How to beat AirAsia’s b***s**t extra charges

AirAsia revamped its Web site in November, changing all of booking pages. This is a refreshed version of the original “How to beat AirAsia’s b***s**t extra charges” with new screencaps and new step-by-step instructions.

Update: Feb 23, 2014. I’ve shifted some of the steps because AirAsia changed their sequence.

Update: Jan 13, 2013. Changing publishing date so the post will be higher up, ready for this round of Free Seats.

AirAsia Booking
AirAsia booking first page

AirAsia has revamped its whole Web site. Good news is, some of the sneaky charges in the previous booking procedure have been taken out.

However, there might be still some confusion with the booking, I’m doing up a new version of the guide too.

For this money saving activity, you will need

  • Internet connection
  • Browser
  • Direct debit e-payment method (save RM4 per journey)

I am using a return flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu as an example. Please ignore the exorbitant flight price.

Step 1: Pick a good price

Unless you are flying within the month, I recommend that you wait for a while for the promos to roll in. The AirAsia Facebook puts up updates about the sales frequently. I haven’t figured out the promo fares’ cycles but they come quite quick.

Plan as far in advance if you can and do not buy tickets at full price. If you are booking during the promo period, remember that a lot of people are doing the same so you need to strategize your booking.

Step 2: Beat the charges I–Luggage

When you have selected the flight with the best price and time combo, you are ready to eliminate those sneaky fees.

At the page where you fill in the passengers’ details, you will come across the first extra charge–baggage fee.

AirAsia lists the 20kg as default. You can select 0kg if you are hardcore.

Get rid of AirAsia Baggage Fee
Get rid of AirAsia Baggage Fee

I’ve been travelling with only a carry one for many of my trips now. It takes some getting used to but it is possible to stuff a laptop, two dresses and other things into one backpack.

Be careful, you will need to deselect luggage twice on the same page if you have booked a return trip.

Money saved with 0kg: S$17 one way (for default 20kg price).
Total saved: S$34

Step 3: Beat the charges II–Insurance

With the revamp, AirAsia has made it much easier to skip buying insurance. But it’s still a bit sneaky.

To remove insurance,

  1. untick the box
  2. click  [Cancel]
  3. click [OK]
Cancel AirAsia Insurance
Cancel AirAsia Insurance

A word of caution: I do not recommend having no insurance when travelling. I have an annual travel insurance by another company so I do not buy from AirAsia.

Money saved no insurance S$12.
Total saved: S$46

Step 3: Beat the charges III–Seat allocation

Hurray! There is no sneaky extra charge here.

Just head straight to Confirm on the lower right.

AirAsia seat selection
AirAsia seat selection

I was given the “Hot Seat” once (for free) but I didn’t feel that it was any better than the rest of the seats. Maybe the red faux leather was prettier than the boring black, but everything’s the same.

Unless you and your darling are two lovebirds who cannot bear to be apart (nice ad by the way, AirAsia) or you need to take care of your child/elderly, please be sensible and do not add any seats.

No sneaky charges. Hurray!.
Total saved: S$34

Step 5: Beat the charges IV–Processing fee

We are almost there!

The last fees that you will encounter is very much like the Boss level in video games. You will need that “Direct debit e-payment method” I prescribed up there.

If you pay using a credit or debit card, AirAsia will charge you something they call a “processing fee” for each flight that you take.

It doesn’t mean that you can buy 10 person’s tickets in one transaction to even out the processing fee. It means it’s 10 x [processing fee]=A lot of wasted money.

[Update Sep 16, 2013] Since a month ago or so, AirAsia has started charging processing fee for direct debit payments as well. However, you will still save a measly RM4 if you use direct debit.

In Singapore, we can use ENets as the direct debit payment option, which eliminates the processing fee. Just change the currency to Singapore Dollar to get the ENets function.

AirAsia Direct Debit
AirAsia Direct Debit

For other countries, there are other ways so please research before you start your payment.

If you are buying tickets departing from countries without your Direct Debit option, change the currency to the one your account is based to see if they have the option for you.

Money saved with no processing fee S$16 return trip.
Total saved: S$62

Step 6: S$62 richer (+pre flying tip)

So by being careful, I just saved myself S$62 for a single person return trip–enough to fund for another trip to a closer location! The amount also adds up if there are more travellers.

Also, remember to use Web check-in because they might charge you extra at the counter.

My tips are targeted at AirAsia. At my favorite money saving site: UK-based MoneySavingExpert, there’s extra tips on how to save money on budget flights with a focus on inter-Europe cheap flights.

That is all I have to impart. Go on your money saving journey, my friends!

Related posts

Do you like budget flights? What was your cheapest ticket?

40 thoughts on “How to beat AirAsia’s b***s**t extra charges

  1. I got charged 2400Yen for booking tickets for 2 as they was no direct-debit option for Japan site user. What a rip-off!

    I also heard that the seat cannot be reclined (WTF!?).

    1. Sorry to hear about the processing fee. It’s really annoying.
      The seats can’t be reclined too much but if it’s a short trip, it’s not too bad.

  2. AA managed to sneak a $12 insurance in on me when I bought baggage allowance while checking in online the night before!!
    I will fight it with Visa, as in my view, I did not authorize it.

  3. I found the credit card “processing fee” per person per flight exorbitant, too. As I was looking to book a promo flight, I was quite disappointed that the “processing fee” would cost more than the actual tickets. And because the processing fee was added only on the very last part of the online ordering process, I felt a bit deceived, too. The direct debit option for the Philippines (Dragonpay) is something I am not quite familiar with, so I will be looking at Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines for other options.

    1. I got charged 48 extra frigging dollars. Damn! Btw, what you mean Andy? So if I choose Australian currency, and use PayPal option, there won’t be a processing fee for me?

    1. Thanks to Andy note I saved for their stupid fee, thanks for the PayPal notice! :)
      Btw- what is better- Visa & MasterCard currency or the PayPal currency? I’ve chosen PayPal and the urrency wasn’t so competitive..

      1. YUP!! Luckily Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is also having PROMO prices quite frequent as of late…I got my KUL-LGK for RM150 round trip. And my KUL-BKK round trip for RM399!!! Of course, with FULL service!!!

        No stupid processing fees for paying with Debit and Credit cards!!!

  4. Indonesia – AirAsia now requires you to pay for 15kg checked luggage but charges it as an add on – I feel this is nothing short of theft

  5. There are actually still charges if you select the Direct Debit option. Just that it’s lesser than the credit card option

      1. Another problem i faced now with the current promo. When i select Flight+Hotel to Kota Kinabalu for 21-24 oct 2013, it gives me a free return ticket as advertised. But if i only select Flight, the return flight is chargeable and is even more expensive than what I saw yesterday…sigh…

  6. Hey, thanks for the info, Saved money by getting rid of the flight insurance crap! Shame Expedia didn’t mention that you gotta pay for your luggage when i booked the ticket.

  7. Brilliant mate. Very useful tips with screen shots provided by you. Thanks for taking your valuable time, which is going to help many who dont have experience with booking Air Asia. I have kind of followed your tips but couldn’t skimp on the luggage and seat preference, since would always prefer the aisle seat and didn’t want to take a gamble. The avoidance of the credit and debit card for payment is very handy. It is a farcical measure – cant understand why such exhorbitant processing charges

  8. Somehow I have just been scammed for the insurance too. I cannot web check-in without buying the insurance. I unchecked insurance option in the booking stage, and have not been charged for it, but the site will not let me check-in now without buying it. Only $10, but that is beside the point. The insurance is worthless. Anyone who is interested just take a quick google for those who have bought it and needed to claim…

    1. NOTE: I just found a fineprint “Cancel Insurance Here” link at the bottom of the page. This will remove the insurance! Unbelievable. Simply leaving the box unchecked will not work

      1. Thank you for this! I had to go through the checking in twice because the first time I missed the tiny ‘cancel insurance’ link, and tried to cancel it on the next page (which cancels your whole check-in instead).

        Thanks to your post I knew what I was looking for the second time through to avoid it. The way its written it strongly implies you have to have their insurance to move forward, very sneaky.

  9. This NEW thing : a BIG SHOT visa card, another scam. The AirAsia team ahes been very creative!
    NOW you have no choice but to pay the extra fee of 51 euro at the end of the booking.
    Big SHOT visa cards payments are not charged with this fee, but the card is only available for customers with Malaysian residence address!!! WTF????
    Ooh, and euhh…don’t take the effort to write their costumers service : they DON’T write back!

  10. I’ve just tried to book a return flight with this mob. Their website is crap – full of errors.
    The site is not secure (no https connection) until ther passenger details page and even then it doesn’t reveal it’s validation details to the server. The date on an outward flight changes to the same as the return date when you enter the return date – you then have to re-enter the outward date! All of these extra charges you have to out manoevre reminds me of several years ago, before the European Union made their preposterous card fees illegal. Of course now they try other means to part you from your money.
    what riles me most is that it gives you a price against which it states the word ‘TOTAL’. Now what part of TOTAL does a payment processing fee come into ? It doesn’t. Therefore the use of the word TOTAL is misleading at best, false description most certainly and arguably fraudulent. This is legitimate theft aka daylight robbery. If these guys set out to deceive and piss off as many customers as possible, they win 100% of the time. On the flipside: customer satisfaction score 0%. Rant over. Now Aireen Omar AirAsia CEO are you listening ???

  11. You people are stupid. Whining about little fees. It’s a budget airline and all budget airlines charge fees. Nothing is hidden in fine print. It’s all clear as day. Try reading. Air Asia’s flights are cheaper than Cebu Pacific for the most part so even with processing fees in usually comes out cheaper. Try swimming if you’re too cheap to pay the costs.

  12. Just booked a few trips recently in AirAsia and I must say that these sneaky charges are just not quite friendly especially if you don’t need them. I just realised that the processing fee for Credit and debit cards is per person instead of per transaction which I thought previously. Makes much more sense to go through eNet.

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