Video Report Air Astana - KC288 & KC151 - Urumqi to Bishkek via AstanaBackground
finally to reach Kyrgyzstan, Our trip from Urumqi to Bishkek, we were slightly constrained by our options. As stated in my first report, Air Manas, who used to fly this route, suddenly stopped it, which left us with an overpriced China Southern (£230) or Air Astana via Astana (£111).
Chose Air Astana for the price and the timing. Would get to try a new airline and would also get to go on a Boeing 767. Exciting! ( this would soon change)Booking Process
Booking this ticket was a nightmare. I initially used Air Astana main website to make the booking on a Sunday night. Entered all the details, card details and 'Paid'. I get an error stating that payment has been declined. Alright, I try again with another card, and it says 'Duplicate booking'.
Alright I shall re-start again. This time, I noticed that the price of 1 ticket had bloated from ~£111 to £168!. I soon realized that my original booking had been in a state of limbo, as when I went back to choose seats, I could see my originally chosen seats as blocked! So not sure if the payment has gone though. Tried calling my card company to no avail. This was 90 minutes.
Next day tried calling Air Astana UK contact center. The kind lady explained that she could see the booking and cancelled it. Upon which the price had gone back to the original £111 per head. I tried to book again via the website, lo and behold, same error!
Called the agent again and she suggested that I can either book through her, at an extra charge of £15 per ticket or call the Kazakhstan office and they might be able to help.
Calling the Kazakhstan main central office did not help too. Finally it was realised that since my trip was originating from China, the website would only allow a Chinese originated credit card or debit card!
So had to again get my booking dropped from their systems and had to book via a third party website.
Phew! Spent nearly 3 hours online and over the phone to get this sorted!
Once done, I confirmed from Air Astana website and the booking was a valid one. However, I was not able to block my seats. A quick email to the customer service, requesting the seats that I wanted, and 12 hours later got a confirmation that it was all done.
This is the fifth installment in this series of reports.
1. Virgin (on a rare A340-600) to Dubai -> for a quick 7 hour catch up friends
2. and then onward to Bengaluru on Jet Airways via Mumbai
3. India Domestic -> Bengaluru to Mumbai
4. A strange routing -> Mumbai to Urumqi with Air Arabia via Sharjah!
5. Urumqi to Bishkek on Air Astana via Astana.
6. Finally return back to London from Bishkek on Turkish via Istanbul
Thanks to GCMap.com (My entire trip routing)
Routing for this trip reportAir Astana - KC288 & KC151
Route: URC - TSE - FRU
Flight Reg:P4-VAS; Delivered to Air Astana on May 2007
P4-GAS; Built April 1996, Previous D-AMUI. To Air Astana on March 2004
Aircraft Type: Airbus 320-200 & Boeing 757-200
Seat: 15K & 32K
Flight time: 12:40 - 13:20 (13:17 - 13:29 ) 15:15 - 16:55 (15:33 - 16:57)
Actual flight time: 2Hr 12min & 1Hr 24 Min
Distance: 894 and 568 Miles
Load: 109 Passengers & No data for the second flight
Price: £433 (For 4 tickets -> OmegaFlightStore.com)
1st Sep 2018
My Log book: 1st & 2nd flight on Air Astana/ 43rd flight on Airbus 320-200 & 2nd flight on Boeing 757-200/ 174th and 175th Total overall flight
Day before the flight, OCI was a seamless and simple process. It was during this process I got to know that there were aircraft changes for both sectors. We would now be on a (vanilla) A320 on the first sector and on a (interesting!) B757 on the second shorter sector. This meant our seat selection was also changed.
Nevertheless we still got fairly decent seats and still getting to try a new airline! Nothing can dampen my spirits
On the Day of the flight, drive to the airport was rather quick. We were there 3 hours before departure only to be told that bag drop only opens 2 hours before departure. There was quite a crowd who had come 3 hours before As it seems to be the norm in China.
Approaching Urumqi Airport
Boot does not close? Ah, never mind!
It gave me some time to explore the airport. It's a typical tire 2 city Chinese airport. Typical shops and a food court. The only thing missing was FIDS which I found quite odd. I had to ask a staff for where the counters for air Astana was. It could be perhaps that all counters belong to China southern. So for the few international flights, you got to ask which counters they are. Looks like this terminal is for all China southern flights (Domestic and international) and all international flights.
Checking in took around 30 minutes followed by a further 20 minutes to pass immigration and security.
As soon as we reached the boarding gate, our aircraft had just landed, right on time.
Urumqi International terminal
Dedicated business class and Pearl Club privilege members check in desks
Funky hot and cold water dispenser
Slow progress - Check in desks for Air Astana
No other FIDS Anywhere in the airport. Finally found one in the departure area
Our (subbed) ride to Astana
Plane spotting at Urumqi
Boarding commenced at 12 05 with it being completed at 12 20.
First impressions of the aircraft was very impressive. Very presentable flight attendants and the aircraft was well kept. Announcements were made in Kazak, Mandarin and English. Flight time of 2 hour and 10 minutes announced.
Blankets were provided for those feeling a bit nippy and the blankets looked of very good quality. Each of them were individually packed. The airline felt and looked quite premium.
Time to board
On board - Business class seating
Our row of seats
ear buds kept on each seat
Row 17 and then 31???
Neighbours at URC - China Southern B787-8 heading to Wuhan
Decent amount of leg space
All our bags seem to be there...
There was a bit of a delay for us to disembark once everyone had boarded and we were finally Airborne only by 13 20.
Wi-Fi streaming was available on board. Once again for android devices you needed to go to your browser to login to their home page. Airastana.aero
Once there you are asked to download an app and from there to install it. All worked seamlessly until Wi-Fi was discontinued half way through the flight.
Service on this flight was very good. Rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed into Astana 10 minutes behind schedule.
More plane spotting during taxiing
Air China - Boeing 737 Max 8
Not sure what this is?
View after take-off - Beautiful Tien Shen mountains
Wi-Fi Streaming service
F&B on board
Neighbours at Astana Transit in Astana
Transit experience at Astana could've been quicker. It took a while to get the passport check underway. Around 20 minutes. Security was super quick. From there the departure area is quite nice. Airy and an open plan seating with comfortable reclining seats at each gates.
Arrivals at TSE
Passport check at TSE
FIDS at TSE. Quite a confusing layout.
Upstairs food court
Our ride to Bishkek - A 22 year old B757-200
Nice reclining seats near our gates
Air Astana B757-200 heading to London Heathrow
Boarding commenced on time for this flight.
Excited to get to go on a 22 year old B757. First impressions, similar to the previous flight, it looked and smelt very good. Courteous and very presentable crew welcoming us onboard.
Boarding complete at 15 10 and a Flight time of 1 hr 25 minutes announced from the flight deck.
Rest of the flight was uneventful and I shall let the pictures do the talking.
Time to board
B757-500 - Interiors
Our row of seats
Not sure why our windows were wet?
Very good leg space
SCAT Boeing 737 Max 8
After take off
Good looking IFE Screen
Food on board
Air Manas @ FRU
Business class seating on the B757-200
After passport control
Exiting the airport
Long winded route, but finally at Bishkek! Verdict
A very good experience with Air Astana. On time, clean aircrafts, very good service and a very presentable crew. Food on this sector was just average and decent enough for a short flight. Overall would happily fly with them again.
This is the second last instalment of this series. One more to go. It should be out fairly soon.
Until then, happy and safe flying.Sights around Urumqi
This was our ride to the airport!