Round the world in Rs 7000 – Air Asia Review
Not quite but it is possible to get an international roundtrip fare for Rs 7000.
A couple of years back, while aimlessly surfing for flights on Air Asia, I happened to get a round trip fare from Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur and back to Rs 6500 for travel in January 2012. I excitedly spread the word but to my surprise, people were skeptical of the fare, even suspicious. Some thought there was some hidden catch. Many couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept of low cost travel – “What, no luggage? How can you travel international and have to pay extra for luggage?”
Anyway, I waited a couple of days and went ahead and booked before the fare changed. I had an international holiday for only Rs 11,000 inclusive of hotel and meals, which would have cost me at least Rs 40,000 if I had picked a regular full service airline.
I had a great experience flying with Air Asia. The flight was on time, the check in process was hassle- free. I knew I was flying a lost cost airline so I was well prepared. I had a meal at the airport before boarding the flight. However, Air Asia served snacks at reasonable rates like cup noodles, chips, juices, that kept me going through the longish 6 hour flight. Though I did not have any foreign exchange, the air hostesses accepted Indian rupees and returned the change in Malaysian Ringgitt which was quite useful as I used it to book a bus ticket into town.
And then they stopped operating flights from Mumbai and Delhi.
They still do great fares out of Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai and Bangalore, and I am very tempted to book a Kolkata- Kuala Lumpur flight for Rs 6500 again. But alas, I have other plans this summer which do not include holidays. I am just waiting for Asia Asia India to take off and I am hoping the 7000 rupee flights come back to Mumbai!
Meanwhile, I thought I would share some of the search techniques that I use to get cheap fares. Happy searching!
- The best fares are available off season – January 15 to March 30 and August – September 30. That’s the best time to begin your search. But there is no hard and fast rule.
- With Air Asia, the earlier you book, the greater the likelihood of getting a promo fare.
- While searching always pick the last day of the month i.e. September 30th, July 30th
- Pick travel on a weekday rather than the weekend
- Pick off beat cities like Kochi, Trichy, Hyderabad etc. Sometimes, if you are travelling light (without kids or luggage) then it may be worth the extra effort to get to those cities. You could also plan visiting friends in that city which would also make it worthwhile. Pick a city where the airport is not too far out and well-connected e.g. Bangalore, else your taxi fare to the airport will end up being more than your flight ticket to Bangkok!
- Once you have hit upon a fare, run a search on Skyscanner too for the same dates or check if perhaps cheaper fares on other dates.
- The Air Asia search is pretty dynamic, just like any other airline fare search. If the results say (Lowest Fare) then it is most likely the lowest fare for that sector. Do book quickly as you may get the same fare for a day or two at the most.
- Air Asia has two fares – Promo and Regular fares. The promo fare is non-refundable so you must be pretty certain about the dates that you are going to travel. If you do happen to get a cheap ticket, you can always lie to the boss about an emergency. In case you can’t do the trip, please be prepared to forfeit the entire fare amount.
- Air Asia gives you the option of paying for luggage on the outbound and inbound sectors separately. Travel light outbound but do book the luggage (either 15 kg or 20 kg) on the way back. Even if you don’t plan to shop too much you may still end up buying shampoos, perfumes etc. that you may not be able to carry in your hand baggage. Buying it last minute at the airport on your way back is frightfully expensive!
- Don’t bother with the food on the aircraft or booking a meal. Eat up at the airport before you get on the flight and carry packets of chips, granola bars or snacks.
- Once you reach Malaysia, take the Air Asia bus to get into the city. The fare is reasonable and the bus comfortable. It drops you off at KL Sentral (the main transport hub of the city) from where you could get a taxi, train or monorail to wherever you want to head to.
Note: There is no formula to find a cheap fare. I am only sharing what I use and these are guidelines at best. Feel free to do multiple searches every day of the month and you are sure to come up with something.
Coming up: Using Malaysia as a gateway to travel to South East Asia/ China