Flight Log: AirAsia Economy A320 Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Airline: AirAsia Thai
Code: FD 3447
Date: 11/24/2017
Route: DMK -> CNX


THE GOOD:
– Fast service for a short flight
– Good for a solo domestic flight

THE BAD:
– The optional meal

The UGLY:
– 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.

Getting There

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.

The Airport

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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Hello, old friend

The Boarding

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.

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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.

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the ultra-rare calm kid at the airport

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.

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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.

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Hello Filler

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.

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Plane and mountain spotting

Overall

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.

-RR

MORE ARTICLES FROM “THAILAND THANKSGIVING”

  1. Introduction: Thailand Thanksgiving
  2. Flight Log: ORD to NRT
  3. Flight Log: NRT to BKK
  4. Short Review: Boxtel BKK
  5. 7-11 in Thailand
  6. Train Night Market Ratchada
  7. Flight Log: DMK to CNX
  8. Playing with Elephants in Chiang Mai
  9. The Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai
  10. Seeing and Staying in Bangkok

Flight Log: United Economy 777-200 Chicago to Tokyo

Airline: United
Code: UA 881
Date: 11/20/2017
Route: ORD -> NRT


THE GOOD:
– Service of the FAs
– Great IFE collection
– I got an empty middle seat

THE BAD:
– The Lunch
– Faulty IFE

THE UGLY:
– The Sandwich


ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT

I woke up at an unbelievable 5:30am in the morning something that, for me at least, is a feat. I have been trying to adjust myself into Asia/Thailand time so that when I arrive at 11pm, I can crash comfortably in the BKK airport.

I had arrived at ORD through the blue line, one of the many benefits of living in Chicago is that for about $2.25 I can take myself and my bag to both of the major Chicago airports.

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If you use United in ORD, there is always the amazing light-work above as you walk towards the C-section departures

My general rule is to plan 3 hours for international and 2 hours for domestic, a rule which I should just consider breaking. Now that I can load boarding passes on my phone and I have access to TSA Pre-Check I was able to get to my gate in under 10 minutes. I had 2 hours and 45 minutes to kill so I wandered around and tried my best not to grab a quick beer before my flight, it is the morning after all ๐Ÿ˜›

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I was bored enough to check if my bag can count a personal item, close enough I’d say

My flight did arrive, and the crowd was fairly small with plenty of empty seats. Curiously some of the exit rows was empty, some folks asked to move up a row but the flight attendants explained that was for Premium Economy. Personally I feel like that exit rows would need to be filled regardless and shouldn’t be something left to passengers who paid more.

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My Chariot awaits…in Economy

FLIGHT

The flight took off and was smooth for the majority of it with only a single instance of having the seatbelt sign on. I then turned to the IFE console.

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Taken much later but it only took me 5 tries to get the map to show up

The console is in dire need of updating, I had to “double click” in order to select anything and even then the cursor trailed off to the other side of the screen if I wasn’t exact. That being said the content was plentiful, checked out some Marvel movies and tried watching the Simpsons. To my disappointment, the Simpsons just isn’t what it used to be, I guess same could be said for flying.

The seat however was pretty comfortable, it helped that I had an empty middle seat next to me. My seatmate across from me gave that knowing glance that we are indeed free to stretch out just a little bit more. I also got to test out my bag and sure enough, slides right down in front of me!

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I even had room to prop my legs right up over the bag

Lunch was served upon reaching cruising altitude, the flight attendants took the time to make sure everyone was served and didn’t seem as rushed as some flights can be. In case you missed it, yes, they served “lunch”, which was pretty light.

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It is econ after all

A single “brick” of fried rice (veggie or chicken), the chicken was okay, interestingly they had dark meat which is rare for US airlines to include. They also included a grain salad which wasn’t really explained. It was…a salad? I still felt like I was shot up with the carbs.

Soon after I finished doing my Simpsons marathon I managed to get some rest, the real MVPs were my fuzzy socks and eye mask. But even more so is the headspace app that United provides. Not even 5 minutes into the “sleep while sitting” course and I was ready to doze off.

After a quick nap I had woken up and began watching some more stuff on the IFE to keep myself awake and keep going. At this time it was early morning in Thailand, I had to adjust to that. But the view outside was nonetheless amazing! An older gentleman seated in the exit row was watching it upon waking up thinking he was seeing the Colorado Rockies. I got the chance to see his reaction when I told him we were indeed flying over Siberia ๐Ÿ˜€

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Without a doubt, it’s beautiful

 

Midway throughout the flight they offered people a small sandwich with M&Ms, the quality was equal to any sort of grab and go sandwich. Mine had apple and gouda in it, the sogginess made it easier for the bread to go down at least, ugh.

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At least I was sustained?

What I did enjoy were the flight attendants (FAs), they were extremely polite and kept up the mood. They even spent time during the flight offering water while walking up and down the aisles. Something which their Asia-based counterparts tend to do.

Eventually they began finishing up the service by providing breakfast which ending up being pretty delicious

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Not pictured: me being oddly impressed

They had a choice between pancakes and a pesto/cheese omelet, I opted for the omelet which ended up tasting pretty good. It wasn’t a mysterious rubber blob like most economy breakfasts, though overcooked a bit, can’t blame them though.

Finally the plane landed and by having literally only a backpack I managed to bob and weave through the crowd and managed to exit while trying not to steal a business class amenity kit ๐Ÿ™‚

OVERALL

Economy will always be that, “economy” and there is no way around it. However, for a US-based airline to do the little things like passing out water or distributing food at a pace that didn’t feel rushed made the difference to me. The flight crew provided a great flight even when the IFE and Food was lacking.

-RR

MORE ARTICLES FROM “THAILAND THANKSGIVING”

  1. Introduction: Thailand Thanksgiving
  2. Flight Log: ORD to NRT
  3. Flight Log: NRT to BKK
  4. Short Review: Boxtel BKK
  5. 7-11 in Thailand
  6. Train Night Market Ratchada
  7. Flight Log: DMK to CNX
  8. Playing with Elephants in Chiang Mai
  9. The Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai
  10. Seeing and Staying in Bangkok