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newbief1yer
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Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:35 pm

Part 5 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Air Astana from Urumqi to Bishkek via Astana

Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:18 pm

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Video Report

Air Astana - KC288 & KC151 - Urumqi to Bishkek via Astana

Background

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)

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Routing for this trip report
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Air 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
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Boot does not close? Ah, never mind!
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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
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Dedicated business class and Pearl Club privilege members check in desks
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Funky hot and cold water dispenser
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Slow progress - Check in desks for Air Astana
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No other FIDS Anywhere in the airport. Finally found one in the departure area
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Departures area
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Out gates
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Our (subbed) ride to Astana
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MD11 markings?
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Plane spotting at Urumqi
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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
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On board - Business class seating
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Our row of seats
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ear buds kept on each seat
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Row 17 and then 31???
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Neighbours at URC - China Southern B787-8 heading to Wuhan
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Decent amount of leg space
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Reading material
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All our bags seem to be there...
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:)
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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
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Air China - Boeing 737 Max 8
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Not sure what this is?
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Nor this?
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View after take-off - Beautiful Tien Shen mountains
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Wi-Fi Streaming service
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F&B on board
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Approaching TSE
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Neighbours at Astana
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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
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Passport check at TSE
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Security
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FIDS at TSE. Quite a confusing layout.
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Departure area
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Upstairs food court
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Our ride to Bishkek - A 22 year old B757-200
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Nice reclining seats near our gates
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Air Astana B757-200 heading to London Heathrow
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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
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B757-500 - Interiors
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Our row of seats
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Not sure why our windows were wet?
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Very good leg space
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Taxiing
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SCAT Boeing 737 Max 8
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Rare jets
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After take off
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Good looking IFE Screen
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Food on board
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En-route
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Approaching Bishkek
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Air Manas @ FRU
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Business class seating on the B757-200
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Bishkek Arrivals
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After passport control
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Baggage collection
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Exiting the airport
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Long winded route, but finally at Bishkek!
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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

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This was our ride to the airport! :)
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newbief1yer
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Posts: 619
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: Part 5 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Air Astana from Urumqi to Bishkek via Astana

Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:19 pm

Previous Trip Reports

Part 4 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Air Arabia from Mumbai to Urumqi via Sharjah
Part 3 trip to Kyrgyzstan - IndiGo from BLR to BOM
Part 2 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Jet Airways from Dubai to Bengaluru via Mumbai
Part 1 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Virgin to Dubai on A340-600 (G-VNAP)
Weekend trip on Austrian to Vienna - A321-100
Oman Air - London to India and back - A333 & B738
Part 5 - Long way to Vietnam - Return from Shanghai on BA B77W Club World
Part 4 - Long way to Vietnam - China Southern - Hanoi to Shanghai
Vietnam Domestic on Vietjet
Part 2 - Long way to Vietnam - Vietnam Airlines A350 to Saigon - Business Class
Part 1 - Long way to Vietnam - BA to Shanghai - Club World
Weekend trip to Budapest on FlyBe (SEN) and BA (LHR)
Part 4 - KLM from Beijing to London via Amsterdam - B787-9 & ERJ190
Part 3 - Spring Airlines - Seoul Incheon to Shijiazhuang - Airbus 320-200
Part 2 - Korea Domestic on Korean Air and Jeju Air
Part 1 - London to Seoul on KLM? No. Air France? No. Korean Air?
Part 5 - Canadian Escapades - Vancouver to London - BA A380-800 - Club World
Part 4 - Canadian Escapades - Edmonton to Vancouver - WestJet B737-800
Part 3 - Canadian Escapades - Toronto to Calgary - Air Canada B767-300ER
Part 2 - Canadian Escapades - Quebec to Toronto - WestJet Encore Dash8 Q400
Part 1 - Canadian Escapades - London to Montreal - BA 787-8
Weekend in Bilbao - BA A320 - Photo + Video Report
Cambodian Escapades - China Southern B787, A321 and A320
Domestic Cambodian Escapades - Sky Angkor - KOS-REP - A320
Weekend in Zurich - Swiss and BA (Club Europe) - Airbus 320-200
Weekend at Cinque Terre - BA to Bologna - Airbus 320-200
Journey to the East (Part 5, Final) - BA B747-400 (Club World)
Journey to the East (Part 4) - China Eastern A321-200
Journey to the East (Part 3) - Etihad 5th Freedom Route
Journey to the East (Part 2) - BA, JAL, Etihad, China Eastern
Journey to the East - BA, JAL, Etihad, China Eastern
Norwegian And Air Baltic To ARN And RIX
London To Muscat On Gulf Air - A332 And A320
Part 4:India Domestic-9W, AI, SG On A321,B737,Q400
Part3: Phuket To India - Bangkok Airways -A320-200
Part 2:Thailand Domestic -Nok Air And Thai AirAsia
Part 1:Qatar Airways - Thailand And India
Part 3:BA Club Europe - LCA-LHR - Boeing 767-300
Part 2:Blue Air - Athens-Larnaca - Boeing 737-400
Part 1: Aegean Air - LGW-ATH-JTR - A320-200
Ryanair London(STN) To Lake Como (BGY)
Weekend In Belfast - Aer Lingus A319-100
BA First - PEK To LHR - Mid J B747-400
China Railway (CRH) - Video Report - SJW - Beijing
BA CW - Upper Deck To Beijing - High J B747-400
LAN Dreamliner (J) Experience - MAD FRA
Weekend In Trondheim - DY/SK - Boeing 737-800/600
Baltic Escapades - VNO/TLL/RIX On W6,BT And OV
South France - EasyJet A320 BA A319
UK To India - The EK Way - B777-200/300 & A380
India Domestic–Jet Airways And Indigo–A320/ATR 72
BA A320/321 - LHR To Berlin TXL - Christmas Day
China Southern - LHR-CAN-HKT - B787/A321
Cool Blue To BOS And Got Blue? To LAS - E190 A320
Mahalo Hawaii, Hello NYC - DL B767-300
Aloha! The United Way - B777-200 And B737-900
VS Little Red To ABZ And EZY Return
24 Hours On A 787! - Final Leg CZ - AKL-CAN-LHR
Part 5 - BHE-WLG-AKL On NZ Beech1900D And A320
Part 4 - MEL-AKL-ZQN On QA And NZ B738\A320
Part 3 - CNS-MEL On JetStar A321-200
Part 2 - SYD - CNS On Virgin Australia E190
Canton Route Part 1 - LON-SYD - CZ DreamLiner/A332
DREAM(liner)ING Of Hainan - China Southern
Panda Calling - BA LHR To CTU - Club World
China - The Low Cost Way - Spring Airlines - SJW-CTU
China United Airlines (KN) - CTU - SJW - B737-700
Norwegian B737 - LGW-TOS-BGO-LGW
Jet Airways: LHR – COK
Barra Trip – that was not to be
Dusseldorf Calling - BA & EZY - Club/Eco - A321
Part 5: PVG-LHR - BA - Economy - B777
Part 4A&B - SHA-SJW-SHA - FM: Eco: B737
Part 3A&B : DXB-HKG-PVG: CX & KA :Eco: A333
Part 2: KWI-DXB - FlyDubai - Economy - B737
LHR - KWI - BA 747 - Part 1 - Middle East -China
Morocco Trip - LGW-RAK-TNG-LHR - EasyJet & Iberia
 
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alex0easy
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:34 am

Re: Part 5 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Air Astana from Urumqi to Bishkek via Astana

Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:32 pm

Nice clear pictures! Thanks.
Not sure what this is?

That's a mock-up cabin/training facility for the fire department.
Nor this?

PLAAF Il-76.
 
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newbief1yer
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Posts: 619
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: Part 5 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Air Astana from Urumqi to Bishkek via Astana

Thu Sep 13, 2018 7:47 pm

Awesome!

Thanks for the quick response, alex0easy. Good day!
 
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trpmb6
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Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:45 pm

Re: Part 5 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Air Astana from Urumqi to Bishkek via Astana

Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:23 pm

WOW that 757 looks Beautiful! Wish the 757's I've flown on looked like that one. Astana is definitely flying a good product!
 
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newbief1yer
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Posts: 619
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: Part 5 trip to Kyrgyzstan - Air Astana from Urumqi to Bishkek via Astana

Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:24 pm

It was indeed a well maintained and cared for aircraft. It did not show its age (22 + years)

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