Giving AirAsia a Go from Hong Kong to Bangkok

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Ticketing

I had a certain window of time one day within which I wanted to travel to Bangkok. Thai’s morning flight was cutting it fine but the next one was too late. Cathay wanted $4,500 for a one-way ticket in economy, which is exorbitant, so I looked at AirAsia. Their timings suited me, but I do not usually like budget airlines and do not have confidence in AirAsia’s safety record (to note: the airline operates as a sort of federation, so this AirAsia flight is operated by AirAsia Thailand, whereas some of their problematic flights have been operated by other operating companies within the group). Still, AirAsia suited my needs and I plumped for them.

I had booked this ticket a couple of days before travel on Air Asia’s website for $1,246. I was using the website on my phone and the whole process was simple, though insurance at $30 was added in without an obvious chance to remove it, which is a sharp practice. $1,246 is not especially cheap for a one-way flight of a couple of hours: it is a sign of how much capacity the Hong Kong to Bangkok route can support that even the “cheap” option on a budget airline is priced at that level.

At the Airport

I checked in at terminal two. There was a massive mainland tour group in luminous tee-shirts taking much of the space, but I was beckoned over to another counter and so quickly issued a paper boarding pass. There was a sign saying that external food could not be brought onboard (I am not sure how enforceable that is – if any reader knows, please comment below!) and also a sign detailing checked baggage fees. Checking baggage at the gate attracted a higher fee than at the checkin counter.

The flight was scheduled to leave from gate 201 in the midfield terminal. Upon arrival there I saw that it had been reassigned to gate 214.

Boarding was by zone but was orderly. Staff did not weigh any carry on baggage as far as I could see, which I liked as I may otherwise have had to redistribute some weight from my bag to my coat (per The Poisonwood Bible). AirAsia’s carryon allowance of 7 kg is not much.

Equipment

The plane was a Boeing 737.

The seats were fine, with a slight recline. There was some advertising posted on the seatback and baggage racks which lowered the tone somewhat.



Flight

The flight looked to be about one third full. I had been allocated a middle seat but moved to the window one. If I had wanted, there were empty rows. Almost none of the premium red seats were taken.

Climbing out over Lantau. Discovery Bay is in the foreground, with Mui Wo visible in the bay behind it. (HK Travel Blog)

The flight was smooth with lovely views en route and we touched down just before schedule, pulling in to gate 12 at Don Muang airport, which is more manageably sized than Suvarnabhumi.

Service

The Thai cabin crew was fine. They were not as friendly as most Thai crews, but worked hard and did their job. I appreciated that they did not push sales the way that crew on some budget airlines do. They came around to take food orders, delivered the food and then occasionally popped through the cabin.

Food and Drink

AirAsia has a buy on board food and drink offering. I did not partake but the selection was wide and the pricing was reasonable, though not a steal. One example of a meal deal is below – pre-ordering online the prices are reduced. Change was given only in baht.

Conclusion

I was pretty happy with this flight. It was not too crowded, punctual and the crew was adequate.

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