Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Truly Asian Saga, Part 1 : Welcome to Budget Flying !

I'm still on Vacation as I start writing my tour chronicle. 24 hours of Internet, bought at $5 looks like bargain, so let me use it to the fullest. I'm not posting any photographs yet. Wait till I come back and get all the photos organized and processed.

Its tough to decide where exactly I should start from. The packing ? The drive to the airport ? Nah... all of that is very common place. Okay, I decide to start with the check in at the Terminal.
This is not the first time I'm flying on a cheap ticket. Have done it a few times on the domestic sector. But this was my first "Budget" international flight. To be honest, on the domestic sector, there's not much of a difference when you're flying one of these flights. Yes, you need to pay for the food, but at least you can choose how bad your food is going to be !

Welcome to Air Asia, here the word "Budget" is truly justified ! You're not the only one saving money, mind you. The airline is saving much more ! The check-in was a pain, not due to the airline, but due to a group of travelers, who had decided to check in with 6 different tickets, 12 passports, some 30 odd kgs. of excess baggage, and 4 trolleys full of "Cabin Baggage" of all shapes and sizes ! And they still claimed that they were traveling together, and hence deserve to check in together !

The Boarding Passes give you the first taste of "budget flying". Forget the Glossy, colorful pieces that people usually put in their shirt pockets and look absent-minded. These here were a tad bigger than Credit Card receipts ! The same thermal prints that you can fold and your daughter can hide them in her palms !

There was a minor delay, only 30 minutes. You shouldn't complain because you're told that this particular aircraft flew to Dubai in the morning, then to Doha, and then emptied its passengers in Delhi. before flying a few more to Kuala Lumpur, and then flew people to Singapore before arriving in Kolkata to pick you up ! Stop complaining, you're on a budget..remember ? That's exactly the reason why you are made to "walk" up to your aircraft while boarding !
The flight was very noisy, not the aircraft. I'm not sure how many passengers an Airbus A320 can fly, but I think I heard some 70 odd crying babies !

Once you reach KL, don't wait for a bus to take you to the terminal, there ain't any, and stop expecting a huge terminal to greet you ! Air Asia docks in LCCT (Low-cost Carrier Terminal), which is a part of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, but housed in a different building, which is clean, but very basic. Worse, you need to walk close to a mile from the aircraft to reach the building. With a 3 year old daughter, that's not much fun I'm afraid !

As I smoked outside the terminal building, the driver went to get the car. Ah, did I mention that it was well past midnight ? You can still get some stuff to grub. The McDonalds is big but hugely overpriced. There are a few other joints too. You need to be quick and your cab needs to be late in showing up. Worked exactly in our case. 

The drive to the city was surprisingly long. Over an hour. But it was smooth, silent and the AC worked just fine. Reached our Hotel, and the lady at the desk was pretty swift in checking us in. A room on the 25th floor, and finally, we were "not" on a budget !

Good night !

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