Bonjour Pareeeee!

Whenever AirAsia X launches a new destination, there will be a promotion with very low fares.

There was no exception for Paris when it was announced as AirAsia X’s second European destination. I found out about the new route one day before the sale started on 22 Nov 2010 and were looking forward to see how cheap the prices were.

And to my delight the prices were very agreeable. I didn’t take long to decide (>20 min) on buying an one-way ticket from KUL to ORY for October 2011.

I paid 614 MYR (~256 SGD) and it includes two meals, checked luggage allowance of 15 kg and the dubious ‘convenience fee’. Very attractive price indeed. The sector ORY – KUL is relatively more expensive as the airport charges in Europe is much higher compared to KUL’s (253 MYR v 25 MYR).

Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t purchase the return. Most likely I will be going to Istanbul on the trip and it makes more sense to return to Singapore directly from there instead of backtracking via Paris. I haven’t find an affordable flight from Istanbul but no worries yet as I have almost a year to source for it. Another possibility is to redeem the return flight using my limited BMI miles. That will be another story altogether.

To be honest while I’m pretty glad with the price, I am apprehensive about what I am getting myself into. An hour on a budget carrier is fine but thirteen hours on a cramped seat with no in-flight entertainment is definitely stretching it. Hence I decide to investigate about how the experience will be like.

Guardian has an excellent article on the AirAsia X’s flight from its other European destination, London. However things have changed a fair bit since then.

The Paris route is likely to be served by a Airbus A340, the same aircraft type for STN – KUL. However, refurbishments had since been done on the two A340s and the 2-4-2 seating arrangement has been changed to a 3-3-3 one. The seat width has been altered to half an inch narrower at 16.5″ in order to accommodate more passengers, not unlike what Emirates are doing with many of its planes.

According to the detailed post by AirAsia X’s CEO Azran Osman Rani on the new seats, the seat pitch on A340 is still nice 32″. To put things in perspective, it is comparable to seat pitch (not the width) in Singapore Airlines’ Economy class and in fact wider than Air France’s 31″. It seems that I will not have to endure the measly 29″ seat pitch as in my Sri Lankan trip.

Apparently hand-held IFE player can be rented for 30 MYR and comfort kit can be pre-purchased for 25 MYR. The pre-booked meals cost 20 MYR and I chose the Malaysian option. While the meal choice for the Paris route hasn’t been updated, I believe that it should be similar to the London flights.

Like the London flight which flies into the secondary airport of Stansted, AirAsia X also utilizes Paris’ secondary Airport at Orly which is only around 20km from central Paris. Luckily it didn’t choose to fly into Beauvais of Ryanair’s fame, located 85km away from Paris and only connected to it by an expensive shuttle bus ride (15€).

An important point to note is that AirAsiaX does have a history of canceling poor-performing routes (Abu Dhabi). The Paris route should do well enough to be still operating in October next year but my fingers are crossed.

From what I gather so far, this flight seems to provide very good value for what its costs. However, the true verdict can only be delivered after I experience it myself in almost a year’s time. In the meantime, I will need to remind myself not to get over-excited of the prospect of visiting one of the greatest cities in the world.

But on the final note, I have to shout this out:

PARIS HERE I COME!

Picture taken by Eustaquio Santimano

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