airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 859
Joined: Tue May 01, 2001 7:42 pm

Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:53 pm

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the x-factor

I must admit that when I first flew AirAsia X - snagging a $15 ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast, Australia on its very first flight in Nov. 2007 - my hopes weren't high for the survival of this outfit. Then, I thought I needed to very quickly tick the airline off my list before it folded - its sole A330 quietly returned to lessors, and owner, ever-so-convincing Tony Fernandes brushing it off as nothing more than an interesting experiment, in a face-saving exercise.

After all, we all know budget airlines work best on short routes, operating B737s or A320s. Recent history has shown misadventures like Zoom and Oasis Hong Kong trying to prove otherwise, but they've, sadly, ended up vindicating the argument: low-cost, long-hauls don't work.

Analysts say on long flights, operational economics narrow unit cost differences between full-service and low-cost carriers, while passengers giving more weight to seat comfort, quality of meals, and frills like frequent flyer miles and IFE will tip the balance in favor of conventional legacies. Short-haul AirAsia may have done well - hardly a surprise given its first-mover advantage, a weak legacy competitor at home, and the likes of Ryanair as a role model to replicate in the even-cheaper operating environment in Asia - but long haul is a different kettle of fish. The odds are firmly stacked against this Kuala Lumpur-based start-up.

Two and a half years on... this fledgling carrier is not only alive, but kicking in all sorts of aggresive directions. AirAsia X claims to have made a net profit of $28 million on revenue of $230 million last year - not shabby at all in the aftermath of a global financial meltdown - and is aiming to almost triple its 2009 revenue ahead of an IPO scheduled for 2011. Its current fleet of nine planes (7 A333s and 2 A343s) flies from its KUL base to 11 destinations, and this list is set to grow significantly with some 19 more A333s and 10 A350s due to be delivered by 2018. Perhaps there's hope for this budget long-haul carrier after all - or maybe it's being set up for a more spectacular fall. That only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I'm in Beijing for the weekend, by default. Making the oneway journey here from KUL to try out Air Zimbabwe, I'm in need of another oneway ticket home. AirAsia X is not an obvious choice. Old habits die hard, and my yesteryear favorite CX becomes the first website I check for fares and availability. I look up SQ next (for a boring but predictable option) and then TG (where connections aren't ideal). CA doesn't fly direct on a Sunday so I don't bother to look, but I take a curious peek at MH (even if I have no intention of buying). Reluctantly, I check AirAsia's website last, probably because I know what I'd find - that it's the cheapest of the lot by a long shot.

One-way tickets near the departure date in June are obviously not ones legacy carriers feel they need to discount, and fares are astronomical. Returns flights are a little cheaper but they're still a lot more expensive (in Y) than a one-way on D7 (in Premium). Incredibly, AirAsia X is quoting only a 300 yuan ($44) price difference between Economy and its newly relaunched Premium class (1897 yuan vs 2197 yuan). The decision is pretty much a no-brainer - on the basis of fare and value alone, there's no other choice: welcome to my second flight on AirAsia X.

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beijing to tianjin

AirAsia X doesn't fly from Beijing's Capital Airport, but it does serve the much lower profile Tianjin, a port city about 140 kms away. The airline group likes to advertise the destination as Tianjin (Beijing) for obvious reasons, the same reasons it sells Hangzhou (Shanghai), Clark (Manila), Gold Coast (Brisbane) and, for a brief period, Abu Dhabi (Dubai). Serving secondary airports is more a by-product of circumstance than choice for AirAsia but, of course, anywhere else in the world, Tianjin - with a population exceeding 12 million people - would hardly be considered "secondary".

Having spent a comfortable night at Beijing's Novotel Sanyuan, I now need to make my way by train to Tianjin to catch the mid-afternoon KUL-bound flight. Ground transportation used to be such an ordeal in China, and memories flood back of those carefree, backpack-clad days involving hard-seat tickets and six-hour standing marathons on over-crowded trains. Granted, these were in more remote parts of the country and happened a decade ago (at China's rate of development, that probably works out to be the equivalent of 50 years), but the wound stays as fresh as ever - my old, creaking bones may forgive, but they don't forget.

That's mostly ancient history, says China. Trains are now better and faster, and the spanking new express between Beijing and Tianjin beats most hands down. It's like nothing China has seen before - the great leap forward to the glorious future of Chinese transportation, if you will - and one of the world's fastest conventional train services links these two cities in 30 minutes flat.

"It's a very fast train to Tianjin," the doorman at the Novotel says in Mandarin as he sends me off in a taxi. "You'll take longer to reach the railway station from here." And he is right. Sunday morning may be traffic-free in many cities, but not in Beijing where everything mostly crawls. My cab ride feels like an eternity of inhaling fumes from the middle of a 12-lane highway interspaced with moments of impending doom as my driver tests out his three-in-one lane changing skills ahead of fast-moving container lorries. When the imposing new Beijing South Station finally comes into view, you can't imagine how relieved I feel.

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Built in time for the Summer Olympics of 2008, the station - which made its small contribution to the rise in global prices for building materials - is so huge and spacious that the crowds seem to disappear, and that's quite a rarity in China. It looks more airport than rail terminal. There isn't any evidence of either plane or train, but that's typical of monumental terminals like this these days which are seemingly designed to overshadow the traveling experience itself. The rail platforms are all hidden underneath this central hall and only reachable with a valid passage ticket.

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I hadn't bought a ticket ahead of time - which in the old days meant anguish and standing room only - but judging from the frequency of trains on this route, snagging a seat shouldn't be a problem. Incredibly, there's an average 4-5 intercity departures every hour between here and Tianjin - better than suburban commuter train schedules on a weekend in some developed countries. Stuff like this shouldn't surprise because we read about China's rapid growth pace almost every day - but I still can't help being awestruck and, frankly, a bit scared by what the future will hold.

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The ticketing offices are to one side of the main hall, and queues there are long but fast moving. Considering how expensive Chinese cities like Beijing have now become, tickets are a steal at 58 yuan ($8.50) oneway in proletariat second class. For just another 11 yuan more, first class inspires the would-be capitalists in this communist country where mass conspicuous consumption is encouraged. I join them and ask for the nouveau riche option - really, the only way to go in up and coming China.

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Orderly queues start to form in front of autogate 21 about a quarter of an hour before departure, and boarding for C2027 is announced five minutes later. With staff flanking the gate entrance, it does feel a lot like boarding a flight. Every passenger is also allocated a seat number beforehand, so there's really no need to rush.

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Down a couple of escalators, the bowels of South Station looks equally expansive with 24 rather quiet-looking platforms that are obviously built for upcoming growth in fast rail travel - and that's something China is currently embarking on in furious fashion. The future will look a little like this stylish Siemens-made CRH3 - with a top speed of 350 km/h - that'll be carrying me to Tianjin today.

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The First Class compartment is a comfortable place with seating 4-abreast and ample legroom - while Second Class seats passengers 5-abreast in slightly less pitch. A comfortably-padded seat, decent recline, legrest, a magazine in the seat pocket and self-service complimentary mineral water come standard as frills. The load is healthy with very few empty seats - a group of Beijingers around me who appear to be dressed for a beach holiday, are also headed for Tianjin Airport to catch a flight.

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We slide silently out of Beijing South Station at 12:05 exactly and accelerate effortlessly to a top speed of 331 km/h within 10 minutes of departure. Most of the journey - which is supremely quiet, smooth and nothing less than what one might expect from top German engineering - we're cruising at between 327-330km/h according to electronic speedometers at each end of the compartment. Views enroute aren't particularly memorable (maybe it's due to the all-encompassing haze), which is just as well because everything pretty much just whizzes past. We're in Tianjin in 30 minutes.

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tianjin to kuala lumpur

Welcome to Tianjin Binhai International Airport. Distance from the city's railway station is a lot further than I thought - it takes close to half an hour by taxi and costs almost the same as a train ticket from Beijing. (I find out too late there's a cheaper shuttle bus option.) The 2008-completed steel and glass terminal is nevertheless a surprisingly impressive structure with the outside view far too large and wide for my camera lense to take in one frame. So here's two (and it's still not all in).

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Visible from the main driveway is the tail of an EVA Air B747-45E Combi recently arrived from Taipei. There aren't a whole lot of international flights at Tianjin (China will argue that Taipei isn't 'international' at all... but let's not go there), so this is a nice bonus. This is also special because it's my first spotting of a cross-strait flight and a Taiwanese carrier on mainland Chinese soil - when you consider that until not so many years ago, Taiwan's airlines weren't even allowed to overfly the People's Republic, the presence today of this BR 74E is really quite amazing.

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The airport interior is bright and airy, but is far less impressive than the exterior and looks much like many of the domestic terminals you'll find in China: it's not unpleasant but it's bland. Most Chinese airports are really only good for people-watching and Binhai's hustle and bustle doesn't disappoint by delivering a large dose of China's newly-confident and tech-savvy middle class. Airline-wise, all of China's majors are represented here but Air China seems to enjoy a tad more prominence, while its self check-in kiosks are amazingly popular.

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My flight is missing - seems to be the recurring theme this weekend. The main electronic FIDS doesn't show the AirAsia X flight and neither can I find their check-in desks. After giving the terminal a once-over, I finally find an inconspicuous, glass-encased, sole display board at one end of the building: it seems international flights are listed separately for some reason. Not only that, the check-in counters are shielded from domestics via a separate entrance and the sort of bureaucracy I remember from the China of old.

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Alongside the flight display board is a 8-step guide on how to get to your international flight: note that one needs to first clear no less than three check-points even before the check-in desk! Luckily these turn out to be far from insurmountable hurdles - they're mostly rather sleepy girls in uniform who don't look up when you walk past - but I'm sure it's a really super job creation program.

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These are the AirAsia X check-in desks about two and a half hours before departure. The lines are not looking too bad at all - none are specifically identified for Premium Class passengers, so I just approach counter A05 which has no queue at all. At first I think how strange it is that passengers are so unevenly spread across the five counters (wouldn't you naturally move to a shorter line or a desk with no queue at all?) but later realize why this is so: most of the passengers belong to tour groups and are forced to stay faithful to their clusters.

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When I first booked Premium, I had no expectations that the experience will be anything other than the bog-standard AirAsia-style offering, only with a bigger seat. I certainly didn't expect Business Class service - and so far, haven't received it either - but my boarding pass seems to indicate otherwise. I've still no expectations whatsoever but the very thought I'm traveling "C" class with AirAsia X does tickle me so.

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A major flaw in Tianjin Airport's 8-step plan to successful take-off is that if your airline asks that you check-in 3 hours ahead of departure, and immigration starts work only 2 hours before, there'll be quite a bottleneck in the boring, enclosed space between steps 4 and 5. Luckily, there's an escape door which will bring you back to the terminal proper where a lot more is happening - I think it's worth the risk of another 'meticulous' customs check later.

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At the Generic Shop (which is more original than "General Store" I suppose), a couple of plane models attract my attention. It's a very Airbus-centric display but, of course, that's not a total surprise - Tianjin is not quite Toulouse, but it's still an Airbus town. The planemaker's only production line outside Europe plans to roll-out 26 A320s this year - all for the home market, for now.

As I'm about to take the photo below and trying to remember if SV flies any A320s (it actually has a sizable fleet), I hear my name being called from a distance. That's pretty unlikely, I figure, in a place I hadn't been to before and where I know nobody. Dismissing it, I continue with the shot, but I hear my name again - this time louder and from closer by. Indeed, bouncing towards me is William, a former work colleague I hadn't seen in years: "what the hell are you doing in Tianjin?" he asks. Oh darn.

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William has every reason to be in Tianjin - he's managing a production facility for an American multinational here - and is the epitome of a successful man in his early-30s sprinting up the corporate escalator. In complete contrast, my only reason for being in Tianjin puts me in a category people outside this forum might call a total nut job. This is the sort of unexpected meeting I'd been dreading when doing these joyrides (as A.netter NZ107 calls them), and so my response to William is measured and as truthful as I can make it without using the words "I am here because I wanted to fly Air Zimbabwe." Already with my reputation for being borderline-mad, I fear the whole truth will just confirm to my peers that Airpearl's finally tipped over the edge into underpants-on-head-and-pencils-up-nose zone.

Still, it's nice to be meeting up with an old friend again, and just as well I am the more prolific questioner so we spend more time talking about William's life in China than my dubious reasons for being there. It's so absorbing I nearly forget I have to write a trip report! The man's totally bought into the China growth story - ignores my jabs about him being brainwashed by CCTV propaganda - but who can blame him: even in a trip that lasts less than a day, I find it hard not to be impressed by China's material progress. There are some negatives though: William says he doesn't drive in Tianjin because drivers here are "totally unpredictable" and when I complain about air quality, he says I hadn't seen the worst. "And private medicine is horrendously expensive." That's why he's taking a short trip home: to visit a dentist and see an orthopedic surgeon on his long-suffering knee. Alas, the strange reasons why some people fly these days.  

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We make our separate ways to the plane - William goes off to say farewell to his wife and get his parents who're returning home with him after a visit - and I'm back to becoming trip reporter. It's a painless affair getting through immigration and security to the compact 4-gate international concourse. The ceiling panels here looks suspiciously familiar - it's an inexact copy of those at Hong Kong's International Airport. The new China cracks me up like that. I find it quite funny looking at pictures of PEK's new Terminal 3, for instance, and thinking how certain parts look a bit like HKG, another bit like ICN and another corner like KUL.

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There aren't a whole load of facilities airside: a couple of shops selling the usual airport stuff, some food and that's about it. Despite travelling in "C" class, there's no access to premium lounges (I wasn't expecting it either)... but if D7 ever decided it would provide such a facility, this lonely CA lounge may be the one offering it. Below, a complimentary charging facility caters to an especially large variety of mobile phone models.

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There are nice, large windows, affording good views of tarmac activity. To the left of the international concourse are some gates of the much larger domestic concourse: this Xiamen Airlines B738 is about to depart for its hub Xiamen in southern China, and then onto Singapore.

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On schedule at 1445, the inbound AirAsia X widebody arrives from Kuala Lumpur. That means about an hour's turnaround in Tianjin (which is almost a luxury for this airline group) - everything's looking quite promising for an on-time departure. It looks like it's 9M-XXA, the airline's first owned A333 delivered in 2008, operating the service today.

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As the Airbus comes in to dock, I notice the mostly-female, attractive-in-red AirAsia cabin crew all looking eager to board at gate 2. With yesterday's almost surreal UM boarding situation at KUL still fresh in my mind, I can't help cracking a smile thinking how different this is. At about the same time, EVA Air's B74E (B-16408) heads for 16R en route for Taipei Taoyuan Airport. Based on the timing on the FIDS, it's almost an hour behind schedule.

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AirAsia X plays heavily on its "X" in the naming of its planes. Except for its first A333 (which was named for the pioneering spirit of Sir Freddie Laker), all subsequent deliveries have been X'ed. A contest on its blog invites you to submit a name and if it gets chosen, your own name will also be immortalized alongside on the fuselage! So D7 gets planes named Xhiliration, Xcalibur, Xcellence, and then (frankly, in a bit of a cop-out really) double-barrel names like Midnight Xcapade, Soaring Xpectations, and Northern Xposure are also selected.

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My mind likes to slip off - as it often does at these numbing moments - on a steep tangent, and today it's to think up the most unlikely X-names. Yeah, it's kinda juvenile I know. I scribble down my first pretty quickly - Xcrutiating jumps out as the most appropriate name for an A330 that squeezes seats 9-abreast in economy. Xhaustion could be named for one of the A340s plying the Stansted route, while both Xplosion and Xcorcist will probably not win favor with D7 management. Xtinction, Xpropriation, X-rated, hell, I'm on a roll... When I imagine how Xcrement ~ By Airpearl will look on the side of an A350, I am beaming to myself like a madman who forgot to take his pills.

"So what's so funny?" William does like to show up at the most inconvenient times. And with that, my few remaining shreds of credibility are sucked away in the whoosh of a vacuum flush.

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AirAsia X flight 2613 in Premium Class
Tianjin to Kuala Lumpur
A330-300 9M-XXA "Xuberance"
Dept 16h26 Arrv 22h23 (arrives 8 minutes late)


Boarding starts 30 minutes before scheduled departure. As is usual with AirAsia, passengers seated in "Hot Seats" (those near the front or exit rows that cost extra) are given boarding priority. I presume this benefit is accorded to Premium passengers too, but I wait with William and his parents who're traveling standard Y - he's now regretting not choosing Premium after I tell him what he's missing. (Strangely, he tells me he tried upgrading at check-in but local staff said that wasn't possible - I'd have thought AirAsia would never refuse your cash!)

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A friendly welcome aboard at 1L (everyone uses this door) and we immediately arrive at AirAsia X's small but spacious Premium cabin. William is looking quite jealous as I wave a commiserating farewell while he slips behind the partitions that can make all the difference between luxury and comfort on the one hand, and possibly Xcruciating pain on the other.

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I settle in to my window seat at the back of this 2-row cabin. AirAsia says the pitch is 60 inches although it does look like less - but whatever, it's quite generous enough for me. If you're looking for legroom, those seats in row 1 appear to have it better, especially if you don't mind being seated at bulkheads. As expected, the signature AirAsia red is inescapable.

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The last of the passengers are streaming in, and none are stopping here. It looks like a very light complement of 2 pax in Premium today - my only fellow passenger stays in his middle-aisle seat for the entire flight and (very sensibly) keeps a silent distance from me - which is why, unlike William, he avoids being a sidebar in this story.

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It's undeniable that the cabin has a nice, exclusive feel. The seats are comfortable and look like they come from the same maker of generic (that word again) lie-flat seats used by quite a number of airlines in their Business Class cabins. But be under no illusion that this is Business Class. Stewardesses coming round with a tray of champagne and steaming hot towels? Delicately carved amuse bouche, branded toiletry bags, and inflight chefs who address you by name? Perish the thought.

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On AirAsia X, the crews in the front galley smile uncertainly and if you smile back, they'll offer you a plastic bottle of house brand mineral water as a welcome drink. I am thrilled - hey, you have to pay for this behind the curtains! The flow of freebies continues with a blood-red blanket and nice full-sized pillow (both available for sale in steerage). By my reckoning, I'm now up some 50 ringgit, based on the airline's merchandise catalog, which is already a third of the price differential between Y and Premium. What an amazing bargain.

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Among the other standard amenities are individual reading lights, a privacy screen and power sockets for all. Not bad at all really, for what is still essentially a budget offering. I get mixed signals though when a stewardess comes round asking if I'd like my meal served straight after take-off (like they do in First Class on the best airlines) and when I say yes, she asks for my boarding pass so it can checked off a list - lest, heaven forbid, I should accidentally be served a second time, gratis.

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It's almost pushback time. Everything looks set for an ontime departure when the safety demonstration - done manually - is completed. But Captain Affendi comes on the blower, firstly to say we're still awaiting "clearance", and later that departure is delayed another 25 minutes due to heavy air traffic near Beijing. While we're waiting, let me show you the colorful contents of the seat pocket - most of which are invitations to part with your money. The inflight magazine - Travel 3-Sixty - is decent enough as such rags go but I can't understand why they insist it not be removed from the plane. As A.netter Burj might say, this one was liberated, on principle. I'm almost certain the right to take home inflight magazines is enshrined in the Warsaw Convention.

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Still waiting, and I might as well submit the obligatory knee shot which really doesn't say very much except maybe the fact that I'm in need of new shoes. When we finally get going, Xanadu 2613 is some 36 minutes behind schedule. The international concourse of Tianjin Binhai is totally deserted after we leave: the next flight is a Korean Air from Incheon that wouldn't be here for another 90 minutes.

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We get a hearty send-off by the tug crew - not quite like in Japan but still not bad - and we're finally on own steam, the twin Trents - quietly purring as heard from upfront - powering us to the active runway. An incoming Xiamen B738 heads towards the domestic concourse as we leave.

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Holding short of 16R, we wait for a Shanghai-bound Hainan Airlines takeoff, followed by a Shenzhen Airlines landing - both planes looking so similar they could have come from the same airline group (they don't, of course). I wish someone would become a little more adventurous, if only to lift China's status currently as the country with the most boring airline liveries on earth. Planespotters the world over will rejoice.

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We do a decent run of 16R before rotating into the weak, hazy late afternoon sunshine. It's a little bumpy on the way out with some low cloud around but once we're clear, it's smooth and the seat belt signs come off. Crew members immediately draw the curtains between Premium and economy, adding an air of exclusivity to the quiet cabin. I know this is standard practice on most legacy carriers (at least those outside the U.S.) but it surprises me to see it on AirAsia X.

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The crew disappear behind the forward curtains to prepare meals, while my fellow passenger, having reclined his seat to as flat as he can get it, is seemingly asleep - and probably thinking it's best to keep well clear of that restless guy with the camera. The guy with the camera, on the other hand, thinks it's the ideal time for some cabin shots. Above, the seat is missing an inseat massage function but otherwise has similar functions to those airlines with lie-flat seats. It slants at an angle, for sure, but does seem less steep than some others. I guess if there's one reason why you will choose to fly Premium on AirAsia X, this is it...

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Aboard this flight with my camera, I can't help thinking how I wish D7 put in more rows of seats in Premium so there can be greater depth of vision, or alternatively I had a wide-angle lense. As neither is possible within the next few minutes, I think the next 3 photos here will have to do.

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I am back at my seat just in time for service to commence, and a couple of stewardesses are pushing trolleys laden with BOBs past me and through the curtains into economy class. Just as I'm starting to wonder where my dinner is, Shankar, a steward who seems to be the dedicated flight attendant for Premium class, brings my far-less-than-premium dinner tray. "Fish" it says on the foil, next to the cheap plastic cutlery, is the entire meal AirAsia X calls dinner: another timely reminder that one isn't flying Business Class but an LCC after all.

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Even though this style of catering isn't a surprise for me (though it might be quite a shock for a first time D7 flyer expecting a Premium Economy meal), the quantity of food has definitely shrunk since my first flight on the airline in 2007. This is not Business Class for sure; it's not even Economy on Air Zimbabwe - and it does beg the question if the name Premium as used by AirAsia X is a tad misleading in this respect. It's fish in a sweet and sour sauce, in case you're wondering - not particularly inspiring stuff. Shankar soon comes back to collect the tray - "May I?" he asks politely - and by 30 minutes after take-off, dinner service is officially over in Premium class.

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Feeling that I should at least pretend there's a semblance of "Premiumness" aboard today's flight - I keep hoping a CX-style Business Class-of-old trolley would magically appear from the behind the curtains with half a dozen cheeses, a delicious gateau, freshly brewed coffee, pralines and cognac, but alas no - so I ask Shankar to get me a coffee (instant from a little satchet) and desert (a Snickers bar). "There you are Sir. That will be ten ringgit please."

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There's a strange dynamic at play in Premium class that keeps me constantly confused and my mind flirting between low-cost and First Class. Every time I think it's LCC, the service teases me to make me believe otherwise. I've powered up my laptop when Shankar comes over to ask "if it's alright" to switch off the main cabin lights, seeing my fellow passenger is now fast asleep. Our flight attendant has already lowered most of the cabin's window shades. It's fine with me, I say. "Thank you for your consideration Sir," Shankar replies. How remarkably civilized.

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It's a bright summer's late afternoon over central China outside, but the Premium cabin is now dark-as-night, so no more cabin pics to be attempted. (In contrast, Economy stays brightly lit for the entire flight.) Shankar does regular rounds to see if I'm still alive: "anything else to drink Sir?" he asks, like they do in the premium classes of 5-star carriers.

I try to do some work on the laptop, but the darkened cabin just makes me want to nod off - so I go to the galley to have a little chat with Shankar. I am curious about the service-style which is more legacy premium than LCC, and am not entirely surprised when he tells me he used to work for MH. Shankar is tight-lipped about his previous employer (despite my prodding for him to spill the beans), but he's now an enthusiastic AirAsia convert. "These seats are the same as those on MH, but ours go flatter," he says. Meanwhile in economy, all the fixed-back seats have now been replaced by normal reclining ones: "those were a mistake... we were getting complaints nonstop about them," Shankar says. On IFE, he explains that on European and Australian flights, portable media players are available for hire, but not on this route: "there's no demand for it."

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About half-way through the flight, I feel it's time to see how my friend William is faring back in steerage. (There are 302 passengers in economy, according to Shankar - translating to a respectable 85% load on this tightly-configured A333.) The seats are dressed in a lighter beige and red rather than AirAsia shorthaul's black, which makes the cabin seem more spacious than how I'd imagine a 9-abreast Airbus will look. It's almost "normal" in fact, until you settle into one of the seats, and realize it's that bit narrower than those in regular Y. It wouldn't be everyone's favorite, that's for sure. Still it's kinda tolerable, for here is where I'm sat for nearly 3 hours with William, getting amazing insights on managing a Chinese factory, shaking our heads over the current state of our own country, and catching up on did-you-hear-what's-happened-to? stories. I eventually even admit to William I flew to China on Air Zimbabwe. "What? But why?" I explain it as well as I can, but I don't expect such deviant behavior to be fully understood. Easier to change the subject.

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Meanwhile, Shankar, it seems, had been looking all over for me. There's relief on his face when he finds me in Economy: "ah, there you are." (He must think this guy's got it all wrong - it's the Y class passengers who try to sneak into Premium, not the other way round!) "I have left something for you at your seat. Please take a look when you get back," says Shankar rather mysteriously. A 1:200 scale model of an AirAsia X A333 as a souvenir perhaps, I am hoping. William's giving me a funny look. Well, don't look at me, I have no idea, I say; and so we continue chatting, the incident soon forgotten. An hour passes and I'm still in Y - Shankar appears again, looking more anxious and purposeful this time. "We'll be landing in about 30 minutes Sir. But I would really appreciate if you can do this for us." He lowers the tray table where I am in a rather serious manner, and places an AirAsia survey form on it. And alongside, he puts a scrap of paper on which is listed the names of the entire cabin crew today. "Ah that's so Malaysian," laughs William after Shankar goes away. Welcome home, I say.

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My comments are mostly good, and as someone obviously took the trouble to list the names of the crew down, I do the same on the survey form. Basically I praise the seats and service, and am critical of the food. Despite the delayed departure, we made good time along the way, and land only a few minutes behind schedule on 14L at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a Sunday night. Another mad weekend of intense flying activity comes to an end.

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last words


At the risk of sounding like a cheerleader for Tony Fernandes' wallet, I must say that AirAsia X is quite the game changer. I'm still not certain it will survive the long run, but it has certainly proved the doomsayers wrong so far. There probably should be a limit on how long one is allowed to endure sitting in the new 9-abreast economy cabins before it becomes a violation under the Geneva Convention on Torture, but the Premium class really has my vote. The fact that it's good value for money is a big part of it. AirAsia X's Premium fares are frequently close to what legacy airlines charge for economy - while the use of Business Class lie-flat seats here makes the airline a pioneer and revolutionary. It will probably never be my favorite airline (not that I have favorite airlines any more) because it lacks many of the elements that make flying special for me, but it goes a long way to making me like it very much. It's surely an airline worth watching out for.

Finally, thanks for enduring this long-winded journey, and a special thanks to the actors who were inadvertantly dragged along as well. Perhaps the moral of the story is to never talk to friends with notebooks.

Cheers
airpearl

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A list of previous trip reports (in chronological order, from latest)

Flying Mugabe's Private Jet: Air Zimbabwe KUL-PEK (by airpearl Jul 25 2010 in Trip Reports)
On Asiana Business: Chicken Soup For The Seoul (by airpearl Jun 20 2010 in Trip Reports)
Happy 50th Birthday TG! Retro Flight To Hong Kong (by airpearl May 7 2010 in Trip Reports)
Propping Down To Singapore On A Firefly (by airpearl Mar 28 2010 in Trip Reports)
Upping The Game: On Etihad In J & New F (by airpearl Feb 9 2010 in Trip Reports)
The AF A380 Gets TSAed: To JFK On Boxing Day (by Airpearl Dec 30 2009 in Trip Reports)
Software Surprises On Emirates: BKK-DXB Vv On A380 (by Airpearl Dec 20 2009 in Trip Reports)
Gulf Air First KUL-BAH-KUL On Jet’s B77W (by Airpearl Oct 31 2009 in Trip Reports)
Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J (by Airpearl Aug 22 2009 in Trip Reports)
Korean Y Experience - Older A330 & Brand New B77W (by Airpearl Jul 25 2009 in Trip Reports)
The Fiesta Route To Manila: In Economy On MH & PR (by Airpearl May 24 2009 in Trip Reports)
Gulf Air (And Proxy) London Roundtrip In F & J (by Airpearl Jan 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
Flying On Borrowed Time: Thai A340-500 (by Airpearl Dec 7 2008 in Trip Reports)
Singapore Airlines Business Class To Melbourne (by Airpearl Nov 8 2008 in Trip Reports)
The Qantas A380 Inaugural (by Airpearl Oct 20 2008 in Trip Reports)
Trijets Rule OK: Biman Bangladesh DC10-30 (by Airpearl Jun 25 2008 in Trip Reports)
Ups & Downs: CX First Class Across The Pacific (by Airpearl Jun 4 2008 in Trip Reports)
Battle Of The Kebayas: Malaysia Vs. Singapore (by Airpearl May 17 2008 in Trip Reports)
From Song Thaew To 747: Domestic On Thai Airways (by Airpearl Apr 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
Short Hop, Big Suite: Cathay’s New F On 747 (by Airpearl Apr 9 2008 in Trip Reports)
How The Other Half Lives: F Class On ANA & Thai (by Airpearl Apr 3 2008 in Trip Reports)
An Indian Indulgence With Jet And Kingfisher (by Airpearl Mar 20 2008 in Trip Reports)
Inaugural AirAsia X And Routine A380 In A Weekend (by Airpearl Nov 13 2007 in Trip Reports)
Etihad To London In J And F (by Airpearl Oct 23 2007 in Trip Reports)
Cathay Pacific New J Class On A330-300 KUL-HKG (by Airpearl Oct 10 2007 in Trip Reports)
 
akhmad
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 4:37 pm

Hi airpearl,

I am pleasantly surprised to see your report popped up. Much more to know that it is telling us about the Air Asia X's Premium Class. Probably an A.net first here?

As usual, I like the way you share us the history of the airline you are flying with and how you put in the perspective of the time period. I even forgot about the existence of Oasis Hong Kong.

I must say it is a great idea to include a non-aviation trip report in the usual aviation one. The interior of the train station and the train itself look immaculate. They would certainly not be unbecoming as any aircraft's interior. Thumbs up for China on that.

About your Premium Class experience, I enjoyed every single word of your story. It is like I had been there with you. If I would have been the other guy in the Premium Class!  

Nice to hear you had a meet up with your friend after quite long time.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
At the Generic Shop (which is more original than "General Store" I suppose),

Is there any copyright on that? 

Thanks for sharing.

Cheers,
Suryo
There is no deity except You. Exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:16 pm

Hi Airpearl,

absolutely enjoyable report with many great pictures - it's good to know that there's always something special to expect when an Airpearl report shows up!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The future will look a little like this stylish Siemens-made CRH3 - with a top speed of 350 km/h - that'll be carrying me to Tianjin today.

Very impressive!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I wish someone would become a little more adventurous, if only to lift China's status currently as the country with the most boring airline liveries on earth. Planespotters the world over will rejoice.

I cannot agree here - there's a good mix of old-style and new-style liveries in China. And Chinese carriers operate dozens of planes in special colors.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
It's fish in a sweet and sour sauce, in case you're wondering - not particularly inspiring stuff. Shankar soon comes back to collect the tray - "May I?" he asks politely - and by 30 minutes after take-off, dinner service is officially over in Premium class.

That doesn't look bad, but the portion is really small.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I ask Shankar to get me a coffee (instant from a little satchet) and desert (a Snickers bar).

Oh no, instant coffee...

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
On IFE, he explains that on European and Australian flights, portable media players are available for hire, but not on this route: "there's no demand for it."

No PTVs on these brand new A330s? But they have them on the A340s, don't they? Very disappointing.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Easier to change the subject.

  


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
PlunaCRJ
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:18 pm

Thank you for a fantastic read. I enjoyed your TR immensely, from marveling of the "chinese wonders" to the strange "premium/ low cost" melange. Air Asia X really looks like a game-changer, and I hope they are succesful.

The Premium fare you got indeed was a great deal. I value comfort way over "gourmet style food" (available in a restaruant), and Air Asia´s Premium class sure sounds like a great concept.

I cannot but envy Asia for having a carrier like this... something similar is needed in South America. Fares down here are outrageous.

Regards,
 
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Qatara340
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:05 pm

First of all, one of the best TR ever! I also wanted to know the Air Asia Xperience--pun intended! The J cabin is designed to a bit more pricy than Y but not really J, so service-wise, you can expect SQ of course! The seats look comfortable for the flight.

Economy class looks like torture! 3-3-3 on an A330! Even EK aren't that cruel. I was wondering if you tried EK's 3-4-3 on their 777s? Perhaps they are the same comfort! To me, its not the size of the chairs, its the size of the PEOPLE who are sitting next to you!

The cabin sort of reminded me of the old VS J seats with the red colors--which is not bad really!

Looking forward to your next TR! 
لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله
 
9MMAR
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:54 pm

Hi Airpearl, I shrine this ok.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 1):
Much more to know that it is telling us about the Air Asia X's Premium Class. Probably an A.net first here?

No. The first trip report about D7's new Premium Cabin in A.Net was written by Chrisrad recently. Surprised you missed that one out since that trip report got so high readership. AirAsiaX MEL-KUL J Class, SQ A345 SIN-LAX-EWR-SIN (by chrisrad Jul 19 2010 in Trip Reports)

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2):
No PTVs on these brand new A330s? But they have them on the A340s, don't they?

No. D7 has gotten rid of all PTVs they managed to install on a few aircrafts when they changed their seats (Premium and Economy) to the current one not too long ago. They concluded that having PTV is not economical for their business plan, and as mentioned in the trip report by Airpearl himself, most of the time, there is simply no demand for them. It was tested and proven.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
On IFE, he explains that on European and Australian flights, portable media players are available for hire, but not on this route: "there's no demand for it."
 
JL418
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:06 pm

Hi Airpearl,

as Suryo said on reply #1, it's a pleasant surprise to see your TR up here. As usual it has been a pleasant, enjoyable, ironic and sometimes even hilarious read. Sometimes I wish you would appear a little bit more on these pages.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
There isn't any evidence of either plane or train, but that's typical of monumental terminals like this these days which are seemingly designed to overshadow the traveling experience itself.

Judging on your pictures it is a gorgeous building but I'm not entirely sure it ticks all the right boxes about "station feeling". And maybe I'm just wrong, but I don't see many shops either.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The rail platforms are all hidden underneath this central hall and only reachable with a valid passage ticket.

That's a good choice I think. When I was just a toddler all main stations in Italy were like that and, as I'm sure you know, London's Liverpool Street and Japan's ones still are like that. No goodbye-waving people falling under trains, no junkies nicking your wallet, a more relaxed environment I'd say.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
For just another 11 yuan more, first class inspires the would-be capitalists in this communist country where mass conspicuous consumption is encouraged. I join them and ask for the nouveau riche option - really, the only way to go in up and coming China.

Epic!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):

The First Class compartment is a comfortable place with seating 4-abreast and ample legroom - while Second Class seats passengers 5-abreast in slightly less pitch

I guess this CH3 is larger than its German cousin, the ICE, isn't it? I'm somehow disappointed by the looks of premium class, doesn't feel at all like that. I must say I was disappointed by the interior looks of JR's Nozomi Shinkansen either, maybe it's an Asian habit. Here, for example, you can find a picture about an ETR.500, Italy's much older and slower hi-speed train, proletarian class. I think it definitely looks prettier and I remember the German ICE performs even better under this point of view.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Already with my reputation for being borderline-mad, I fear the whole truth will just confirm to my peers that Airpearl's finally tipped over the edge into underpants-on-head-and-pencils-up-nose zone.

Don't worry - I think there's plenty of people here on A.net that are looked by other exactly as you said. On my last trip I met a friend at Malpensa, going to KEF via CPH, and I had quite an afternoon trying to explain the reason why I went to BUD via WAW rather than simply planing straight there.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Below, a complimentary charging facility caters to an especially large variety of mobile phone models.

That's an useful feature, it should be wrapped up in bubble plastic and sent up here ab sofort!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Except for its first A333 (which was named for the pioneering spirit of Sir Freddie Laker)

Seriously? Mr. Branson's ears must have been whistling a lot!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
But be under no illusion that this is Business Class. Stewardesses coming round with a tray of champagne and steaming hot towels? Delicately carved amuse bouche, branded toiletry bags, and inflight chefs who address you by name? Perish the thought.
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I get mixed signals though when a stewardess comes round asking if I'd like my meal served straight after take-off (like they do in First Class on the best airlines) and when I say yes, she asks for my boarding pass so it can checked off a list - lest, heaven forbid, I should accidentally be served a second time, gratis.

This is what I don't like about LCC. Alright, they're getting you to destination as fast as those legacy carriers full of pomp and circumstance. But... where's the magic in it? where's the thrill? I think LCCs are spoiling the pleasure of flying. Whenever I find myself in the hands of Ryanair of other carriers interested in "piling 'em high and sellin' 'em cheap" I feel I'm boarding a bus. And I'm not referring by no means at the Tolouse jets. Every joy, every sense of thrilling is gone, flushed away by people inspecting my bag to see if it fits in the basket "without any push, lad!", the very same people who'll try to saddle me scratch cards and English Breakfast at 5.99£. I don't like it on short haul flights - I'd rather stay home, had enough of rushing and battling for a window seat - I can't image how bad it'll be on long haul. I truly hope this "LCC gone wild" fashion won't spread or, in a couple of years, we'll consider 30" pitch and 10° reclining seats as "luxury".

Sorry for the bickering!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
It's almost "normal" in fact, until you settle into one of the seats, and realize it's that bit narrower than those in regular Y. It wouldn't be everyone's favorite, that's for sure. Still it's kinda tolerable

I'd surely go bonkers!

Anyway, thanks again for posting. It might have been a low-cost flight, but the reading was full first class.
 
abrelosojos
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:25 pm

What a wonderful report - perfect to complement your UM outbound. I wish I lived in Asia to try these things! I mentioned it in the first Air Asia X Premium report ... and strongly think that this might just be the game-changer. I bet the premium cabin does very well on flights to STN ... and their soon launching flights to the U.S.

Thanks for the report.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
BigMac
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:54 pm

Awesome trip report! I really enjoyed your trip report (it was almost like reading a novel). Keep up the good work!!!
To fly, or not to fly: that is the question
 
767747
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:51 pm

airpearl,

Really well written report on Air Asia X. I've read a few reports about Air Asia X in this forum, and it always seems to be that people leave with mixed feelings. Cheap flight, and usually very punctual, but with some big things lacking from the service provided to you on board. I am amazed, that even being a LCC, and with that fancy looking "Premium" cabin that you weren't served something more substantial. Can people, I assume, bring their own food on-board? I would have been starving if I had just had a small dish like that for my only food!

I think your comments about almost the clash between the LCC model, and the fancy, modern looking cabin really showed in your photos of the empty cabin .. I mean, 2 people for a flight from Tianjin to KUL? Obviously, Air Asia X really isn't attracting too many people to its "Hot Class" because the amenities up front don't seem to be THAT much better than in Y except for the flat bed seat.

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew (767747)
I love to fly!
 
gabrielchew
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:34 am

Very entertaining TR, thanks!

It always frustrated me that the Chinese, when spending billions on new trains and stations, didn't make the system more integrated. Beijing South isn't even on the metro yet, and as you found out, getting there by taxi is a nightmare. Why can't they have made it a multistop train, going all the way under the capital, stopping, say, at Beijing Station, Wangfujing, then Beijing North? Or all the way to Beijing Airport? Tokyo has this sussed, with trains running all the way from Yokohama, all the way through Tokyo up to Ueno and beyond. Makes it so much easier to get around. I suppose the Chinese have to do it their way. Always form over function.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
One-way tickets near the departure date in June are obviously not ones legacy carriers feel they need to discount, and fares are astronomical. Returns flights are a little cheaper but they're still a lot more expensive (in Y) than a one-way on D7 (in Premium). Incredibly, AirAsia X is quoting only a 300 yuan ($44) price difference between Economy and its newly relaunched Premium class (1897 yuan vs 2197 yuan). The decision is pretty much a no-brainer - on the basis of fare and value alone, there's no other choice: welcome to my second flight on AirAsia X.

Those Air Asia offers out of Tianjin for their Premium service are such good value for money, especially if you only need a one way.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I hadn't bought a ticket ahead of time - which in the old days meant anguish and standing room only - but judging from the frequency of trains on this route, snagging a seat shouldn't be a problem. Incredibly, there's an average 4-5 intercity departures every hour between here and Tianjin - better than suburban commuter train schedules on a weekend in some developed countries.

When I took this train in 2008, I had to wait 2 hours to get a seat in First Class. The station is beautiful, but there isn't much to do.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
At about the same time, EVA Air's B74E (B-16408) heads for 16R en route for Taipei Taoyuan Airport. Based on the timing on the FIDS, it's almost an hour behind schedule.

I thought I might have been on that plane, but it was her sister B-16409.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Just as I'm starting to wonder where my dinner is, Shankar, a steward who seems to be the dedicated flight attendant for Premium class, brings my far-less-than-premium dinner tray. "Fish" it says on the foil, next to the cheap plastic cutlery, is the entire meal AirAsia X calls dinner: another timely reminder that one isn't flying Business Class but an LCC after all.

Not very classy, but could be worse I suppose. I'm surprised there was nothing else on the tray other than your meal.
http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: AMS-RIX-BUD-VDA,ETH-TLV-FCO-LHR,STN-TXL-LCY,LTN-CPH-LTN,LGW-SZG,MUC-LHR
 
9MMAR
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:14 am

If I may chip in,

Quoting 767747 (Reply 9):
I would have been starving if I had just had a small dish like that for my only food!

I think your comments about almost the clash between the LCC model, and the fancy, modern looking cabin really showed in your photos of the empty cabin .. I mean, 2 people for a flight from Tianjin to KUL? Obviously, Air Asia X really isn't attracting too many people to its "Hot Class" because the amenities up front don't seem to be THAT much better than in Y except for the flat bed seat.

I think one can always purchase extra food if the complementary one is insufficient. AirAsia's BoB is the cheapest among all Asian LCCs.


.
Airpearl got his extra food above for MYR 10, which is around USD 3 only.

This flight, TSN-KUL, is a 5 hours daytime flight. I am quite certain that there will be more take up rate for D7's Premium Cabin on night-time flights which are longer than 7 hours. If you read Chrisrad trip report as mentioned in my earlier reply, the Premium Cabin on his MEL-KUL-MEL sectors were full. I think most travelers who fly D7 pay extra for the Premium seats to sleep lie flat on a long overnight flight.
 
eaa3
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:49 pm

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
A330-300 9M-XXA "Xuberance"

I looked at this word quickly and thought it said turbulence. Then I read it and saw that it wasn´t the case. However this seems like a weird thing to name a plane.
 
N751PR
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:03 pm

What is with you and making wonderful TRs?!   Another job well done, airpearl! 
"Ladies and Gentlemen it's happy hour. You will get two approaches for the price of one."
 
airpearl
Topic Author
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:59 pm

Thanks all for your comments. And am glad you enjoyed the read.  
Quoting akhmad (Reply 1):
Probably an A.net first here?

Hi Suryo, thanks for being the first to stop by! Alas this isn't the first.   As 9MMAR said, Chrisrad had a much earlier report on D7's new lie-flats.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 1):
I even forgot about the existence of Oasis Hong Kong.

Amazing how easily they get forgotten eh? Conventional wisdom would have put the survival chances of a HKG-based longhaul LCC higher than a KUL-based one, but this industry often surprises...

Quoting akhmad (Reply 1):
must say it is a great idea to include a non-aviation trip report in the usual aviation one. The interior of the train station and the train itself look immaculate. They would certainly not be unbecoming as any aircraft's interior. Thumbs up for China on that.

I don't often include the non-aviation bits but as I was continuing the story from my inbound, I thought it'd be nice to flow it along. In any case, this bit of China looks quite impressive. The station is architecturally a marvel, but the train interiors are still a little basic. Having said that the ticket prices are very cheap for a fast train like this, so I have no complaints whatsoever.


Quoting akhmad (Reply 1):
About your Premium Class experience, I enjoyed every single word of your story.

Glad you liked it.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 1):
If I would have been the other guy in the Premium Class!

That would have been funny. You know, this fellow passenger had the right idea - he slept almost all the way to KUL. He did what I should have done if I was saner... hahaha

Quoting akhmad (Reply 1):
Is there any copyright on that?

Remember, this is China... that shouldn't be an issue  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2):
absolutely enjoyable report with many great pictures

Hey PH, thanks for your nice comments and glad you enjoyed.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2):
I cannot agree here - there's a good mix of old-style and new-style liveries in China. And Chinese carriers operate dozens of planes in special colors.

I can't deny there's been a series of special liveries but somehow they aren't ones that particularly excite me. If anything I am partial to the older Air China/CAAC-style liveries - now, some are quite nice and classically well-balanced - but I really don't care much for some of the newer airlines with their splash-of-lines instant livery. (In that respect, AirAsia falls into that category too).

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2):
That doesn't look bad, but the portion is really small.

You got that right... there's a choice of meals actually (Western or Chinese - I wasn't asked, they just assumed I would choose Chinese). I think the idea with the meals is that it's "token" - ensures that you must spend more if you want to fill your tummy, even though it's not terribly expensive.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2):
Oh no, instant coffee...

Terrible eh? We're used to it in many parts of Asia - which is why flying LH and indulging in Colombian coffee between KUL and BKK is such a treat for me (that's until they stopped serving hot drinks to save cost in Y).

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 5):
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2):
No PTVs on these brand new A330s? But they have them on the A340s, don't they?

No. D7 has gotten rid of all PTVs they managed to install on a few aircrafts when they changed their seats (Premium and Economy) to the current one not too long ago. They concluded that having PTV is not economical for their business plan, and as mentioned in the trip report by Airpearl himself, most of the time, there is simply no demand for them. It was tested and proven.

Hey 9MMAR, when did you start working for D7?  
Quoting PlunaCRJ (Reply 3):
Thank you for a fantastic read. I enjoyed your TR immensely, from marveling of the "chinese wonders" to the strange "premium/ low cost" melange. Air Asia X really looks like a game-changer, and I hope they are succesful.

Hi PlunaCRJ, glad you enjoyed the journey. AirAsia X is a very aggressive carrier run by aggressive bosses who are very good in getting what they want. Plays well to the public, and sells cheap. If it's as successful financially as it says, then the future is bright indeed.

Quoting PlunaCRJ (Reply 3):
I value comfort way over "gourmet style food"

Then you'd love AirAsia X's Premium

Quoting QatarA340 (Reply 4):
First of all, one of the best TR ever!

You're too kind, thanks QatarA340.

Quoting QatarA340 (Reply 4):
Economy class looks like torture! 3-3-3 on an A330! Even EK aren't that cruel. I was wondering if you tried EK's 3-4-3 on their 777s?

Hahaha... actually I have flown on EK's 10-abreast 777s quite a while back, all the way from LHR to HKG - and survived! Of course I was also smaller and slimmer in those days.

Quoting QatarA340 (Reply 4):
To me, its not the size of the chairs, its the size of the PEOPLE who are sitting next to you!

Absolutely. Now come to think of it, I found it tolerable but that may have been because I had good company to chat with, and there was an empty seat between us. It could have been quite different had I been alone and squeezed in the middle with nothing to do.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 5):
Hi Airpearl, I shrine this ok.

 
Quoting JL418 (Reply 6):
Judging on your pictures it is a gorgeous building but I'm not entirely sure it ticks all the right boxes about "station feeling". And maybe I'm just wrong, but I don't see many shops either.

Hi JL418, thanks for you kind words. I agree with your sentiments - China's really into large infra projects but sometimes the details leave a little to be desired. I remember flying into Kunming's grand new airport - everything shiny and spacious - but they fail to provide for a bureau de change. I spend a lovely Sunday afternoon (when banks are closed) going round by taxi looking for someone to change my dollars into yuan. Coming back to this station, there are restaurants and shops but they're a bit hidden to each side of this grand hall.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 6):
I guess this CH3 is larger than its German cousin, the ICE, isn't it? I'm somehow disappointed by the looks of premium class, doesn't feel at all like that. I must say I was disappointed by the interior looks of JR's Nozomi Shinkansen either, maybe it's an Asian habit.

According to Wiki, it's a cousin of the Spanish Valero E and based on ICE 3. The Chinese version is wider to fit 5-abreast in 2nd class. As for fittings, I was a little disappointed - I had expected a more hi-tech feel to complement the sleek exterior - instead it looks rather old-fashioned inside. Still, I can't complain because it's comfortable and cheap.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 6):
Don't worry - I think there's plenty of people here on A.net that are looked by other exactly as you said.

Haha... I wrote this because I knew it'd strike a chord with many here  
Quoting JL418 (Reply 6):
Seriously? Mr. Branson's ears must have been whistling a lot!

You do realize Sir Richard is a 16% shareholder of AirAsia X ?

Quoting JL418 (Reply 6):
But... where's the magic in it? where's the thrill? I think LCCs are spoiling the pleasure of flying.

Well I wouldn't say the pleasure is gone completely, but I know what you mean. An AirAsia (shorthaul) flight for me shouldn't feel mundane but it often does.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 7):
What a wonderful report - perfect to complement your UM outbound.

Hey Abrelosojos, thanks for your nice comments.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 7):
I wish I lived in Asia to try these things!

From your travels, I think it really doesn't matter where you live.   You're the only truly "global citizen" I know...

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 7):
I bet the premium cabin does very well on flights to STN ... and their soon launching flights to the U.S.

I guess the STN flights should do well in Premium - there are 18 lie-flats on the A343s vs 12 on the A333s. I think the U.S. may some way off yet without the right equipment. Paris looks like the next long-haul destination in Feb 2011.

Quoting BigMac (Reply 8):
Awesome trip report! I really enjoyed your trip report (it was almost like reading a novel). Keep up the good work!!!

Thanks for stopping by BigMac.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 9):
I am amazed, that even being a LCC, and with that fancy looking "Premium" cabin that you weren't served something more substantial. Can people, I assume, bring their own food on-board? I would have been starving if I had just had a small dish like that for my only food!

Hi Matthew, I think as 9MMAR explains, D7 expects you to buy the rest. Still, I think that if they say a "meal" is provided, it should be as close to at least a regular Y class meal as possible. The airline also has a no-own-food policy aboard.


Quoting 767747 (Reply 9):
I mean, 2 people for a flight from Tianjin to KUL? Obviously, Air Asia X really isn't attracting too many people to its "Hot Class" because the amenities up front don't seem to be THAT much better than in Y except for the flat bed seat.

It's also the passenger composition on the route. Many of the pax on this route are part of tour groups from either end who generally don't make their own bookings. I think the loads will be much better on MEL, PER or STN with a much higher composition of FITs,

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
It always frustrated me that the Chinese, when spending billions on new trains and stations, didn't make the system more integrated... I suppose the Chinese have to do it their way. Always form over function.

Hey Gabriel, thanks for your insightful comments and I fully agree with you. But it's slowly getting there, no? As for point of reference, I always start from a low base in China, so anything I get is a pleasant surprise. Makes for a longer life I think.  
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
When I took this train in 2008, I had to wait 2 hours to get a seat in First Class.

Wow, that's quite a long wait. I had my choice of departures, and chose a later one so I could wander round the station a bit.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 10):
I'm surprised there was nothing else on the tray other than your meal.

You're not the only one. There's not even a drink of water.

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 12):
However this seems like a weird thing to name a plane

Apparently, according to the CEO's blog, it's to depict "the utter joy we felt when we got to play with shiny new metal".

Quoting N751PR (Reply 13):
Another job well done, airpearl!

Thanks N751PR  
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:07 pm

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
that's until they stopped serving hot drinks to save cost in Y

No more hot drinks on that LH flight? That's odd!


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
airpearl
Topic Author
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:35 am

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
No more hot drinks on that LH flight? That's odd!

Yes, only for the tag-on apparently, at least on my last flight earlier this year. (I assume the onward long-haul still has them!) Drinks service is also very limited - I don't remember wines or even can drinks. When I ask for coffee, crew are very apologetic and seem embarrassed by the fact that LH has gone cheap in this way. A sign of the times, maybe thanks to AirAsia.
 
vietsky
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:55 am

Hi Airpearl,

Another amazing trip report. I'm looking forward to seeing some more of your trip report.

My only comment: Air Asia X Premium Food is really horrible.

Vietsky
 
Ryanair!!!
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:21 am

I have been away from airliners.net for far too long (4+ months to be exact). I have a TR in the works so I came in to suss things out and what do you know, another masterpiece by none other than the TR-sifu himself! What better way to ease back into the a.net foray than via your cushy little report? Come to think of it, my last entry into this forum was in your TG 50th anniversary flight to HKG.

After reading this one, I followed the link to your Air Zimbabwe's report. Gosh you do have a penchant for these strange and exotic flights, don't you? Makes for good reading though!

From the time I flew Air Asia X in March 2009 till now, it seems progress has been made. From sleek looking touchscreen PTVs, hard shell YCL seats to THIS, the decision to flip about and churn the product around has been nothing sort of impressive. Now this is what I call listening to feedback and taking customer's views seriously. Can you imagine this lightning speed ever happening over at good ol' Penerbangan Malaysia?

MH would probably rather pay some PR company to spin some gloss because it involves less work than trying to change the product line up.

And yes, the meal portions at D7 are measly - although delicious. And they have surely shrunken from your TR to OOL as I remembered. How comfortable are the lie-flats? Since they come from the same manufacturer as many airlines like you rightfully pointed out, I assume it should feel no different from MH/TG? Did you manage to sleep?

I shall not poke any more fun at you being "enshrined". You deserve it. Is getting crucified next in line? Hahahaha... Donate a vial of blood to your fans, perhaps?

China's progress is indeed scary. Many of us still think of them as a backward, singlets-rolled-up-tummy-revealing, squatting, toe picking, armpit prodding, phlegm snorting, spitting nation of ungracious minions. Although certain factions of the society still display signs of what I just mentioned (heck, every country will have their own "rednecks"), their cities have become so modern it is a little hard to fathom. If their airports are anything to go by, I would say MOST of them look better than a lot of the airports I have been to or seen in USA!

I also think it will not be long before the world's economy start revolving around China's like the way it is now to USA.

Anyway, I shall not be boring and shower you with more praise as everyone already have because there really isn't anymore nice words I can think of - except maybe a "THANK YOU" for making my afternoon a little more fun.

Cheers
R
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
 
airpearl
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:57 pm

Quoting vietsky (Reply 17):
Another amazing trip report. I'm looking forward to seeing some more of your trip report.

My only comment: Air Asia X Premium Food is really horrible.

Hi Vietsky, thanks for your nice comments. As for the food - it helps if you already have low expectations.   I guess if the choice on an overnight to Europe is between a legacy carrier's Y class (with regular Y food) or AirAsia X's Premium class (with this type of catering, but more food available for purchase) at roughly the same fare, many might well choose Premium and overlook the food.

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 18):
I have been away from airliners.net for far too long (4+ months to be exact). I have a TR in the works so I came in to suss things out and what do you know, another masterpiece by none other than the TR-sifu himself! What better way to ease back into the a.net foray than via your cushy little report?

Well, this is a COMPLETE surprise! Welcome back Sir, and what an honor that you should stop by here first   What have you been doing all this while? I thought you might have given up on planes altogether (I've never heard that happening before - but there's always the first time)... the world just hasn't been the same without Ryanair!!!'s musings and sharp wit and refreshingly irreverant outlook on life... hahaha. Anyway I am sure I can speak for many when I say we look forward to seeing another TR from you soon.

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 18):
From sleek looking touchscreen PTVs, hard shell YCL seats to THIS, the decision to flip about and churn the product around has been nothing sort of impressive. Now this is what I call listening to feedback and taking customer's views seriously. Can you imagine this lightning speed ever happening over at good ol' Penerbangan Malaysia?

You're right there. The transformation was indeed very fast and impressive. They don't procrastinate at AirAsia - which is one reason why they've stayed ahead of the game in the region. Never mind MH, even CX which fitted hard-shell seats in Y and coffin seats in J (both generally disliked by passengers) haven't even acknowledged they were mistakes.

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 18):
MH would probably rather pay some PR company to spin some gloss because it involves less work than trying to change the product line up.

You're trying to get me to say something nasty about my national carrier aren't you? Sorry I don't do it anymore - at least not in the week of our country's independence day, says this born again 1Malaysian   

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 18):
How comfortable are the lie-flats? Since they come from the same manufacturer as many airlines like you rightfully pointed out, I assume it should feel no different from MH/TG? Did you manage to sleep?

It's pretty comfortable. I did try the seat flat-out but only for a little while: seemed ok and Shankar was right, it's at less of an angle than MH's. My neighbor slept all the way, so it does seem to work well.

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 18):
Is getting crucified next in line?

I certainly hope not - the rusty nails through the palm stuff is really not my thing.   Good to have you back.
 
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allrite
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:49 pm

Thanks for the typically detailed and enjoyable trip report!

Interesting to compare your experiences in AirAsiaX's premium cabin with the other long-haul LCC Jetstar's StarClass cabin, which I experienced for the first time recently.

On one hand D7's lie flat seat must win hands down over JQ's small recline upright seats. But at least the food quantities were larger on JQ, we were given free drinks and portable video players and it sounds like the service was also superior.

Still, if flying to Europe I might overlook it all to sleep.

At least the JQ A330's only seat 2-3-2 in economy.

The lack of built in IFE is disappointing. Tray table mounted portable IFE just doesn't cut it! No moving map! More seriously, I find the utility of bringing your own video IFE (eg iPod, notebook PC) doesn't match that of the built in video systems and that it can really make a big difference on long haul flights, especially those flying overnight.
I like artificial banana essence!
 
9MMAR
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:06 pm

Sorry to chip in again,

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
You do realize Sir Richard is a 16% shareholder of AirAsia X ?

I think he has 20% shares in D7, isn't it?

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
Paris looks like the next long-haul destination in Feb 2011.

Now that you mentioned it, can the service to Paris Orly being launched with the present fleet? I mean will D7 lease another A343 to start Paris non stop? Or will it be via an intermediate point? The 'AUH virtual hub' plan was scrapped so which destination is going to be the technical stopover point? IKA? Then there are issues with bilateral agreements and rights. I am sure D7 wants to carry passengers from the intermediate point to Orly as well. What do you think Airpearl?

Quoting airpearl (Reply 19):
Anyway I am sure I can speak for many when I say we look forward to seeing another TR from you soon.

I think I saw some previews in Queen B's Facebook.
 
AI151
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:13 pm

Hi AirPearl another fab TR like the previous D7 one you posted a while back. I have to admit that even for a LCC the seats in Premium Class look comfortable and with a decent recline for sure. Don't get me wrong the service has its up and downs, but in general it looks okay. What made me laugh was the so called gift you thought was on your seat when sitting with William in Economy Class. A tad bit wrong that she actually wrote every crew members name but hey-ho maybe they get commission on these things! Haha!

Definitely impressed with the train station in China. Looks absolutely stunning and more like an airport as well especially with the queueing system at the platforms before going down. Nice b/w picture as well. Nothing beats German technology when it comes to trains.

Sandeep (AI151)
Modern Vision. Timeless Traditions...
 
Burj
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:34 pm

I've been away from the computer for a few days so now that I have time to catch up with a.net I was so Xcited to see a TR from you...

Of course when I saw this:

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
As A.netter Burj might say, this one was liberated, on principle.

I became so Xuberant I thought my head wouldXplode!

As always with your TRs, this one made laugh out loud (LOL) several times! I had to Xplain to people around me what all the Xcitement was about.

The Xcellent pictures are really appreciated! Alas it is no Xaggeration to say the pictures of China's infrastructure made me sad for the U.S.

If more Americans traveled to Asia to see what MODERN infrastructure looks like they may Xpire from shock.

This TR does Xacerbate my own desire to go travel and see the world. I don't know Xactly when I'll be able to travel abroad.

Until then I will have to rely on the A.net TRs like yours that are like XXX travel porn for me!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
In complete contrast, my only reason for being in Tianjin puts me in a category people outside this forum might call a total nut job.

Next time you feel like this just take a DEEP breath and Xhale and remember that you'll always have friends here...

XoXo
-Burj
 
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:29 am

Quoting airpearl (Reply 19):
Anyway I am sure I can speak for many when I say we look forward to seeing another TR from you soon.

It's on one of your favourite carriers.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 19):
You're trying to get me to say something nasty about my national carrier aren't you? Sorry I don't do it anymore - at least not in the week of our country's independence day, says this born again 1Malaysian

Ah, 1Malaysia. I sincerely hope that through all the "1" propoaganda, you have begun to feel at "1" with yourself and stop shaking your head whenever you talk about your home country to some old friend you bump into at some secondary Air Asia X airport.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 19):
Good to have you back.

Feels good to be back. I could not have had a warmer welcome.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 21):
I think I saw some previews in Queen B's Facebook.

Lurker... You must have previewed the wrong photo album babe.  
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
 
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BNE
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:25 am

Another classic trip report, Airpearl, thanks also for the pictures of China.

Quoting burj (Reply 23):
I became so Xuberant I thought my head wouldXplode!

As always with your TRs, this one made laugh out loud (LOL) several times! I had to Xplain to people around me what all the Xcitement was about.

Lucky I wasn't the only one laughing at the computer and having to explain to those near me why I was laughing.
Why fly non stop when you can connect
 
The777Man
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:34 am

Another amazing trip report, Airpearl! Really, really good storytelling and very nice pictures to go along with it.

It's amazing how quickly China is growing and how the Chinese are chaning as well.

D7 looks okay although it would take some getting used to their service levels in their "Premium" Cabin. Paying for coffee seems a bit odd......But they may be onto something....even the lack of IFE may not be so strange when a lot of people bring their own laptops or iphones with their own movies. At least they provide so that you can charge your device a your seat. I guess they did not have those charge stations in Y class ?

Thanks again for an excellent report!

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
Econojetter
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:38 am

Hey... thanks for a very humorous Saturday afternoon read.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Reluctantly, I check AirAsia's website last, probably because I know what I'd find - that it's the cheapest of the lot by a long shot.

I was this close to getting on D7 on KUL-TPE in July when I was late getting tickets...

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
My cab ride feels like an eternity of inhaling fumes from the middle of a 12-lane highway interspaced with moments of impending doom as my driver tests out his three-in-one lane changing skills ahead of fast-moving container lorries.

You know how they say you are safer on a flight than on the road. In such moments you really feel it and wish you were instead going through a spot of turbulence on (fill in whichever airline you think has the poorest safety record).

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
prices for building materials - is so huge and spacious that the crowds seem to disappear, and that's quite a rarity in China. It looks more airport than rail terminal.

A pleasant unfussy interior.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
comfortably-padded seat, decent recline, legrest, a magazine in the seat pocket and self-service complimentary mineral water come standard as frills.

Surprisingly dull interior on a train with such a futuristic exterior. The Taiwan high-speed rail cabin also features seat fabric that looks rather "two decades ago."

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Indeed, bouncing towards me is William, a former work colleague I hadn't seen in years: "what the hell are you doing in Tianjin?" he asks. Oh darn.

LOL. How very succinct.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Still, it's nice to be meeting up with an old friend again, and just as well I am the more prolific questioner so we spend more time talking about William's life in China than my dubious reasons for being there

Classic trick. "Enough about me. Let's talk about you, your co-workers, family, pets and their friends."


Great ringmaster pose! Something different. I wish those ramp guys would get more inventive... like... how about doing the macarena?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I eventually even admit to William I flew to China on Air Zimbabwe.

Why oh why? You were doing so well...

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I am curious about the service-style which is more legacy premium than LCC, and am not entirely surprised when he tells me he used to work for MH.
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
An hour passes and I'm still in Y - Shankar appears again, looking more anxious and purposeful this time. "We'll be landing in about 30 minutes Sir. But I would really appreciate if you can do this for us." He lowers the tray table where I am in a rather serious manner, and places an AirAsia survey form on it. And alongside, he puts a scrap of paper on which is listed the names of the entire cabin crew today. "Ah that's so Malaysian," laughs William after Shankar goes away. Welcome home, I say.

I guess this proves you can take the guy out of the five-star but you sure can't take the five-star out of the guy...

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
You're trying to get me to say something nasty about my national carrier aren't you? Sorry I don't do it anymore - at least not in the week of our country's independence day, says this born again 1Malaysian

Hmm. Sounds like they got you. Time for an intervention.
:D

The lie-flat looks very enticing. I had wanted to give it a try but finally chose to play safe because it was one of those short weekend turnarounds from TPE. Perhaps the horror stories about chronic re-timing I had heard from certain quarters had been exaggerated, but I did not want to risk it. And the inconvenience of getting to/from the current LCCT still, to some extent, keeps me away from AK/D7. I really hope the express rail link will be extended to the new LCCT, but who knows when it will be completed. But for now, if I have 10.00AM flight out of KUL, I'd rather be flying out of the main terminal even if it means a transit.
 
ronerone
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 04, 2010 10:51 am

Airpeal my man! Congrats on another stellar trip report. When i thought i knew 'too much' about D7, i have learned a whole lot more today after reading this.

Though, i have parted my ways with D7, and in the very same way she left us at AUH, one cannot deny how far this airline has reached and what it has achieved. You really have to give them credit for not only trying, but succeeding too! Like you said, Oasis and her counterpart miseries have shared experiences that would only discourage anyone, yet D7 and AirAsia made it work.

Their management however, while willing to try new ideas for sure, seem to still have a lot to learn, especially that they form an International airline. Their ambitious plans to enter new markets previously unserved by a business model like theirs sounds fascinating for sure, but who was to assume that an AirAsia X arrival into these new markets can naturally stimulate traffic without any effort on their part? Not everywhere is like London or Australia for instance, and in the same way that flying an Airbus is different to flying a Boeing. Sorry, had to vent a little haha  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Old habits die hard, and my yesteryear favorite CX becomes the first website I check for fares and availability

And thank you so much for handing over this very habit to me  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Built in time for the Summer Olympics of 2008, the station - which made its small contribution to the rise in global prices for building materials - is so huge and spacious that the crowds seem to disappear, and that's quite a rarity in China. It looks more airport than rail terminal. There isn't any evidence of either plane or train, but that's typical of monumental terminals like this these days which are seemingly designed to overshadow the traveling experience itself. The rail platforms are all hidden underneath this central hall and only reachable with a valid passage ticket.

This really looks quite impressive!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I've still no expectations whatsoever but the very thought I'm traveling "C" class with AirAsia X does tickle me so.

Interesting that you got an actual boarding card!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
William has every reason to be in Tianjin - he's managing a production facility for an American multinational here - and is the epitome of a successful man in his early-30s sprinting up the corporate escalator. In complete contrast, my only reason for being in Tianjin puts me in a category people outside this forum might call a total nut job. This is the sort of unexpected meeting I'd been dreading when doing these joyrides (as A.netter NZ107 calls them), and so my response to William is measured and as truthful as I can make it without using the words "I am here because I wanted to fly Air Zimbabwe." Already with my reputation for being borderline-mad, I fear the whole truth will just confirm to my peers that Airpearl's finally tipped over the edge into underpants-on-head-and-pencils-up-nose zone.

   ... On my! This has yet to happen to me! And i am thankful it did not happen in Luanda!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
That means about an hour's turnaround in Tianjin (which is almost a luxury for this airline group

Knowing them, they bargained for much less, but Tianjin's ground handling capabilities only managed to squeeze in one hour  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
On AirAsia X, the crews in the front galley smile uncertainly and if you smile back, they'll offer you a plastic bottle of house brand mineral water as a welcome drink. I am thrilled - hey, you have to pay for this behind the curtains! The flow of freebies continues with a blood-red blanket and nice full-sized pillow (both available for sale in steerage). By my reckoning, I'm now up some 50 ringgit, based on the airline's merchandise catalog, which is already a third of the price differential between Y and Premium. What an amazing bargain.

Quite impressive! Definitely did not happen on my flight.

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 18):
I have been away from airliners.net for far too long (4+ months to be exact).

Well well well ... what have we here?  


Airpearl, thank you so much for sharing this report with us. They are always ones i look forward to, and they never fail to impress! Keep on flying, and keep those TRs coming for sure  

Cheers,
R
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 859
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 04, 2010 5:49 pm

Quoting allrite (Reply 20):
Thanks for the typically detailed and enjoyable trip report!

Hi Allrite, how have you been? Glad you enjoyed this.

Quoting allrite (Reply 20):
Interesting to compare your experiences in AirAsiaX's premium cabin with the other long-haul LCC Jetstar's StarClass cabin, which I experienced for the first time recently.

And a very nice series of reports too!!!  
Quoting allrite (Reply 20):
On one hand D7's lie flat seat must win hands down over JQ's small recline upright seats. But at least the food quantities were larger on JQ, we were given free drinks and portable video players and it sounds like the service was also superior.

It does seem like JQ tries to make the experience more like the low-cost version of Premium Economy while D7's attraction is basically the seat. If JQ was to fit flat beds, it would definitely be superior to D7's current offering. I wonder if that'll happen though, as on some routes an upgraded JQ offering could well cannibalize QF's premium traffic.

Quoting allrite (Reply 20):
At least the JQ A330's only seat 2-3-2 in economy.

You mean 2-4-2?  
Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 21):
I think he has 20% shares in D7, isn't it?

Yes, I believe it was initially 20% but the later share issues to new investors Japan's Orix Corp and Bahrain's Manara Consortium diluted his stake to 16%. Based on recent reports, the current shareholder breakdown is: 48% Aero Ventures (shareholders Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun, Kalimullah Hassan, Lim Kian Onn, Robert Milton); 16% Branson's Virgin Group; 16% AirAsia; 10% Orix; 10% Manara.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 21):
Now that you mentioned it, can the service to Paris Orly being launched with the present fleet? I mean will D7 lease another A343 to start Paris non stop? Or will it be via an intermediate point? The 'AUH virtual hub' plan was scrapped so which destination is going to be the technical stopover point? IKA? Then there are issues with bilateral agreements and rights. I am sure D7 wants to carry passengers from the intermediate point to Orly as well. What do you think Airpearl?

An interesting question that's worth a tweet to Azran. I have no idea how they're going to do it without an intermediate stop - unless they reinstate AUH, who knows? Getting AUH-ORY fifth freedom rights might be close to impossible though. Otherwise, getting another A343 shouldn't be difficult: there must be a few floating around. But that doesn't solve the problem of where they'll fly that huge fleet of new A333s they're getting: ICN's coming up, HND most probably, SYD possibly... and then what else? The number of obviously viable destinations from KUL is diminishing. Maybe they could start Thailand AirAsia X (an A333 could likely reach more of Europe from BKK without payload penalties) and also Indonesia AirAsia X?

Quoting AI151 (Reply 22):
Hi AirPearl another fab TR like the previous D7 one you posted a while back. I have to admit that even for a LCC the seats in Premium Class look comfortable and with a decent recline for sure. Don't get me wrong the service has its up and downs, but in general it looks okay.

Hiya Sandeep, nice you could stop by and thanks for the kind words! Unquestionably, the comfort level from an LCC perspective is really top class even if the rest of the product is decidedly budget; still, this is more comfortable than some airlines' J classes (like maybe KU's for instance   )

Quoting burj (Reply 23):
I became so Xuberant I thought my head wouldXplode!

Wow Burj! What can I say, I am just Xstatic with your Xtrodinary response    ThanX for playing along - you're mad as a hatter of course, but thanX all the same...

Quoting burj (Reply 23):
As always with your TRs, this one made laugh out loud (LOL) several times! I had to Xplain to people around me what all the Xcitement was about.

Oh dear, sorry about that  
Quoting burj (Reply 23):
Next time you feel like this just take a DEEP breath and Xhale and remember that you'll always have friends here...

That's good to know. Seriously though, thanks much for your very nice comments. I hope AirAsia X names a plane after you!

Quoting ryanair!!! (Reply 24):
It's on one of your favourite carriers.

Great stuff, can't wait!

Quoting BNE (Reply 25):
Another classic trip report, Airpearl, thanks also for the pictures of China.

Hi BNE, thanks for stopping by. Glad it made you laugh.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 26):
It's amazing how quickly China is growing and how the Chinese are chaning as well.

Hi The777Man, thanks for the kind words. China's growth is amazing and scary at the same time - one really needs to visit to appreciate how fast that pace is. Of course it also causes 100km traffic jams...   

Quoting The777Man (Reply 26):
At least they provide so that you can charge your device a your seat. I guess they did not have those charge stations in Y class ?

Power points only for Premium - I think they should provide them in Y too if they're not planning to offer in-seat IFEs. I saw at least one passenger from Y slipping into Premium to charge his laptop at an empty seat.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 27):
I was this close to getting on D7 on KUL-TPE in July when I was late getting tickets...

Hey there Econojetter, I'm quite sure it'll happen sooner or later - but I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not. Also thanks for stopping by on your holiday - a TR in the works I hope.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 27):
Great ringmaster pose! Something different. I wish those ramp guys would get more inventive... like... how about doing the macarena?

LOL!!!

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 27):
Why oh why? You were doing so well...

Haha... I know I was feeling kinda guilty! Of course, our conversation did slip into aviation for a bit after that and I told William about how D7 seats 9-abreast on its A333s vs 8-abreast usually. He said he wouldn't have realized; "I don't even know what plane type this is".

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 27):
I guess this proves you can take the guy out of the five-star but you sure can't take the five-star out of the guy...

Very well said!

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 27):
I really hope the express rail link will be extended to the new LCCT, but who knows when it will be completed.

You must not have heard - it's now called KLIA2. And from the conceptual design, the huge terminal would probably give the current KLIA a run for the money. Hmm, I see dark clouds looming in my crystal ball.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 28):
Their management however, while willing to try new ideas for sure, seem to still have a lot to learn, especially that they form an International airline. Their ambitious plans to enter new markets previously unserved by a business model like theirs sounds fascinating for sure, but who was to assume that an AirAsia X arrival into these new markets can naturally stimulate traffic without any effort on their part? Not everywhere is like London or Australia for instance, and in the same way that flying an Airbus is different to flying a Boeing. Sorry, had to vent a little haha

Hey Roni. Good to hear from you my friend! But I can feel your pain months after D7 left. Yours is a very valid point - in most of the markets D7 is in, there's already a natural 2-way traffic flow or where a lot of the promotional hard work had been done (usually by MH). As I said in reply to 9MMAR above, I really wonder what will happen after they've plucked all the low hanging fruits...

Quoting ronerone (Reply 28):
And thank you so much for handing over this very habit to me

Haha, and you're doing rather well   I've recently been missing CX a little but the opportunity's just not there...

Quoting ronerone (Reply 28):
Interesting that you got an actual boarding card!

Yes, isn't it? No cheap supermarket check-out slips here! I found "real" boarding cards at SGN too when I flew AK last; am sure a few other overseas ports have them too.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 28):
On my! This has yet to happen to me! And i am thankful it did not happen in Luanda!

Now JNB-LIS via LAD would be a devil to explain away LOL! But for you, I think an unnamed "secret mission" could be a believable story...

Quoting ronerone (Reply 28):
Quite impressive! Definitely did not happen on my flight.

They must have "upgraded" when they put in the new seats.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 28):
Keep on flying, and keep those TRs coming for sure

I'll try - there's still a backlog. And can we be expecting a new TR from you soon?   Finally, thanks for your very generous comments Roni.
 
9MMAR
Posts: 1729
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 7:18 pm

RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 04, 2010 8:45 pm

Sorry to chip in again,

Quoting airpearl (Reply 29):
Based on recent reports, the current shareholder breakdown is: 48% Aero Ventures (shareholders Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun, Kalimullah Hassan, Lim Kian Onn, Robert Milton); 16% Branson's Virgin Group; 16% AirAsia; 10% Orix; 10% Manara.

Thank you for the precise breakdown.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 29):
But that doesn't solve the problem of where they'll fly that huge fleet of new A333s they're getting: ICN's coming up, HND most probably, SYD possibly... and then what else? The number of obviously viable destinations from KUL is diminishing.

The AK Gossip Division is telling the other forum that there is at least an A333 which is ready for delivery but was parked in Toulouse because D7 has yet to arrange for its financing and they seemed to taking their own sweet time with it because they don't really need the aircraft at the moment.

And do you realised how cold D7 is treating IKA? Azran only sort of announced it in his Facebook after like 4 days the service started. No promotion. Not even a mention whatsoever. Heard the 2 weekly service is doing very good, with loads exceeding 80%. Why don't you go to Tehran and investigate this matter? Go by Iran Air + D7 Y. You love doing these kind of stuff, right?

The Gossip Division also revealed that D7 sort of has to serve IKA and follow what the government suggested in order to get a bigger catch - JED.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 29):
I saw at least one passenger from Y slipping into Premium to charge his laptop at an empty seat.

Did the passenger was asked to pay for this? Or he got away out of curteousy?

Quoting airpearl (Reply 29):
LOL!!!

Doing a haka should be great to watch as well. More macho than doing a macarena.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 29):
You must not have heard - it's now called KLIA2. And from the conceptual design, the huge terminal would probably give the current KLIA a run for the money. Hmm, I see dark clouds looming in my crystal ball.

Have you seen the video? http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=127193297328330
The design of the new terminal is definitely not low cost. And that skybridge... OMG!!!


*The video can be seen by those who have account at Facebook only.

[Edited 2010-09-04 13:50:27]
 
Burj
Posts: 747
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:46 am

RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:37 pm

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 30):
Have you seen the video? http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=127193297328330
The design of the new terminal is definitely not low cost. And that skybridge... OMG!!!

Wow! Thanks for sharing! So just to be clear, are planes supposed to be able to go UNDER the skybridge?
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8303
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:46 am

Hi Airpearl,

What a wonderful read on a Sunday morning, it's been most enjoyable, great pictures too, almost felt like I was on the trip with you.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
AirAsia X is quoting only a 300 yuan ($44) price difference between Economy and its newly relaunched Premium class (1897 yuan vs 2197 yuan). The decision is pretty much a no-brainer - on the basis of fare and value alone

- For $44 difference I'm amazed Premium was not full!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
My cab ride feels like an eternity of inhaling fumes from the middle of a 12-lane highway interspaced with moments of impending doom as my driver tests out his three-in-one lane changing skills ahead of fast-moving container lorries

- Ah yes, sounds like a typical chinese taxi driver, each time I step into one I fear for my life!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
When the imposing new Beijing South Station finally comes into view, you can't imagine how relieved I feel.

- I think we've all felt that!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
A major flaw in Tianjin Airport's 8-step plan to successful take-off is that if your airline asks that you check-in 3 hours ahead of departure, and immigration starts work only 2 hours before

- A bit off, though if there is nothing much airside guess it makes sense.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
At the Generic Shop (which is more original than "General Store" I suppose),

- What a great name for a shop.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Xhaustion could be named for one of the A340s plying the Stansted route, while both Xplosion and Xcorcist will probably not win favor with D7 management. Xtinction, Xpropriation, X-rated, hell, I'm on a roll... When I imagine how Xcrement ~ By Airpearl will look on the side of an A350, I am beaming to myself like a madman who forgot to take his pills.

- Very funny!!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
he tells me he tried upgrading at check-in but local staff said that wasn't possible - I'd have thought AirAsia would never refuse your cash!)

- Yes a bit odd, especially when there were so many empty seats.

The Premium cabin is pretty decent and better than some carriers proper J seats, though as you say, the catering could be improved, even if its a bigger portion, that meal you had was tiny!

Cheers

Mark
111 732 733 734 735 736 73G 738 739,7M8 BBJ 741 742 743 744 752 753 762 763 764 772 77L 773 77W L15 D10 D30 D40 AB3 AB6 312 313 318 319 320 20N 321 21N 332 333 342 343 345 346 359 351 388 CS1 CS3 I86 154 SSJ CRJ CR7 CR9 CRK 145 170 175 220
 
akhmad
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:54 am

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
this fellow passenger had the right idea - he slept almost all the way to KUL

Well, I am glad that I am not saner either.  
There is no deity except You. Exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.
 
9MMAR
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:35 am

Quoting burj (Reply 31):
Wow! Thanks for sharing! So just to be clear, are planes supposed to be able to go UNDER the skybridge?

Yes. But I think only A320s and narrowbody aircrafts can taxi underneath it. D7's widebodies will be assigned at the outer part of the terminal (Pier 1).
 
Quokka
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:02 pm

Hi airpearl,

Great trip report. The portrayal of fact, interspersed with humour is effective and encourages one to read more.

I really liked the terminal photos as they remind me that in some parts of the world architects can be inventive, unlike here in Perth where the bottom line set by developers means only the boring and mundane is possible. Clearly the people developing airports elsewhere recognise their prestige value and that first impressions count.

Your comments regarding having to remind yourself that you were flying Premium Economy and not Business Class I can understand. When I saw the photos of the seats I thought that they are actually better than some J offereings on other carriers! But then come the UNRWA packages....
 
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NZ107
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:38 am

Hi Airpearl,

What an excellent continuation from the Air Zimbabwe flight. It definitely looks like an enticing option, especially when you can get those seats at around the same price as Y with a full service carrier. I might be leaning towards the frequent flyer points and the other 'nice' things that come with flying with them but this still opens eyes.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
One-way tickets near the departure date in June are obviously not ones legacy carriers feel they need to discount, and fares are astronomical. Returns flights are a little cheaper but they're still a lot more expensive (in Y) than a one-way on D7 (in Premium). Incredibly, AirAsia X is quoting only a 300 yuan ($44) price difference between Economy and its newly relaunched Premium class (1897 yuan vs 2197 yuan). The decision is pretty much a no-brainer - on the basis of fare and value alone, there's no other choice: welcome to my second flight on AirAsia X.

Pretty impressive! And who on earth wouldn't pay that seemingly small amount to get a much better seat etc?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
My cab ride feels like an eternity of inhaling fumes from the middle of a 12-lane highway interspaced with moments of impending doom as my driver tests out his three-in-one lane changing skills ahead of fast-moving container lorries. When the imposing new Beijing South Station finally comes into view, you can't imagine how relieved I feel.

Ah, China and driving in China. What absolute chaos reigns on the streets. I can still remember how crazy the outskirts (I think) of Guangzhou were but can't imagine how worse Beijing might be.

The architecture of China continues to impress me. The train station looks amazing and even Tianjin Airport doesn't look too bad either! It's good to actually see these places for once!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
My flight is missing - seems to be the recurring theme this weekend. The main electronic FIDS doesn't show the AirAsia X flight and neither can I find their check-in desks. After giving the terminal a once-over, I finally find an inconspicuous, glass-encased, sole display board at one end of the building: it seems international flights are listed separately for some reason. Not only that, the check-in counters are shielded from domestics via a separate entrance and the sort of bureaucracy I remember from the China of old.

That must be quite frustrating having to find the flight on another board along with the handful of other international flights. It wouldn't hurt to put the few on the main FIDS either.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
At first I think how strange it is that passengers are so unevenly spread across the five counters (wouldn't you naturally move to a shorter line or a desk with no queue at all?) but later realize why this is so: most of the passengers belong to tour groups and are forced to stay faithful to their clusters.

It does look strange! And as there are only 2 Premium passengers, I see why they didn't bother with a separate premium desk.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
This is the sort of unexpected meeting I'd been dreading when doing these joyrides (as A.netter NZ107 calls them)

Yuss, got a mention in one of your TRs  
In a way, I guess I'm glad that chances that I'd bump into someone I knew who didn't know about my obsession are pretty slim! That's something for me to possibly think about over the coming years though.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The last of the passengers are streaming in, and none are stopping here. It looks like a very light complement of 2 pax in Premium today - my only fellow passenger stays in his middle-aisle seat for the entire flight and (very sensibly) keeps a silent distance from me - which is why, unlike William, he avoids being a sidebar in this story.

I'm kinda bemused why he didn't move seat to at least the other aisle, if not the window seat.. Especially if there were only 2 of you!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
On AirAsia X, the crews in the front galley smile uncertainly and if you smile back, they'll offer you a plastic bottle of house brand mineral water as a welcome drink. I am thrilled - hey, you have to pay for this behind the curtains! The flow of freebies continues with a blood-red blanket and nice full-sized pillow (both available for sale in steerage). By my reckoning, I'm now up some 50 ringgit, based on the airline's merchandise catalog, which is already a third of the price differential between Y and Premium. What an amazing bargain.

Great welcoming! Haha, you don't get that in normal economy on most airlines. Out of those freebies, which of them can you keep? I know Jetstar allows you to keep the blanket and headrest if you purchase them.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The guy with the camera, on the other hand, thinks it's the ideal time for some cabin shots.

Ideal situation with such an empty cabin! For me, that'd be an instant accepted shot onto the A.Net db   although it doesn't necessarily matter if there are people in it!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Shankar comes over to ask "if it's alright" to switch off the main cabin lights, seeing my fellow passenger is now fast asleep. Our flight attendant has already lowered most of the cabin's window shades. It's fine with me, I say. "Thank you for your consideration Sir," Shankar replies. How remarkably civilized.

Always nice to ask but I think he'd feel more obliged to seeing you were the only other passenger. I bet if you decided to sleep, it'd be an instantaneous decision. Interesting to see that the Y cabin remains lit for the entire flight.. Even AR turned the lights off on a 3.5 hr flight! Someone should note that it saves power hence saves fuel  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
About half-way through the flight, I feel it's time to see how my friend William is faring back in steerage. (There are 302 passengers in economy, according to Shankar - translating to a respectable 85% load on this tightly-configured A333.) The seats are dressed in a lighter beige and red rather than AirAsia shorthaul's black, which makes the cabin seem more spacious than how I'd imagine a 9-abreast Airbus will look. It's almost "normal" in fact, until you settle into one of the seats, and realize it's that bit narrower than those in regular Y

I've never been on a 9-abreast plane before.. 8 on A340s, 10 on an EK 77W and 747s but never 9. I'm not sure if I can get on the NZ 772 before they switch to 10.. Sounds quite funny that you relinquish your nice spacious seat for one down the back! Too bad he couldn't upgrade.

Thanks a lot for the insight into D7. It'll be interesting to see if and when they decide to announce a city in New Zealand (maybe the earthquake might have encouraged them to look further north) and what impact that will have on the market over here.

Looking forward to any future TRs you manage to scrape out of your spare time - they are greatly appreciated.


Regards,
Nicholas
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
airpearl
Topic Author
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:43 pm

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 30):
there is at least an A333 which is ready for delivery but was parked in Toulouse because D7 has yet to arrange for its financing and they seemed to taking their own sweet time with it because they don't really need the aircraft at the moment.

That's probably a good guess. Financing wouldn't be an issue (at least that's what Fernandes says all the time) but I presume D7 will time the delivery for the ICN launch to avoid unnecessary financing costs. The upcoming flow of A333 deliveries also explains the desperation for getting rights to SYD. I am sure there are a few at MH hq who are beaming.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 30):
And do you realised how cold D7 is treating IKA? Azran only sort of announced it in his Facebook after like 4 days the service started. No promotion.

This is still one of the strangest route launches I have ever seen - doubt a mention in facebook qualifies as a 'launch'. I wonder if there's more promotion in Iran perhaps?

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 30):
Why don't you go to Tehran and investigate this matter? Go by Iran Air + D7 Y. You love doing these kind of stuff, right?

Haha... that would be an excellent joyride. Please don't tempt me.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 30):
Did the passenger was asked to pay for this? Or he got away out of curteousy?

I don't think he paid. But I'd not be surprised if AirAsia X soon comes out with a tariff for laptop charging...

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 30):
Have you seen the video?

Thanks for this. Frankly, I am both amazed and shocked. The grandiose projects seem to be making a comeback, and so will the kickbacks...   

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 32):
What a wonderful read on a Sunday morning, it's been most enjoyable, great pictures too, almost felt like I was on the trip with you.

Hey Mark, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed it  
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 32):
For $44 difference I'm amazed Premium was not full!

Yeah, I thought that too. But the prices fluctuate, and the cost of a Premium ticket actually fell as the date of departure got nearer while Y class stayed firm. Looking at the loads, it's not a surprise why that happened. Another reason could be that a lot of the Y class pax were on group tours and hence didn't book their own flights. They would not have been aware of the fare differential.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 32):
Ah yes, sounds like a typical chinese taxi driver, each time I step into one I fear for my life!

Haha... indeed!

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 32):
Very funny!!

Some early years in Britain didn't teach me many things, but I did get an appreciation for toilet humour...  
Quoting akhmad (Reply 33):
Well, I am glad that I am not saner either.

You can be assured you're not Suryo. I've seen the number of times you walk into economy rather than enjoy your premium QR experience - just to take a shot of the Y cabin with different mood lighting  
Quoting Quokka (Reply 35):
Great trip report. The portrayal of fact, interspersed with humour is effective and encourages one to read more.

Hi Quokka, thanks for your kind comments.

Quoting Quokka (Reply 35):
I really liked the terminal photos as they remind me that in some parts of the world architects can be inventive, unlike here in Perth where the bottom line set by developers means only the boring and mundane is possible.

The terminals in China do look quite impressive. Still, Perth isn't so bad, is it? I hadn't been there in a while but it was generally a decent airport (but with a very quaint fire exit stairs feel at boarding) - though I wasn't so keen on the in-you-face shopping which was almost everywhere.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
I might be leaning towards the frequent flyer points and the other 'nice' things that come with flying with them but this still opens eyes.

Hi Nicholas, good to hear from you again and thanks for your comments. Foregoing those "nice" things you get on a legacy carrier was one of the hardest decisions for me to make when choosing D7, despite the cheaper fare and obviously more comfortable seats in Premium. In the end, personal comfort won the mental tug-of-war (which I guess is kinda ironic I spend nearly half the flight in Y!)

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
Ah, China and driving in China. What absolute chaos reigns on the streets. I can still remember how crazy the outskirts (I think) of Guangzhou were but can't imagine how worse Beijing might be.

In the news, there's a story of a recent over 100 km long traffic jam towards Beijing and people stuck in them for a week...  Wow!
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
That must be quite frustrating having to find the flight on another board along with the handful of other international flights. It wouldn't hurt to put the few on the main FIDS either.

I don't know what the logic of that is. After all, the flights depart from the same "terminal".

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
And as there are only 2 Premium passengers, I see why they didn't bother with a separate premium desk.

I guess you're right but I checked their website today - it seems I am entitled to a separate check-in desk as a Premium passenger, so that would be a legitimate complaint  
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
That's something for me to possibly think about over the coming years though.

Those have yet to come for you, my friend. But they will...  
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
I'm kinda bemused why he didn't move seat to at least the other aisle, if not the window seat..

I thought so too - at least it'll be more private and quieter to sleep in by the window. There was a fair bit of crew traffic passing through those curtains with the BoB trolleys being replenished and pushed to and from Y class.


Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
Haha, you don't get that in normal economy on most airlines. Out of those freebies, which of them can you keep? I know Jetstar allows you to keep the blanket and headrest if you purchase them.

Ah, another discovery I made only today. I thought the blankets and pillows were for keeps - but apparently they're "for on-board use only" according to the AirAsia website - which means I shouldn't really be having that red blanket that's lining the back seat of my car...

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
Interesting to see that the Y cabin remains lit for the entire flight.. Even AR turned the lights off on a 3.5 hr flight! Someone should note that it saves power hence saves fuel  

A good point haha... I am sure it's a toss up between that or more ancillary income. There's an almost continuous procession of trolleys thru Y (or at least it seemed like it when I was there) selling drinks or souvenirs. It's a very AirAsia thing to keep the lights on, so cabin shots are seldom difficult. I remember on D7's inaugural red-eye to Gold Coast, they kept the lights full on for the entire night!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
I'm not sure if I can get on the NZ 772 before they switch to 10..

I didn't realize NZ was going for 10-abreast...

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 36):
Thanks a lot for the insight into D7. It'll be interesting to see if and when they decide to announce a city in New Zealand (maybe the earthquake might have encouraged them to look further north) and what impact that will have on the market over here.

I hope it doesn't affect the economy too much - luckily there wasn't any loss of life. How much has the quake affected areas outside of Christchurch? Back to D7, my guess is that if they start N.Z., it'll be with a tag-on to their Australian service (maybe Gold Coast?). I doubt an A333 can do KUL-AKL without severe penalties.
 
akhmad
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:49 pm

Quoting airpearl (Reply 37):
You can be assured you're not Suryo.

That makes two of us.  
There is no deity except You. Exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.
 
User avatar
NZ107
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Tue Sep 07, 2010 4:45 am

Quoting airpearl (Reply 37):
In the news, there's a story of a recent over 100 km long traffic jam towards Beijing and people stuck in them for a week...

I read about that - wouldn't it suck to be stuck in that!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 37):
I checked their website today - it seems I am entitled to a separate check-in desk as a Premium passenger, so that would be a legitimate complaint

Fair enough, I guess you're kinda lucky it wasn't full at the time you go to the check-in counters.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 37):
Ah, another discovery I made only today. I thought the blankets and pillows were for keeps - but apparently they're "for on-board use only" according to the AirAsia website - which means I shouldn't really be having that red blanket that's lining the back seat of my car...

LOL nice. Maybe it's a good idea to have the logo hidden?  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 37):
I remember on D7's inaugural red-eye to Gold Coast, they kept the lights full on for the entire night!

Cringe.. Maybe I'll try them out for a day flight sometime and fly back on another airline haha.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 37):
I didn't realize NZ was going for 10-abreast...

The 77Ws are going to be delivered in 10-abreast, along with the skycouch. The 744s will eventually be phased out and the 772s go in for a retrofit next year to mimic the 77W cabin.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 37):
I hope it doesn't affect the economy too much - luckily there wasn't any loss of life. How much has the quake affected areas outside of Christchurch? Back to D7, my guess is that if they start N.Z., it'll be with a tag-on to their Australian service (maybe Gold Coast?). I doubt an A333 can do KUL-AKL without severe penalties.

The news was actually talking about 'benefits' to the economy in the aftermath of the earthquake. The rebuilding of many structures may re-stimulate growth a little but it hasn't affected the rest of the country apart from the Hawkes Bay which had an earthquake of their own this morning. I'm still picking OOL if they were to fly here but it'd be interesting if they tried out MEL-AKL as it'll definitely add to the competition on this route.
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
airpearl
Topic Author
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:41 pm

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 39):
The news was actually talking about 'benefits' to the economy in the aftermath of the earthquake. The rebuilding of many structures may re-stimulate growth a little but it hasn't affected the rest of the country apart from the Hawkes Bay which had an earthquake of their own this morning.

I saw this headline flash up on my screen at the end of my working day Monday: "Asian Shares End Higher; NZ Builders Strong After Quake" and thought, what a funny old world we live in now. An earthquake is apparently a "positive"!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 39):
LOL nice. Maybe it's a good idea to have the logo hidden?

Haha. I'd have found out sooner had I tried liberating the comfy pillow too - that wouldn't have fitted into my backpack  
 
Globetraveller
Posts: 353
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Thu Sep 09, 2010 5:11 am

Hi Airpearl!

Another great TR - Air Asia X's conflicting product is very interesting indeed. Comparing the food to the seat is just excellent... Still, on a long haul night flight where you just want some sleep, I think this product's price point is pretty hard to beat.

Keep them coming!

Globetraveller
 
SR 103
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:50 am

Another fantastic report Airpearl! You really do write some of the best trip reports on here.

Thank you for the insight into what may be one of the few long haul premium products offered by a LCC. While the seats are used by many traditional airlines out there such as KE and MH, the meal service really left a lot to be desired. Then again when you pay so little, its unreasonable to expect a lavish meal. Shame about not being offered the IFE on this flight, would have liked to know more about what they offer on it.
 
777ord
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:41 am

great report! Pretty light hearted too! Did you end up getting the wide-angle lens?
 
airpearl
Topic Author
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Sun Sep 12, 2010 6:11 am

Hi all, thanks for the continuing comments.

Quoting globetraveller (Reply 41):
Another great TR - Air Asia X's conflicting product is very interesting indeed. Comparing the food to the seat is just excellent... Still, on a long haul night flight where you just want some sleep, I think this product's price point is pretty hard to beat.

Hi there Globetraveller, thanks for your kind words. Absolutely, for a 6-7 hour red-eye service, this is just perfect.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 42):
Another fantastic report Airpearl!

Thank you SR 103!  
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 42):
Shame about not being offered the IFE on this flight, would have liked to know more about what they offer on it.

I was a bit disappointed too. It would have been nice if IFE was included as part of the package, like JQ does on its longer hauls.

Quoting 777ord (Reply 43):
great report! Pretty light hearted too! Did you end up getting the wide-angle lens?

Thanks 777ord. I do have a wide-angle lens, but left it at home as I was hoping to travel 'light'.
 
richcandy
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:49 am

Hi

Thanks for your trip report. I going to BKI in April to meet up with some friends from New Zealand. I want to leave from London and return to Paris. I have narrowed it down to two options.

1) LHR-KUL-BKI-KUL-LHR-CDG with MH in economy at £880 + the cost of the LHR-CDG.

or

2) STN-KUL-BKI-KUL-ORY with AirAsia X at £528 (If I upgrade the inbound it would still cost less than MH)

Not sure about flying a LCC on long haul but the difference in price is an advantage.

Alex
 
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Ryan h
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RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:17 pm

Interesting report.

Your meal looks like one of the crew stopped off at a takeaway on the way to the airport.
South Australian Spotter
 
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christao17
Posts: 923
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 12:14 pm

RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:42 am

Fantastic writing. Not only do you go into plenty of detail, but you have a very unique writing voice that is a pleasure to read. I live in Bangkok and fly Air Asia from time to time, but as of yet haven't tried Air Asia X. Maybe it is time to do so!
More than a dozen years flying in and around Asia...
 
Ps76
Posts: 1015
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:10 am

Hello(!),

Just to say many thanks for the report, which as well as being a good trip report was pretty humerous too! Have never flown Air Asia X but Tony Fernandes went to a local college in the UK near where I live! That almost-lie-flat seat looked pretty good and if I could get that for the price of a normal economy ticket I might just go for it. Thanks also for the train trip in China and the insights into their train stations and airports. It definitely looks like one of the more interesting parts of the World to visit.

Many thanks,

Pierre
 
thaia345
Posts: 818
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:57 pm

RE: Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X

Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:52 am

Hey Airpearl!

Great and interesting report on Air Asia X! ....Their J seats looks comfortable enough and yes, its the BE Aerospace seats which many airlines, inc your very own MH and TG uses in J. But as seen from the pics, the ones on Air Asia X seem to go further towards flat than the others that i Have been on...

Kuddos to another fantastic and interesting report!

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