Saturday, January 15, 2011

Don't Fly on Air Asia!

A fuzzy photo of the damage done to the back of my laptop. Doh!

I’ve been wavering about whether or not to blog about this, but in a way I feel it’s my duty to bring this to the attention of other travelers in SE Asia. Although it happened nine months ago, it still grates on me...

Basically, what follows is a rant about Air Asia and how through their carelessness, which they admitted to but refused to take responsibility for, I ended up having to buy a new MacBook Pro. 
Without going into it too much, I’ll just copy and paste an official complaint that I sent to the Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports (for which I got no reply).

All of this, by the way, followed an incident in which a taxi driver in Krabi basically kidnapped me and made me pay an extra $50 for him to take me to my hotel. Luckily, the airport at Krabi recompensed me the $50, and thanks to the business card the driver gave me at my hotel – what idiot kidnaps you, steals from you, and then tells you to call him later if you need a taxi on the island? – he got, at the very least, a thorough chewing out by the airport taxi company.

My letter to MOTS follows:

Dear Madam or Sir:

My name is D—J— and I was in Thailand from April 13 to May 9, 2010. I have visited Thailand several times and will have the opportunity to return in the future for both work and pleasure. However, during my most recent four-week stay in Thailand, I had a very bad experience as a tourist.

On April 24, 2010, I flew from Bangkok to Krabi on Air Asia. During check-in I was told that my carry-on luggage appeared to be too heavy, and without asking for my permission one of the Thai Air Asia staff lifted my backpack and dropped it carelessly on the scale to weigh it. The heavy impact broke the back panel of my Macintosh laptop. When I complained, they took my information and promised to make a complete investigation of the incident. I had the break in my computer temporarily fixed at the MCC store in Fortune Plaza for 1605 baht and was told that I would soon have to pay US$700-$900 for a permanent repair or pay $2500 for a new laptop of the same model.

This is the email I received last night from Air Asia regarding my complaint:

Dear Mr.J—.
   Regarding to your report on damaged status of your Mc-Apple laptop before check in at counter on FD3163/24Apr ( Bangkok-Krabi ) under CBTBKK10A00172, we would like to say apologize for this incident happened because of our staff careless on process while checking in your luggage.
   After our investigation process, the check in staff provided a full report on mentioned date and apologized on the big mistake on unprofessional way of handling your property.
   We are sure your complaint is justified, nevertheless, we are truly sorry to say that we cannot be liable for this mistake due to personal mindless accident of carrying the unknown content of the belongings.
   We thank you for your kind understanding and we hope to have a chance to being of service to you in the future.
Best regards,
Pasak Palanan
Central Baggage Tracing Officer (CBTO)
Thai Air Asia,Suwanabumi Airport,4th Flr.

As you can see, the airline admitted that it was their "big mistake" and that the damage to my computer was due to "staff careless on process while checking in [my] luggage" and "unprofessional way of handling [my] property" and "mindless accident." In fact, they even said, "We are sure your complaint is justified." Despite admitting their carelessness and culpability, they still refuse to accept liability for damage I had no way of preventing.

Because the Office of Tourism and Development, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, aims to assist tourists in Thailand with unfair practices such as this, I would respectfully like to ask for your assistance in this unfortunate matter. I travel to Thailand often enough that this would influence my decision to spend more time there in the future. Also, I am planning to contact other agencies to respectfully inform them of Air Asia's unacceptable policy of not taking responsibility for what they admit were careless and negligent actions.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration in these matters. I can be contacted at ... . I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards,
D— J—

So, for any of you already in SE Asia, and for those of you planning to visit this part of the world, please let this be a warning of what may await you as a passenger on Air Asia. My personal recommendation is to avoid the airline at all costs. Even if you find a decent airfare, as I thought I did, traveling with them ended up costing far more than it should have.

For my sake, if not for yours, please avoid them!

It would be nice to know that other people, not just myself, have decided to avoid their airline. They’ve already missed out on my business through several trips I’ve taken in Asia since this happened. Had they just offered to replace my screen, I’d still be using their airline. Instead, they’ve actually lost money by treating me this way because I very likely would have chosen their airline for several trips I’ve recently taken and plan to take in the future.

Ah, for what it’s worth, there you go. Gripe session over…

Happy, safe traveling, everyone! Don’t use Air Asia!

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  1. Thanks so much for the head's up! I have heard poor reviews of Air Asia from fellow blogger Robyn Eckhardt of It is actually quite fortunate that Air Asia only flies out of the former Clark Air Base instead of Manila's International Airport - two hours drive outside of the city - taking it completely out of contention as a carrier for us.

    We've flown JetStar to Singapore and Malaysia and aren't all that thrilled with them either but at least when they lost my husband's luggage, they made a concerted effort to locate and return it to him. So sorry to hear about AirAsia's spectacularly crappy service and half-assed apology. I do hope that the Thai tourism ministry responds to you!

  2. That's sooooo baaaaaddddd!!! That is so awful!! My husband also has a Mac book pro & it costs a lot of money!! They even didn't think that they had to give you money instead of your total loss of your MAC!

    Thanks for sharing this ugly story!! Aaaaaah!!!!!Oooooh!!!!