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I'm making a trip to Thailand at the beginning of March. I've booked tickets from Bangkok to Phuket on AirAsia. However, after reading recent articles around AirAsia recent airline crash, I was sceptical of the airline choice.

Should I arrange for a different airline? Is airline safety something I should be worried about? I've never flown in an Asian airline before so I don't have much confidence in non EU airlines.

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Air Asia is quite a large airline with a few more operating names. Basically if you plan to visit south east Asia, there is a very good chance that the cheapest flight you find would be an Air Asia one.

AirAsia is, unfortunately considered a dangerous airline considering the number of crashes they had (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2908531/Ranking-world-s-dangerous-airlines-includes-troubled-AirAsia-Malaysia-Airlines-scores-highly-safety.html), but they are somewhat exaggerated in my personal opinion.

However, keep in mind that air travel is one of the safest methods of transport. I have flown with Air Asia X several times, and never noticed anything different in terms of security precautions they have compared to other airlines. They use standard A320 mostly, and is a recognized international airline. Their prices are so low because you'd be charged even for the water onboard (they cut costs a lot), not because of any less security or safety.

Lastly, if your flight is Bangkok to Phuket, you will find some other flights relatively cheaper too. You can even transport by road if you are too concerned. If you would like to fly with them anyway (I think you should), don't forget to try out the Nasi Lemak. It's the best food I've tasted at 33,000 ft so far.

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    "The number of crashes they have had": as far as I'm aware, Air Asia and its affiliates have had exactly one (1) crash of significance, namely QZ8501. – jpatokal Jan 31 '16 at 2:30
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    Also, driving from Bangkok to Phuket would be far more dangerous than flying, Thailand has one of the highest rates of traffic fatalities in the world: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – jpatokal Jan 31 '16 at 2:32
  • Sorry for not accepting this sooner. I was plesently suprised by the AirAsia airline quality and I had an amazing trip! – Sun Apr 15 '16 at 9:15
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The Daily Mail is a rag, I wouldn't put a lot of weight on it. Air Asia X have (relatively) recently completed the IATA Operational Safety Audit which proves it is as safe as any other airline. As mentioned here, AirAsia Malaysia, AirAsia Thailand, AirAsia Indonesia, AirAsia Philippines, AirAsia India, AirAsia X Thailand and AirAsia X Indonesia are about to complete the same audit. Until they are in the registry, however, I would not fly them. I would most especially avoid AirAsia Indonesia (AWQ) which until 2010 was EU banned and they crashed a plane into the sea in 2014.

Note the IATA OSA is just one indicator, it's expensive so many airlines don't have them. The respective authorities of Australia (CASA), USA (FAA), EU (EASA) do not allow unsafe airlines landing in their airports so if an airline goes to either of those, that's also fine.

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There are other things to worry about e.g. road safety. It's often said that the trip to or from the airport is more likely to kill you than the flight, last year John Nash and his wife died this way. You should also focus on potential health problems; make sure you get the recommended vaccinations and stick to food safety guidelines.

  • +1. From notorious tuk tuk drivers and everything else, air travel is my least concern. John Nash incident is a very unfortunate one. – Ayesh K Jan 31 '16 at 1:20
  • I've heard that traffic accidents are the top cause of death for travellers in most countries. – Andrew Grimm Jan 31 '16 at 4:06
  • @AndrewGrimm I stand corrected, I've removed the assertion about accidents. – Count Iblis Jan 31 '16 at 4:35
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Most airline safety rating reports that have come out from outside ranking services use concepts that do not fairly compare airlines. A couple of primary safety ranking items are approval by the FAA and EU for landing in the USA or Europe. For regional Asian airlines who have no plans to ever fly long hauls there is zero reason for the expense and work involved. This lack of FAA or EU paperwork does not make them any more or any less dangerous.

Likewise for AirAsia Indonesia's "ban from flying to the EU", they don't fly there anyway and were caught in a blanket ban of Indonesian airlines due to the EU's perceived shortcomings in maintenance and training in the country as a whole.

Same applies to the recent "yellow cards" issued against Thailand over air safety. They were not issued to the airlines, rather they are warnings to the government, as they feel the government doesn't have enough staff and checks in place. But the major airlines like Thai Airways and AirAsia X all meet the EU rules and have their landing rights (Thai also has FAA clearance, I believe AirAsia X may as well but not sure).

In the long run Asian based airlines are just as safe as European based airlines. AirAsia lost the plane in Indonesia due to pilot error, German Wings lost one recently due to pilot mental issues.

I have flown Air Asia quite a bit within Thailand, as well as Bangkok Air and Thai Airways. I feel just as safe sitting on their aircraft as I do flying with KLM or Delta.

  • I might sound like a broken record but -- I have a very simplistic view in this. Just because Air France or Germanwings lost a plane due to pilot error does not make them an unsafe airline as a whole -- I know as an overall the airline is safe because the IATA audited them. On the other hand, hell knows what these Asian regional airlines are doing to their planes. – chx Jan 31 '16 at 3:00
  • Looking at the linked IOSA registry, I see AirAsia X, Thai Airways, Bangkok Air, Thai Lion Air and as you mentioned the rest of AirAsia group is undergoing the process at the moment. I would say, based on your benchmark, the major scheduled airlines in Thailand are safe to fly. And since Thai Airways has FAA, CASA, EASA approval and AirAsia X has CASA, EASA approval, I think we can also assume that Thai maintenance staff (Thai as in the people not the airline) know what they are doing as well. But you are welcome to choose your travel providers based on your set of rules. – user13044 Jan 31 '16 at 3:17

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