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So many strings attached: AirAsia X passengers slam travel vouchers in lieu of cash

They ask why the vouchers can only be used for certain payments, and for trips to a fixed list of destinations.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
Passengers wait outside their boarding gate as an AirAsia plane sits on the tarmac at the Kuching International Airport.
Passengers wait outside their boarding gate as an AirAsia plane sits on the tarmac at the Kuching International Airport.

A number of AirAsia X passengers have expressed frustration over the difficulties they encountered when trying to use the travel vouchers given by the low-cost airline in lieu of cash refunds. 

The vouchers were credited to their passenger accounts after the airline completed its debt restructuring process in March, a move said to have been approved by creditors as well as the High Court last year.  

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, though, the passengers said they were unable to take full advantage of the vouchers as they came with a slew of conditions and limitations. 

EeMay Low, a Malaysian working in Singapore, said she was outraged to learn that the expiry date for the credit in her account had been changed without her knowledge. 

She was given the credit when her flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur on April 8, 2020 was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Although she had two credits in her account, only one was converted to a travel voucher. 

The most upsetting issue for her was the realisation that the voucher could only be used for travel to certain destinations. 

According to the FAQ section on AirAsia's website, travel vouchers are only good for trips to three locations: New Delhi, Seoul and Sydney. 

These are set to be joined this year by Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, Hawaii, Perth, Melbourne, Auckland, London, Istanbul and Dubai.

"It doesn't make sense," Low said. "I only have S$160 worth of credit in my account – if I want to use the voucher for travel to any of these destinations, I will have to fork out more money."

She added that she was very disappointed at the move to change the expiry date of her credit as this meant she would not be able to fully utilise the credit for future trips. 

Low tried raising the matter with AVA, AirAsia's chat line, and finally managed to get in touch with three agents.

However, she has yet to receive an explanation for why her credit expiry date was changed without her knowledge. 

Another Malaysian passenger, Fara Adilla, was told that she could not redeem the full value of her voucher amounting to RM3,728.92.

Fara, who plans to go on holiday in Seoul next May, considers herself fortunate that her travel destination is on AirAsia's list of permitted locations. 

However, the voucher can only be used to cover the basic fare. This means that she will only be able to utilise RM3,558 of her credit, leaving RM170.92 still in her account. 

"What can I do with RM170.92? It's too little to be used for anything," Fara said. 

Fara, who also took to social media with her complaint, had questioned in a Twitter post AirAsia's move to issue refunds in the form of vouchers with a host of strings attached. 

Her post sparked outrage among Twitter users, some of whom shared their own experiences with the airline in dealing with refunds and flight cancellations.

Rodel Dumasig Jardin, a passenger from the Philippines, is still holding out for a refund after AirAsia cancelled his flight in May. 

Rodel had bought 12 round-trip tickets in four bookings for domestic flights from Clark to Tacloban, paying a total of US$1,107. 

The flights were scheduled to depart between April 8 and May 18.

However, they were all cancelled a week before the first flight was slated to take off.

Rodel was not offered replacement flights. 

"They only offered me credit that came with an expiry date," he said. 

"I asked AirAsia to pay me back through my bank account, but until today I have received no response." 

Rodel was forced to buy new tickets for other flights, but he was only able to get three tickets for himself, his wife and his daughter. 

"The rest of my family are very disappointed that they will not be able to travel with us back to Tacloban," he said. 

He said AirAsia should return all of his money as the airline had given him no concrete reason for cancelling his flights. 

"If the cancellations had only involved two or three tickets, I might not complain about it," he said.

"But we're talking about 24 tickets in total."

MalaysiaNow is still waiting for a response from AirAsia.

MalaysiaNow has also reached out to Mavcom, the authority in charge of civil aviation and passenger complaints related to airlines.

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