Airline: AirAsia Thai
Code: FD 3447
Route: DMK -> CNX
– Fast service for a short flight
– Good for a solo domestic flight
– The optional meal
– What is the boarding process?
– Delay cause they can?
Anytime I find myself on a flight within the US I find myself thinking, what is domestic flight like in other countries?
I know back in college when I was in India I flew the now defunct Kingfisher Airways which for 30 minutes was an okay flight that was generally good cause they provided a meal of rice and beans and unlimited selection of their famous Kingfisher beer.
But this time I challenged myself, what is a low cost carrier (LCC) like internationally. I wanted to fly the Spirit airways of another country! (I still haven’t and proud that I haven’t flown Spirit).
In comes a message from a friend of mine who has been to Thailand before. She wrote, “RR You need to go to Chiang Mai, you need to play with elephants!”. My eyes had widened, playing with ELEPHANTS! I knew I had to do that. But how to get to Chiang Mai? I optioned a train which takes pretty much half a day to complete. But then I realized, wait: I can fly there.
So why the heck not? I immediately searched and booked a flight on AirAsia Thai. For those unfamiliar, AirAsia has a near monopoly on cheap flights throughout Asia, offering near 2 digit prices for one way or even round-trip flights. It’s been a blessing to backpackers offering just the basics that can get one from point A to point B.
My day started by checking out of my hostel and heading to the Don Menaug Airport. The 2nd international airport which services most of Bangkok’s Low Cost Carriers and Domestic travel. To get to Don Mueang you have several choices: a 200-400 Baht taxi, a similar priced Uber or Grab ride, or public transportation. Thanks to the people running the hostel I learned that for a single 41 baht ride on the BTS to Mo Chit (humorously pronounced “Mo Shit”) and a short walk to the bus station. I can grab an A1 or A2 airport shuttle for 31 Baht. The bus is much more cleaner and has air conditioning than most buses in Bangkok and is a straight shot to the airport. What google told me might take an hour and 45 minutes was done in just 30 minutes.
Don Mueang, like all airports, are ran by AOT, the Airports of Thailand group. This group helped modernize and standardize the airport industry in the country which makes every airport as clean and efficient as possible. As a result, DMK Airport is a well oiled machine that runs just as well as BKK. Since I had checked in online and printed my ticket I went straight to the gate. Interestingly I spotted a Chicago classic, Garrett’s popcorn. I guess I can’t escape goodness 🙂
Once I reached my gate I found myself waiting what looked like a bus terminal. Similar to my flight in NRT, they would send us on buses and take us to our plane.
The boarding process is in the most simple terms: whatever. As in when the clock claimed it was time to start said boarding process they Gate Agents milled about and just didn’t care for it. Once they seemed ready they asked people to board which is again: whatever. They first called the people in the “hot seats” or had some status with the airline and then…everyone else. The tickets had zones and they tried to stay within the zones but good luck with that. I was Zone 3 but I probably boarded with Zone 2. Didn’t matter too much since we would be in the same bus headed to the plane.
The plane layout is an all economy seating on an A320. The first and only goal for any LCC is to fill the seats. I had picked my seat beforehand and picked a meal which means I had to pay extra but the cost made it a 98 dollar flight, but at least I cut down on the waiting for check in to get any seat.
The seat was a “cozy” 29 inches of space and with not much else. The worn leather and peeling plastic tray table gives you a sense that yes, indeed you are on a LCC.
Then the pressurization happened…
Out of absolutely no where white whisps of what I assume is condensation came through the A320. I knew this was going to be different flight. The cranks were louder, the Rolls Royce engines roared with ferocity and the landing gear made distinct…cranks. We were in the air and that’s what mattered.
The food trays arrived for those who ordered a head of time. I had a Nasi Lemak, which was acceptable. The thing that threw me off was the fish, some how despite in a spicy sambal like sauce the fish had absolutely no flavor, like NONE. I tried multiple tries to figure it out but it just tasted like matter. I simply left it at that.
Eventually they had landed, flight was short so I just listened to music the entire time. When the landing began they stopped anyone watching something on their phone to put it away. Interestingly they didn’t stop my music listening, some passengers noticed and decided to do the same. The landing was more like a dive than anything else. At least we landed in one piece despite how rough it went. One piece of enjoyment came from the view, Chiang Mai is gorgeous and filled with mountains.
You get what you pay for in a LCC, that’s true with any LCC regardless of what you fly. AirAsia offers a cheap option and gets the job done. If you have little to no expectations you will get a flight that takes off and lands, quality optional.