Monday, September 26, 2011

Tokyo/Vietnam July 2011 - Thai Air Asia 3721 Economy Class (SGN - BKK)

***This post is part 21 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

When I was booking this positioning flight from Saigon to Bangkok, I had to chuckle a little when I realized I was going to travel on perhaps the lowest of the ultra-low cost carriers in order to catch a flight on one of the best first class offerings in the world. Slightly ironic I suppose :)

I arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) via taxi early in the morning for the 9:45 AM departure. Lines at the Air Asia counter were already fairly long, with mostly Western backpackers ahead of me. One of the pains of dealing with ultra-low cost carriers are the endless add-on fees that you end up paying if you don't plan ahead. Literally everything costs extra aside from your actual seat on the plane. Unfortunately, a few ladies in front of me didn't realize this and had to pay an arm and a leg to get their multiple bags checked in. Things got fairly ugly as their conversation with the agent became heated and the agent proceeded to direct them to another counter and started to completely ignore them.

Fortunately I didn't have any issues as I prepaid for my checked bag online and it was far below the weight limit. Customs was a bit of a pain since I seem to always choose the line with the grumpiest officer. He gave a bunch of rowdy students in front of me a hard time, but luckily I was spared any questioning. Security was a breeze and soon I was at the gate waiting for our A320.

Thai Air Asia 3721
Airbus A320-200
Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) - Bangkok (BKK)
Monday July 18, 2011
Departure: 9:45 AM (scheduled)
Arrival: 11:10 AM (scheduled)
Duration: 1h 25m (scheduled)
Seat: 25D (Economy)

Boarding was actually fairly orderly, with row numbers called and most people lining up. Once on the plane, I think most male passengers' attention immediately turned to the young female flight attendants, or shall I say flying models. It's hard not to laugh at the absurdity of it all because it's quite blatant that every single one of them were selected mainly for their appearance. If this were in the United States, I think Air Asia would probably be facing a massive class action lawsuit from flight attendants who were fired the moment they turned 30, or from those who weren't even considered for the job because of how they looked.

The seats were comfortable, pitch was bearable for the short flight, and service was quick and efficient. I didn't bother ordering any food or drinks since I would be eating at the lounge when I arrived in Bangkok. But their menu was kind of comical as it was hawking all sorts of interesting stuff, from instant ramen to candy bars to t-shirts and hats. One other thing I noticed about Air Asia was the massive amounts of advertisements plastered all over the interior of the plane. This was literally a flying billboard in the sky. The funny thing was that all the advertisements were for Air Asia itself, specifically it's travel insurance add-on and it's new hotel and vacation booking features online.

Advertisements galore

Other than that, this was an extremely uneventful flight. Landing into Suvarnabhumi was a bit rough, but nothing out of the ordinary. Flying with ultra-low cost carriers always makes me smile, not because they're particularly pleasant, but because of how ridiculously hilarious some of the situations their business model can lead to. It's definitely a different breed of air travel, but with the proper caution and preparation, it can definitely be a very cheap and entertaining way to fly. With Air Asia checked off my list, I'll have to move on to RyanAir soon... I've heard great things about them ;)

Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport

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