Flight D7 330
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) - Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
Flight Duration: 5 hours 10 minutes
Aircraft type: Airbus 330-300
Ticket Price: SGD80 (including flight from Singapore to KL)
Looking for a cheap way to get to Shanghai from Singapore, I was looking at budget airlines prices and stumbled upon Air Asia's incredibly cheap SGD80 premium flatseat (Business Class) deal, which could have been a mistake fare or a special promotional rate. In any case, it was cheaper than both its Low Fare (Economy) and Premium Flex (Premium Economy) offerings, so without hesitation, I booked it!
The Check-in Process
As a business class passenger, I had a dedicated check-in counter where I did not have to wait, nor did I have to use the self check-in kiosks at Singapore Changi Airport. The boarding passes were printed on flimsy paper that is commonly used for printing receipts when paying through a point of sale terminal.
While priority boarding was available as well, the size of the Airbus 330 meant that only one jet bridge was used to connect the gate to the aircraft and it was connected to a door close to the middle of the plane. What this meant was that there was only one entrance that was shared by both economy and business class passengers and because everyone boarded the plane in the middle of the economy class cabin, business class passengers who had missed the initial priority boarding call had to wait in line on the jet bridge to enter the plane. Once on the plane, they had to join the slow-moving shuffle through the narrow economy class aisles to get to their seats at the front of the plane.
The Premium Flatbed Cabin
If you have ever experienced business class on a standard carrier, you would know that the cabin crew are much nicer, friendlier and more polite, perhaps even offering you your choice of newspapers or a welcome drink. Well, you can forget about that on Air Asia! Not only were there no friendly greetings to make us feel welcome , we were completely ignored by the flight attendants as we tried to find our seats! Of course, there was no issue finding my seat, since there were only 12 premium flatbed seats.
Every seat came with a pillow and bright red duvet, which was surprisingly thick! The duvet definitely came in handy during the flight, as it got a little chilly during the flight! Of course, in order to prevent theft, the pillow and duvet were collected by the cabin crew just before the flight landed, something which I have never seen standard carriers do.
The one washroom in the cabin was nothing to write home about. There was liquid hand soap, but there were no other amenities, such as hand cream or facial mist provided. In other words, there was nothing to differentiate the business class washroom from those in economy class.
To me, the most surprising thing about Air Asia's business class product was that adults traveling with infants were allowed in the cabin. There was no bassinet provided, so the woman sitting in the front row had to carry her child whenever he/she cried, which was about every half an hour. Needless to say, it was far from a restful flight for the rest of the cabin.
The seats in the cabin were arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, which meant that both the seats and the aisles were rather spacious. As this class is known as Premium Flatbed, it would make sense that the seats could be completely reclined to form a flat lying surface. However, they were still at an angle and I found it hard to sleep when my head was at a much higher level than my feet.
Each seat had access to a universal power outlet (although mine was not working), three reading lights (two above and a movable one next to the seat) and a compartment to store shoes. There was no personal TV screen, nor was there any in-flight entertainment system available.
For business class passengers, the check-in baggage allowance was 40kg and theoretically bags would be tagged as priority baggage. However, upon arriving at my destination, my bag came out at the same time as economy class passengers', which made me question how priority baggage is handled.
Of course, if you want to sleep and have your meal later on in the flight, the flight attendants are willing to keep your meal for you.
I like the idea of pre-booking my meal from their comprehensive menu in advance, but the prices are pretty insanely high compared to what you can get locally (MYR19 for my roasted chicken and MYR15 for the previous flight's Mee Goreng)! If the meal price was not included in my ticket, I might not have ordered a meal!
Overall, I had a positive experience with Air Asia X's business class, only because I got a ticket at such a deep discount. Moreover, I understood that Air Asia X was a low cost carrier, so I had lowered my expectations drastically, so I would still have been satisfied with what I got had I paid the full fare, which was four and a half times higher and was equivalent to a seat in a standard carrier's economy class.