REVIEW | Thai AirAsia A320 Premium Flex Khon Kaen to Chiang Mai

Nico traveled to Thailand in July 2022. He kindly shares his experience on board and in the lounge.

AirAsia is a Malaysian low-cost airline with several subsidiaries, one of them is Thai AirAsia. As the name suggests, this subsidiary is based in Thailand and operates 62 Airbus aircrafts. We flew AirAsia on a domestic flight from Khon Kaen to Chiang Mai with a Premium Plus fare.

Booking

There are two airlines with direct flights between Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai: Nok Air and AirAsia. 

We selected AirAsia as the flight hours were more convenient for us. We were on a longer trip in Thailand so we had luggage to check-in. At AirAsia a standard fare comes without checked luggage. You can choose to purchase a checked bag or to purchase the Premium Flex bundle for 1972 Thai Baht, which is +-55 euro.

Premium Flex bundle.

As you can see, the Premium Flex bundle not only offers checked luggage but also seat selection, meals and flexibility to change your flight. Finally we opted for that package.

Flight: FD5501, Khon Kaen to Chiang Mai
Scheduled departure time: 16.20 (pm)
Flight time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Plane: Airbus 320
Seat: 14A

Khon Kaen Airport

AirAsia stimulates you to check-in online as “check-in fees may apply” if you use the check-in counter at the airport. Once we were checked-in, the AirAsia app told us to use kiosks at the airport to drop our bags. So we arrived at Khon Kaen airport and started looking for the kiosks.

Departure hall.

No kiosks to be found. But there were staffed check-in desks. So we lined up there and nothing was mentioned about check-in fees. Check-in was quick and efficient.

Check-in.

Much to my surprise our luggage also got a priority-tag. I didn’t know that was included in the Premium Flex bundle, so that was a nice surprise.

Priority tag.

Once through security we arrived in the terminal which is basically one big waiting room with five gates.

Five gates.

There were two shops that sold the same products, mainly food like crackers and crisps.

Shops.

There were no power ports at the seats, but there was a ‘charging station’ which was really busy most of the time.

Charging station.

Cabin and seat

After a most exciting time shopping and walking around in the airport terminal (ahem) we were glad boarding started on time. Premium Flex customers enjoy priority boarding. There was no bridge, so we had to walk to the aircraft. It gave us the opportunity to take some beautiful pictures of our Airbus 320. 

At the door we were greeted by the very friendly flight attendants and pointed to our seats.

Seats.

All the seats with a red headrest cover are called ‘hot seats’. Seats in the first row and next to the emergency exit offer more legroom and the other rows in the front of the plane get you to disembark quicker after the flight. 

When you select seats with a normal fare, ‘hot seats’ are more expensive than regular seats. But with a Premium Flex bundle you can choose whatever seat you want. As the first row was already taken, we booked two seats at the emergency exit.

Seats.

As you can see, the cabin looks spotless and clean. So contrary to many European low-cost carriers, these planes are thoroughly cleaned between flights.

After take-off I visited the bathroom. It was also very clean and the toilet paper was folded hotel-style, which is a really nice touch. I’ve seen that on some other Asian carriers in long-haul business class, so it’s really impressive to find this on board a low-cost carrier.

AirAsia also has wifi on board. The main AirAsia-portal offered some free streaming entertainment including some films, tutorials and games. If you want to go to other sites, internet access could be purchased. Although it was a domestic flight, prices were in Malay Ringgit, the currency of Malaysia. Prices range from +-2 euro till +-10 euro.

WiFi offering.

Service

Immediately after take-off, service started. Passengers with a Premium Flex bundle get a free meal, you can order from a menu until 24 hours before the flight. I selected ‘Nasi Lemak’.  The casserole was placed directly on the tray table. Together with the meal I was also offered a bottle of water.

Nasi Lemak.

This is how the dish looks in the onboard menu:

Nasi Lemak.

And this is how the meal looks in real life:

Nasi Lemak.

I never had Nasi Lemak before, it is a traditional Malaysian dish and unfortunately I haven’t visited Malaysia yet. But I must say I really enjoyed the meal. I don’t know how Nasi Lemak is supposed to taste, but I really liked the AirAsia version.

Service

Sheesh, cabin crew members at AirAsia are hard working! This flight was only one hour and five minutes, yet they served a hot meal to every passenger in Premium Flex, they did a buy-on-board service for all other passengers and they came around with duty free products.

As on Ryanair flights in Europe, they do an extensive sales talk through the PA-system actively promoting several duty free items. I’d say that this was maybe the only downside of this entire flight: the constant speeches, promoting the buy-on-board menu, the duty free, the AirAsia app and so on and so on…

During the service, cabin crew members were very friendly and proactive. The moment I finished my food, a flight attendant appeared at my seat to clear my table.

So soon enough we started our descent towards Chiang Mai. We were treated to some beautiful views.

Wing.

After landing you see the hills that surround Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai.

We deplaned through a bridge and thanks to our priority label, our bags came on the belt first. It was impressive how quick the luggage was delivered: 10 minutes after landing we were in a taxi on our way to the city center. This must be a record time. 

Bottom line

AirAsia is described as a low-cost carrier, however our experience didn’t feel low-cost at all. The cabin was clean and spotless, there was free streaming entertainment and the crew was very friendly. Premium Flex makes the experience even more enjoyable with priority boarding, free seat selection, a hot meal and priority luggage. This was no doubt one of the best short haul flights I had in a long time, I’d definitely fly AirAsia again and the Premium Flex bundle was worth every penny.

Previously by Nico

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