AirAsia vs Malindo Air-which one is better?

Update: Starting December, Malindo has reduced check-in baggage limit from 30 KG to 25 kgs

I've taken several flights with Air Asia and recently flew Malindo Air. Both are providing connectivity to various South East Asian destinations and are competing for business from Indian passengers holidaying in South East Asia How does these two airlines compare? I'm presenting my findings below- a comparison of Air Asia vs Malindo air over 35 different parameters. You can go through and decide for yourself which one is better.
In brief: Malindo works out better if you've luggage to check in, need some entertainment and prefer a value for money package. Air Asia on the other hand can take you to your destination at lowest possible price, so works out if you can manage with 7kg hand baggage and without any luxuries.

AirAsia vs Malindo Air: Detailed Comparison on multiple aspects
#
Factor
AirAsia
Malindo Air
Remarks
1
What’s included in minimum fare
Only cabin bag 7kg
25 kg (2 piece baggage, meals, Entertainment)
If you’d anyway need to buy luggage extra, Malindo might be better even if base fare is a bit expensive
2
Lowest fare I’ve seen- Sample-Chennai-Bali Return
10300 INR (No check in bag, meals etc)
15300 INR
If you’ve no plans to carry check in bag, you can save with Air Asia. Else if baggage cost is to be factored, Malindo may be cheaper overall
3
Normal fare, without sale, 3 months advance booking, Chennai- Bali
14500 INR (flight only)
Flight + 20kg bag + Meals= 23k
19000 INR
Malindo is clearly cheaper if you’ve check in bag
4
Chennai Bali- For family of 4 with only 1 check in bag (20kg)
60k + 9k baggage + 3.2k Meals = 72200 INR
19k x 4= 
76000 INR
For large groups with only 1 check in bag, economics may tilt towards Air Asia
5
Best fare I’ve seen- Chennai-Ho Chi Minh City
10600 INR
14000 INR
Lowest fare as seen during sale. Normal fares are higher.
6
Cost for 30kg baggage-Chennai- Phom Penh, return
INR 8400
Free (upto 25 kgs)

7
Cost for 20kg baggage-Chennai- Phom Penh, return
INR 1500+1000+1000 +1500 (each leg)= 5000 Rs
Free (upto 25 kgs)

8
Cost for 20kg baggage-Chennai- Gold Coast, return (long route)
INR 9000
Free (upto 25 kgs)

9
Cost for 40kg baggage-Chennai- Perth, return
INR 17000 for 40 KG
INR 22000 for extra 10 kg
Malindo is expensive for heavyweight, but if you're two pax, you get 60 kg total, so there may not be a need to buy
10
Meals
Rs 180 onwards per meal, Rs 750 approx per round trip (one stop destinations)
Free

11
Seat Selection
INR 150 to INR 800 (hot seats)

Random assignment if not paid
INR 550 to 950 depending on seat n aircraft type
Seat selection is bit expensive in Malindo, but you can arrive early at check in counter and ask for say window seat at no extra cost.

Malindo very likely to seat entire family together if adjacent seats are available. Airasia may split your family across rows if not paid
12
Web Checkin
Opens 14 days prior
Opens 2 days prior

13
Travel Insurance
INR 750 approx per person
?

14
Destinations served (Ex Chennai)
Approx 45
Approx 35
Could vary based on origin city
15
Hub
KLIA2
KLIA1
KLIA 1 is more luxurious and has better facilities
16
In Flight WiFi
Select flights, chargeable, MYR 9 (USD 2.2) for 3MB [Details]
Select flights, USD 10.5 for 1 hour, USD 16 for whole flight
Malindo WiFi is more practical
17
In flight entertainment
NA
Available
With USB charging- great
18
Leg room (Economy)
Less
More

19
Business Class
AirAsia X only (Flat Bed)
Available

20
Payment charges
Rs 84 to Rs 600+ (netbanking cheapest, credit card most expensive
Free
No extra charge for payment in Malindo air.
21
Common Aircrafts
A320 & A330
B737, 747 etc

22
Loyalty Program
Available, has many limitations
[Details]
Available, similar to other airlines

23
Safety Rating
5/7 * (Air Asia Malaysia)
6/7 * (Air Asia X)
2/7 * (Air Asia Thailand and Indonesia)
7/7*
24
Recent accidents/incidents
Full body loss over Indonesia, engine failures over Australia
No major incidents/ bad press in recent times

25
Other group carriers
AirAsia India, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines etc
Batik Air
Lion Air
Thai Lion etc

26
Sale frequency
High, long term
Good, short term travel dates

27
USP
Cheapest ticket rates, everything else chargeable
Full service airline at budget fares

28
Inflight magazine
Travel 3Sixty- Very good
Can be improved

29
Customer Care/support
24x7, Satisfactory response, resolution takes longer
Day time only, Good response, quicker resolution

30
Possibility of upgrade
Low. No business class in most flights, upgrade to hot seat very low chance
Low. Upgrade to Business class needs to be purchased
No chance of complimentary upgrade in both airlines, unless when flight is overbooked.
31
Operational Since
Nov 1996
March 2013
Malindo is much younger expanding rapidly
32
Good for those who
1.can book years in advance,
2. can manage with 7kg cabin bag only,
3.wish to save every possible penny
1. Have checkin bags
2. Prefer some luxury
3. Need some entertainment (say to keep kids busy)
4. Don’t mind slight premium for extra value

 33
Destinations not covered by other airline
 Japan, NZ, USA
Pakistan, Bangladesh

 34
Cities served in India
17
8

 35
in-flight food choices
ManyLimited
AirAsia has elaborate men with several items to chose from, but chargeable

Malindo food is free but not many options
In the above list out of 35 points assessed, AirAsia wins on 11 counts, Malindo leads on 14 counts, remaining 10 do not have a decisive winner (subjective).
Summary:
Air Asia's strength is in their low cost pricing model, taking advantage of which you can reach a destination for lowest possible price. They have good network, fairly on time performance and been in business for more than 2 years with very good fan base and customer base. If you can manage with 7 kg cabin bag, if you can book at very low cost during their sales and can afford to skip some luxuries then Air Asia will work well for you.

But AirAsia's economics could be heavy on your pocket if you've to buy check in bag and other add on service. Malindo proves to be a great value for money carrier as their product is much better- includes 30kg bag, meals, entertainment and more leg room. If you're to buy all these service from Air Asia, you might as well book with Malindo- a few thousand more per ticket upfront but includes lots of value bundled into it. When flying is part of your experience, when in-flight comfort and entertainment matters, then Malindo can be your preferred choice.
When to book Malindo
When to book Air Asia
  1. Need baggage allowance
  2. Can spend a bit more for better value and experience
  3. Need entertainment
  4. Need USB charging
  5. Wish to fly Business Class
  • Can manage with 7kg cabin bag
  • Need to reach destination for cheapest price saving every possible penny
  • Can give up some luxury and comfort
  • Flying in large group with only 1 person needing check in bag

What has been your experience with these two airlines? Which one would you rate better or prefer to fly? Let us know through comments.

Let us check some photos:
Malindo Leg Room, entertainment and WiFi

Inside Air Asia plane nothing much exciting to click, just cramped seats and some colourful ads on the luggage compartment door. So I have hardly clicked the interiors while flying in AirAsia.

Disclaimer: Prices are indicative and may change based on cities, date and other factors. Please check with respective airline websites for latest fares. All information as experienced by this author or as available at the time of composing this post. Some aspects are subjective. Please use your discretion.

Official websites: AirAsia.com and Malindoair.com
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