AirAsia X – Budget long-haul airline guide

air asia x
Air Asia X aircraft - Photo credit: Roderick Elme/flickr

AirAsia X is a long-haul budget airline based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is listed on the Malaysian stock exchange as AirAsia X Berhad (MYX: 5238) and is a sister comany to Air Asia.

Air Asia X was launched to much fanfare with the promise of incredibly cheap flights between London and Australia. Its first flight route was Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia) in November 2007. In the following years it expanded its route network to serve London (UK) and Paris (France) in Europe, several cities in Australia, Christchurch (New Zealand) as well as regional routes to India, China, Japan, Korea and the Middle East.

However AirAsia X could not sustain some of its longer-haul flight routes. Routes to London and Paris were pulled in 2012 being deemed uneconomic due to running thirsty 4-engine Airbus A340s as well as the UK’s high Air Passenger Duty. Also pulled were Christchurch, Abu Dhabi and the Indian routes. AirAsia X refocused on medium haul flights with the key markets of Australia, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Today AirAsia X has a fleet of 27 Airbus A330-300 aircraft configured in 2 classes. There are 12 Premium seats and 365 economy seats giving a total of 377 seats. The Premium seats (2-2-2 configuration) are angled lie-flat with 60″ pitch, 77″ fully reclined and a 20″ width.  The economy seats have a 31″ pitch and a 16.5″ width. The dense 3-3-3 configuration has 1 seat extra from the standard 2-4-2 A330 layout, meaning slightly narrower aisles.

AirAsiaX is due to expand its A330-300 fleet to over 50 aircraft. It has further orders for 10 Airbus A350-900s (deliveries from 2016) and 55 A330-900neos (due from 2018) which will give more fuel efficiency.

AirAsia X Route Map

air asia x route map
Map generated by Great Circle Mapper

AirAsia X Routes
Adelaide (ADL)
Gold Coast (OOL)
Melbourne (MEL)
Perth (PER)
Sydney (SYD)
Beijing (PEK)
Chengdu (CTU)
Chongqing (CKG)
Hangzhou (HGH)
Shanghai (PVG)
Xi’an (XIY)
Busan (PUS)
Seoul (ICN)
Nagoya–Chubu (NGO)
Osaka-Kansai (KIX)
Tokyo-Haneda (HND)
Colombo (CMB)
New Delhi (DEL)
Jeddah (JED)
Kathmandu (KTM)
Male (MLE)
Taipei (TPE)

AirAsia X has announced plans to resume flights to London and Paris in 2016 when the more fuel efficient aircraft are in service. Flights to Honolulu are also being considered.

Note, subsidiary Thai AirAsia X flies from Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) to Osaka-Kansai (KIX), Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and Seoul (ICN). Indonesia AirAsia X flies regional routes out of Bali (DPS) to Tapei (TPE) and Melbourne (MEL).

Air Asia X started life as a low cost operator offering cheap long-haul flights between UK, Malaysia and Australia. Special promotional fares were known to be as low as £99 one way (London to KUL) or AU$99 (Australia to KUL) – although the airline has always charged for optional extras such as assigned seating, onboard meals and checked luggage.

Over the years AirAsia X’s prices have crept up towards the levels of the major carriers. Today, AirAsia X still offers some competitive “promo” fares – these should be booked during sales many months in advance.

One interesting development is AirAsia X’s partnership with OptionTown. It offers economy passengers the chance to upgrade to Premium for a reasonable fee. It has also introduced an Empty Seat Option to guarantee an adjacent empty seat for a nominal charge.