As stated in the headlines, I have an extreme displeasure with the way Air Asia functions in Indonesia. Being an archipelago nation, Indonesia has numerous budget carriers transporting lots of people around the islands. And I have taken a few of them, meaning I have encountered all kinds of services from various carriers in Indonesia. With that, I would have to say Air Asia is the WORST of the lot. Especially on my last trip from Jakarta to Surabaya. This route is one of the most travelled routes in Indonesia, perhaps, since both cities are the 2 largest in the country.
Our flight from Jakarta was scheduled at 1305 hours (1.05 pm), and being a budget airline, there was no meals, which was fine since we had a good breakfast in the morning and the flight time was only 1 hours and 20 minutes. As usual for most airlines, the plane didn’t arrive in time, and it wasn’t until 1.05 pm itself did the member of Air Asia’s staff come and check all the passengers details. The bombshell was prior to boarding, when one of the crew mentioned that the captain of the flight requires a particular part of the B737 airplane to be changed and the change of spare parts was supposed to take 1 hour. Technically, it was a delay, and it wasn’t the first one to occur. According to my dad, the last flight he took with Air Asia from Denpasar (Bali) to Jakarta met the same issue of long delays. That got me thinking, since we had an Air Asia ticket back on the same routing.
Anyway, 1 hour it was, stuck in the domestic waiting terminal, not exactly a good experience. Counting down with the rest of the passengers, there was no word from any of the staff or crew members of Air Asia. When we enquired with the staff, we were just told to wait 20 minutes more. 20 minutes went by, and still nothing, so we enquired again. This time round, they announced that they were going to get a new plane to take us to Surabaya since the last plane needed more maintenance. Well, they should have bloody done that long time ago. And maintenance should be periodically carried out so that it doesn’t inconvenience passengers like this!
So another 20 minutes wait, after which I went again to check with the counter on when exactly is the plane ready for boarding. The attitude which their staff gave was totally irresponsible and arrogant. They just told me to wait, and he was at the same time toying with his mobile phone and sitting down nonchalantly as if nothing has happened. I wonder how Air Asia trains their staff. There wasn’t even any refreshments for passengers after making them wait that long (2 hours and 30 minutes in all). No word of apology from the staff members and just a word of apology from the captain while we were in flight.
Now, for the flight back from Bali to Jakarta, we had a better experience, but the plane was still delayed (or according to Air Asia it was ‘on time’), when the boarding time scheduled for 1.50 pm, the gates were only opened at 2.15 pm. Check-in staff of the Air Asia insists it was on-time though. So by their definition, on-time departure is anything between half an hour of your departure time.
Whatever it is, I don’t think I would choose Air Asia again when I am flying across Indonesia, if I had a choice. I recommend these better-run and managed airlines when flying within Indonesia: Lion Air, Mandala Airlines, Sriwijaya Air, and Garuda Indonesia. The first 2 airlines of the lot has the newest air fleet with Lion Air having new 737-900s and Mandala having new Airbus 319/320s. Thus nearly all of their departures are on time, without these extremely long delays of 2 hours and more. Actually it seems that most of the airlines out there are better at departing on-time, except Air Asia. So be warned, DO NOT take Air Asia while in Indonesia, for they have got to be the worst airline ever!