pass for seat 47G and advised I should pass through immigration by 9.30am and be at the gate no later than 10.20am for the 11.00am departure.
The flight was delayed due to the late arrival of the incoming aircraft but I made my way to to the Immigration area right on 9.30 anyway and found it not yet open, so I waited, and waited, and waited…as did what seemed everybody inside the Airport. The whole airport seemed to be in one long line – until Immigration finally opened at 10.05am! Now, I am not sure if this was the usual opening time, or if it was due to the late incoming aircraft, I’m inclined to think the latter as the normal departure time was 11.00am. The aircraft landed at 10.45, 1 hour and 10 minutes late, and all those waiting for the flight ran to the boarding gate like it was a train they were determined not to miss. Whether they realised the arriving passengers needed to disembark, crew needed to deplane, the aircraft needed to be cleaned and the new crew board, or they just wanted to be standing in another new line, I’m not sure, but I sat and watched those standing in that new line for 55 minutes. When the announcement finally came that flight D7 247 was now boarding via row numbers 51-41 I simply walked to the front of that line and boarded the aircraft.
Subtotal: (still) AUD$134.00
As I boarded the aircraft, I was warmly greeted by the cabin crew and directed to the rear of the plane where 47G, my home for the next 7.5 hours was to be. My seat, an aisle middle section seat, was not bad, for those of you who are regular readers will know I love to choose my seat – like last time I flew Air Asia – as I am quite particular about where I sit, but trying to be the ‘Frugal Flyer’ I decided to leave it up to chance instead of paying the extra as a standard seat selection was AUD$15.
Subtotal: (still) AUD$134.00
I didnt book one of the ‘Hot Seats’ either. To pre-book a ‘Hot Seat’ online the cost was AUD$46, these extra leg room seats are located at each bulkhead.
Subtotal: (still) AUD$134.00
Over all I was pretty happy with my aisle seat, and there was plenty of aisle space due to the rear of the plane having a 2-3-2 configuration therefore widening the aisle, this meant no people bumbing into me! The seat pitch was a comfotable 31″ and having the lady next to me move after take off allowed myself to claim a part of the seat next to me
Subtotal: (still) AUD$134
Not long after take off the trolley services began – in fact I did not stop seeing a trolley making its way up or down the aisle for the whole 7.5 hour journey – which made it really easy to purchase a drink or snack. I couldn’t help myself and purchased a white wine and at MYR20/AUD$6.64, it represented better value than most carriers who sell wine onboard for between AUD$7-AUD$9. Even better was that it was a decent Australian drop! Air Asia X doesn’t take credit cards for inflight meal or refreshment purchases, only cash, in several currencies, but keep this in mind if intending purchase on board.
A few days before the flight I’d checked out what entertainment was on offer via their pre-loaded tablets that are available on board. These Samsung tablets can pre-booked online or hired in-flight if available. There were a couple of new release movies films I wanted to see and again pre-booking it online was cheaper than onboard so I pre-booked one of the tablets for my journey – AUD$14. After the first drinks service and prior to the first meal service, the tablets were brought around to those who had pre-booked. Unfortunately those new release films were no longer on offer, and to be honest, out of the 10 films that were available, I had either seen or they didn’t really appeal to me. There were a couple of TV shows I watched, an episode of Friends, Glee and a great episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, but I must say I was left feeling rather disappointed at the offerings as I utalised it for around 2 hours.
About an hour into the flight, the crew announced they would be doing the meal service and those who had pre-ordered a meal were advised to have their boarding passes ready as this proved they had pre-booked. For those what wished to purchase the meals on board, they could do so after the first meals were delivered. I knew I couldn’t go around 8 hours without something to eat so again I pre-booked my meal and thus saving some money along the way. I ordered the Japanese Meal, which on the day was Chicken Teriyaki and rice which came with a bottle of water. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the actual dish, but it wasnt too bad. The rice was nicely cooked and the chicken portion, although very small, was delicious. There was no side dish, salad, desert or roll but for AUD$5 when pre-booked online, AUD$6 if bought onboard was still not bad value I thought.
I sat back for the next few hours, I even dozed off to sleep for a few hours and only purchased one more item – a bag of peanuts for MYR3/AUD$1 before it was time to land at a very miserably wet KLIA LCCT.
Overall the flight was great considering what it cost, sure it was nothing flash, but the aircraft was clean and comfortable and the polite and cheery flight attendants were worked very hard throughout the flight. I think Air Asia X represented extremely great value on this flight – I flew from Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur, a total of 5,689 kilomitres, in a comfortable seat with (some) entertainment which included a meal, water, wine and a snack – sounds to me almost like a full service airline – and what did it cost me?
Total Cost: AUD$160.64
~ Follow me as I have just again flown on Air Asia X in their Business Class cabin – stay tuned! ~