Malindo Air recently made changes to its baggage allowance policies that are sure to be unwelcome for two reasons. First, their inclusion of checked bags in the fare actually served to differentiate them from their principal competitor in the market, AirAsia. Second, they rolled out the changes with little notice or fanfare, so many passengers could be caught by surprise when they arrive at the airport.
In fact, we were just informed of this exact situation by readers who hastily booked a last-minute flight on April 7 owing to an unforeseen crisis, and specifically chose Malindo for its 15kg baggage allowance from Subang Airport. Imagine their shock when, upon check-in, they were informed that the two tickets they bought didn’t include baggage and they would need to pay a whopping RM854.56 for their two small checked bags which weighed, cumulatively, a total of 21.8kg!
Here’s the deal: Affecting bookings made from March 15, 2019 onward, the across-the-board free baggage allowance for Malindo flights no longer applies. Fares booked at the Super Saver tier will not have any allowance at all, and pre-purchase prices are frightfully expensive. Purchasing baggage allowance at the time of check-in, as noted above, is outrageously pricey – RM39.20 per kg, in fact.
We looked at a booking for a short flight to Singapore (total fare without checked baggage, RM324 return, Super Saver fare), and to add 15kg checked bag for the outbound flight was RM165. The same weight bag on the return flight was RM169, for a grand total fare of RM658, quite literally meaning it’s more expensive for your 15kg suitcase to fly to Singapore and back than it is for you.
Choosing an unremarkable seat on the flight, meanwhile, added RM25 outbound and RM30 return, boosting the fare to an eye-popping RM713.
Clearly in this example, it would make more sense to choose the Value Fare option (RM434), which includes 15kg of luggage. Seat selection still costs the same, however (RM55 total), for a total of RM489.
It’s very much worth noting here that you could book a flight on these dates on Singapore Airlines’ website at the Economy Lite fare, fly with the main carrier (not Silk Air), and enjoy 30kg luggage allowance (and no seat selection) for RM458. To recap: you can pay RM434 to fly Malindo with 15kg of checked baggage, or pay RM24 more to fly the world’s #1 airline with 30kg of baggage and full service and amenities, all on a widebody aircraft from KL to Singapore. With seat selection included, since Singapore Airlines actually charges less for this option than Malindo, the total fares are just about the same (RM489 for Malindo, RM498 for Singapore).
It’s definitely a shame that Malindo has thrown its hat into the “unbundling” ring. Though this is a common thing for airlines these days, as ancillary revenues from such fees can (and do) soar into the billions of dollars, some airlines are showing that it’s not necessary. For example, US-based Southwest Airlines, which pioneered low-cost flying, is famous for its “bags fly free” policy, always including up to two checked bags (23kg each) at no extra cost. They also let you change your flight with no fee, or cancel a flight and use the value of the fare towards the purchase of another ticket for up to a year, all with no charge. They do all of this, and are still a large, profitable, and extremely popular airline whose passenger-friendly policies have inspired fierce loyalty among the very fickle flying public in the United States.
Malindo Air broke into the Malaysian market six years ago and quickly gained favour with the travelling public. In short order, the airline moved to a “hybrid” business model, aiming to offer amenities and services closer to those of a full-service airline at very attractive, if not necessarily rock bottom, prices. Now, however, it seems they are getting closer and closer to becoming a plain old garden-variety budget airline. With baggage allowance being reduced or discontinued, tiered fares, significant charges for seat selection and more, the only real differentiator between Malindo and AirAsia is their colour schemes. So, do you want to fly orange or do you want to fly red? Because apart from that, the two airlines are looking more and more alike with every passing year.
What’s your opinion on this decision by Malindo? Leave your comments here, or better yet, drop the team at Malindo Air an email at [email protected] and express your thoughts.