Problems with AirAsia

Re: AirAsia: Battling for the Indonesian Market

To the Editor:

I scheduled a business meeting with my suppliers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Aug. 26. Trying to economize, I searched the Internet for the cheapest airfare to and from Malaysia which serviced Philippine passengers. I found AirAsia with an address at AirAsia Berhad, Mezzanine Floor, LCC Terminal, Jalan KLIA S3, Southern Support Zone, KLIA, 64000 Sepang, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia, offering a price of roughly P11,000.00 to and from Kuala Lumpur and Clark, Pampanga which was really a bargain. When I attempted to inquire about a personal reservation, I found out that the telephone number in the Philippines listed on its website did not work. AirAsia only has one office in the Philippines, that is, in Clark, Pampanga but without any telephone number. Their hotline is in Malaysia.

Nonetheless, on Aug. 11 I was forced to make an online reservation at AirAsia using my credit card. I was given a flight confirmation number after I encoded the three digit security number of my credit card. After the reservation, the website warned me not to book again to avoid double booking. There was no notice on the Internet that I would have to confirm my reservation any day before the flight, or any warning whatsoever that that my reservation would be cancelled. Believing that everything was ok, I went on Aug. 25 to Clark, Pampanga. To my surprise AirAsia's station manager told me that my name was not in the in the passenger manifest for Flight No. AK 33. I argued that my credit card had already been debited for the airfare, but it was a useless discussion because the manager really had no say in who would be included on the manifest. Because I had a previously scheduled meeting on the following day, I was forced to pay their regular rate which was P28,000.00 — more than double their rate on the website.

When I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 25 I immediately complained to AirAsia's desk but was just given a run-around. In the end I left Malaysia without any explanation, apology, or reimbursement for the charge on my credit card. I am now contemplating filing legal action but I would like to warn future passengers of AirAsia or any other low-cost airlines which do not have customer service in the Philippines to be very careful when availing themselves of the services offered by foreign economy airlines.

I learned the hard, and more expensive way.

Jose Escalora
Manila, Philippines