My Takes On AirAsia vs Malindo Air … Which One Is Better?

In my recent trip to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, I booked my group into 2 airlines: AirAsia for KUL-BKI route and Malindo Air for BKI-KUL route. AirAsia is no doubt the top-of-mind budget airline in everyone’s thoughts .. but hey, there are other options too.

There were 6 of us altogether: 5 adults and 1 child... the 5th adult is a 12-year old, but already an adult, according to both airlines’ booking system.

So .. mirror mirror on the wall .. who is the best-est of them all?

AirAsia

The oldest kid on the block has answers (and price tag!) to almost everything. Definitely the most established, with systems in place .. such as pre-order meal, web check-in, etc.

Weeks before my trip, they have started bombarded me with promotional messages via sms and email … mainly upsell messages, aka getting moolah out of passengers. Reminder to print own bag tags, how about Checked baggage, Quiet zone or Premium Flatbed offer .. quiet zone for a group traveling with children? *raised eyebrow*

AirAsia Adhoc Seating Allocation policy
AirAsia Adhoc Seating Allocation policy

But the BIG brother still screw up on seat allocation, allocating the one and only child in my booking to be seated by herself. Read more about it here.

Self Bag Tag
Self Bag Tag

They have recently implemented Self Bag Tag.

‘Home Tag’ supposedly allows us to print our bag tag at home together with our boarding pass. Tsk. Now we have to print our own bag tag too?

The bag tag is to be printed on a regular sheet of A4 paper, fold it and put it in a plastic cover, which will be provided by AirAsia. Once we do this, just need to attach the cover to the bag and deposit the bag at the Self Bag-Drop counter at the airport.

Sounds simple … NOT.

I was asked to select the number of checked bags during web check-in, which threw me off a bit. At that time, we have yet to conclude whether 1 or 2 bags are to be checked-in. I chose 2, just in case … silently praying that I will not be charged if the numbers do not match at the airport.

The bag tags did show up together with our boarding passes during web check-in. But later on, when I was ready to print the documents, that baggage tag page wasn’t shown. Yeah. Only the boarding passes came up. And I was silently telling myself, now don’t you dare to charge me for this at the airport, AirAsia.

Not much drama at the Bag-Drop counter at the airport. God bless.

Pre-order meal for the kids were also served promptly on board. This, they have got it right.

 

Malindo Air

 

Flight moved to earlier
Flight moved to earlier

3 weeks before our trip, they cancelled our flight, and moved our booking to an earlier flight on the same day. That’s how Malindo Air thank me for supporting them, instead of AirAsia. Tsk.

There is still no web check-in facility, but the queue at Malindo Air is usually short.

 

1 weeks turnaround time is NOT cool
1 week turnaround time is NOT cool

I also sent them an email, asking about pre-order meal (for the kids). It took them one week to reply my email, only to be told that I can do it via online 48 hours before flight upon booking online, or via Call Center and ticketing offices.

No meal option
No meal option

But when I gave it a go in KK, there was no add-in option for meal at all! Only change flight, add baggage or insurance. Apani? (what’s this, man?)

Limited menu for our flight
Limited menu for our flight

To add insult to injury, they only have cup noodle .. not kid-friendly at all. But they have more options when I flew to Bangkok, so I assume that domestic menu is limited.

Free snacks !
Free snacks !

If it’s any consolation, snacks were served free .. 220ml drinking water, juice / soft drink and not sure about hot drink?, 1 hotdog bun and 1 muffin. For my vegetarian-nieces, they were given 2 muffins instead. This is definitely a better choice, vis-a-vis my earlier flight to Bangkok (220ml drinking water + a small pack of biscuit).

However, there was only 1 F&B cart ... By the time the food cart reached our aisle (the last few rows, unfortunately), it was already past 1 hour from departure. The flight attendants had to rush through the service, and passengers at these rows were not offered hot drink choice.

More spacious vs AirAsia
More leg space
More leg space
USB port
USB port
Free entertainment
Free entertainment

The positives: bigger leg space, free entertainment (keeping the kids occupied), usb port for charging smaller gadgets, free snacks, free 15 kg checked baggage allowance … and they are now using KLIA (instead of KLIA2).

My verdict

AirAsia definitely has got (almost) everything figured out, in comparison with Malindo Air. They have been in operation for more than 10 years, abuden.

Challenger brands like Malindo Air, etc still have a long way to go. I can’t wait for the days that another airline can really give AirAsia a run for their money. A little bit competition hurts no one, and only benefits us. Let’s support them, whenever we can.

Read here and here for my other reviews on Malindo Air,

Writer

Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.