Before you book a flight with AirAsia Zest (Philippines), consider this.

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Air Asia plane

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1.
They cancelled flights between Cebu and Cagayan de Oro starting last July 1, 2015.

Air Asia Cebu Cagayan de Oro flights cancelled
Email notification for cancelled Cebu-Cagayan de Oro flights

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2.
They are cancelling flights between Cebu and Davao starting September 1, 2015.

Air Asia Cebu Davao flights cancelled
Email notification for cancelled Cebu-Davao flights

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3.
If they’re cancelling flights between major cities, who knows what flights they’re going to cancel next? For those of us who take advantage of seat sales to book flights months ahead of departure, this recent spate of flight cancellations “due to commercial considerations” is disheartening.
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4.
Unless your flight is within 30 days of the start of cancellation, YOU have to get in touch with THEM to inform them of whether you want your flight rebooked or if you want a refund. (See second-from-last paragraphs in the screenshots above. If you want to actually talk to someone, you have to call a Manila number — and pay long-distance charges if necessary — to remedy them cancelling your flight. In comparison, Cebu Pacific, for all its many faults, at least makes the effort to get in touch with you and ask you what you want done with your booking — which is the least they could do, I think, after taking your money then basically messing up all your plans.)
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5.
If you paid through Cebuana Lhuiller or another payment center, you can’t use the online form because in “Booking Payment” the only options are Credit Card, Cash, and Bank/Direct Debit.

Air Asia online form for refunds
Limited choices for Booking Payment — what do you do if you paid through Cebuana Lhuiller?

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6.
I go online and choose full refund. Two days later, I receive an email telling me my refund would take up to 30 days. Fine. Mere moments later, I get another email telling me they’ve given me credit to use for a future Air Asia booking. Huh? What happened to the refund?

Air Asia refund
First a refund…

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Air Asia credit shell
…then a credit shell. What?

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Other things:

  • They charge you extra when you book using a credit card or any other payment option other than their in-house prepaid card or Dragonpay. So when they advertise that their “all-in” fare is, say, PHP 999, you actually pay more than that if you pay through your regular credit card.
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  • My aunt recently traveled between Cebu and Cagayan de Oro with Air Asia. Days before the flight, there were several schedule changes, and some of the notices mixed up the flight number and the route, so we were confused which flight had been changed. On both flights, apart from the announced schedule change, there was a delay of around 4 hours, during which there was little to no communication from Air Asia staff about what was going on.
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  • One time, I tried to have BIG points retroactively credited to my account — something they allow and actually set up an online system for — and it took them 6 weeks to do it. Six weeks. You have to wonder what is going on behind the scenes, what processes do they have, that it takes them 6 weeks to check that a person bought a ticket and flew on a flight.
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  • Speaking of system, one time, they charged me twice for flight add-ons (baggage, meal and seat selection). It was their mistake, but of course I was the one who had to take precious time to sort it out with my bank. Again you have to wonder what’s going on with their system that things like that happen (it’s the only time that’s ever happened to me).

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For what it’s worth, I’ve had mostly good experiences with Air Asia in international flights, and I’m sure other people have had good experiences with their domestic flights too. And they’ve recently flown their 300 millionth customer, so that’s something. But it’s just that…when things go wrong, they go Wrong, and their system can’t seem to handle it well. So that’s something to think about before booking with AirAsia Zest: if things go wrong, are you prepared to grapple with a strangely functioning system that doesn’t have a human face?

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11 thoughts on “Before you book a flight with AirAsia Zest (Philippines), consider this.”

  • Totally with you on this one! I booked my Dvo-Ceb-Dvo flight last year..oh! and with my mom’s flight as well of the same flight. Now, I really cant choose to have a refund or online credit because i got the tickets for a pretty nice deal. So im down to choosing dvo-mla-ceb vv since i will have some things to attend to in Manila. But the hassle is unimaginable. And with your refund request that turned into a credit~ uggggh am now nervouse what’s gonna happen to my request! thanks for sharing this. Something frequent travelers can reflect on~

    • Absolutely. Having to go through Manila just to travel between Davao and Cebu takes up too much time and effort. It’s a good thing you found something to do in Manila. 🙂 With budget airlines, sometimes we have no choice, but it’s something we have to keep in mind if the flight is for something important.

    • Thank you! <3 I can't say I will never book with Air Asia again but I will definitely have to think twice if it's for something important.

  • Just need to vent.

    I booked a flight for a friend in AirAsia. I booked once and to be paid via 7 11, but when I got to the convenience store, it seems the code is not working. I made another booking and chose payment via Cebuana. I booked around 12 noon, the booking should be held within 12 hours, I paid within 20 minutes of booking. Cebuana sent me an email confirming that my payment has been made, so I was confident enough.

    I checked my bookings, the payment is still pending,

    I chatted their customer support, it says that I should wait for 24 hours for the booking to reflect and for me to receive my itinerary. After a few hours, I checked again (because I know it is strange it takes too long, I have booked with the airline before and I am satisfied with the service). Still nothing, so I filed a complaint.

    Fast forward to 48 hours, still nothing, on the emails, on the case update. So I called their customer care hotline, after countless times of being on hold, the call got miraculously answered by a human being… who told me everything I already know, including they GOT MY MONEY, BUT FAILED TO CONFIRM THE FLIGHT BOOKING. He said that it will take 58 DAYS for them to refund the money I paid.

    I am not even at fault here.

    Now I have no choice but to suffer through the consequences of their negligence and their faulty system.

    I can’t even do anything else, AVA was unhelpful, their customer care is unhelpful, and I dont know what steps to take next: I have done everything and it got me nowhere. Any ideas?

    • Hi Hannah.

      I totally sympathize with your anger and frustration. It’s so infuriating when you do everything right, and they’re the ones who mess up, and yet it’s you who has to jump through so many hoops just to fix things! And you don’t even get any benefit from it, like, just to get back to where you were before you made the booking, you have to do so much, you have to spend so much time and energy. Ugh!

      Honestly, I just haven’t flown with AirAsia anymore. I had actually forgotten this specific incident that I wrote about here in this post but the unpleasantness of my whole experience must have gotten really ingrained in my consciousness that I really don’t even get tempted anymore whenever I see an AirAsia sale. Just not worth it.

      So…I don’t have any idea of what else you can do — aside from wait for the refund — because it looks like you’ve done all you can. I’m sorry to learn that four years after my own awful experience with them, their system still has the capacity to mess things up spectacularly for their customers who booked with them in good faith. 🙁 I hope you get your refund without any more hassle and I hope things work out better eventually for you and your friend.

    • Hi sir Dexter. I believe the same thing also happened with another commenter here. You could try calling AirAsia to follow up on that. Good luck po!

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