Getting ready for AirAsia’s FREE SEATS* (airport tax and service charge not included) sale? I’ve updated this blog post (from 2012!) with new trips and tricks so you can successfully book them.
Before you go around saying, “Hey, why do I still need to pay if it’s a Free Seats sale?”, remember, the plane ride itself costs nothing but you pay the usual airport tax, service charge. You can beat secret extra charges too if you know where to find them.
These FREE SEATS sales were once a rare event. Now it’s once every three or four months. It’s great that it’s getting more frequent. This also means that if you cannot book your flights in this round, the other round will come soon.
Are you ready to book those Free Seats? Let’s go!
For priority access, sign up for AirAsia BIG Loyalty Programme
I recommend signing up for the AirAsia BIG Loyalty Programme (which comes with the AirAsia account anyway). There’s a 24-hour priority access for members.
The price in the middle shows the Airport charge but if you look at the column on the right, you will know if the ticket is actually free or not.
The booking system with BIG is slightly different from the regular booking system. Just be careful to deselect insurance so you don’t have to pay extra. Also use Internet Banking to pay so you don’t pay extra processing fees.
If you missed the priority access period, it’s OK, here are the rest of the FREE SEATS sale tips.
Preparation before sale day
You should prepare for the sale by following the list below a few days before the sale. Doing it on the day of booking will cost you time and even make you lose your Free Seat.
Step 1: Sign up for an account
Even if you will only book from AirAsia once, sign up for an account as this will cut down the time you make bookings later.
You will be able to save your travel information (such as passport number, passport expiry date, phone number etc) to the account as well. You will need these information when you make the booking.
Step 2: Register your Family and Friends list
Once you have an account, register your travelmates’ names and travel information in the Family and Friends list.
This list saves the travel information of your Family and Friends so you can add them into your booking with only a few clicks. (Similar to Step 1, you will need the personal information of those travelling with you.)
Tip: If you or your travelmate’s passport is expiring around the dates you want to book, just give a pretend expiry date. You can change the passport number and date later after you’ve made the booking.
Step 3: Figure out the routes and dates you want to fly
There are only a few “Free” tickets for each flight so if those RM0 tickets are snatched up, you will get slightly more expensive tickets. This is why you need to be quick and plan really far ahead.
As the tickets are usually for dates that around half a year earlier, you have to figure out which are the best dates to travel. This includes finding out if there are long weekends or public holidays which you can take advantage of.
Also, it’s not worth going on trips where you reach too late or leave too early because you will waste half day’s leave (or your precious holiday time) going to the airport or flying back.
Step 4: Have two or three backups
Even if you are clever enough to plan your trip around public holidays, other buyers are thinking the same. That’s why it’s important to have a few backup destinations or dates.
Without backups, changing dates while booking might be easy if you are a solo traveler. But if you are travelling in a group, make sure everyone is fine with the backup dates.
Step 5: Familiarize yourself with AirAsia’s booking system
Practice makes perfect so go ahead and pretend to book a few tickets until you’ve reached the page where you actually need to pay money.
This way, you will also see where the tricky extra charges are laid out. My post on how to beat AirAsia’s b***s*** charges tells you how to avoid those fees.
On the day of the sale…
Tip 1: Book early or at a weird timing
I don’t think I’ve been lucky enough to book a Free Seat in the first hour of launch because the servers are usually too busy.
But I’ve had success booking at strange timings like early in the morning, in the office (don’t tell my boss. Shh…) or some days after the initial craze.
For the last few sales, AirAsia has implemented a “Waiting Room” system where you wait for the servers to be less busy before you are brought to the booking page. Make sure you have enough time to wait for your turn when making the booking.
Tip 2: Book through mobile site
There was a year when I booked my free seat through the mobile site and managed to snag one or two free seats. Unfortunately, I could only pay by credit card so there was the extra credit card processing fee.
Tip 3: Be patient!
This tip is actually targeted at myself. I run out of patience when trying to book and that doesn’t really help with the booking experience.
Do you have any tips to share?
That is all I have for now. I’ll update this page if I think of any new tips. If you are a AirAsia veteran, please share your tips for booking Free Seats.
Until my next post, have a safe trip.
Further reading: How to beat AirAsia’s secret extra charges
[Update Mar 6, 2016: This article was originally published on Oct 27, 2012 and has been updated.]