air asia cabin

Review: Air Asia Sydney to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia – D7 223

Flying Air Asia: Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – review

By Thang Ngo

air asia cabin

There are three advantages of flying with a low cost airline: price, price, price  – it’s about what you’re willing to forgo to get low fares.  As noodlies, Sydney food and travel blog found out recently, there’s a few tips to making the best of it.

Read on to find out…

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The first thing you’re likely to notice about the Air Asia brand is that bright, but flattering red corporate colour, selected to represent a young, fun and lively personality, but not so bright that it becomes annoying and brash.  The Malaysian based low-cost airline, which is partly owned by Branson’s Virgin group, has a brilliant reputation – winning Skytrax’s World’s Best Low-Cost Airline award for three consecutive years (2009-2011).  Very impressive for an airline that’s just over 10 years old.

Air Asia announced its first service to Australia in August 2007 between Kuala Lumpur and the Gold Coast and soon added other routes: Perth, Melbourne and since April 2012, Sydney.

Noodlies scored one of the special fares to celebrate the launch of the Sydney to Kuala Lumpur service – return for a ridiculous price of just over $A320 including 20kg of checked luggage.  As with most low cost airlines the price didn’t include meals, inflight entertainment, and the other ‘niceties’.  It was cheap, though.

The Airbus A330-300 was in good nick and felt young, although the carpet was starting to wear out – an obvious casualty of most planes being close to capacity.  The seats were leather and comfy but on the narrower side, if your seat is on the aisle expect to be bumped by flight attendants and other passengers as they pass by.  Our plane was pretty much full which made the environment feel even more cramped.

Service was friendly and efficient, right people with right attitude and training. The female attendants looked stunning in tight fitting red uniforms.

Air Asia food menu

We didn’t pre-order any meals for the 8.5hr flight and immediately regretted it.  On a long flight with no inflight what else is there to do but eat?  I’m pleasantly surprised,  the on-board menu had a good variety of meals for RM15 (around A$5) – nasi lemak, chicken lasagne and Thai green curry.  Plenty of drinks and snacks too; Snickers (RM5), Kit Kat (RM4), peanuts, most soft drinks.

air asia nasi lemak

My nasi lemak was ok for plane food.  Though I almost missed out because we didn’t pre-order and it took a little longer as the attendant searched for the last few nasi lemak on-board – which wasn’t such a good thing because everyone behind me had to wait for their meals.

Which leads me to a few tips that might make an Air Asia flight more pleasant:

  • Pre-order your meal: service is faster for everyone and you’re guaranteed of getting what you want.
  • Use the online check in, your boarding pass can be sent via email or printed on your PC.
  • The seats are narrow, if you’re bigger build and the plane is full, it could mean an uncomfortable flight.
  • Watch your elbow and shoulder if you get an aisle seat, narrow ailse means people walking by will bump into you.
  • Order a ‘hot seat’ to get more leg room – they’re the front of each section – you’ll pay extra of course.
  • You can upgrade to Premium while on-board, it costs about A$200 per person – you’ll get a wider seat that inclines to almost flat, but still no meals.
  • Bring a laptop with music and movies to pass the time.
  • Buy a taxi voucher before you exit the airport (see below).
  • When purchasing tickets online, insurance is added to your ticket fare by default, you’ll need to hit cancel twice to opt out if you don’t want insurance.
  • Allow extra time, the Kuala Lumpur Air Asia terminal is at least an hour drive from the CBD (see below).
  • Download their app, it helps you to check in and change your flight if you need to.  The app is super easy to use.

Oh and one other thing to note, Air Asia operates from its own international airport in Kuala Lumpur.  It’s about one hour drive from the city and is pretty much not near anything else.  Make sure you buy a taxi voucher from the terminal before going to the taxi rank – taxis won’t take you unless you’ve got a voucher – it’s around A$50.

air asia on board upgrade

As I said at the outset, the main benefit of flying with a low-cost carrier is price.  And Air Asia is consistently rated as the best when it comes to low-cost.  But understand, it comes a few sacrifices, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons.  Overall, I think the A$320 price for my return flight was worth it, leaving me with more spending money.  But that was a special price, even for a low-cost carrier.  You’ll need to decide what’s a right price for you to make up for the compromises.

Air Asia flies daily between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur departing Sydney 10:55am and arrives 5.30pm,  from Kuala Lumpur at 11.40pm and arrives 9:45am.  Noodlies flew on Sunday 17th June 2012 on flight D7 223 and returned on 24th June 2012 on flight D7 222.

This was my international Air Asia flight review, the domestic Air Asia experience was very different (read here).

If you do decide to fly with Air Asia, the tips above might come in useful.

Have you traveled internationally on Air Asia recently?  I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Any other tips to share? Please leave a comment.

Interested in Malaysia?

Check out the Tourism Malaysia website or their facebook.


Noodlies Malaysian posts were done with my super light, compact but powerful Lenovo X220 laptop – I call it “Junior” we’re inseparable these days, with thanks to Lenovo Australia and New Zealand.


There are 19 comments

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  1. Thang Ngo

    Thanks Tash, one thing I didn’t include is that the while the plane has very narrow aisle, the rows are 9 seats in total, so three groups of three. If you get seats from I think rows 45 onwards, they become 2 x 3 x 2 so the aisle are wider and could be more comfy.

    Would love to know your experience, so share on this post if you have time after the flight.

  2. Jeanette

    I was looking at flying to KL on AirAsia so interesting to see your review. But then, is this a AirAsia sponsored trip, if so, shouldnt you disclosed it?

  3. JackieB, YummyStuff (@YummyStuffGoesH)

    I flew with them once to KL, hated it. Flight was delayed getting in from KL so our 2am flight out of MEL became 3:30am. By that time, I was tired and grumpy and just want to go to sleep. It was damn uncomfortable in sardine class and I swear I would never ever travel with them again, even if it was a huge savings on fare. Their seat is so tiny. Yuk!

  4. Tanya

    I have now flown with Airasia on 6 seperate occasions. Their customer service is five star. Their food is as good as any international carrier coming out of Australia, if you don’t pay the other carriers for premium services (using the same service through Air asia) I don’t have a preference for ‘tight red uniforms’ however the staff both male and female are well dressed in professional uniforms. The seating is comfortable and reclines enough for sleeping on longer flights (such as to KL) You can prebook a samsung 10.1 inch tablet with preloaded movies and more for as little as $15 au. You can also pay a small additional fee to make sure you get the seat of your choice. PS the mobile app hasn’t been working for a while which is the only hassle because as you pointed out…… was super easy to use.

  5. Hida

    Are the premium seats wider then the Qantas business class seats?

    Large and tall wanting to travel Gold Coast to KL soon.

  6. Angeli Yuson

    Hi There

    Thanks for sharing your experience! My company has booked a trip to Malaysia from Sydney and I wanted to know how this flight was. You have given me hope in Air Asia!


  7. Paddy Kirby

    We will be flying Air Asia in November from Melbourne – KL with a 5 hour stop over then from K-L to Kathmandu, how do you book fly through with air asia so you dont have to pick up your bags and check them in again?? and any tips on the LCC Terminal at KL.

    Cheers Paddy

    • Thang Ngo

      Hey Paddy, thanks for stopping by. I’m not sure as we haven’t done a stop over with them. Maybe call their Melb office, or send a general tweet to them (if you’re on twitter). I find they respond fairly quickly their twitter account is @AirAsia

  8. Paula Morgan (@emerald125)

    I have flown Air Asia to return to KL 3 times and recommend using the OptionTown service. On all but one trip were were successful in getting 2 empty seats each – so a row of 3 to yourself. This cost $40 extra and if you are unsuccessful you get your money back. There is plenty about how it works on TripAdvisor. My flights have all been on time and the food has been good. Once the inflight entertainment was not working but they refunded me the pre-booked fee. I just take my ipad now.

  9. tam

    Everyone.. please be careful buying tickets through airasia.. I have reviewed so many sites after my issue with them and it looks like they are having trouble with their booking system.. They have taken $4.5KAUD out of my credit card without booking my flights and accommodation. I have been chasing them everyday for the last week to get my money back as they have advised they cannot make a booking. Apparently the refund process can take up to 6 to 8 weeks.. which I have to pay any interest on my credit card. We are unable to take them to the ombudsmen here in Australia.. All I can say is they are a crap airline to deal with with regards to customer service

  10. Paul Ng

    I flew from Seoul to KL on 5th June
    D7 505 and had opted for dinner .
    At 5pm or coffee was served& soon after
    at 5.30 a tray of food was served to me .
    After I had a bite , it dawned on me ” this could be my dinner ” . What about a later dinner ? Someone advised me yes there would be one . Annoyed, I was not given
    the option I advised the trolley staff to take the dinner back; it was too early for me.
    Come 7.30 the same lass brought the half
    opened dinner to me . I protested and advised I would like a fresh one .
    You know what ? The excuses from all the crew members were pathetic ” we have no
    extra one , u have opened it ”
    No apologies , or how I would feel when
    I would be salivating when others have their 7.30 dinner !
    My half opened meal looked miserable
    when brought back to me !
    BTW I paid RM 2040 for that return trip


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