Well, after 2 weeks of holiday, its time to go back to campus for the new semester. Arrived at Sibu Airport around 1130H and headed direct to the security scanning at the X-ray machine and got luggage scanned at the ground floor. The check in counter was empty with few pax queuing at the ticketing counter (for your information, my ticket was student priced ticket, so it was 25% off the normal price.) check in was breeze but the check in agent was a rather robotic person. Tagged my luggage without a word and there, my boarding pass was ready. Bid good bye to my dad and headed to the security check which located on the first floor. There was no immigration officer there because the flight during that period of time was mostly domestic flight, which mean mostly was flying within Sarawak. Got my knapsack scanned and boarding pass checked. Then proceed to the waiting hall. I noticed it was quite empty with few children and their parent. It was a night mare waiting there though only few children, they screamed like hell. The reason I went in the waiting hall was Sibu Airport waiting hall has quite a good view of the whole runway. I didn’t spotted many aircraft that day, only one Fokker 5O depart to Kuching as MH2807 at 1210H.
I sat at the waiting hall and with time, more and more pax flowing into the waiting hall, mostly children as the school holiday has started. I consider myself lucky as I didn’t pay this trip by standby basis, because judge by the number of pax I believe it would be a full flight. At 1245H, MAS B737 9M-MQL landed from Kuching as MH2266 which I’ll fly in to Kuching. The aircraft landed follow by screaming and shouting by the children “daddy, aeroplane arrive liau…” in thick Sarawakian Chinese essence. Wow… never see an aeroplane before ah? He he he he. Then came a boy who I found out to be young pax traveling alone to Kuching as the security guard accompanied his to sit beside me with a tag on his shirt saying “young passenger traveling alone”. He boarded the aircraft earlier than anyone did, accompanied by a ground crew, about 10 min earlier who later I found out he was the first class pax. Ooohhh…
Photo © Y. A. Kueh
Photo © Fred Seggie
Boarding commence at 1315H with priority given to pax with infant or children and followed by other pax. As I was in the aerobridge, the strong aircraft smell fumed the tunnel, same smell like Andrew describe in his report posted by Ryanair!!! I guess? Papers were abundant in front the 1L door and greeted by a middle aged Leading Stewardess which I forgotten her name again. Sorry! The cabin crews looked tired today as they become very robotic today. 9M-MQL has the interior same as in 9M-MMX but pretty worse I think. This aircraft was leased to Air Leisures before judge by the photos available in the a.net collection. There were few sits at the middle row with different seat covers as some looked like the B777 seats cover. Wow, never saw that before. There was 2 steward and a stewardess serving in the Economy class while 2 stewardess in first class. I went straight to my seat 27F and 2 pax already at seat 27D and E. Oh no, pax with infant. What a night mare… settle down and buckled up. The pushed back commence at 1225H and engine started.
Standard announcement made and then an Indian stewardess which came with a gadget showing the pax next to me how to use in during emergency. I don’t know what it was, which looked like another version of seat belt. Safety demo done manually as we taxied to the runway. The engine spooled off creating a loud sound, which normally won’t hear it if u are not seating behind the seat. The baby look terrified and surprised and makes funny faces which looked cute to me, at least he didn’t cry. Five minutes after take off, seat belt sign was off and cabin crew jump to work. 5 minutes later, the drink was served consist on OJ only. The cabin crews really show off their ‘robotic skill’ this time. No smile at all. Why? May be they were too tired after plenty of sectors flown before, I don’t know either.
Two crews served OJ for this 35 minutes flight. One of them start from row five and the other one from last row. Save time and team work really shown here. As soon as the drink finish, they went to the galley and reappear within few seconds with full tray of OJ. Wow, two serving and the other prepare at the galley! Hmm… nice teamwork there. I browsed through the seat pocket in front of me, nothing extra beside the newspaper I took earlier which I didn’t read at all. The pocket contain Going Places monthly Magazine, airsickness bag, safety card and that all. I had a copy of November copy of Going Places already, hence didn’t bother to take one. I’ve started hobby of collecting in-flight magazine from various airlines and MAS monthly magazine since the early of this year. In my collection now were Royal Brunei, China Airlines, Lauda Air, and monthly MAS magazine. I’m looking forward for MAS December copy. I usually kept watch my friend and family member who fly on that particular month to get a copy of Going Places.
I really apologies that I didn’t do well in remembering the crews name, which makes my life hard to describe what happen onboard. Sorry guys. Anyway, after the drink service, plus some side orders by the pax, the stewardess came out from the galley with a tray full of peanuts packs and finished while she’s on the way back to the galley. The pax seems to be hungry ehh… looking for snack to munch on. After 20 minutes in the flight, the plane start to descend and seat belt sign is on. Leading Stewardess came to the PA system and announced we’ll land at Kuching International Airport shortly and the crews walk around to prepare for landing.
After being on MAS so many times, this is the worse landing I’ve ever experienced. The aircraft unbalanced soon after the flap was deployed and around few hundred feet to the runway, the aircraft become unbalanced for even worse this time. Sort of hit by a turbulence or something. May be this made the crew dizzy as well resulting in their poor performance today? Hmm. Worst are ahead to come. When the aircraft fly on the runway, it landed a bit late which normally landed few meters back then it does making the aircraft completely slowed down at the end of the runway, which normally slowed down few hundred meter back (hope you all understand what I’m trying to describe, or there’s term for all that...? some one please help). Hey, I believe this was done inexperienced pilot. My assumption was this aircraft was landed by a new co pilot I guess, which was give chance by the captain to do the landing with eye closely watch by the captain. This was supported by my observation at the viewing deck at Kuching International Airport later in this report.
9M_MQL parked at gate 5 and every one got up and opened the overhead bin as usual even before the aircraft really stop at the gate ( typical Sarawakian?). I felt bit dizzy after that flight and I’m among the last to disembark as I sat at the last row. After disembark I head to the domestic (within state) flight baggage claim area without went trough any immigration check point. The luggage seems to take ages to come out. Its was raining as the luggage came in with stained of rain drops. Again the airport ground crew was very unimpressive. I heard few time already that luggage being open and things get stolen. My dad got few boxes of his cigarette stolen while he is on his way from SBW–KUL few years back as he brought the whole carton in his unlocked luggage. From my observation, some of the luggage which was not packed properly like boxes was torn and the content spilled. Wow, that really sucks and pisses me off if it was mine. Yet the ground crew pissed my off again as my luggage was not put properly on the conveyer belt causing it fell off over the other side of the conveyer. Darn, how am I supposed to do to get it? Well I simply climb over the conveyer to get it. This really PISSED ME OFF!
Saturday, 9 November 2002
Get out from the luggage area and got my bag scanned again before check in at Air Asia. It hasn’t open yet a play card again was used with a timetable stating the time when the counter will be opened. AK743 will be open at 1440H. Wait for about 10 minutes and check in counter was opened. 2 counters opened just next to counter 5, where I checked in 2 weeks ago for MH MH2276 for KCH-SBW. My luggages were tagged and boarding pass issued. The tag was sort pre-prepared type of tape with serial number, Air Asia logo and destination code. Cheapskate!!! The boarding pass were pre-prepared as well with my name written on it, same design like my previous flight with Air Asia but this time was in blue in colour. Then I quickly rush to the top floor to the viewing deck. 9M-MQL still parked at gate 5 which will continue its journey back to Sibu as MH2268 at 1450H. Another MH B737 was pushed back and prepared to fly to Johore (JHB). Back to 9M-MQL as it was pushed back as well at 1450 after the aircraft to JHB. It taxied to the end of runway and I watch closely as it accelerates. Well, I believed my assumption was right as this particular aircraft rotates nearly few meters before the runway ends. Hey… this obviously an inexperience pilot job. How come MAS allow such things to occur?
Anyway, I continue my observation at the viewing gallery. Kuching International Airport was very busy that day. Few Fokker 50 and B734 landed and depart with a DHT Twin Otter to Mukah. The Twin Otter looked very cute and light as it took only ¼ of the runway to rotate and lifted off. Such a lovely aircraft. I sat there for about 1 hour before went to the immigration counter and security check. The common waiting hall accommodates both international and domestic pax. The MAS Golden Lounge was at the left side of the waiting hall and looks deserted. No one inside or it was partly hidden by the wall?
Photo © Y. A. Kueh
Photo © Y. A. Kueh
Photo © Y. A. Kueh
Photo © Arthur Yu
At 1610H an Air Asia B733 arrived as the kids (its school holidays) shouted bout’ its arrival. It was 9M-AAB as I believe it’s the only one left in the Air Asia fleet with old blue and green Air Asia livery. Boarding commence at 1630H. I’m very unhappy with the way boarding in Air Asia flight. No announcement, no play card, no electronic scroll, nothing. Just an Air Asia ground crew approaches an old couple asking “Air Asia 743 to KL?” The couple stands up and proceeds to the gate while the other pax include me swamped to the gate. The ground crew shouted again, “AK 743 to Kuala Lumpur, senior pax and pax with infant or children board first please!!” this doesn’t help to prevent the pax from crowding the gate. After few minutes the crew give up and lets all the pax go though the gate. The aircraft parked at gate 6 which I think its designated gate for Air Asia as in KLIA, gate A2 is designated for Air Asia flight too. A ground crew and a cabin crew stop every one there and order to make a line. Huh… treat us like school children. The cabin crew was in their new out fit, a white shirt with big collar with red pant and a red jacket with zip. It looked simple, casual yet elegant. Nice touch there. I believe Air Asia trying to hire less ground crew and occupied the cabin crew as ground crew as well after arrival to assist boarding. Wow… saves cost again.
Then every one allowed to board the aircraft after 5 minutes queue up, and I quickly rush to the end of aircraft to get the seat 27A, hopefully no one will sit beside me so that I can raised the armrest. My luck wasn’t on my side. The flight was full. A guy sat next to me causing me has to squeeze down my own seat without causing discomfort to the pax beside me. Seat pitch doesn’t impress me again.
The boarding was smooth and the aircraft ready to depart on time. Push back commence soon after the door was closed. Again, “cabin crew arm and cross check all doors please thank you.” announce by the Leading Stewardess. Safety demo was done after the standard welcoming notes was addressed. As the aircraft taxied to the runway, another MH B734 landed before 9M-AAB enter the runway and accelerated. We rotated and in no time we’re in the air. After 20 minutes, seat belt sign off and the announcement made again by the Leading Stewardess. I apologized again as I can’t recall the cabin crew’s name as I had no time and due to I had to cramp at my seat throughout the flight (seems like my buttock stuck at the seat).
Then promotion was done to promote their new route from KUL to Tawau and Kuala Terengganu. Sales commence after 15 minutes and as usual, I bought nothing. Instead I slept as the sales begin. When I woke up after 10-20 minutes later as the stewardess disturbed me while asking the pax in front of me whether would like anything from the cart. After the sale, the crews disappear as usual into the rear galley. The journey was boring with nothing to read. I browsed through the seat pocket in found out there only a safety card and an orange plastic, which I presumed it’s the ‘air sickness plastic bag’. Cheapskate!! Luckily I brought my Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets and read it throughout the whole journey. The crew re appear into the cabin to answer to the call by pax and serve them drinks and snacks (have to pay of course). The captain came to the PA system announcing the weather report at KLIA and the flight status and sort off.
About1750H, the aircraft start to descend and seat belt sign s off. The cabin crews prepare the aircraft for landing and I found out another new feature in Air Asia that you won’t found in MH. The pax are also the “general cleaner” as the Leading Stewardess asks for the generous help by the pax to pass all the rubbish they have or in front the seat pocket to the cabin crew. Wow… some thing new to me. It’s quite funny to watch the cabin crew with blond haired and elegant clothes holding the plastic bag filled with rubbish walked around the cabin. Making me felt it sort of disgraced them.
Descent was rather a bumpy one as the weather was cloudy and looked it about to rain soon. The aeroplane flew to straight to the west coast to the Straits of Malacca before make a sharp right turn to the north. The plane flew lower and lower as the oil palm plantation is more visible which spread out the whole length of the descent path to KLIA. Sort of like a green carpet when look down from the plane. Touch down at 1825H, 5 minute a head the schedule time and spoilers deployed. Exited the runway and as usual taxied to gate A2. I saw the 9M-AAA was parked at the tarmac and I wonder why?
As I sat at the last row, it take ages for me to disembark as there lots of pax in front of me. I sat stil at my seat and watch the ground crew start to work. There no catering van or truck, just a van with lots of dry snacks and enter the aircraft through door 2L. Took a check list and get some more stock to top up the stock on board such as candies, chocolate bars and ice for the drinks. After most of the pax disembark, I jump out of my seat and stretch some muscles and quickly disembark the plane. Walked out the aerobridge and noticed the gate A2 was full with pax ready to board the aircraft to BKI as AK7706 at 1850H. Headed directly to the luggage claiming area at casserole L, which I think it’s again designated for AK flight. Got my luggage and exit the arrival hall as several illegal taxi drivers looking for customer and ask me whether I need a taxi, which I decline. Exit the terminal building and found out it was a moist and rainy Saturday night, waited for my friend which will fetch me back home.
Over all the flights was generally acceptable as it can be better for both MH and AK. Thank you for reading. Comments, correction and questions please…!!!