One of my tips on getting a bargain flight is to choose a budget airline. I practice what I preach and for our recent lightening trip to Bali The Hubs and I chose Air Asia X, one of Asia’s most awarded budget airlines. This is our third trip on Air Asia but our first at the pointy end of the plane. I only have so many dollars to spend on airfares and I choose to travel more frequently than more comfortably, but an error fare of $570 for two Air Asia X business class return tickets (a saving of over $2000) was too good to pass up! While I am averse to paying full fare for business class, I am certainly not averse to enjoying a little extra comfort on the cheap. This trip was originally booked for October, but Air Asia cancelled the route after September and we had three alternatives; fly through Kuala Lumpur, get a refund or change the dates. The 13 hour layover in KL did not appeal and I knew we could never re-book for the same money so change dates it was, which is how we found ourselves heading back to Bali only 4 months after our last visit. Business class seats, cabins, facilities and service vary greatly across airlines and usually the budget airlines are the bottom of the pack. So how did Air Asia X business class compare? Read on for all the details …
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Air Asia X Business Class Flat Bed Seats
Probably the single greatest reason people choose to fly business class is for a more comfortable seat with extra leg room and Air Asia X business class certainly delivers on that front. Their ‘premium flat bed’ is exactly that. What they leave off the advertising blurb is that is it not completely horizontal. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining as these seats are streets ahead of those behind the red curtain. They must have looked appealing because a few daring folk from economy tried to sneak in. It clearly wasn’t the crews first rodeo and the offenders were dispatched in record time, despite one particularly cheeky passenger claiming an urgent need to charge his laptop. She wasn’t buying it for a second but she did allow him to leave his laptop which I thought was a nice gesture. On both our outward and return journeys we sat in seats 1H and 1K on the right hand side of our Airbus A330-300. The business class cabin contains 12 seats in a 2x2x2 configuration. We had a daytime flight on the way out but having had little sleep the night before I still stretched out and snatched an extra two hours sleep en route. When completely reclined there was more than enough room for my 163cm frame but at 6ft The Hubs’ feet were right up against the bulkhead in front of us. No airline seat is ever going to compare to your own bed (especially when you have a king size!) but it is certainly a heck of a lot more comfortable than trying to sleep upright. Our 1am departure on the return trip meant we slept virtually from take off to landing and this is when the flat bed was really appreciated. When the seat is in the full upright position (only for take off and landing) my feet didn’t actually touch the floor which was a little uncomfortable. Of course The Hubs didn’t have this problem. Leg room is abundant and when you are in the window getting past your seat mate to the aisle is a much more dignified affair. The seats are fully automated with the controls at your fingertips. You can choose three presets or control each element individually. I loved the extra control panel in the seat canopy while in flat bed mode as the others are difficult to reach without contortions. The universal power point in the seat meant I touched down with a fully charged phone which was a bonus.
In a word … Disappointing. The food in Air Asia X business class is exactly the same as in economy. That said, you can pre-book your meal from 15 choices which is better than the usual ‘chicken or beef’ option. For lunch heading out I had the Vegetable Pasta. The broccoli was overlooked and the pasta was quite oily, suffice to say I didn’t eat it all but I wasn’t that hungry anyway. The Hubs chose the Asian Fried Rice with Chicken Satay, again this was not to my liking as the rice was doused in fish sauce and the chicken was not breast meat. Both meals were rather small and if you have a big appetite you would be left wanting. You can purchase additional meals for about $6. Other than water on boarding and with the meal all drinks are at a cost. I ordered a Coke which bizarrely was served warm, so make sure you take the ice offered. On the way home we chose to forgo our meals in favour of sleep. Meal service is on demand and you chose when you would like to dine rather than being bound by when the trolley makes its rounds. Don’t worry if you are not a fan of the food on board because once you land in Bali you are spoiled for choice. Check out my favourite restaurants here and here before heading out to eat.
A dedicated queue in both Sydney and Bali meant check in was a breeze. On both occasions the economy queue was snaking past the allocated area making me very glad I was not at the end of it. We were well under our 40kg per person baggage allowance but judging by the piled high trolleys around us, others were taking full advantage. Immigration at Sydney airport can be a drama but our business class status afforded us the luxury of going through express automated passport control and X-ray with our VIF passes. We left on a Tuesday morning and it was manic, probably the busiest I have ever seen it so this was an unexpected bonus. We were offered a similar service on our return to Sydney but it was wasted as it was very quiet. As you would expect, business class guests enjoy priority boarding and being in row 1 meant we were first to disembark. Waiting for luggage is a pain but not when you travel with Air Asia X business class. Ours was first on the carousel which enabled us to get the jump on everyone else trying to exit the airports. The business class cabin has a dedicated bathroom. If you have flown long haul economy you will know how messy bathrooms can get after a few hours in the air and the queues just before landing are diabolical. It was nice not to have to deal with any of that. There was no lounge access offered in Sydney which was a little surprising but was no issue for us as we time our arrival meticulously to have as little time as possible loitering around the airport. I believe lounge access does exist in Bali but we didn’t seek it out. There is no entertainment on Air Asia X on this route. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Unless you include the inflight magazine, which you are very politely asked not to take with you. We were aware of this before boarding so compensated by bringing a laptop and a few DVD’s. Sorted. Planes are notoriously cold but Air Asia sorts you out with a blanket and pillow to take care of that. The blanket wasn’t just one of those flimsy airline jobs either. It was a freshly laundered (I could still smell the fabric softener) doona like dream. The pillow was a little flat however and while adequate as a back rest on the outward journey I requested an extra one on the return to ensure a good nights sleep. A range of duty free items are available in flight but I never bother with that sort of thing.
Outward only 5 of the 12 seats were occupied and while it was a full house coming home most passengers slept the entire flight so the crew had it pretty easy. They were attentive without being intrusive which is just the way I like it. All announcements are in both English and Indonesian so you won’t miss out on any vital information. The inflight service does close about an hour before landing so make sure you get your last drink order in early. The one niggle I had was the crew seemed more worried about cleaning up than passenger comfort and took our blankets and pillows away about an hour before landing. Why???? I reluctantly let it happen on the first flight but was insistent on keeping them until the death on the return. She wasn’t happy but there was not a lot she could do. It would literally take them minutes to gather them up after everyone had disembarked so I am not quite sure why they made such a big deal of this.
If I had my way I would travel business class every single time but my bank balance stifles that dream. I have travelled business class a few times before, domestically on both Qantas and Virgin and internationally on Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Don’t worry I’m not selling out, I didn’t pay for any of them. They were all either free upgrades or paid for in points. Air Asia X Business Class offers superior seats than both domestic carriers short-haul business but doesn’t come close in terms of quality of food or all inclusive drinks menu. It suffers in comparison to Qantas and Cathay international business class in all aspects however when you compare the prices Air Asia X business class wins hands down. I haven’t actually flown Jetstar to Bali in business class but I have had a sneak peek at the seats and Air Asia X has them well and truly beat for around the same cost. If it’s your first time heading to Bali find out the basics here before you hit the ground. Glance out the window just as you leave Australia, the landscape of northern Western Australia is spectacular!
Have you flown Air Asia X Business Class? What were your thoughts? If not would you give it a go? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Find your own bargain flight on Expedia where you can compare many airlines all in the one place.
Until Next Time …
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I paid for my ticket in full and as always, all opinions are my own.
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