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ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

seattle WA
posts: 463
reviews: 24
ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

We will be flying from Phuket to Hong Kong next March 1. On the face of it, the Air Asia flight is quite attractive because it is only $120USD vs the Thai Smile 8270TB (about $285). However, there is a long list of fees and charges on the Air Asia site which are confusing as well as add up--making the ThaiSmile fare more attractive. We will have CPAP devices with us and Air Asia says that they have to be counted in our carry on allowance (vs in the US, they are allowed extra). I have sent a message off to Thai Smile regarding the CPAPs. Any thoughts on choosing one airline over the other for this flight? It is 3 1/2 hours, so not short, but not too long.

THANKS!!

Sally in Seattle aka kooikermom

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,762
reviews: 71
1. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

Hi,

In this case I think you've got to take the time and do the math.. It shouldn't be too terribly hard as the most common fees a person elects to pay are: a checked baggage allowance of some amount, advance seating and possibly food/drink onboard.

There's a few others, but these three are the most common.. So, unless you *know* you won't be using one or more, I'd start here; add these in, then see what the fares total out to be..

The CPAP machine I think plays into this by way of the idea that (on AirAsia) you'll have to downsize your carry on and replace that downsized amount with the CPAP. So whatever you downsize will end up being checked baggage.

Without having done the math in your case, in *suspect* the AirAsia flight will still be cheaper by some amount - only because that fare difference you mention now, before fees are added in- is rather large and I would be surprised if you could (or would) use enough optionals on AirAsia to make up that whole difference this making them financially equal.

Lastly, remember that AirAsia operates from DMK... Thai Smile operates from BKK.. This might factor into your transport costs in getting to/from the airport.. If you're a mileage program user, Thai Smile flights are usually mileage eligible under various programs, AirAsia is not (outside of the Big Shots program)

Travel Safe,

Edited: 9:43 pm, April 28, 2013
seattle WA
posts: 463
reviews: 24
2. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

Thank you for your thoughtful response to my question. I will do the math, but some of the fees are confusing, but I will go for the higher ones. I didn't see any about the food, nor think about that, so that will be a factor. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

As far as I see, the flight is non-stop from Phuket to Hong Kong so doesn't go through Bankok. Am I misinterpreting your airport codes?

Do you have any preference on the service or space on either airline? Thanks!

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,762
reviews: 71
3. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

Hi,

Sorry my bad. You are correct they are both non-stops. Most people who are in the AirAsia versus Thai Smile debate are starting from BKK, therefore the airport issue can be relevant

In your case - from HkT, its not.

Travel Safe,

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,762
reviews: 71
4. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

Hi,

Forgot to add.. On the "space side" .. They are very very close... Be that seat width, or leg room.. However that might change if you're in an exit row, however on AirAsia that's a hot seat, thus a fee applies.. On Thai Smile, there is none, however they are assigned at their discretion.

Service wise... Also close.. Having flown both numerous times my take-away is that Smile "feels" more like a regular "full fare" carrier.. AirAsia tends to have a more LCC feel to it..

That's not to say one is better than the other, but is how I perceive their overall product to feel.

One of the ways I get this feel is that on AtrAsia, no food drink is free - its all chargeable .. On Smile a basic cold snack is free... So the cabin crew on Smile still do one "classic" snack service without a fee component for each passenger.

This is, to me, pretty much the only notable service differentiation between them.

Overall service to me is good on both.. However since you're talking people, there's always an element of luck as to the actual group of crew you get. On both you can get fantastic as well as mediocre.

In summary.. To me given the rather short duration, id look at the math first and foremost..once you've done that, then I would add in a hot seat exit row on Air Asia and then see how the two compare..

At this point (assuming you don't or can't get an exit row on Smile for free) you'll have a slightly "better" seat on AirAsia (better defined as more leg room) than Smile.. Now see how the costs add up, as ostensibly you'd have a "better" seat on one than the other.

**!Note of disclosed: my spouse is a Senior Flight Attendant for ThaiAirAsia. Therefore via her employment I have unlimited pass travel on all AirAsia lines. I have pass travel on Thai Airqaya, to onclude all Smile sectors, due to my own employment but receive no direct personal remuneration from either carrier nor subsidary

Travel Safe,

Edited: 1:13 am, April 29, 2013
seattle WA
posts: 463
reviews: 24
5. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

Thank you for your VERY helpful post. Do you mind if I bug you one more time? When I go to book the Air Asia flight, they add on charges for 20 kg of baggage. Do you know if we have more, will they just add that on at the airport? The over weight charges don't seem too bad (IF I am reading the fees schedule correctly!!) They even have a place for sports equipment baggage (for our snorkel gear), but I can't add it on the first page of booking. Do you think I should book now if we know our schedule? It doesn't seem that they could possibly run specials to have lower prices--this one is so cheap!! The Dragonair one is $937!!! Thanks again!

Sally in Seattle

Canberra, Australia
posts: 267
reviews: 22
6. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

You can add on to total 30 kg altogether further on in booking process with Air Asia... just run through the booking following prompts or perhaps first using Youtube demo ...just dont go to final payment at the end .It will show you all the add ons clearly and you can decide then if you want to proceed and pay.

Do not try to pay for extras at airport it will cost you bigtime- either do online of forget it!

Personally there is little difference but price with each airline and yes both direct- more screaming kids on the Dragon tho!!!!

Edited: 5:35 pm, April 29, 2013
Singapore
posts: 1,315
reviews: 105
7. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

I've never flown Thai Smile but Air Asia is a low cost carrier, so your price is literally just the seat on the plane. If you need food or even water it's extra. For luggage, yes they will be very STRICT. Buy what you need or be prepared to pay a whole lot more at check-in, there is zero allowance unlike full cost carriers. Phuket to HK is a short enough flight you may not need food but do bring a water bottle to fill up if you can. People do bring their own food on board. Also you should print out your boarding passes, I've been charged for this at check in. You should also be ready to do a self-check in even at the airport (ie no human there).

One final point. I hope that you're not trying to make another connection in HK. Often LCC flights get delayed so if you are trying to make another flight make sure you have plenty of time, at least 3 hours. Also if you miss your Air Asia flight, you will need to buy a ticket for a new flight, they won't let you wait list for the next, assuming there is another from Phuket.

LCCs are great for getting around Asia, you just need to be prepared.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,762
reviews: 71
8. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

Hi,

As noted, AirAsia charges you a "walk-up" rate for any excess that you have above whatever pre-paid baggage allowance you may have purchased online.

Therefore it is to your great advantage to buy enough weight allwance online in advance that you *know* will cover whatever weight your baggage will end up being.

While you can't get a refund nor apply any of the unused pre-paid baggage weight to a later flight, if you do the math you will find that from a cost perspective its far better to pre-pay for more than you need and forfeit some unused, versus underestimate or under-purchase and have to pay the walk-up rates for that excess.

One nice thing is that you can "pool" your allowance with another person SO LONG AS you are both on the SAME booking, no one item exceeds their maximum limits and you both check in together. This means if you buy (example) 20kg and the other person in your booking buys 25kg (example) between the two of you, you've got 45kgs to use. You might "use" a kilo or two from the other persons allowance or vice versa. This is a nice flexibility.

Lastly remember baggage is purchased per-leg. Therefore you can buy one allowance when going to Phuket and a different one - more or less - when go back.. So you got flexibility in that regard.

Check-in does *not* have a fee associated with it, nor does printing or reprinting a boarding pass. AirAsia did experiment with the idea of "no human" airport check-in idea sometime ago, but they have largely abdandoned that idea. All airports which they seve you have the ability to check-in, via a human agent, and without charge; nor is there any charges levied for the printing or re-printing of a boarding pass. All their fees are listed on their fee schedule which is shown in a route-specific format.

I do however recommend that where possible you use either their online or mobile check-in once check-in formally opens for your flight.

Travel Safe,

Singapore
posts: 1,315
reviews: 105
9. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

Gopbi, I flew Air Asia last year KL - Tawau and got charged RM 10 because I checked in online but did not print out my boarding pass. It was inconsistent because on the SIN-KL leg I did not get similarly charged.

seattle WA
posts: 463
reviews: 24
10. Re: ThaiSmile or ThaiAirAsia?

Thank you very much, GOPI, for your informative post about sharing weight on Air Asia. I have seen on archived posts that you can quote overweight baggage fee amounts for different flights. Would you mind checking the Thai Smile per kilo overweight fee for HKT to HKG (one way, no continuing flight)? We don't really have any idea how much our bags will weigh since the flight isn't until Feb 2014. We are going to Hawaii this month and will do a test run of bags since we will have our snorkel stuff with us for that flight. The other flights on our Feb 2014 trip are either Cathay Pacific business (no problem) or Silk Air (with a 10kg pp extra allowance for the dive gear) (yay!) so the only worrisome flight is the HKT to HKG. Thai AirAsia is less unless we have to pay for more baggage, but the Thai Smile times are better for us, so we would prefer to go with them if the overweight fees aren't too bad. TMI, I am sure, but wanted to get the decision-making factors out there!

Thanks a bunch!

Sally in Seattle