SHE needed to get to Bali at short notice a few weeks ago; the usual options out of Melbourne were stretching the budget. So SHE got a little creative and combined a flight across the Nullabor to Perth on Qantas, an overnight stay with a friend, and a short hop to Bali the next morning. SHE is a born and bred Perth girl so there are plenty of fond memories of leaving the west coast at 9am and being by the pool in Bali by lunchtime (east coast envy!). Flight options out of Perth on the low cost carriers include Jetstar and Air Asia. Given the latter has been awarded the title of "World's best low cost airline 5 years in a row" SHE decided to give it a a try. Here's the verdict… Online booking:
The website is easy to navigate, clearly listing all the options and extras. The pop up screens along the way pretty much insist you read the fine print when it comes to the choices you’ve made (no luggage, adding insurance, meal options). You can't continue until you check the box. There’s no-one to blame except yourself if you don’t bother to read the messages. Pay attention folks – it’s worth it.
'Hot seats' and exit rows are available at an additional cost. Choose your seat preference at the time of booking – this is a standard now for most online booking systems. SHE chose an overwing exit row seat on the flight to Bali (SHE likes a bit of legroom). On the return flight SHE chose 1C; a much better option, as it turned out, with more leg room and a quick getaway!
Choose carry on only (7kg so you’ll really be travelling light to get away with this), 15kg, 23 kg.
This is a great service offered at some airports on the route network. SHE travelled on a morning flight from Denpasar to Perth so the airport was very quiet. However if you chose a flight later in the day, SHE thinks this option is well worth the extra cost (around AU$35). Denpasar airport can be a little crazy towards the end of the day and the late evening, and let's face it, we're all grumpy by then because we don't want to go home! And no-one likes queues.
This option gives a dedicated check in service with a priority bag tag to ensure your luggage comes off first at your destination. There’s also an Air Asia staff member to escort you express style through the immigration process – a nice touch. Then it’s to the Lounge (shared with Garuda), offering pretty standard food and drink options, and the elusive complimentary wifi. It's comfortable and a much nicer alternative to the plastic chairs in the general airport area should your flight be delayed.
An Air Asia representative comes to the lounge and escorts you to the gate; no need to hang around in the 'holding area' at the gate. We arrived just a few minutes before boarding began, were escorted to the front of the line, with priority boarding. Nice touch.
You can pre-order food or take your chances on board. There are two hot options available (a Western and Asian chicken dish), sandwiches, instant noodles, drinks and snacks. The service is prompt and efficient, delivered with a smile. On the flight to Bali you can pay with Australian dollars; on the return journey you can also pay in rupiah.
There’s no entertainment on offer (other than your fellow passengers and their conversations!) so it doesn’t hurt to bring along your own inflight options (ipad, laptop, or a good old fashioned book).
And the verdict:
The flight was uneventful – SHE thinks that's always the best kind! There was an on time departure, and the 3 hours and 40 minutes went by quickly. Air Asia is a solid option that ticks all the boxes. Flights are competitively priced and if you don’t mind taking the low cost airline model with ‘user pays’ extras, SHE thinks this one's a winner.