In my twenty-five year history of air travel, I have never encountered customer service worse than that of Air Asia. No other customer service experience has left me with such a feeling of distaste — just because of how inefficient, annoying, and customer unfriendly the entire process is.
Let me tell you the story: I booked tickets in September 2014 for a flight from Kochi to Bangalore in February 2015. And in December, because of personal reasons, I needed to cancel it. This is what I did:
- Tried contacting Air Asia support team via live chat — There is usually a queue of 70-80 people with a wait time of 20 minutes before you can chat with someone. Nonetheless, I decided to wait; I would work on something else while my turn came up on chat. What did I find? My turn on chat would come, but there would be notification (no beep or sound), so the chat would disconnect because of user inactivity. I tried a couple of times, but kept missing my turn. But it was okay. It was just a UX bug in their software. Not a big deal.
- Contacted Air Asia via the phone — I called Air Asia India customer support at 1860 500 8000 and, after waiting forever, I spoke to a person stating my request to cancel the ticket. She informed that they don’t take cancellation requests on the phone, could I please send it via the e-form on their website. Okay, I said.
- Filled up the e-form — on December 29, 2014. Received an acknolwedgement from them saying that they’ll respond in 5 working days.
- 5 working days passed — still no response. So I contacted them again via the e-form on January 12 under the ‘Grievance Redressal’ section.
- 5 weeks passed — still no response. My flight is a week away, and I’m wondering how the hell can I cancel this ticket?
- Let’s try contacting them via live chat — I connect with Firdous after 20 minutes — and this is the delightful default welcome message: “Hello tanvi. Welcome to AirAsia Live Chat Service. Kindly be informed that each chat session lasts for 10 minutes. Please keep your questions reasonably brief.” Let’s make it clear: I have no desire to chat with Air Asia for more than 10 minutes so I request Firdous to cancel the ticket, stating that I’ve been trying to cancel it for more than 2 months now. He asks me to wait while he checks the issue — and lo behold, the chat disconnects because of “user inactivity”. Yes, because I was waiting for the customer representative to respond, my chat got disconnected.
- I wait another 20 minutes and reconnect on live chat — where I encounter a not very nice person name Masino, who tells me to: “please write in to the correct channel. the official channel is http://www.airasia.com/my/en/e-form.page. the team will further assist you with your feedback. thank you.”
- Full circle — So I am obviously furious. I tell him I’ve already written and copy paste the emails into the chat. Then Masino says: “please wait for the team to reply your email. thank you.” I say I’ve waited 2 months, how much longer am I supposed to wait? The conversation ends with him saying he can’t do anything, please fill up the form and this delightful message: “We regret to inform that the 10mins chat session will be ending shortly. Thus, this chat will be disconnected automatically soon. Should you have further inquiries, please come back to us again. Thank you.”
- Ugh — So I go back to the phone and call Air Asia support. Luckily the phone connects without any wait and a nice person named Divya says she’ll look into the issue. She doesn’t know why its taken so long to get a response either.
Yes, horrible experience with Air Asia customer service.
Nonetheless, I have flown the Air Asia on another leg (Bangalore – Goa) and the airlines is very nice to fly on. Very spiffy aircrafts, cheerful seats (black and red), fun music when you’re dis/embarking, smiling hostesses and stewards, and an interesting menu. The only feedback I would give is not to play the cheerful bopping music on a 6am flight. It gave me a headache!