Date: 10 Jan 2003
Routing: KUL (WMKK/32R) - PEN (WMKP/04)
Flight Time: 1340 hrs - 1430 hrs (50 mins duration)
Flight No: AK716
Aircraft: B737-3L9 9M-AAE (Formerly OY-MME, 9V-TRC, G-OABD, N2332Q, B-2653)
Cost of Ticket: RM38.88 (USD$10) + RM16 (USD$4) tax
This trip was planned out a week in advance, with constant nudging from "Airbus Lover", whom I've frequently communicated with on MSN and SMS, to visit Penang and stuff like that.
Anyway, arrived in JB on the night of the 9th Jan 2003 for the bus trip up to Kuala Lumpur (KL). I was booked on "SE Express" for the midnight run to KL. After being transferred to Larkin bus station, had to wait about 45 minutes before a replacement coach was brought in as ours went unservicable somewhere.
We departed Larkin at 0035 hrs, and proceeded onto the North-South highway. It was a relatively quick 3 hrs ride to KL, with an tamil movie shown (cos the drivers were tamil), dropping off at Pudraraya (sp) bus station at 0415hrs.
A quick ma-kan ensured, consisting of a Roti-Prata with egg, and a nice Teh Panas for RM 4 at the coffeeshop opposite. A taxi trip to KL Sentral soon ensured for a price RM 10 (the driver argued that it was for the midnight surcharge).
KL Sentral was pretty neat, with express MAS check in counters. To say it was impressive is definately an understatement. Apologies for not taking any photos.
The KL Express train operates from KL-KLIA, from 0500 hrs to 0100 hrs, for the price of RM35 one way. Making my way down to the train below, it was pleasantly surprised by the cleaniness and the state of advancement of the KLIA Express. Add to that, there's a toilet in the train too that works every much as bit as that on the plane. The door to the toilet is opened by a touch of a button, very very cool.
The train was built by Siemens and travels at 160kmh.
Anyway, after a mere 25 mins by train to KLIA (takes 1 hr by car), I finally reached the first checkpoint of my quick-and-nasty trip to Malaysia - KLIA. Locating the Air Asia check in counter at Row C, I tried to check in my bag (which basically consisted of 10 Dragon Wing models). However, the ladies at the check in counter told me that the check in for my flight only opens 2 hours prior to boarding, and that they could not help me with the check in at that time. Rather disappointing though, I must be too pampered with the 48 hour advanced checkin at Changi.
Proceeded to the viewing mall of KLIA, and got a few shots of planes and stuff... Might as well show some here, hopefully they'd be up on Airliners.net later this week.
Air Asia jets and MH jets at rest.
Lion Air MD-82 PK-LMO -> Not in the database.
Air Asia's TimeCel Jet.. 9M-AAD
I think I have to declare that I have seen ENOUGH MALAYSIAN 737s THAT I AM UTTERLY SICK OF THEM!!!!
Anyway 1140hrs came soon, and I proceeded to Check in at Row C. Check in was fast and efficient, with 1 check in counter dedicated for AK716. The lady at the check in counter was pleasant, and quickly checked me and my baggage in for the flight. The boarding pass was pretty... err... cheap. It was simply a piece of paper, printed in purple, with the flight number, routing and sequence number written on it. A stark comparism with my Virgin Blue "no frills" flight last year.
Proceeded to the boarding room at gate A4 after going thru the X-rays and stuff like that. KL's domestic terminal is such that one gate, such as A4 is able to handle 2 B737s at any one time, so there are actually 2 gates at A4, namely A4L (A4 Left) and A4R (A4 Right). It was 1330 and my aircraft, 9M-AAE just docked into the gate. I was wondering whether we would still make a 1340hrs pushback. Sure enough, at 1340 hrs, the gate agent announced for passengers with infants or older folks to make themselves known for priority boarding. Once they were done, the rest of the passengers were called to board. Then there was a stampede.
I'm always intrigued at the reason why most people like to sit in the front of the plane. Its not like its better seats or what. Anyway, I moved with the horde of people, and lined up in the aerobridge. The interior of the plane was rather stuff, with the packs probably set to LOW or only 1 packs working. I moved to the rear of the plane where there were lots of free seats and took a nice window seat, with the entire row to myself. The flight was roughly 85-90% full, with most of the cattle in the front of the plane.
The cabin itself was rather dated, with the aircraft changing numerous operators from its initial start in 1990. It is the oldest plane in the whole Air Asia fleet despite having the newest registration. Rather sombre, was the fact that this aircraft operated for Silkair, prior to the 1997 crashing of 9V-TRF where all MI 737s were removed from the MI fleet.
Pushback occured at 1350 hrs, and the lively all male cabin crew proceeded with their welcome speech both in Bahasa Malaysia and English. The safety demonstration however, was in Bahasa Malaysia and I only understood bits of it.
We taxyed on Foxtrot for 32R, passing a number of lifeless MH 330s and 777s. An Intersection departure on runway 32R with a takeoff length of 2887m was our selection of the day, and once lined up, thrust was applied and we thundered down the runway, rotated and climbed into the rather cloudy sky.
Inflight sales of drinks and souveniers were carried out, with cabin crew Rohan, Roslan and somebody else doing the deeds. This set of crew was rather drama, so it did make the whole experience abit more entertaining. Cabin crew uniforms were all black, with red lining. Quite nice I must say but I reckon they were feeling hot, as they took off their shirts and worked in t-shirts while they were at the back of the aircraft. However, they always kept a smile up and never frowned once.
We climbed north, turning left to heading 340 as we passed the clouds. Top of Climb was achieved pretty quickly, and not a few minutes later, the descent stages were emminent. I have to say from here it gets really entertaining.
Normally in other aircraft I've flown on (namely SIA 777s most of the time), at the start of the descent, the engines are throttled down, while the nose is slightly pitched down. Now, for this trip, I guess the crew were late, so ... they gunned the throttles, and held a 10-15 degree nose down, and dived down. I would say we were maintaining around 290 kts, until approximately 10000 feet where spoilers were deployed to slow us down.
The spoilers were retracted after around 5 minutes of deployment. At this time I would say we were around 7000 feet. Flying over the sea, ships could be easily spotted. Then came something I've yet to experience. The gear was dropped, and the pilots probably used the gear to slow the aircraft down. I think the max gear down speed is 270kts IAS, so probably we were around that speed, and that was maybe the "preferred" method of slow. The runway came into sight, and we turned right to line up with the 04 runway. I suspect it was an ILS approach, but I cant tell. The final descent was smooth, with the flaps being slowly extended to flaps 30. Touch down in Penang International was smooth, and we passed a Fedex MD-11 and a Transmile 727 (at the Cargo complex) on touchdown. Brakes applied, and reverses activated for a few seconds before manual braking was conducted.
We taxyed into a gate without bridges, and had to deplane via the stairs, which was perfectly ok with me as there was a CI Cargo B742 next to use preparing for departure
. Before deplaning, I had a quick visit into the cockpit, where I took some pictures, and found out the AK was getting 737NGs in 2 years time.
The Penang terminal was pretty small, with International and Domestic being combined into 1 terminal with absolutely no seperation between them. Chanced upon a helicopter 9M-FAM, and took a couple of shots of it.
Collected my bag which came out pretty quickly, and took a cab to Gurney Plaza for 28RM in a "limosine", which was a VERY VERY dilapidated Toyota Corona. Met Mr. Airbus Lover at Maccers in Gurney Plaza before we walked around, and proceeded back to his place for some rest. Evening came quickly, and we went out to Prangin Mall for dinner, before I had to catch my 2100 bus back to Singapore. Bid my host farewell, and as I was leaving, he told me AK was having 10RM fare sale across their network at 2200 hrs from 14-16th Jan. Grrr..... Told him I'd be back, and looks like I will be this week
Anyway, boarded my Super Nice express bus "PWD 9066", which was disappointing to say the least. Had so high hopes of Super Nice... sigh...
Left Penang at 2100 hrs, with stops at Tanjong Malim and Ayer Hitam, and back in Singapore/Beach Road at 0835 hrs.
Hope u guys arent bored, no tech details this time
Thanks to Airbus Lover for being such a great host!
All photos courtesy of a Nikon D-100 with 28-80mm, 70-300mm Nikkor lens.
PS: Thanks to KL weather for not