By Natalie Kessell18 Sep 2018It was a series of firsts on this trip, beginning with it being my first time flying with AirAsia and ending with an unexpected appreciation for the low-cost carrier.I’m going to be honest, I hadn’t considered flying with AirAsia before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised at every touch point.Here’s what I thought of the flying experience with AirAsia: Check-In & BeyondThe AirAsia app makes checking in online a breeze. There is the option to have your boarding pass accessible via email or mobile, and the only setback was not being able to select my seat during the process.Being a low-cost carrier, the best chance to obtain your preferred seat is during the booking process or, you can try your luck when checking in at the airport. There is a nominal charge to do so, however.Once at the airport, I was glad I had selected the online check-in option as the line was significantly shorter at the baggage drop queue.The friendliness of AirAsia staff was evident from check-in. From the agent’s beaming smile to the genial conversation, my first face-to-face experience with the airline was very impressive.As an added bonus, upon reaching the gate prior to boarding, I discovered I had been upgraded to Premium Flatbed class!AirAsia has been the recipient of the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Premium Cabin award at the Skytrax World Airline Awards for six consecutive years from 2013-2018, and I was about to find out why.The flight departed an hour later than scheduled due to traffic delays in Sydney, but I certainly wasn’t bothered seated where I was! Seat & EntertainmentThe Premium Flatbed section of the aircraft is separated into a configuration of 2-2-2 with an exclusive 12 seats on offer on the Boeing A330-300.I was fortunate enough to be seated in 2A and enjoyed the standard business class specifications of 20” width, 60” pitch and a stretch of 77” when in full recline.For those considering whether to upgrade to AirAsia’s premium offering, there are some key features that might help make your decision.Being a low-cost airline, meals, snacks and beverages are provided at an additional charge. Not so with your Premium Flatbed fare, where you have the option to select from a varied complimentary menu.Need to change your flight? You have access to unlimited flight changes that can be made up to 2 hours prior to your original departure time and four hours prior to your new departure time, subject to fare difference.Additional privileges include the use of a dedicated Premium Flatbed check-in counter, priority boarding and baggage retrieval, plus access to the AirAsia Premium Red Lounge for up to three hours.Another bonus is a generous baggage allowance of 40kgs. It is important to note the allowances on any other carriers you may be travelling with because, albeit exciting, this extended weight limit may not be of any use to you.Given my last minute-upgrade, included as part of my Premium Flatbed privileges were a surprisingly comfortable pillow and duvet and access to the Xcite Inflight Entertainment system.Offering a selection of movies, TV shows, music, games and magazines on your very own Android tablet, the entertainment offered was varied enough to suit every taste.It happens very rarely when flying on a low-cost airline, but the decision with what to watch, in my case, was actually a challenge. It looked like I wouldn’t need to pull out my own iPad to view anything I had downloaded because the selection was ample enough for me.This was yet another example of the string of surprises from my first AirAsia experience. Service & FoodUpon speaking to some of the cabin crew, it is clear that not only do they love their jobs, but they are also very proud of the company they work for.One particularly jovial flight steward shared that he views his time in the air as a hobby, not a job. He loves his role so much. He spoke of how fortunate he is to be in a position where his work doesn’t feel like work at all.Now if that isn’t an advertisement for AirAsia, I don’t know what is.The menu is supremely varied onboard and, if you aren’t travelling in a premium flatbed seat, you have the option to purchase online prior to flying and reap some savings.AirAsia promises to take you on a “great food adventure” with their offering, and they certainly succeed when it comes to variety, with a range of cuisines on offer.The airline prides themselves on using Santam (aka coconut milk) in most of their dishes to enhance the flavour and offer their guests access to the added health benefits of the ingredient. Whether it was the Santam or not, I certainly found my Kung Pow Chicken dish more flavourful than much of the airline food I have sampled in the past.A note to those who do wish to purchase items onboard, carry some small Malaysian Ringgit with you onboard. The Verdict The lesson I learned from this supremely positive experience was to be more open to giving low-cost carriers a go.I disembarked the aircraft as an AirAsia convert and look forward to with them again in the future. I might even consider a more roundabout route to a destination if the Premium Flatbed price was right!Book with your local travel agent to secure the right seat for you and the best departure time. THE DETAILSFlight: D7223 Class: Premium Flatbed, Seat 2A Aircraft: Airbus A330-300 Timing: 8 hours and 40 minutes READ: AirAsia to Newcastle & Toowoomba? It could happenREAD: AirAsia moves to Melbourne’s low-cost airportREAD: AirAsia is the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Carrier’, againHave you flown with AirAsia recently? 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