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Part 4 of Aceh Adventure + Brand Review: Air Asia Flight – KL to Banda Aceh

Hey all,

Welcome back to my Aceh Adventure series. For this final part (Part 4) I’ll do a combination post of a Trip Report and a Brand Review of an Air Asia flight.

For more Trip Reports on my Aceh Trip click on the links below:

Part 1 – Reflection of the Great Tsunami
Part 2 – Banda Aceh: Food, Fun and Sights
Part 3 – Light Side of Banda Aceh

For more Brand Reviews, click here.

Let’s get to the post. My trip to Aceh was made possible by Air Asia’s direct flight from LCCT Kuala Lumpur. The flight was introduced for almost a year (I might be wrong) and has shown positive passenger load with mainly Indonesian workers going back and coming from their homeland. Not many ‘tourist’ type of passengers, but things will definitely improve over the next couple of years.

I had a fairly good flight to and fro on Air Asia (AK)’s A320. From KUL to Banda Aceh, I was flying on the only once-every-2-days flight, AK921. As always LCCT for AK flight. LCCT has improved a bit with an expensive lounge, food garden and the car park now accepting Touch N Go and special car park for my 4×4 wheels. Thumbs up MAHB! The flight was scheduled at 1155am and I was at the airport around 9 for a quick check-in. LCCT was less crowded during this time and it was quite a good start for my trip.

I grabbed a quick breakfast in Food Garden before going through the immigration control. Good to know that Food Garden is still doing well maintaining its cleanliness and variety of food as reviewed by me few months back.

Passing through the security checks, I was greeted by the usual crowd at the departure area. This is one area that needs improvement or even temporary solution as the long queue and limited seats are really a big turn-off.

Boarding for my flight begins around 1120 and after 10 minutes of standing and queuing, I was finally walking towards the plane and I was happy to find out that the Red Devil will be flying me to the land of Aceh! No photography in LCCT Please! My friend accidentally snap one as he’s about to keep his camera…

I was amongst the last to board the plane which was 60% full and managed to secure the best seats near the emergency exit. I just love the ample leg-room and the 10 seconds of personal time by AK stewardess explaining “Sir, you’re sitting on the Emergency Exit Row…?

The FAs are all quite friendly and pleasant looking.

Took off after 2-3 minutes of taxi (I think it’s 32R) and soon we are on the way to Aceh. It feels good to know that a female FO was the one flying the Red Devil on that day. If I’m not mistaken her name is Mona and saw her when she went out of the cockpit for a toilet break

No meals for me as I am excited to wallop Aceh food upon arrival. It is interesting however to notice there’s Roti Canai on the menu. Is this new or it has been there for a while?

Fast forward to final approach in Bandar Aceh. Amazing view!

Landed at this old-school airport. FO Mona made a smooooth landing. Kudos!

Before leaving the plane, saw a few signatures of the Devils

Another good look at the beautiful plane

There was a long queue for immigration..yes the queue was all the way till the plane…and when I finally got my passport stamped, Red Devil has begin its taxi back to KUL.

Fast forward for a couple of days, my return flight to KUL from Banda Aceh was on-board AK922. This time it’s the normal AK livery plane, nevertheless it’s still a pretty sight. Both the cockpit crew were guys and the flight went pretty smooth with on-time arrival. I guess normal ‘as-expected’ flights can be boring sometimes.

Some shots of Banda Aceh airport soon to be replaced with a new and more modern airport. Sorry for the small size images (internet too slow to upload normal size images).

The logo?

The Ticketing office

Check-in Area. A friendly advice for anyone traveling Air Asia or any airline using E-ticket. Print your flight itinerary and bring it with you although it’s not going to be used in LCCT but you will need the itinerary to enter the Check-in Area.

The Boarding Pass, Baggage Tag and Airport Tax receipt. Classic!

Boarding the plane. Could not get the best seats this time but still manage to get an empty seat in between me and my friend. The air-con was at super-mode and you can see the effect as if smoke is filling in the cabin. One thing I like about AK is how they have their own Radio Stations with cool songs like Can’t Fight The Moonlight instead of the old boring instrumental on MAS and other airlines.

Love the clouds…

And 80 minutes later, landed at KLIA.

When everything seems normal, suddenly a good flight was spoiled by poor baggage handling upon arrival. Who’s fault was this? MAHB or AK? You decide.

First of all, there are only 2 carrousels for so many flights. There were 2 flights from Clark Field, Manila and Guangzhou ahead of us so we waited for almost 30 minutes. Then I started to wonder and it was then my friend told me to just check out the Guangzhou carousel. I was surprise to find out that the Banda Aceh bags were there as well. No change to this sign even after me picking up all 6 bags!

Very full! Watch the blue and black backpack…

…gone!

That backpack was not the only one. Many bags felt out of the carousel. Since no airport officials and AK guys were around, I helped to put back some of the bags on to the carousel. And the great backpack made one round since the owner does not realize his/her bag on the ‘Guangzhou’ carousel!

…only to fell out again. I put it back and by that time I got all my bags and left. By that time AK staff were there but only seem interested in keeping the carousel running rather than helping to put the bags back. Bad bad!

One of my bags got flagged out and the scanner beeps when I passed through “Something to Declare? without stopping and got stopped for custom check. Nothing happened, but it’s good to know that the boys are doing their job!

Air Asia is steadily becoming a major player in the airline business competing with the big boys. It is true that i believe things can be done in a different way for certain things in Air Asia. Nevertheless, credits should be given when it is due. Next time, i’ll be writing a bit more on Air Asia’s new baggage fee policy. Till then, this will be the end of my Aceh Adventure. Look forward for my next travel and aventure 🙂

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