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Friday, February 4, 2011

AirAsia Zero Fares 2011 Launch Date May and November

Many people I met randomly will have this keyword whenever the topic goes into "holiday", "travelling", "budget".

What is that keyword?: AirAsia (of course!) Lonely Planet Hanoi (Lonely Planet Travel Guides)

Besides the usual happy faces describing the story of how once upon a time, they cannot travel by air, and now they have successfully bought an air ticket that is cheaper than their petrol consumption for the weekend - this follow-up dialogue will almost certainly appear. When is the next AirAsia Zero Fares Promotion? Do you know? You know Tony Fernandez and Azran Osman-Rani. So you must know!

It was a top secret I kept to myself or at least I shared with my brother. But it is not from the mouth of some insider or the CEO. It was from my own research. Where are all those promotion emails AirAsia and the rest of the corporate world sent you? Yes likely deleted. We try to keep our Inbox clean.

For the past 10 years, I've kept these promotional emails. Studied them. Marked trendlines of when these super promotion will occur. Because what is more interesting than predicting a windfall? Yes - getting a zero fare ticket is a windfall. Correct?

All those mathematics, statistics we learnt in school is put to basic use simply with Maslow's predicted behaviour - I am motivated. And motivated to snag that elusive almost free flight. Which will become my pride and prize.

So this year, I've decided to share it publicly here.
Today is 4th of February 2011.
This AirAsia Zero Fares Promotion for year 2011 will likely occur in the first or second week of May 2011. Then the following free grab will be in mid-November 2011. Mark your calendars. Or keep it a secret? Well AirAsia likely will have a big branding awareness in newspapers and their website. So knowing those launch date could well be crucial for you to snag that elusive zero fare flight you have been dreaming of the past 3 Zero Fares promotion. Technical issues, too many users logging on, unfamiliar with the booking system pages - were all excuses you should and can avoid now. If you take some effort prepare yourself.

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1) Credit card, passport number, name(s), backup credit or debit card. And for now, direct banking for several banks in Malaysia.

2) Know the timing of your destination. Know your destination. How many flights are there to Bangkok or Surabaya? Is the 6am flight the best option because it is the cheapest? Perhaps factoring the taxi fare, and sleepless night, plus half-day zombie mood after a 6am flight, you may want to look for alternatives. Now. So login to AirAsia today, and check other flight times.

3) Alternative destinations - If you wanted to see the Prambanan Temple in Yogjakarta, and the flight is "overpriced" there is an alternative. A flight to Solo (Surakarta) which is just 80 km away can solve this. Learning and researching geography is a fun and exciting part of travelling. So check out what is the nearest airport - perhaps a trip to Hong Kong instead could be a "double combo trip" by flying into Macau then out via Hong Kong!

4) Make sure your browser is in accordance to the AirAsia booking system. Some pop-up blockers may interfere with the booking page. Check your antivirus and firewall. Test them by making a "test booking". Make sure your internet service is running smoothly. And any alternatives? Can you login to the internet on your mobile phone?

5) Dates. Plan ahead and check what dates you can make the trip. And alternative dates. If you cannot take a leave on this date, then perhaps the following day? Check with your manager, or company. Check with your travel companion your parents or family.

6) Luggage. There are staggered Check-In Luggage allowance that you can buy starting with nothing (no check-in). And the basic is 15 kg. Check your luggage bag. Your backpack. What is the usual weight. Then test the weight when you fill it up with your essential travel equipment, swimming trunk, sunscreen, torchlight? How to travel light? Also is your destination a wheel-trolley bag friendly destination like Hong Kong? Or would it be better to use a backpack? Will you fit your netbook, and what about the charger and the weight? Cameras are a must. But which one should you bring? The waterproof Canon Powershot D10 - you might go snorkelling? The huge Canon DSLR 60D? How about the lenses? You need macro lenses? Or telephoto? Or both? And their cases? Plus the memory card(s). Pack them all in, or make a note what should be filed as hand-carry. Then check on the official AirAsia website if that device or item could be hand-carried.

Zero Fares on AirAsia doesn't literally mean zero. There are still some basic fees you'll have to pay. One is the convenience fee (credit card usage fee), check-in luggage, and airport tax. These 3 components form the basic zero fare ticket. So you could say Zero Plus Plus Plus.

Zero + credit card fee + check-in luggage fee + airport tax.

If you're a super random bargain hunter, you can be wise and look for flights that are on popular routes. Popular means there are several flights per day. For instance, Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur (about 6 flights). KL to Surabaya (4 flights). With more flights on the same route per day, you have an extra safety net. Whenever a flight is cancelled to that destination, chances are AirAsia will try to bump you onto the next flight on the same day. But if there is only one daily flight to your destination, or 3 flights per week (such as to Haneda, Japan) you might have to wait 1-2 days for the next available flight. And you might have to seek more leave or unpaid leave from your company. This rule doesn't apply to me though.

Another tip: Practise the route search NOW. Yes, try to do some searching. Check the departure and arrival time. I've previously booked on the first flight out at 6am. This was taking a toll on me. Waking up at like 2-3am disrupted my sleep pattern. Even when I arrived at the destination at 9am or 10am, I felt exhausted and had to rest. There goes half or one day. So there you go: the paradox of thrift.

The booking system tries to invite you to buy Insurance, Food, Extras - which are classified as Ancillary Income. Practise skipping them. Here's one reason. I previously booked and paid for nice meal, and extra baggage. Just a month before the flight, I had to cancel. As in, I found out that I am unable to take the flight because of other commitments. As you know, firstly you cannot get a refund on the airfare. Promo Fares are not refundable, non-transferable. So those Food and extras went to waste. Imagine if I hadn't book them, I can still book and pay for the Meal like a week or 3 days before the flight. Or adding more baggage allowance. You may add them at your own time later.

Main task is to book the flight and get that booking code.

Be reasonable and within expectations. Zero Fares +++ is still a fare to pay. And understand that the terms of the airfare is sort of like Black Jack. There is a risk if you are unable to "perform" the flight, there is no refund to you.

Get prices all in one page from Priceline, Agoda, Bookings, LastMinute, compare reviews and total cost and fees, then decide on the best option Even same hotels may have different pricing on different booking systems because of their bulk discount quotas and bag the best deal at the time of your search, saving time and effort from a single hotel information system.

Happy Booking and feel free to share which flights you were able to win.
Here are some of my winnings from previous years' bookings!
- Bangkok to Hanoi = 300 Baht (10 USD) one way
- Bangkok to Bali = 2500 Baht (80 USD) return flight
- KL to Melbourne = 320 ringgit MYR (110 USD) return with baggage and outgoing meal
- Bangkok to KL = 1500 Baht (60 USD) return flight

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