As of this writing, AirAsia Philippines (IATA: PQ) has already been flying for two months to three domestic destinations. With a brand new fleet of two Airbus 320, the airline is expecting new aircraft delivery this year and the commencing of regional flights soon.
In those two months, I’ve flown with AirAsia Philippines three times already, and with their enticing all-in fare promotions, I have some more tickets booked for the future. In this comprehensive review, I am sharing my impressions from booking to landing. Read more…
The booking engine of AirAsia Philippines is unified with the entire AirAsia network. While it is a point-to-point carrier, its one-stop concept makes it convenient to get connecting flights to their combined destinations portfolio. Connections are hassle-free, as AirAsia provides convenient connections, especially at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport LCC Terminal.
As with all AirAsia flights, their quoted prices are all-in, meaning we won’t be surprised to see extra costs as the booking proceeds. This is a very vital feature that I appreciate a lot.
Quite fascinating about their website are the different services and ancillaries that can be booked ahead. Sure, other websites offer prepaid baggage too, but AirAsia makes it more convenient to book meals, comfort kits, SIM cards, bus services, insurance, and baggage allowance for sports equipment at a fraction of what is paid at the airport or onboard.
Managing and modifying bookings are easier as well, because everything can be done online. Changing flight details, seat selection, and purchasing of add-ons are all available.
TICKETING OFFICE AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
Currently, AirAsia Philippines has a singular ticketing office in SM City North EDSA. I haven’t tried booking a ticket there, but honestly, I think there are only a few people who would need a ticketing office, like those who do not have access to the internet or seniors who are availing of a discount. Frankly, with AirAsia, it’s easier to book online.
But to further strengthen its availability to everyone, AirAsia Philippines has tied up with Amadeus, the leading transaction processor for travel agents, to have its flights available through Amadeus LCC Smart. This means with an improved, web-like tool, we could expect more travel agents near us to offer AirAsia flights.
AirAsia Philippines has setup a local customer care and booking hotline, and they likewise have Facebook and Twitter accounts that respond to customers promptly. The Ask AirAsia service, meanwhile, is always there for AirAsia flights across the network.
FREE SHUTTLE BUS SERVICE
While I fully disagree, people may find flying in Clark inconvenient. To address this, AirAsia Philippines came up with a Victory Liner free shuttle bus service to and from Marquee Mall in Angeles, which I’ve tried. They have also partnered up with Philtranco and Southwest Tours Boracay in providing convenient connections for their guests. See my detailed article here.
AIRPORT AND WEB CHECK-IN
The entire AirAsia network encourages web check-in, and AirAsia Philippines is fully implementing this on all their routes. Personally, I find it more convenient and faster than queuing up at the airport, as a lot of Filipinos aren’t that into this service yet.
A feature of the web check-in service is the optional 2D barcodes that can be scanned for a boarding pass at airport self-check in kiosks. These kiosks are currently available here in the Philippines at Clark, while the app used is on iOS, Blackberry, and Android smartphones.
AirAsia Philippines still has free airport check-in service. When I was checking in for my flight at Clark, I was delighted to see several desks serving our flight. However, web check-in is still a much preferred option for me.
With only a few flights utilizing the two parallel runways of Clark International Airport (IATA: CRK), AirAsia Philippines is fortunate to experience no delayed flights due to congestion. This perhaps is one of their main selling points, with the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (IATA: MNL) experiencing flight delays that can even ruin vacation plans.
Both my two flights emanating from Clark were on-time, and the night flight I took from Puerto Princesa likewise flew as scheduled. Of course, arrival was on-time, too.
With only a few flights that utilize the spacious Diosdado Macapagal Terminal, boarding was always hassle-free and not chaotic. We were led by their friendly staff to board via the tarmac, and the entire process was orderly and quick.
AIRCRAFT CABIN INTERIOR
When I boarded my first flight with them, I thought the aircraft was clean, it and really felt brand new. The seats had the usual comfortable seat pitch and had the smell of new leather. The temperature inside was commendable.
INFLIGHT SERVICE AND MEALS
Our Airbus 320 flights have the mandatory four cabin crew who were all dressed elegantly in their uniforms. Common feedback I hear from friends is that their crew look good compared to some other airlines, and I agree with them. Plus, they were all smiles and friendly.
Scanning through the AirAsia Café menu, I thought the selection was good—the array of snacks and hot meals seemed carefully selected. I was able to try a couple of their hot meals, and both were of quality and were delicious. Further, their chocolate chip cookies were so good that I hoped they’re available to purchase elsewhere.
Travel 3sixty is the inflight magazine for the AirAsia network. While I wish that there would be a local version in the future, their current inflight magazine has engaging articles interspersed with breathtaking photos. What’s better is that it has a blog version online.
ARRIVAL AND BAGGAGE CLAIM
All our flights arrived on-time and were uneventful. With their efficient handling, baggage claim promptly commenced. This one time, our baggage was already waiting at the carousel before we could even walk to the terminal building. By the way, the baggage belts in Clark were thankfully orderly, for the airport handles only a few flights.
With customer satisfaction decreasing with low cost airlines globally, I’m hoping AirAsia Philippines will standout. AirAsia Philippines CEO Ms. Maan Hontiveros herself assured me though that this is their very intention, with their passengers being treated not as mere customers but as guests.
They have an expansive airport as their main hub, but Clark International Airport may be one of their major challenges at the moment. For sure, they are finding ways to encourage passengers to travel via Clark. I commend them for starting with their free shuttle services.
Their unparalleled on-time performance and fast turnaround are perhaps some of their main selling points. Of course, equally important are their affordable and transparent all-in fares.
I see promise in AirAsia Philippines. Right now, the experience is great, and I’m confident that this will continue as they expand into more routes across the country and the region.
AirAsia Philippines can truly make us Filipinos proud.