Whenever I travel from Bangkok, Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I always fly Air Asia. That changed yesterday when I finally had to book a flight on Bangkok Airways after nothing but problems with Air Asia’s website payment system. Booking and paying for a flight on Air Asia’s website has never been a problem, up until a few months ago that is, when it looks like Air Asia changed their payment system. Since then, problems abound and now I’m wondering if I’ll even bother looking at Air Asia’s flights again, and here’s why.
Paying by Debit Card on Air Asia – I canceled all my credit cards several years ago and, now, only ever pay anything by debit card. Up until October, Air Asia accepted my American-issued debit card every time. In November, as I usually do, I got on Air Asia’s website and tried to book my quarterly trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Everything went fine, I got the flights I needed and all was well, until I got to the payment section. Here, I keyed in my debit card information like I always do and hit ‘Pay’. Within two seconds, ie: not long enough for the attempted payment to have even made it to my bank, the debit card was declined. I tried again. Declined.
I called my bank, sat for 15 minutes on hold, only to be told by my bank no requested payments on my debit card had come through and to try Air Asia’s site again as there was nothing wrong with access to my funds. Two more aborted attempts on Air Asia’s website later, the payment finally went through.
Paying by Credit Card on Air Asia – Last night, the same thing. Five attempts to get my debit card accepted on Air Asia’s payment system. Declined every time. In desperation, I called my father and got his credit card information so I could pay with that, then reimburse him. This time, I got as far as the ‘Visa Verification” screen (which Air Asia forces you to use, whether you want to or not). Then, my father’s credit card was declined. Of course, this could be the name on the credit card and the name on the ticket being purchased didn’t match but, according to Air Asia’s website, they don’t care who pays for the card. Just as long as the person who’s name is on the ticket is the person who flies.
Booking a Flight on a Different Airline – After struggling with the Air Asia payment system for over two hours, I gave up. Doing a search online for other airlines flying from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, I came across Bangkok Airways. The flights I needed worked out at $55 more but, at this point, I didn’t care. I got the flights, keyed in my debit card information and clicked “Pay”. Not 30 seconds later, I had confirmation from Bangkok Airways payment had been accepted. Something that, on Air Asia’s payment system, couldn’t be verified in over two hours and many tries, took less than a minute on Bangkok Airways’ site.
Complaints All Over the Internet – Once I had my booking on Bangkok Airways, out of curiosity, I did a search for ‘Air Asia payment problems’ and page after page of sites came up. Randomly choosing a few, it was fascinating to see the hundreds of posts from people all complaining about the same problems I had.
It seems Air Asia is limiting payments from certain banks (particularly US banks), won’t accept payments from most Thai bank debit cards, and isn’t a fan of particular credit cards (preferring some debit cards where possible). With potential Air Asia customer after customer not only complaining about not being able to pay but finally saying, like me, they’d chosen another airline, I can only imagine how much money Air Asia is losing because of their payment system.
For me, next time I fly to Kuala Lumpur, I’ll likely skip Air Asia’s site completely and book a flight on Bangkok Airways. Time is money and wasting so much of it with Air Asia’s ridiculously stupid online payment system isn’t worth it to me. Not when, for an extra $55, I can have a problem-free experience with another reputable airline. Air Asia is the loser. Not me.