It is time for me to start thinking about heading home. It has been and fun vacation, what with all the flying in the first week and the relaxing and interesting visits to Cambodia and Laos in the second week. My next stop on my way home will be Bangkok.
Getting to the Airport
Transport: Shuttle from the hotel.
Journey time: The journey from the Amantaka to Luang Prabang’s new international terminal takes roughly twenty minutes.
Location: Ground floor, the departures level is in the east wing of the building, to the right.
Facilities: Only airport check-in.
Counters: There are two counters checking in the flight to Bangkok.
There is a bit of a queue for my counter, I assume it is because the agent checking passengers in appears to be in training. She takes her job seriously and even calls somewhere to make sure she is allowed to check me in for the flight with my passport. Her supervisor even comments and explains in an apologising tone that he has never seen a passport like mine, and inquires as to which continent Malta is on.
Bangkok Airways sees itself as a bit of a boutique airline that tries to make the whole travel experience as pleasant as possible for all passengers – even in Economy Class. Thus, at its homebase in Bangkok the carrier has a lounge that is accessible to all passengers flying with the airline. At outstations the carrier usually has its own dedicated kiosks where passengers can get something to drink or a small snack upon presenting their Bangkok Airways boarding pass. But in Luang Prabang this does not appear to be the case and I find the signage particularly entertaining, it reads ‘Lounge now not available’. Would it then not make more sense to just not advertise something that does not exist?
The aircraft arrives late from Bangkok, thus boarding starts with a delay of about fifty minutes. Boarding is strictly by rows and I am quite surprised by how strictly this is implemented by the ground staff. As I walk to the aircraft I take my time to snap as many pictures as I can of my aircraft.
Configuration: 2 + 2
Seat: 6A, window on the port side. Bangkok Airways operates the ATR-72 in an Economy Class only configuration with 70 seats. At 31 inches the pitch is the same, if not even better, than that on many European carriers. The seats are covered in material, which also marks a pleasant departure from those horrible faux leather seats that seem to be so popular with many airlines these days.
Pitch: 31 inches.
Width: 18 inches.
There are two cabin crew on today’s flight, one male and one female. The female is excellent and makes a very good and competent impression. The male however is, quite frankly, pretty useless. I am not sure if he just does not care or if maybe he may be still new to the job.
The doors close and the cabin crew come by distributing pre-packed refreshing towels (please excuse the hairy legs in the shot…).
Luang Prabang airport is surrounded by some pretty high mountains on all sides, which makes for a rather interesting departure to gain height. We take off on runway 23 in a south-westerly direction. We then do a right turn, which brings us back over the airfield heading in an easterly direction. Once we are passed the runway, we do a left turn in a south-westerly direction again, once more bringing us back over the airfield.
Choice: There is no choice, but it is possible to order special meals in advance.
Delivery: Tray service.
Type of meal: Lunch.
- Mushroom, bell pepper and corn salad.
- Noodles with broccoli, carrots and duck (served cold).
- Mandarin flavoured sponge cake.
- Coke Zero.
Much to my surprise, we are actually served a full meal and it is not even that bad either. The main dish comes with a plastic sachet with some spicy sauce which really is quite tasty. After the meal coffee and tea are available.
Eventually we start our descent, to land in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi at 14h55, only slightly behind schedule. We taxi to an open stand and from there we are bussed to the terminal.
The arrivals concourse is currently under renovation or reconstruction, so there is a lot of building going on. As my luck would have it, I end up queuing for a visa on arrival behind what looks like a whole aircraft load of Indians. It is quite simply chaos. The passengers, mostly men, seem to be travelling as a group and only a few have printed the PNR/e-ticket confirmation which you are obliged to show in order to get your visa on arrival… Eventually, after 45 minutes it is finally my turn and then I have finally arrived in Bangkok again.
Getting to the Hotel
Transport: Complimentary hotel shuttle bus.
Departs from: Outside the arrivals concourse. As you exit immigration, follow the signs for the Novotel shuttle.
Frequency: Every twenty minutes.
Journey time: About eight minutes.
I never quite understood why they even offer the shuttle to the Novotel at Suvarnabhumi airport. Quite frankly, unless you are travelling with copious amounts of luggage, you are probably better off walking to the hotel. It is certainly quicker. To access the Novotel on foot, simply head two floors down from arrivals upon exiting immigration. Follow the signs to the railway station. Once you arrive at the station, just keep on walking straight ahead. Eventually you will reach an escalator that will bring you up to ground level right in front of the entrance to the hotel.