Thai AirAsia X, Airbus A330 premium lie-flat (business class), Melbourne to Bangkok
AirAsia X premium seats are formerly business class seats of many other airlines. Photo: Soroj Ruangburapa THE FLIGHT
Thai AirAsia X Flight XJ391 from Melbourne to Bangkok aboard an Airbus A330-300. Premium reclining seat 1H (aisle). Flight time nine hours, five minutes. The airline currently flies the route three times a week.
THE LOYALTY PROGRAM
AirAsia points. Points can be earned on a number of other airlines when booked through AirAsia’s app or website (including competitors such as Scoot and Jetstar Asia).
2.3 tons. AirAsia is implementing various changes to reduce emissions with the goal of achieving net zero by 2050.
Thai AirAsia X’s premium seats convert into a day bed — something most other low-cost airlines’ premium seats don’t offer. Photo: Soroj Ruangburapa CHECK IN
A line snakes around the counters and down the thoroughfare as I check in about two hours before the scheduled departure time. A technical defect and inexperienced staff are the cause of the delays. Premium couchette guests have their own check-in line, and even though there’s only one family in front of me, it still takes me quite a while to get to the counter. Apparently something else goes wrong at check-in – eventually a ground crew comes on board and requests my passport, which she then takes off the plane to scan again. There are also several passenger counts performed by the cabin crew. We ended up being almost two hours late.
AirAsia X premium seats are formerly business class seats of many other airlines. Arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, they’re fairly roomy at 60 inches (152 centimeters) apart and 20 inches (51 centimeters) wide. The kicker, though, is that they convert into a daybed — something most other budget airlines’ premium seats don’t offer. It’s not quite the level of comfort you’d get in a business-class “suite” that full-service airlines now offer (usually with direct aisle access and the seat isn’t entirely flat, but tilted slightly downward), though for a budget airline, that’s about as good as a seat will be.
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Premium lie-flat passengers get a generous 40 kilograms of checked baggage, but carry-on baggage is still limited to one piece weighing up to seven kilograms.
It’s BYO. There are no inflight entertainment screens and no streaming service or Wi-Fi. The lie-flat seats at least come with seat power to keep your devices charged, so be sure to charge them before you fly.
The staff is polite and efficient. Before takeoff, premium couchette passengers will be asked when they would like their meals. The call button is answered immediately when I ask for a snack late in the flight (70 baht for a pack of Pringles). They politely answer any questions from the gentleman across the aisle who appears to have enjoyed a few preflight drinks and seems surprised that he is booked on a budget airline and cannot be served a beer before takeoff and asks, where his entertainment screen is.
The premium flatbed class includes a meal and a drink. A bottle of water is waiting for me on the armrest, while my pre-ordered meal is chicken teriyaki with rice. The presentation is nothing special – just a plastic dish – but the food itself is delicious. The teriyaki sauce is flavorful but not overwhelming. There are no escorts. Additional hot meals are about $10 and since the meals are a bit small, I get hungry again before the end of the flight.
JUST ONE THING
Thai AirAsia X is new to the Australian market (having launched an ill-fated Brisbane-Bangkok route just before the pandemic hit) but plans to grow if demand is there. If so, expect the three-weekly flights (four from Sydney) to switch to daily, as well as a return to Brisbane and possible flights from Perth.
This isn’t a business-class experience, but you get what you pay for — and what you’re paying for here is a reclining seat and the chance to sleep a little less on a long flight than you would pay for a seat in business class on a full-service airline.
OUR RATING OF FIVE
The author flew as a guest of Thai AirAsia X.
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