Some Background Info:
I was planning on going to Bangalore on vacation during march. I specifically wanted to be in Bangalore by March 30th as it was Ugadi, our new years day, so that I could spend some time with my family. My agent quoted Cathay-Pacific as the lowest price ticket he could get me for SEA
-BLR at $1215. The route was a bit long, being SEA
-BLR, with a 10 hour wait at KUL
March 24th Friday, Seattle.
Alaska Airlines AS 661. SEA-YVR Dep -10:20pm, Arrival – 11:14 pm
Aircraft: N764AS, Boeing 737-400
Gate: D7. Seat: 23E
My friend was willing to drop me off at the airport. He was kind enough to invite me to his home for some good dinner before leaving for the airport. I left work around 5:30pm on Friday, and came home. Verified that all bags were packed and below the baggage limits( both came in at 68 lbs ). Freshened up, and went to my friend’s place which was in the same apartment complex as mine. His wife had cooked some good S.Indian food, and ate till I was stuffed. We then came back to my place, loaded my bags onto his car, and left for airport around 7:30pm. The traffic wasn’t much, and the carpool lane was open, so we reached the airport comfortably by 8:00pm. Loaded my bags onto the cart and went to Alaska Air terminal.
Alaska airlines has a lot of e-ticket check-in terminals, but there was only one for paper tickets. They had a trainee person behind the counter, and one of the other person was helping her. Check-in was smooth, asked for window seat, but was told that since flight was full, I had to settle for middle seat. Got my bags checked in all the way to Bangalore and proceeded towards gate D7
. Security clearance was quick. Still had around 2 hours to kill. Unfortunately, there is no free wi-fi internet at Seattle. Made a couple of calls to friends and family. Finally, boarding started around 9:55pm. Occupied the middle-seat, and both the seats next to me was empty for a long time. I kept hoping that no-one would come in The FA
then made an announcement that they are waiting 10 more minutes for one other flight to land as they were expecting some connecting passengers, this being the last flight to YVR
that day. I just moved over to the window seat to see the ground crew load the baggage into the hold. Finally the connecting passengers came in, and there were two teenage girls in my row. I was moving towards my middle seat when they asked if they could take the middle and aisle. Well, just what I wondered, and sat down to enjoy my flight.
The photo was a bit dark
The plane finally pushed back around 10:30pm. The announcements came on, and it was to be a short 40 min flight. I thought I heard the pilot say that the max altitude reached will be 17k ft. Thought it was a bit low, but well, given the small distance, made some sense. There was no beverage service. The flight was short and quick. We soon descended and landed at YVR
around 11:20pm. I believe the arrival gate was E-80, but I am not very sure.
Got out of the plane and made my way to the immigration. The airport looked cool. There seemed to be some sort of zoo/forest/wildlife theme with some ponds, waterfalls, large insects hanging off the wall etc. It was a long walk to the Canadian immigration. The lines were short, and the officer asked me how long I was going to be in Canada. Told me I was in transit. Cleared it fast and went looking for international departures area.
Vancouver, March 24th Friday.
Cathay Pacific B747-400 CX889. Boeing 747-400.
Dep: 1:20AM(Mar 25) Arr: 7:05AM ( Mar 26th)
Gate: D52 Seat: 34K
Clearing Canadian immigration, went over to International departures area. Found the Cathay-Pacific check-in desk. The lines were pretty short. The agent asked me for my checked-in baggage receipts issued by Alaska, and she gave me my boarding pass for YVR
. The boarding pass to HKG
was enclosed in an orange cover, and she asked me to hold on it and return it at the gate. Collected the boarding pass, cleared security and went over to gate D52. Tried to take a picture of the plane but it was too dark.
There were lots of people waiting near the gate. Still had more than an hour to kill. Spent time watching TV
there Boarding started at 12:45AM. After boarding the first and business class passengers, they board the economy class passengers based on the color of the boarding pass covers. Orange covers were the last to be called, and made my way over to the plane. The flight was full in economy, no idea about business class though.
Pushback started around 1:10, and having experienced SQ
service couple of times earlier, expected hot-towels. However, they handed out anti-septic towlettes, and the menu cards. The flight attendant came around to enquire about my special meal ( vegetarian meal), and confirmed it. In Singapore airlines, vegetarian meal is one of the options, and is also on the menu. I have seen this on SFO
-BLR sectors. I am not sure whether this is through out SQ
fleet. In CX
, vegetarian meal is considered a special meal. Anyway, I am not concerned much as special meals are served first and then the regular mail. The FAs came with drinks, and I had white wine. Soon after drinks, they brought me my special meal. It consisted of a paneer dish,rice, channa dal, dinner roll, fruit bowl and a cookie. I was too tired to take a photograph. The portions appeared to be a bit small compared to SQ
/AI and the quality too was barely eatable. When the FAs were serving dinner to the passengers next to me, I asked for vodka with orange juice. The FA
said that they don’t have vodka on the trolley and said she will get it later. She asked one other FA
who got it to me after five minutes. Though I can speak English quite well, I do have a thick Indian accent. And the FAs too didn’t appear too fluent in English. So I sometimes had to repeat my requests multiple times. But the service was good.
I finished my dinner and slept for sometime. I usually don’t sleep well in a sitting position, so the sleep was a very disturbed one, with lots of turning to position myself into a comfortable position. I usually wake up more tired after sleeping on the flight
I got up after 5-6 hours. We still had around 4 hours to go. I noticed that some people were having noodles, the kind that comes in those plastic containers. Watched some movies on the PTV. After a couple of hours, FAs came up with orange juice and water. I opted for orange juice. As mine was a special meal, I again got my breakfast earlier than anyone else. The breakfast wasn’t too good. It consisted of spicy fried potatoes, something like large pieces of fried tofu with tomato sauce, dinner roll, orange juice and fruit cup. Breakfast wasn’t too good. Didn’t finish the fried tofu stuff. The FAs served the other passengers and then came around with second round of drinks. After an hour or so, we approached HKG
and landed around 6:20AM. My itinerary had said that it would be a 13:45 hour flight, but the flight was done in 13 hours.
Hong Kong airport – March 26th Sunday
We were out of the aircraft soon. After a long walk from the arrival area, I went up to the departure terminal after clearing security. Found that I still had around 3 hours to spare. Used the bathroom and refreshed myself. The HKG
flight was scheduled to depart from gate 24. Went down to the gate, and on the way saw a starbucks sign. Man, there is nothing like good ol’ starbucks in the morning ( apart from S.Indian filter coffee of course
). Unfortunately, it was closed and was scheduled to open at 7:00Am. Well, 10 more minutes before it opens. Went around the HKG
airport. Saw SQ001 parked, along with lots of Indians. I had taken that flight before, and wished I had taken that. The food court had most of the shops already open. Didn’t find anything appealing, and wasn’t sure whether I would find good vegetarian stuff anyway. So just looked strolled around and went back to starbucks which was now open. Had a latte and strolled down the gates, and to my surprise saw an Air India flight bound to Tokyo. Took a couple of pics of AI
I came back to gate 24 and saw one person using his laptop. Went over to him to ask if there was free Wi-Fi. He told that there wasn’t but if I went over to edge of corridor near gates 34-35 which were below Virgin lounge, I would be able to catch it, as he had done the same So, trotted out to the edge of the long walkway and found decent signal strength. Browsed the web for some time and then it was time to get back to the gate.
Cathay Pacific: A330-300 CX 723
Dep: 8:50Am Arr: 12:30pm
Gate 24 Seat: 33A
By the time I came back, people were already in line to start boarding. Joined the line, and boarding soon started.
There were papers near the door, and I grabbed a couple of them( IHT and South china post?). The flight appeared to be almost full. Pushback was around 8:55AM.The captain announced that the flight was going to be 3:40hrs.
As before, the FA
came to enquire about my special meal. Take off was smooth and once we reached around 10k ft, FAs came in with drinks. Opted for coffee. Soon after that, I got my breakfast, again earlier than anyone else. This was a strange meal. It had a ball of spinach paste( I think that’s what it was). Was pretty bland. The tray also contained 2 pieces of dry roti, channa masala again, 2 laddoos which were good, two small pieces of what appeared to be dosas, and flat rice cake( don’t know whether it was mean to be idli, as it wasn’t round and didn’t even taste remotely like idlies). On the whole, a barely eatable meal. I was hungry and except for the spinach ball, managed to finish most of it.
The FAs came with 2nd round of drinks, and after that I watched some sitcom for a couple of hours and read the papers. It was soon time for landing, and we landed on time at 12:30pm and arrived at gate C32.
Kuala Lumpur international airport:
I got out of the aircraft and went looking for the transfer desk to collect my boarding pass for my final KUL
-BLR leg on Malaysia Airlines flight. The transfer desk was open and there were a couple of counters open. There were 2 other people in the line, and I stood in the line. For some reason, there were taking more than 5 mins per passenger. Finally got my turn, and obtained the boarding pass soon. I now had around 10 hours to kill and I was feeling very tired. I went in search of the transit hotel to see if they had a room. Unfortunately, all rooms were sold out. They had shower facilities, so paid approx $6 USD for a shower. Took a long shower, and felt fresh. Went in search of something to eat. I was expecting something like a food court, but there isn’t one at KLIA. They had only a handful of option, among them an Italian joint, a Burger King, and one other restaurant. My appetite went down, and decided to take another look. Found starbucks again, and saw some people using their laptops there. Again found that Starbucks had a free Wi-Fi trial going on. Opened up my laptop and was soon working on it happily. I felt bored after a while and went around the airport. I now started feeling hungry and went to the Italian place to see if they had any vegetarian stuff. Appeared that the only veg stuff was cheese pizza. Not too appetizing. Went over to burger king to see if they had the veggie whopper as in US. Unfortunately, they said they didn’t. Finally went over to another restaurant called rimba café if I remember right. They had a veg curry and rice. Went for it. Tasted ok, and filled me up. I still had lots of time to kill. I went to the customer desk to ask if there were any options to go to the city, and what it would cost me to do so. Unfortunately, the people there told me that they had no idea and that I would have to clear immigration and after that I would find folks willing to even give me info. Singapore airport is a lot better compared to KLIA. And SIN
has good information desks, good restaurants, nice shops and good ways to spend time. KLIA was airy and spacious though with plenty of natural light. KLIA was a disappointment to me.
I was feeling a bit tired, and didn’t feel like clearing immigration and going out on my own. So went to look for good places to do some plane spotting. Found that KLIA wasn’t a very busy airport either. Not too many planes coming in or going out. And there weren’t that many people too at the airport. Somehow, I managed to spend time at the airport by having multiple cups of coffee at starbucks, watching the tarmac and watching TV
at the terminal. All TVs in the terminal show the same channel. That sucked!! Starbucks didn’t have the proper converter for me to recharge my laptop, so browsed for sometime till battery level was too low. I cursed myself for not spending another $200 more and going in for LH
March 26th 2006
MH-192 Dep: 10:15pm Arr :11:30Pm
Gate C22 Seat 18A
It was finally time to go to my gate for the Blr flight.
Cleared the security and got into the holding area. Boarding started at 9:45pm. The flight time was 3:20 hrs. The seat next to me was empty. We were given paper towels which appeared to be hot in patches. FAs then came in with peanuts and orange juice, and then handed out Indian immigration forms. An old Indian couple in front of me asked if I could fill in their forms for them. I filled it for them. Dinner service started soon. Dinner consisted of some sort of flat round bread, paneer saag & some other curry, cucumber & spinach salad, chutney, 2 gulab jamuns, white wine and water. The dinner was again barely eatable.
All the announcements on the flight was in malay language, English and Hindi. There were no PTVs on this aircraft. Tried to sleep but couldn’t. The movie Aeon Flux was being shown on the common screen. Couldn’t follow it much and gave up. The flight finally landed on time, and we were at the gate at 11:30pm. I finally finished my last leg of the journey almost 36 hours after I started with the first leg. Was pretty exhausted.
Bangalore International Airport
March 26th 2006
Immigration clearance took only 5 minutes. Went over to baggage claim to collect my bags. The conveyor belt in BLR is half the size of a regular sized belt. There were lots of mosquitoes in the baggage claim area, and some westerners who had worn shorts were bearing the brunt of it. And they were not pleased!! There was signs of construction near the baggage claim area. The floor had water standing on it where the luggage carts were parked and no warning signs. One lady tried to pull a trolley and slipped on the water and fell pretty hard. We could hear the thud loudly as she fell down. She seemed to be hurt bad, and some people helped her to a chair nearby. The poor lady was still sitting when I collected my bags after almost 20 minutes. I had a wireless router in one of my bags and it was marked with a “X” sign in chalk. The customs officer asked me get it scanned again. I got it scanned and explained to the officer and offered to show him the receipts. He just let me off. I finally made my way out of the airport to meet my parents!!
Thanks for patiently reading through the report. I will post the return trip details if I get some encouraging response to this report.