Friday, August 24, 2012

Cambodia April 2012 - Cambodia Angkor Air 109 Economy Class (PNH-REP)

***This post is part 8 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

I arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport approximately two hours prior to departure, which I knew would be way more time than I actually needed. My taxi driver had come to the hotel a lot earlier than expected, and it didn't really make sense to tell him to come back later. Hence, an arrival at the airport before the counters were even open.

Check-in was a bit chaotic, as there was no announcement or display as to which counters Cambodia Angkor Air would use. I ended up just following a crowd of Western tourists, who all lined up at 12 and 13, and low and behold, they were correct. At about 3:00 pm, check-in started and the process went smoothly, albeit slowly. Next, I followed the signs to the domestic departures hall, and made it airside after a very quick security check. Despite being such a tiny airport, all the facilities were extremely clean and modern. There was one small cafe next to the departure gates, and I indulged in some coconut gelato while waiting for boarding to begin.

Once our flight was called, tickets were scanned and we proceeded down a flight of stairs and exited the building. It was a bit of a walk to the aircraft, which I loved since it gave me ample time to take pictures.

Cambodia Angkor Air 109
ATR 72-500
Phnom Penh (PNH) - Siem Reap (REP)
Sunday April 1, 2012
Departure: 4:00 PM (scheduled)
Arrival: 4:45 PM (scheduled)
Duration: 0h 45m (scheduled)
Seat: 9A (Economy) 

Cambodia Angkor Air's ATR 72-500s are leased from Vietnam Airlines, which owns a 49% stake in the carrier. One interesting thing about the aircraft is that all luggage and cargo are stored at the front of the plane, in a compartment right behind the cockpit.

I chose a window seat for the short flight, but quickly realized that the windows were quite dirty and scratched up, which made it difficult to get a clear shot of the scenery outside. The inside of the plane, however, was in good condition and showed very little sign of wear and tear. Legroom was fairly cramped, but that's to be expected on a smaller aircraft like this.

We departed on schedule, and soon after takeoff, the flight attendant handed out snack boxes, which consisted of a small cup of drinking water and a slice of cake. The portions were tiny, but it was more than I expected for the 45-minute gate-to-gate hop. It's a good thing the flight was so short though, since turboprops can be extremely loud, especially when sitting right next to the propellers. We were literally at cruising altitude for about 10 minutes before we began our descent into Siem Reap. There was a beautiful view of Tonle Sap Lake during the final approach (although my pictures of it turned out horribly).

Landing was smooth, and we soon deplaned via the aircraft stairs. If you've read the previous installments of this trip report, you'll remember that the President of China, Hu Jintao, had been stalking following me throughout my travels in Cambodia. First, he delayed our landing in Phnom Penh, then he scuttled my first attempt to visit the Royal Palace. Well, as luck would have it, I noticed an Air China 737 parked on the tarmac while walking towards the gate, along with PRC flags and a huge welcome sign with a picture of Hu Jintao and other Chinese dignitaries. Later, I found out that Hu Jintao had just arrived in Siem Reap hours earlier and was touring Angkor Wat that afternoon. Thankfully, my travel plans wouldn't be disrupted this time since tour activities began the next day.

Hu Jintao strikes again!

I picked up my luggage and headed outside the airport, where I was met by Nicky, my guide for the next three days. While we had conversed extensively over email, it was nice to finally meet him in person. Nicky helped me load my bags into his car and we were on our way into Siem Reap.

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