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Air Asia X Will Charge Anti-Social Passengers Extra

February 21, 2012 at 11:40 AM | by | ()

In the States we've seen airfares go from "bundled" to a more a la carte, "unbundled" model. Then Uncle Sam stepped in and claimed it was unfair and moved to a more transparent pricing structure. Naturally, some spirited airlines stomped their feet. All of the pricing changes lately with US carriers actually make us thankful we don't regularly fly Air Asia X.

The long haul cousin of Air Asia has been hugely successful with ancillary revenue, regularly raking in some of the highest figures worldwide. The low-cost carrier only charges customers basic flight prices, providing higher levels of service for further fees. We're not just talking about adult beverages or pillows and blankets; on short and long-haul service, Air Asia charges for food, entertainment and seamless flight connections.

Since last month, Air Asia X has been offering passengers the option to book an entire row of 3 seats for yourself. The service is called Empty Seat Option (ESo) and is a spin-off of the more expensive premium upgrade options. Similar to Air New Zealand's SkyCouch, 1 or 2 passengers can book out the set of 3.

Sounds pretty logical and a great idea, right? Well, the details get really confusing. Since the option works on an availability basis, there is no set price to reserve the seats, if there's the ability at all.

For a moment, let's pretend we have the option. We would need to enroll with an external company called Optiontown (shady much?) for $1 USD. Then we request the ESo and pay the extra charge for those seats, whatever that charge may be (remember it's "dynamic"). If, by chance, the flight is not full enough to even fill those seats, the extra cost is refunded.

Passengers do not find out if they have the ability to stretch out and enjoy their flight until 72 hours prior to flying, at the earliest. If the seats are awarded, they're assigned to the one passenger.

A few times we've have flown in fairly empty economy cabins with plenty of shifting seats and our fear would be others trying to stake claim on these seats you've purchased. We have a feeling this might lead flight attendants to playing referee between bewildered, arguing travelers.

[Photo: Air Asia Facebook page]

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