Having taken a year off from work, I am currently pursuing a 1 year full time MBA programme (EPGP) at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore. As part of the course, one term is dedicated to an International Immersion programme in conjunction with a Business School overseas. This year we had the good fortune to spend 1 term in South Korea at KAIST Business School. This TR describes the last leg of the journey back from SEL, covering the HKG-BLR leg on KA metal in Y class. This is probably the first report on this sector.
The inbound leg from ICN was on a CX 330 and I dont recollect much of this flight as I crashed as soon as I got to my seat at ICN and was woken up after almost everyone departed from the a/c @ HKG.
As I was spending the weekend in HKG, I checked in for my return flight (dep 2245 hrs) at the City Check In counters at Hong Kong Island MTR station at 1300 hrs. You can check in your baggage starting from 24 hours prior to your departure.
External View of the Hong Kong Airport Express City Check In
Simple 3 step Check In Process
Ticket Vending Machine for the Airport Express Train - 100 HKD needs to be purchased before check in
Check In Counters with the FIDS.
The Airport Express Ticket gives you access to the check in area. There are counters for a plethora of airlines and I queued up behind a family who were being checked in at the KA counter. The lady manning the adjoining Shenzen Airline counter asked me if i was flying KA and then motioned me to come over to her desk, In coupla minutes my baggage was tagged and dispatched on its journey to HKG and I was given the boarding pass to my flight later that evening.
Post check in one can directly access the Airport Express Train
But I still had almost half a day of sight seeing left and headed to the Left Baggage Center, which is at the far corner of the station and deposited my carry on bags. The charge for 3 hours is around 40 HKD (iirc)
After spending an evening at "The Peak" and around the Expo area, I was back at the HKG station to board the Airport Express Train. Trains depart every 10 mins with coupla stops along the way.
Inside the Airport Express Train
In Seat Audio Control... the audio speakers are inbuilt into your seatheads.. pretty neat
Arriving at HKG Airport. The train heads onwards to AsiaWorld Expo
Entering the Airport Terminal
Since I had my boarding pass with me I headed straight for immigration and security. The lines for both were not that long and in under 10 minutes I was air side.
Caught up with some classmates who had also decided to to take a break @ HKG
Headed to Food Court Area on the upper level for some Beef Curry and Rice along with Bun and Cream..
My flight to BLR today was boarding at gate 25 today and about 30 mins before departure time headed out to the gate.
Display of Chinese Opera Costumes at the gate
KA 152 to BLR Boarding at Gate 25 - Codeshare with parent CX
The KA 330 taking me back home - too dark to read the regn
ILBST sadly missing -
More colleagues at the gate
OW Logo at the front door
The Y class was choc-a-bloc with hardly any seats free. The J class seemed roughly half full.
View from my seat up the aisle
Safety video on the personal IFE screen
The safety demonstration on the IFE was in English and Chinese. This was followed by an audio tape in Kannada (The language spoken in the State of Karnataka, the capital city of which is Bangalore) and Hindi. Not sure if other international airlines flying into BLR have safety procedures in Kannada
The IFE onboard KA A330 is non-AVOD. There are a handful of channels - nothing much to write about. One channel had a Hindi movie on.
Leg Space was slightly on the cramped side - manageable for a 5 hour flight is you are of average height.
Once we got airborne, the crew distributed menu cards
Today's options in Y included -
Western Main Course - Lemon Thyme Chicken with Orzo Pasta, Green Bean and Carrot
Indian Main Course - Tandoori Lamb with Vegetable Korma and Turmeric Rice
Indian Vegetarian Main Course - Paneer Korma and Aloo Gobhi Masala (Potato Cauliflower Dish) and Basmati Rice.
Served along with Fresh Fruit Plate,Bread Roll and Tea/Coffee/Drinks.
KA Also provides a snack service before landing and today that was going to be Broccoli and Carrot Puff Pastry or Roasted Chicken in Pita Bread. Notice how the "Vegetarian" symbol is erroneously put against the Chicken dish. I brought this to the notice of the crew who apologized for the mistake.
The Indian Non-Veg Option
The Lamb was a lil too sour for my taste and hence I left the tray pretty much untouched. Thankfully I had a hearty dinner at HKG Airport itself.
Post dinner, the cabin lights were turned off and the crew retreated back to the galley. However the forward Y cabin was way too hot for comfort. In fact I was sweating though my headsets.
The F/As were repeatedly called to correct the situation, however they said they are trying their best, but given that this was a pretty old a/c there airconditioning was not in the best of shape.
Unable to sleep, I headed out to the galley and spent almost two hours there chatting with some colleagues and the F/As. KA (and probably CA) are the only East Asian carriers who have a crew layover at BLR. The crew offered us drinks and snacks while we were there.
About 45 minutes away from BLR, we experienced mild turbulence and the seat belt signs came on. I bid farewell to the F/As and went back to my seat. The turbulence kept showing up all the way into BLR.
We landed into BLR and were docked at the gate before time.
Thank You for Flying Dragon Air
View of the a/c after disembarking at BLR
My luggage took an inordinately long time to show up - not sure if this is due to City Check in.
View of the Baggage Belt at BLR
Overall the KA experience was pretty average. The dated metal along with a rudimentary IFE and bad catering make this a "not-so-appealing" option when compared to the likes of SQ and TG. The saving grace probably is the crew and HKG Airport itself. Wonder if CX would take over this route from KA in the near future given the amount of traffic this route generates especially to the US West Coast. Hopefully that happens soon!!