My original intention for my Trash Time category was to use it solely to bitch slap deserving gay blogs and forums. Which I’ve been doing. Though I’ve also posted a few kudos, too. Since in addition to each blog or forum as a whole, I can slam individual posts (that’d be can and will) there is a never ending source of inspiration available to me. But I didn’t really leave a category for taking on all the other people, places, and things in SE Asia that really piss me off. And I need to rant. I am, therefore I bitch. So I’m expanding my original line up, starting with this post. Lucky you. And a big Up Yours! to Air Asia:
A quick three day trip down to Penang to frolic in the ocean a bit and eat, eat, eat was the plan. I had a few extra days to kill as I’d cancelled plans to go to Burma (since they were busy killing monks at the time I had to get my visa). Penang became my destination choice because 1. I’d never been there, and 2. Air Asia had an incredibly cheap flight available. Even though I’ve learned that cheap is not necessarily always a good option.
I flew Air Asia from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with no problem. Even was amused at the cabin crew’s fascist behavior in prohibiting passengers from eating or drinking anything they had brought on the plane (Air Asia’s rule is if you want something to eat or drink, you have to buy it from them at over inflated prices).
My flight back to Bangkok, with a 2 hour layover before my flight to Penang was where the trouble began. The flight was 90 minutes late leaving Chiang Mai. Turns out Air Asia runs a bit late throughout their schedule compounding the delays as the day progresses. So obviously I missed my flight to Penang. And it was the last one of the day. Now I’m a pretty mellow traveler and generally do not get upset over the little things. Even when it costs me a few thousand baht. Which in this case it would and did since I had to cab back into Bangkok and get a room for the night. Yes, I could have spent 14 hours at the airport instead, but ya know, that’s just not me. And even though Air Asia’s delay cost me some bucks, I was feeling pretty good about them as an agent met me as I deplaned to arrange a new ticket for the following days flight. Nice service, I thought.
I had to go to the main ticket counter to do this, but a supervisor was waiting for me to issue the ticket. And then demanded 1,400 baht for ‘cancelling’ my current ticket (for a plane that had already left). I smiled (it doesn’t pay to show anger in Asia) and explained that it was the airline’s fault that I needed to book on a new flight, not mine, and that their error already was costing me a considerable sum. The supervisor smiled back and agreed, but, “So, sorry,” she said. “You pay 1,400 baht.”
We went back and forth smiling at each other for several minutes until she finally agreed to issue the new ticket for a mere 800 baht. Accepting that this was the best ‘win’ I was going to get, I had the ticket issued and headed out to the taxi line to get into town for the night.
So my cheap flight to Penang ended up costing me an extra $125. That’s about $50 more than the cost would have been if I had originally booked on Thai Air. Plus my three days in Penang became a two day trip, hardly enough time to explore Georgetown much less the rest of the island. On the plus side, I have an excuse to return to Penang now, and I know that if I book a flight on a cut rate airline in the future, I need to fly early in the day and make sure I’m not connecting to another flight.
I still use Air Asia, though I have a love/hate relationship with the airline. I love the incredibly cheap deals I can get. And hate everything else about them. To be fair, they make a point of telling you up front they are a destination to destination carrier. Meaning connecting flights are not connecting flights, but are rather two sperate flights. Even though their agents will happily book you on a connecting flight. Yes, I love Thailand! Since my initial lesson in flying Air Asia I only book connecting flights when there is a minimum of five hours between flights. And even then it has been a close call a few times. You’ve been warned!