Friday, February 04, 2005

Bunking a night at KLIA


View of the main terminal building, Departure level of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at night. Kl, 2004.

Surprisingly for all the premonition and doomsayers about taking Air Asia, the ride was a piece of cake. The ticket line was fast and quick, the check in was swift and the flight was there promptly at 9 p.m. and we were all nicely tucked into the plane by 9.20 p.m. as stated on the ticket and we were even early to reach KLIA at 11.30 instead of 11.45 as stated in the booking chart. Not bad considering I paid RM59.90 (before airport tax). I figure one reason was the time (coming back a day before the weekend starts avoided most of the crowd going back for the holidays), the plane was barely full with about half of the seats filled.

We did have a little problem getting to the airport itself though, the lecturer conducting the entrepreneurship class for Laura decided to work extra hard today and class only ended round 6 p.m. After a quick bath, rechecking our documents and a last minute checklist of luggage we speeded off to Centerpoint for Pizza. Again it seems the lateness bug not only bit the uni but the staff at Pizza Hut took their time with the Calzone Pizza our designated drivers ordered. By the time we pulled into Terminal 2 the clock already showed 8.55 p.m. and we were late. I panicked a bit and almost fumbled and lost my marbles. But it was ok, we got through no problem and got window seats on the plane, the only thing not late today.

I know many people has griped about the lousy service by Air Asia but truth be told, I’ve yet to experience a really bad delay or an explosive situation; no 4 hours waiting for a delayed flight, no multiple changes in departure time in a single day nor frustration in dealing with the staff due to some technical error. Most of my flights have been smooth, uneventful and even to the extent of being enjoyable. The only incident was when I boarded the flight from Penang to KLIA, In was informed via SMS about a rescheduling of my flight a day in advance so it wasn’t much of a biggie and my connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu was hours away. Maybe its only the Peninsular routes and international routes that are having problem, Kk so far seems fine (besides the episode of the plane skidding off the runway).

Since my flight to Kuantan is only at 9.30 a.m. on Friday, Laura and I basically have a 12 hour wait at KLIA, spending the night here. I haven’t done so before and was a little unsure if the shops would be open for us to bunk in else we’d have to settle for the benches (which many of the passengers are doing). It was a nice surprise to find that Burger King was open 24 hours and so we made up our minds to head there. We found a nice spot in the corner with two power point and whisked out our laptops to while away the time, both of us correcting and proof reading her Thesis submission. It’s now 4 a.m. and the halls are mostly deserted, a few passengers are still about, some pushing trolleys without any clear aim of where to head, others fast asleep with their bags as pillow on the seats, others like us settling down for the long night in one of the few all nighter stalls and others watching the planes take off at the viewing deck. The only regretful part is that I don’t have a WiFi device to enable me to go online, BK is charging RM 15 for several hours of surfing (too rich for my blood). Laura is already out cold on the bench with my blanket as a shield against the cold of the air conditioning and I’m with a refillable BK drink (think I’ve already downed 6 servings of Coke to this point). It’s not too bad getting stuck here, most of the facilities are good, toilets are a step away, you won’t grow hungry with the food stalls and there’s always the computer to work with. Trying not to sleep, not too tired after resting on the plane, but I’m sure I’ll have to pay the sleep debt later tomorrow. Well I’m on Kl soil now, it’s good to be back.

5.30 a.m. Friday 4th February 2005

We spent the time half in a stupor state with the air conditioning blowing full blast. Catching sleep was hard and the most we got was a half an hour of restless slumber with each taking guard duty on our luggage cart. Walking around a bit helps and the outside was warming up. We had some time left so when it was 7 a.m. we decided to check in our luggage before heading of for breakfast. Turns out the MAS lines were jammed packed with people lining up until it streched out of the automatic main entrace gate. Never seen anything like this, was wondering what happened to make such a large mass exodus; was it the Chinese New Year balik kampung rush or was it something else? Turned out to be the Haji pilgrims returning from their yearly pilgrimage of the Holy Lands, wearing their white coveralls and lugging PVC bags with large quantities of bottled air zam zam.

After a half hour wait, we headed for Mc Donalds, had the Bubur Ayam McD for the first time and the warm porridge was a welcoming relief for the cold morning, the unlimited refill cofee helped too. We next went about walking through the stalls to while away the time till my 9.20 a.m. flight. Admiring the delectable chocolates everywhere but too rich for our pockets. I was leaving first while Laura's flight was at 1 p.m. We said goodbye, she quite reluctantly seeing me off, as she put it 'separation anxiety' even if it was for a week. My flight was full of Haj pilgrims heading to Kuantan, old men and women mostly. Flight was fast, we reached at about 10 a.m. The crowd waiting outside the airport was huge, as if the whole village came to greet the returnees. Had quite a wait as tons of air zam zam were seen revolving on the conveyor belt. Persatuan Bulan Sabit Merah (Red Cresent Society) members and Tabung Haji personnels were onsite to help them claim their baggage. Dad was already waiting for me and thus headed home, looking foward to a nice bath, some food and a long rest to recouperate from yesterday's ordeal.

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