AirAsia Ultra long haul-Chennai-Auckland via Gold Coast experience

Flight to Auckland, New Zealand is one of the longest ones on Air Asia network. The other ultra long haul routes are Honolulu US and Jeddah.  While I have flown on Air Asia multiple times, including two long haul return trips to Osaka Japan and Melbourne, flying even longer to Auckland with one stop at Gold Coast was a different experience. If you have such ultra-long haul trips coming up, going through this post will help because of following reason:
  1. To understand what happens during the brief technical stop in Gold Coast Australia
  2. To understand various minor nitigrities that you should know to optimize your experience or minimize disappointments
  3. To understand cost of food and other purchases in-flight- what are the alternatives available and if they are worth
Ticket Booking:
My ticket was booked more than an year ago, during an Air Asia Big Sale. Chennai to Auckland and back cost me INR 23635 (NZD 550/USD 300 approx). 3 months before the trip the return ticket was selling for about 44k, 7 days before it was selling for about 70k and the day before, when I checked, round trip was priced at 98 k INR. This is just to give you an idea how the prices fluctuate.
I didn’t buy any Add-ons- no baggage, no meals, no seat selection. My objective was to complete the trip with minimum spend as possible. If I was to buy all available add-on, my ticket would have costed more than a full service airline.
  • A 20kg back from Chennai to Auckland and back would cost close to INR 20k
  • Seat selection would cost between INR 2000-12000 one way or 4k (standard seats in back) to 24k (hot seats in the front quiet zone with extra leg room) for round trip, depending on which seat is selected
  • Buying about 3-4 meals one way would cost 60-80 MYR- that is INR 2000-3000
  • Insurance extra, in-flight entertainment tablet, blanket/pillow rental etc extra
  • Thus if you buy baggage, seat selection and meals that would be 24-47k INR extra, taking total cost of my ticket to 47-70k INR- I would have preferred to fly SQ or Air New Zealand via Singapore instead if I have to spend so much.
7 Kg cabin baggage allowance was good enough for me. With some bare minimum additional spend on food, I was able to travel to NZ for one third the normal cost, for which I am thankful to AirAsia.

Web check-in
I did the web check-in as soon as it opened-some 14 days before travel date. Was assigned 23A for MAA-KUL but was  assigned 51D for KUL-OOL and OOL-AKL legs. 51D is an aisle seat in the last row of the plane, close to lavatory. I asked airasia to do a web check out and did a fresh check-in several days later- was still assigned the same seat. My guess is AirAsia’s algorithm would have decided on a seat moment ticket is booked. Unless you prefer to pay extra, you will not get good seats-but you can hope to be lucky that some seats of your choice are empty and you get to change your seat after take off.

The flight.
My flight began in Chennai on the morning of 16th October- pretty standard 4 hour flight to Malaysia’s KLIA 2, the hub of Air Asia on a standard Airbus A320. I was expecting check-in would take time as they may have to check my visa on Australia APP and NZ APP, but check-in was fairly quick. May be they had pre-checked my details after web-checkin.

Had to wait half a day at KLIA2 to board 2330 flight D7 206 to Auckland via Gold Coast, Australia. Had some noodles and coffee at WHSmith  (read this separate post on how to find cheap veg food in KLIA2)

KUL to Gold Coast flight is about 8 hours and 20 mins- could vary a bit depending on winds

You’d typically need 2-3 meals during such a long flight. I had eaten enough at KUL to avoid delaying food purchase as much as possible. As it was night time when we boarded, I went to sleep. The flight was not quite full- had about 10-15% seats empty. Luckily I could ditch my pre-assigned 51D and shift to an empty window seat- I even had an empty middle seat. I am glad I didn’t pay to select a seat.

Around 6 hours into the flight, I ran out of 1 litre water I had refilled at KLIA2. I had to decide between buying water or a combo meal that included water or manage without one. I have written a separate post about food options in AirAsia X flights- which are 20-30% expensive than standard Air Asia flights. Upon evaluating my options I decided to manage without buying food onboard. May be I should have- because 2 apples and a banana at Gold Coast Airport cost me almost as much as a meal (7.5 AUD = 22 MYR)
Gold Coast Approach
Gold Coast transit process:
There’s no visa free transit in Gold Coast for Indian nationals. If you need visa to visit Australia, you will need transit visa to transit via Gold coast to Auckland. There were many incidents of passengers assuming a visa free transit and simply denied boarding. So be careful, get your Australia transit visa unless your passport is strong enough for a visa free entry into Australia. Transit visa costs about 1000 INR in VFS charges (No charges from embassy) and takes about 7-10 days. More about NZ visa in this post.

We had to get off the plane, under the watchful eyes of Australian officers who keep a keen eye for anyone sick, nervous or anything abnormal. Photography is prohibited. Then we clear security check, go to gate, wait and board the plane again. There was no immigration check on transit passengers. It was a welcome escape to stretch our legs and refresh. Gold Coast airport is pretty small- not too many things to see do or buy. A restroom, one coffee/snacks shop and few other shops are all that is accessible to transit passengers. Most items cost 7-10 AUD. An apple or a Banana was being sold for 2.5 AUD each. Free drinking water fountain is available. AirAsia does a crew change in Gold Coast. Different set of Cabin crew board the plane in Gold Coast.

The final leg lasted about 3 hours-depends on wind etc before we crossed Tasman sea and landed at Auckland. Flight was full for this final leg. There were more passengers now than the earlier leg. I could still have my window seat.

All flights were on time. In fact, flightstats details show that D7 206 and D7207 are remarkably on time, with only very small delays if there is any.

The return flight- I was auto assigned 51H- asked for a change of seat and was told that I have to pay. I didn’t. As my luck would have it, my adjacent seat was fully empty- so I could have both window and aisle for myself on the two seater. The rear end of A330 used by AirAsia X has just two seats from row 46 onwards- 2+3+2 configuration as against standard 3+3+3, as fuselage narrows down closer to the rear end- a bit more comfortable than 3 abreast seating. Had to keep listening to the sound of toilet suction repeatedly but no other issues. Managed to sleep through the trip so that I will be ready to spend the day actively once back in India. The return flight was almost full, with only few seats empty here n there. I asked if they have the 25 MYR meal combo, I was told the cakes are over.

In Auckland, boarding gate was not displayed till the time gate opened- like 30 mins before departure. However I saw the incoming plane heading to Gate 5, so knew where to wait.
Key points to note;
1. Do not forget transit visa requirement
Managing without food will be very difficult. You might want to pre-order online and save a few ringgits.  But several food items- like the 8/10 MYR veg noodles, vegetable rice etc are not available for pre-order, so we have to buy it onboard at listed price. AirAsia carries limited inventory of food, so they may run out soon. I saw many passengers bringing their own food and water.

2. Traveling as a family:
If you wish to sit together, you may have to shell out more money to select seats together. Cheapest seats across 3 legs would cost roughly around INR 2000 per person (standard seats in the back). You can take some chance and try changing seat after boarding or swap with other passengers.

3. Entertainment for kids
The 8-9 hour flight will be boring to kill. You could either sleep or have your own means to kill time. There’s no entertainment screens or inflight streaming in AirAsia X flights. But passengers can possibly rent a tablet filled with some entertainment content. Better to carry your own means of entertainment/time pass like a tablet loaded with games or videos etc, or books to read.

4. No charging points- be sure to carry power banks, fully charged electronic devices, as you can’t charge them on board- not even USB charging-unless you’ve booked the expensive Premium Flatbed seats.
5 Carry whatever needed for your comfort- neck pillow, eye blinds, blankets etc. Nothing is included, few items can be rented for a fee.

Overall I am happy AirAsia facilitated by Auckland visit in budget. Of course you will not get services of a full service airline- like pillows, blankets, food, entertainment etc but that is fine. Air Asia is a low cost carrier so we have to keep our expectations aligned. They are fairly on time and reliable and will take you to your destination at cheapest possible fare. You may have to miss some of the luxuries but the money saved on flight can be spent at the destination or even for another trip.


  1. Interesting read. How many days were your trip and what was the entire trip cost (Net). Importantly, I noticed the same 7kg limit with another flyer from Chennai and the U.K, I would like to ask you since you are the right person, what exactly do you carry in that 7kg's? What is included & excluded? And, what is the weight of your backpack with out any items?

    1. Thanks for your comment. I think the answer demands a separate post. IN short I carry a laptop, few pairs of dresses and some few other bare essentials, which usually comes within 7 kg limit


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