I’ve finally had it with Air Asia, and not for the reason you might imagine. Air Asia has in the past, been one of our favorite low cost carriers. We didn’t mind the fees, though we didn’t choose many of the add-ons that creep the price up. We enjoyed the sales, which were usually one direction, and didn’t mind paying regular on return. It was always annoying that you had (and still have) to cancel, your cancel pop-up to NOT buy their travel insurance (confused?). I even recovered from the costly misplaced, then found luggage experience I had with them last year. It was expensive because I had nothing to wear and had to buy clothes not knowing when or even if my luggage would be found. It turned up the next day.
So although I’ve read about people quitting Air Asia over add-ons and upsells, service issues, and other irritating factors, That’s not the reason Air Asia has fallen off my go-to airline list.
Here’s the reason Air Asia is on my personal no-fly list.
For years now this is the typical hassle I’ve had to go through this to get a plane ticket.
- Go online and reserve tickets.
- Go to pay online.
- Enter AmEx information.
- Get a “Declined” message.
- Call American Express and ask why they would decline my purchase.
- AmEx representative explains the had not seen a charge come in.
** note: I have even kept the rep online while trying to process a payment, so they could see it come in REAL TIME and make sure it cleared and had no luck.
- Try a VISA card on the Air Asia site.
- Get a “Declined” Message.
- Call VISA and go through steps 5-6 all over again VISA style.
- Scratch my head.
- Repeat all the steps from 3-9 again.
- Call Air Asia, which you can only reach by calling long distance to one of their offices in Asia.
- Run up long distance bill, getting some kind of indirect answer or we have no record of payment authorization etc…
- Request they manually run the charge.
- It goes through fine and I finally get my reservation status updated to “Paid”.
All this time I thought it was some weird credit card problem and unfairly placed part of the blame on my credit card companies.
Today, though, after going through the first four steps, I decided that I wasn’t going to go through that again and remembered (don’t know why I never did this before) that the search engine is my friend. I entered “air asia American credit cards” in the search bar and quickly found other people frustrated by it, what they say is the reason, and what some people did at one point to get around the problem.
The reason: Allegedly, Air Asia does not accept most/all (depending on the forum post you’re reading) accept American credit cards. Some people hypothesize that it’s because most USA credit card companies tend to side with the card holder in disputes. I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve wasted countless minutes and many hours in what should have been a two minute transaction. I NEVER have these problems with Agoda or Booking.Com. I’ve never had this problem paying airlines like Cathay, United, or EVA either. This problem occurs only with Air Asia.
What some people say worked: Some people said if they left the State field unselected, that they could get their cards to work.
I went back to the site and tried various combinations of leaving my country blank, leaving the state blank, or both. Nothing worked.
It seems pretty clear. Tony Fernandes (CEO of Air Asia) doesn’t want my American Money. Go figure.
Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE Tony Fernandes. He’s an impressive businessman and seems like a fun guy to be around. For all the little faults, I still LIKE Air Asia. Heck, I even forgave them misplacing my luggage already. But how hard does one have to work (without transparency on their part, mind you) to PAY money for their service?
I’m super easy going, and have gone through the ritual above many, many, many times, but I finally reached a point where, if I’m not in Asia already and there to pay in person on my way in or out of the airport for another flight, I’m just not going to fight their system any more. Enough.
I really can’t think of a reason why a business would want to redline American customers, but that’s what happened here. It’s a shame, really. No worries, though, there are still plenty of other airlines to fly.
* Tony, if you read this and want to shoot me an e-mail, I’d love to get your input on this.