Tips on surviving a long haul flight on AirAsia X to London

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Just this Monday night, I was chatting with a friend on Twitter that I was on my way to London from Kuala Lumpur on an AirAsia flight. His immediate response was “Don’t pull a fast one, AirAsia does not fly to London.”  I guess there are still many people who are not aware that even low cost carriers have long haul flights.   Some of my other friends wanted me to share with them my post flight experiences so that they could consider traveling on AirAsia in future for their longer haul journeys.

My journey to the AirAsia British Motor Grand Prix started Monday night at 1910hrs on Air Asia flight AK 710 from Singapore to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Kuala Lumpur.

Air Asia flight AK 710 at Changi Airport Terminal 1 bound for Kuala Lumpur LCCT

Arrived at 2000hrs where I met other friends of the media and were escorted to the spiffy AirAsia office where Motor Racing and Automotive writer Cheryl Tay and I were working on our laptops.

We checked in at 2240hrs then went to the sports bar in the restricted area where some of us had beer while I had a quick bite before boarding flight D7 2002.

The flight was slightly delayed due to Afghanistan air traffic restrictions and also late delivery of ePlayer, AirAsia X’s inflight entertainment screens. We eventually took off half an hour later at 130am.

So you ask “How was the experience?”

Here’s my candid response.

The no frills gives me the option to choose what I require.

Seats

If you would need to stretch your legs during this slightly over 12 hour flight, take the aisle of the middle of the 3 x 3 x 3 seat arrangement in Economy.  Being a 175 cm tall bloke, the leg room was fine for me.  The seat recline was sufficient for me though I would have preferred more recline.  I was fortunate that there was an empty seat next to me – more space!  You could also request from the front row seats of each cabin or the emergency exit seats for a fee.  But be warned that the arm rests for these seats cannot be raised to make more room should the seat next to you be empty.  If you do not wish to sacrifice your comfort and require a flat bed for a long haul fight, then go for the Premium seats which come with a more premium price.

Inflight Meals

Meals can be pre-booked when you book your flight, but then you may still not get your chosen meal, depending on availability.  That was what happened on our return flight from London to Kuala Lumpur.  Pre-booking your meals would cost you less than buying on board.  However, if you still can’t decide, you can still buy on board.

There are two official meal servings in the duration of the flight.  However, snacks and beverages are available at anytime.

The meals are, to my surprise, not expensive.  In fact, when I checked the AirAsia Cafe menu,  the variety is quite extensive.  Ranging from RM9 Classique Hotdogs to RM12 main course meals such as the Bukhara Chicken Briyani or Chicken Spinach Lasagne.  Remember to have some cash (Malaysian Ringgit preferable or the currency where the flight is departing from) in your pocket so you don’t have to get your money from the overhead compartment.    Any change would be returned to you in Malaysian Ringgit.

Do note that AirAsia has a no outside food policy – though I do not see the crew enforcing this.  You’ll probably get a warning and be required to purchase a beverage on board.

Do not expect consistency in the preparation of the food as well.  The Nasi Lemak I had from Kuala Lumpur to London was different from what was served from London to Kuala Lumpur.  The latter was missing the ikan billis (anchovies) and peanuts.

A word of advise – If you have a sensitive tummy, avoid the Asian cuisines.  They usually have spices and chilli in there.  Go for the Western meal.

Asian Food Menu on Air Asia X

Snacks and Beverages

Pay as you snack or drink.  Cup Noodles cost RM6.  Loacker Wafer, Potato Chips, Chocolates and Cashew Nuts fall within the RM4 range.  The rest of the snacks do not exceed RM5.   Cold non alcoholic drinks cost RM6 while hot drinks cost RM5.  Water costs RM3 in the month of June 2010.    When you are 35,000 feet above sea level, I am sure you would be craving for comfort food.  And if Cup Noodles are your comfort food, you’ll have a choice of 3 flavours – Curry, Seaweed Mushroom and Chicken.    The aroma from the other passengers’ cup noodles will arouse your cravings – trust me!!   My only request for AirAsia would be to have the option to sell fresh chicken eggs or braised eggs that could be added into the cup noodles!  That would make it PERFECT!

Inflight Comfort

You don’t have to share blankets or pillows used by other passengers. You could bring your own or you could purchase the AirAsia Comfort Kit for RM35.  Each Comfort Kit comes with a suede eye-shade, self-blown neck pillow and woven blanket packed in a draw-string bag that you can bring home after the flight to be reused for your other AirAsia journeys.  If you prefer the traditional cushy pillows, those are also available for RM20 each. Dressing smart for the flight can also save you from purchasing any of these, if you are on a tight travel budget.  I wore Jeans and also a nice warm jacket to keep myself warm and comfy through out the 13.5 hour flight.   I always bring a pair of disposable bed room slippers so that I can keep my feet warm in them.

The Comfort Pack on AirAsia X

Luggage Allowance

You decide the weight of your luggage.  My check-in luggage was 15 kg  when I went to London.  That means there was no excess weight for any purchases.   I would recommend you to get at least 20kg.  So if you are going to do lotsa shopping, you may purchase additional weight for your return trip when you book your air ticket.

Inflight Entertainment

Before you embark on your journey, you have to decide whether you would require inflight entertainment.    Grab them before they run out and you would have no entertainment for the 13.5 hours.  Eplayers are for rent and you can use them till the batteries run out.   I did not try the Eplayers because I had a book, some magazines and my iPod to keep me busy.

These ePlayers have a good mix of current movies but you’ll have around 7 to select from in the Action, Comedy, Family, Drama and International categories.  There was “Shutter Island” and “Book of Li’.  You also get a selection of 8 different tv series as well.  The rest will be a good selection of audio.

If you’re in Premium class, you can watch dvds on your own laptop.  All premium seats come with a standard 3pin plug (UK standard)

Service

Just like any Asian full service airline, the crew from AirAsia is pleasantly friendly and helpful when you need their assistance.  They may not be able to offer you much for free , but they try to be helpful.   Once you manage your own expectations right, I am sure you would agree with me.

Fortunately I brought my iPod and plugged my ears from the noisy toddler sitting few rows before me.    The initial incessant screaming during take off and landing was just excruciating!    Prior to landing, one of the passengers had a bad tummy and suddenly the guys sitting in front of me were fanning profusely.  Within seconds later, I realized they were reacting to a smelly air discharge!  And to my misfortune, this happened twice!!! Ewwww.

If I had to rate my overall inflight experience with AirAsia X, I would give a 3 out of 5.

The flight landed at Standsted Airport.  Stansted airport has one terminal which sees 22.8 million passengers fly each year and is home to 41 airlines.  Click here to find out how you can get to downtown London from Stansted Airport.

Check out the AirAsia skinned London Cabs here.

Photo credits: AirAsia.

13 Comments

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  5. Great tips, thanks. I’m preparing my flight from Paris to KUL with my 3 year old son and since this route is quite new, I didnt know what to expect. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Rotibengalis says:

    Good tips

  8. Thanks for this!

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  10. Great review!

  11. Great review!

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