AirAsia Review: Asia’s Best Airline or a Waste of Money?

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AirAsia Review: Asia’s Best Airline or a Waste of Money?
Few things are as exciting as jetting off on a new adventure, and the airline you fly with is an integral part of that experience. Having flown AirAsia on more than one occasion, it’s undoubtedly a carrier I’ll never forget. But how does it measure up against the competition?

As a seasoned traveler, you probably know that while some destinations are affordable, others can be boujee. Still, no matter where you go, you can fly there and back with a low-cost carrier to save! 

After all, why spend your travel allowance on airfare when you could spend it on yummy food, experiences, and shopping? 

AirAsia is an ultra-low-cost carrier based in South-East Asia, a region renowned for affordable street food and backpacker vibes. South-East Asia is famous for its welcoming hostels in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Bali, and other top locales. 

The carrier also operates long-haul flights further afield, making it a contender for those looking to save while globe-trotting. Let’s dive into a few things you should know before you fly AirAsia!

airasia logos
Photo by AirAsia

What Is AirAsia?

AirAsia is an ultra-low-cost airline operating out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s klia2 terminal. Founded in 1994, it’s now the largest carrier in Malaysia, with planes also hitting the tarmac at almost every airport in neighboring countries. 

It’s almost impossible to travel in Asia by air without spotting a trademark red AirAsia plane or kiosk! The airline also expanded, adding Thai AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia, Philippines AirAsia, and AirAsia Zest. 

This expansion has made it one of the most popular low-cost airlines in Bangkok, Manila, Bali, and more of these jurisdictions. Plus, the airline also directly services some equally popular international destinations in partnership with other major carriers.

AirAsia and AirAsia X are owned by the Tune Group, offering accommodation, leisure, and entertainment services. Tune Talk, Tune Hotels, and Tune Insurance are just some of its subsidiaries that cater to AirAsia customers’ needs. The Tune Group and AirAsia were founded by Malaysian entrepreneurs Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun.

If you’re transiting through KLIA, consider taking a detour to enjoy all Kuala Lumpur has to offer! The city is about an hour from the airport, but well worth the visit. A mix of luxury, history, and culture, the city is to die for!

Where Does AirAsia Fly?

AirAsia has built an extensive network in the past decades. The carrier services almost every route to and from domestic and nearby ASEAN countries and cities, bustling or lesser-known. Plus, many popular destinations in the USA, Middle-East, and Oceania. 

A bonus is that you can expect to pay similar fares to fly between ASEAN countries as you would for some domestic fares within Malaysia.

Looking for another low-cost ASEAN carrier to get you there? Compare Nok Air and Thai Lion Air!

Further-afield destinations like China, Australia, India, and the Middle-East, also remain affordable compared to major international carrier fares.

airasia aircraft
Photo by AirAsia

Insider Tips On How to Book With AirAsia

When booking with a new carrier, you can easily miss out on savings because you’re unfamiliar with the system.

Let me share my top tips for booking with AirAsia if you’re newer to the budget travel scene!

Searching flights as little as possible: AirAsia is infamous for upping flight prices if you search routes too many times. Try to search just once or twice. You can also use a VPN or a new browser or device to double-check if you’re still seeing the lowest fare.

Book in advance: The best AirAsia flight prices are usually found 3 weeks or more for international flights and 1 week or more before domestic flights. AirAsia also promotes unbelievable seasonal deals and last-minute flight offers throughout the year.

Screenshot of how to book in AirAsia
Photo by AirAsia

Try self-check-in: Not only can you self-check-in online or via the AirAsia app, but also at the AirAsia self-check-in counters to save time. Generally only available at KLIA and select ASEAN airports, the self-check-in counters are a real lifesaver over busy periods. 

Suppose you have bags to check-in. No problem! You can do so at the self-baggage drop facility or counters after.

Earn AirAsia points and BIG Points: Sign up for AirAsia’s membership card to earn points to spend on rewards. Points can come in handy for flight discounts, meals, online shopping, accommodation, and more.

Screenshot of AirAsia membership cards and privileges
Photo by AirAsia

AirAsia In-Flight Services

As a budget carrier with one of the lowest costs per available seat kilometer, flying AirAsia is spare on luxuries, to put it lightly. Everything, from the food to your luggage allowance, is optimized to limit costs. AirAsia has your back if you are okay with missing out on these non-necessities to save.

AirAsia Fares 

The AirAsia fares available for your route depend mainly on the airplane you fly. Smaller Airbus A320s comprise most of its fleet, predominantly servicing its domestic and shorter international flight routes. You usually choose between economy-style low and Hot Seat fares on these flights.

In some cases, a business-class-style Premium seat or Premium Flatbed fare may be available for an extra cost. Particularly on long-haul flights on its Boeing 737 airplanes.

Still, traditionally roomy and luxurious first and business-class fares are usually rare with AirAsia. Unless you fly one of AirAsia’s partner airlines, that is.

In fact, AirAsia Premium fares are no-frills, with no entertainment console and service similar to that of Low fares. Ideal if all you want to pay for is a comfy bed or seat. But less so if you’re used to being pampered, catered to, and entertained 24/7.

Who knows, though? After touring Bali or AirAsia’s other exciting destination cities, you may be okay with it.

Legroom On AirAsia Flights

One of the biggest disadvantages of flying AirAsia is the cramped legroom and seating. Barely sufficient for shorter flights, the limited space can negatively affect you mentally and physically on longer trips. 

Not only is it challenging to stash much below your seat, but it can also be a struggle to stretch and get comfy.

Airplane seats and aisle
Photo by Suhyeon Choi from Unsplash

AirAsia planes, seats, and spacing seem to be designed with minimizing costs in mind. If you are curvier or taller, consider booking two seats. Or you can opt for an extra-legroom Hot Seat, and not all have extra legroom or a Premium seat.

Don’t count on the empty airplane or a spare seat beside you. Servicing one of the most densely populated regions of the world, AirAsia flights are usually packed to the brim.

AirAsia Luggage Allowance

As one of the most affordable carriers, the fact that AirAsia’s baggage allowance is very stingy is expected. 

Hand Luggage Allowance

You are allowed a maximum of:

  • Two pieces of hand luggage on board for free
  • One cabin bag and either a laptop bag, handbag, or small bag
  • Both of which should not exceed 7 kg when weighed together

A feat if you carry a heavy laptop and camera on you! 

To make matters worse, the AirAsia attendants meticulously weigh hand luggage when you check-in. You’ll have to check it in or separate your luggage if overweight. Hence, why packing in a suitcase or backpack and keeping a spare bag on you is advisable.

Also, remember that not having your hand luggage weighed may sound lucky, but the attendants could still weigh it on your return. In which case, it could be overweight, leaving you to check it in or leave stuff behind in the terminal. 

Grey luggage in the middle of a cafe
Photo by Sun Lingyan from Unsplash

Checked Luggage Allowance

Unless you bought a Premium fare or Value Pack, checked luggage usually comes at an additional cost with AirAsia flights. That said, it’s often very affordable and easy to add checked bags when you book your ticket.

Note that for partnered flights, you may get free checked luggage. So, be sure to check your ticket before you buy any extra luggage allowance.

Read more about AirAsia’s baggage allowance on its website.

AirAsia Meals, Snacks, and Beverages

On your AirAsia flight, expect to pay for everything. Snacks, meals, and beverages all cost money, especially on Low fares. According to its rules, you aren’t allowed to bring drinks and food aboard.

Again, it’s super-easy and affordable to add these, though, during booking and the run-up to your flight. Plus, other valuable add-ons like seat selection, insurance, car hire, and other goodies. As a last resort, you can buy food from the AirAsia Santan menu on the plane. 

But I recommend booking in advance to ensure you get your meal, snack, or beverage. In-flight options are often limited to one or two popular meal selections, such as Uncle Chin’s Chicken Rice. Plus, other basics like sandwiches, ramen noodles, and snacks. They could run out before they serve you!

In contrast, a meal may be included with Premium fares or on longer partnered flights. You can also purchase a Value Pack with added luggage allowance, meals, and insurance. 

AirAsia meals get full marks from me, if not entirely on par with Kuala Lumpur’s street food! They’re flavorful and always reflect AirAsia’s roots and those of the ASEAN destinations it flies to.

window from an airplane with the view of clouds
Photo by Marten Bjork from Unsplash

Is Flying AirAsia Worth It?

As one of ASEANs major low-cost carriers, there is a lot that AirAsia is doing right. Not only does the carrier make jet-setting throughout South-East Asia convenient and quick, but affordable, too. The routes on offer, either on the carrier or in collaboration with its partners, are far-ranging and competitively priced.

AirAsia also caters to many travelers, from vacationers to backpackers, digital nomads to ex-pats, and visa runners to locals. On AirAsia flights, you’ll find a mix of all the above demographics and more. A great chance to make new friends and immerse in the culture.

Though the services included in AirAsia fares are scant to none, you can buy many add-ons. So, you can spend on what you need and save on what you don’t. This customizability has been core to AirAsia’s success and popularity. 

After all, would you rather pay for a blanket, entertainment console, and toiletry bag or save that money for what really matters? Like authentic activities, food, and accommodation at your destination. 

Or maybe a last-minute AirAsia flight to a destination you didn’t know you wanted to go to when you got there! Like the charming Penang Island or never-sleeping Bangkok?

Our Rating: 4.1/5


  • Affordable airfares
  • Wide range of routes
  • Plenty of useful paid add-ons
  • Delicious food
  • Low-cost checked baggage fees


  • No entertainment consoles
  • Cramped Low fare seats
  • Minimal amenities

Nail Your Trip-Planning With Pilot!

AirAsia has you covered when it comes to saving on your airfare. But why stop there?

Planning and preparation are vital to ensuring the trip of your dreams runs smoothly.

Not sure where to start? Pilot’s got you covered!

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Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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