Sunday, November 18, 2007

Making friends with Air Asia

I had my first experience with Air Asia, finally, last weekend. Equipped with all sort of information about flying with Air Asia - good and bad, there I was, checking in at the Low-Cost-Carrier Terminal (LCCT).

(This blog shares (bad) experience flying with Air Asia.)

Interestingly, I went through several scenes that, like it or not, provided the occasions to interact with other passengers.

While I knew that the baggage limit is lower than other airlines (both for checked-in as well as carry-on baggage), I didn't know that some people with overweight baggage would approach passengers with lightweight baggage for 'help'. Two students in front of me were ones of the victims - they ended up carrying one of their bags as a lady insisted their help.

I, too, was approached. Not sure what my position at that time, I asked questions like show me your boarding pass, what do you do, etc., before finally let him 'use' my excess capacity.

Well, not knowing this person and what is in his luggage, I felt it was necessary to stay close to him.

Only to find out that he works in a multi-marketing company.


Luckily, he was not the sales person or the marketer, but rather in the setting up the business structure. Phew...

The other occasion was the boarding process, which was worse than I expected. A total chaos. No line to queue, which is even worse than queuing in Genting. And I hate having my body constantly touched or pushed.

And then the race to the airplane. This is where passengers with children are handicapped.

Finally, the seating process. People can get pretty rude in this process - I saw someone who practically indicated something like "I don't want you to sit next to me, look somewhere else." Rude and unacceptable.

Everyone tries to maximize his position. Hoping to sit next to an empty seat.

This is the same challenge, actually, across all airlines that don't assign seat numbers. The difference is the passengers (that people want to avoid sitting next to). In the U.S., for example, there are more oversize passengers. In Asia, or my experience flying between Malaysia and Indonesia, there are more passengers with strong body odor. Yeah, smell bad.

A friend of mine who frequently travels with Southwest Airlines, one pioneer of low-budget airlines, has a tip on this. When you travel alone and light, and the flight seems to be full, board in the last one-third of the passengers. That way you can pick and choose who you want to sit next to.

As a favor to your neighbor-to-be, make sure you take a shower before going to the airport.

Yes, everyone. Please.