Taking Light Rail to SeaTac Airport

When it came time for my return flight from Seattle to San Francisco, I thought it might be interesting to try public transit to the airport. I was staying with a friend on Capitol Hill, just northeast of downtown, and a short bus ride to the Central Link light rail that runs to Seattle Tacoma International Airport, about ten miles south of the city.

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The first step of the journey involved taking a seven-minute bus ride down the hill to the Westlake station at Fourth and Pine Streets. The bus stop was just a block from my friend’s house and a handy free iPhone app called OneBusAway (developed by the University of Washington) let me know exactly when the next bus was coming, minimizing my waiting time. The ride ended up being free because one of the other waiting passengers had accidentally been given two transfers on his connecting bus, so he gave one to me. Normally, it would be a $2.25 ride.

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The Westlake station will be the northern current terminus of the light rail line until 2016 and announcements on the bus made it easy to tell which stop to alight at. Going down two flights of escalators, I found a small ticketing lobby with easy to use self-service ticketing machines. The machines take both cash and cards. “Orca” is the name of the multi-modal fare card in the Seattle area. It stands for “One Regional Card for All” and is, of course, the proper name of the killer whales found in nearby Puget Sound – clever.

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From the ticketing lobby I descended another level to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. This 1.3-mile tunnel opened in 1990 and provides a convenient, congestion-free path for buses and light rail trains through the heart of Seattle while also providing passengers protection from the elements while waiting. It seems to be a useful piece of infrastructure.

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My adult ticket – $2.75 one-way to the airport. Travel time to the aiport from downtown is 36 minutes, not much longer than what a trip by car would be, without the worries of traffic – and in Seattle, there is usually traffic.

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Signage in the station was clear – different bus lines stop in different sections of the platform – and there were staff members present to answer questions. Frequency of the light rail runs from every 7.5 to every 15 minutes, depending on the time of day. I had less than a five-minute wait before my train arrived.

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Many passengers boarded at this first station, including several who were clearly going to the airport. Average weekday ridership for the 15.6-mile route is about 25,500, growing at a steady but modest pace.

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The two-car trains have a capacity of 74 seated and 126 standing passengers, although it would be hard to imagine that many people standing in this train, especially with the number of people bringing luggage aboard. With the airport as an important destination, there is a surprisingly small amount of storage space for luggage.

Leaving Westlake station, the line passes nine stations at a pretty quick rate, stopping at a station every two or three minutes. The final two stations, though, are much further out with nine minutes between the tenth and eleventh stations. This is a long distance for light rail to run with no stops and as far as I can tell, the route includes no provisions for in-fill stations to be added. 

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Two minutes afer leaving the second-to-last station, you pull into the SeaTac Airport station. This neatly organized station has a view of the north end of the airport terminal and signage directing you to the airport is clear. Unfortunately, it is an open-air station and I imagine that it gets very unpleasant waiting for a train in the winter. It looks, though, like the usually have an outbound train waiting in the station so passengers do not have to stand out in the elements for long.

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A view of the airport light rail station, which is built northeast of the parking garage and is connected via a pedestrian bridge and walkway that is partially protected from the elements. Sound Transit, the light rail operator, says it is a four-minute walk to the airport terminal. That would be a brisk four minutes, especially if you have luggage, and would only get you to the northernmost corner of the terminal. For most people, especially those not flying Alaska Airlines, ten to fifteen minutes would be a better estimate.

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View of the hometown airline, Alaska Airlines, from the light rail station.

I’m a fan of public transit and am glad that one more city in America has made its airport more accessible via transit. The Central Link light rail is convenient to use, reasonably comfortable (of course it was unseasonably pleasant weather when I rode it), and offers a good return on money for time. If you live anywhere near downtown (or along the light rail route), it is a compelling alternative to a taxi or private car. Of course, not everyone in Seattle lives near the light rail, which is always the challenge of public transit. Still, my overall impression of the Seattle light rail is a positive one.

 

On the Way to Kansas City

Now that I’m safely back in Thailand, let me share some highlights from my recent trip to the United States.  This first portion covers the trip from Bangkok to Los Angeles and San Francisco on my way to Kansas City.

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Self-portrait on the Flight Information Display Signage.  Thankfully, I scheduled a 12:40 pm departure which meant I didn’t have to get up too early or rush to get to the airport.  Instead, time for a leisurely breakfast before hailing a taxi.

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On the climb out of Bangkok, I could still see some lingering effects of the flooding.  While these rice paddies normally have water in them at this time of year, you can see how the vertical boundaries between many of the paddies have been erased.  The water is still high enough in this area to the northeast of the city that water flows across dikes and roads, combining multiple paddies into small lakes.

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The connection through Taipei was smooth and we landed about thirty minutes early in Los Angeles in the mid-afternoon.  Here, I snap a photo of my plane before boarding a bus at the remote parking area.  Winds were very high and were blowing offshore, the opposite of the usual direction.

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Los Angeles is a great place to see the world’s largest passenger airplane, the Airbus A380.  Qantas sends multiple planes there daily, one of which is hidden behind the other in the picture on the left.  Singapore Airlines also sends an A380 to LAX (above right) and Korean Airlines and Air France will soon join them, too.

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I connected to Southwest Airlines for a flight up to San Francisco.  Had I realized that my 6:00 departure was going to be delayed, I would have hustled over from the international terminal and tried to make the 3:30 flight instead.  While waiting for my flight, a teenager practiced his violin, playing very well for an appreciative crowd of passengers.

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A young girl gets her start as an aviation enthusiast, watching the planes as her father “flies” her through the air.

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My high school friend Ryan, pictured above with his 2-year old son, picked me up at the airport and we were able to catch up over dinner – Vietnamese noodles! – before I crashed on an air mattress at his house.  While I was only in the San Francisco area for about 12 hours, it was very nice to be able to see Ryan and his family again.

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After some coaxing, Elliot decided it would be okay to pose for a picture with Uncle Chris before heading to the airport.

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The weather on Friday morning was crisp and clear, allowing for a beautiful view of San Francisco as we took off to the north, climbing towards Oakland. 

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After buying Midwest Airlines, Frontier adopted their practice of serving fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies onboard.  A nice touch at an airline that is hard to distinguish from all the other domestic carriers.  After a tight connection in Denver, I arrived in Kansas City about 5:45 Friday evening.

 

Terminal 21: Mall as Airport

In early November, a new mall opened in Bangkok.  Terminal 21, located adjacent to the Asoke Skytrain station along Sukhumvit Road, is a 9-story mall with 20 stories of serviced apartments and office space above the mall.  What sets this mall apart is that it is themed as an airport.

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By an “airport theme” I mean that there are many airport motifs throughout the complex.  These range from information boards that looks like the digital “arrivals” and “departures” flight information displays you see at an airport, to the escalator signage looking like they indicate the directions to different gates, to each floor being themed after a different international city.

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“Departure for Level 3” reads the sign above the long escalator that ascends from the mezzanine floor to a point halfway up the mall.  Given its fantastic location, the mall has been crowded since its opening several weeks ago, filled mostly with local sightseers, much like the international airport was when it first opened.

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Floors include Tokyo (left), Istanbul, Rome, and Paris (right) with each floor decorated in a manner meant to evoke the feel of the city.  Lots of visitors are stopping to take pictures with these decorative items, leading to the likely chance that you will walk through the frame of someone’s picture at some point or another.  Even the mall security and cleaning staff are uniformed appropriately for the floor on which they work.  Yes, that means that on the Paris floors the staff cleaning the toilets are dressed like French maids.

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The San Francisco floor has a miniature Golden Gate bridge spanning an atrium.  The only shops on this floor are restaurants, which seems appropriate for a city well-known for its food.  I’m not sure that the selection of restaurants would necessarily do the City by the Bay proud, though.

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With its location adjacent to both the Skytrain and subway stations, Terminal 21 is positioned at a literal crossroads of Bangkok, accessible to customers from many corners of the city.  The mall looks like it has targeted the middle of the market: there are many popular stores but no high-end ones and there are also a large number of smaller boutiques featuring local independent businesses.  Compared to other malls in the city, it is not nearly as fancy as Central Childlom or Siam Paragon but is much nicer than Platinum or MBK.  I suspect it will be a winning formula.

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The thing that I find terribly ironic, though, is that in a city with an airport that has been criticized for being too much of a mall (the picture above is of the actual airport, not Terminal 21), we end up having a new mall that has an airport theme.  To compare the two:

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Terminal 21 Mall

High end shopping

Local boutiques

Took 4 years after opening to get rail service, which is expensive and inconvenient

Served by rail service from the first day on both the Skytrain and Subway lines

Easily mispronounced Sanskrit name  

Easily pronounced English name

Confusing signage and endless moving sidewalks  Clear signage and quick escalators
Intolerable waits at immigrationBreeze through metal detector at entrance
Insufficient toilets, often dirtyPlentiful toilets cleaned by women in French maid outfits

 

Returning Home

Late Sunday morning, Tawn and I returned home from two weeks in the United States.  While I still have a bit more to share about the trip, and will continue to blog about it in the coming days – including about some other restaurants we ate at! – I wanted to let you know that we were back in Bangkok so that you don’t get confused about what would otherwise seem to be a month-long vacation!

Here’s a short video I shot on the taxi ride in from the airport, where I discovered some helpful and slightly shocking tourist materials.

 

Heading Home: Honolulu to Guam to Hong Kong

After six days in Hawai’i, I had attended my cousin’s beautiful beach wedding, I had tasted the holy grail of desserts – macadamia nut cream pie, I had eaten poke and ordered loco moco, and I had bumped along an unpaved road to reach the place where Hawaiians believe the spirits of their dead depart for the next world.  After accomplishing all that, it was time to begin the journey back home.

While the trip was quite similar to the one into Hawai’i, I though I would share some more pictures of the trip for those of you who enjoy them.  Check out the video of our takeoff from Honolulu – the reef just off the runway is gorgeous.

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The check-in area of Honolulu International Airport reminds me a bit of LAX.  In fact, it looks more “LA” than LA does.

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The interior, though, is still in that 1970s time warp that seems to be pervasive in Honolulu.  It seems that an expansion and remodel is planned so we’ll see if that brings the airport into the 21st century.

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Oddly, this video monitor shows the date as November 30.  Only off by a few months.

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Another beautiful outdoor garden you can access from the gate area.  While the airport is in need of a remodel, I give it high marks for having lots of open air spaces and also for offering a lot of visibility of the airplanes.  A lot of airports make it hard for you to appreciate the view of the planes, which I think is a part of the romance of air travel.  Here is a selection of the planes I saw while waiting for our flight:

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A Delta Boeing 767-300 heading to Los Angeles.

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Two Continental jets.  The nearer one is a Boeing 737-700 headed to John Wayne International in Santa Ana, CA.  The further one is a Boeing 737-800 in the new United livery, headed to Los Angeles.

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This Boeing 757-200ER belongs to Omni Air International, a charter operation based in Tulsa, OK.

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An American Airlines Boeing 757-200 with winglets, bound to Los Angeles.  (Lots of flights to LAX, no?)

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Alaska Airlines also flies to Honolulu.  This flight is going to Portland, OR.  This Boeing 737-800 is part of their Hawaiian subfleet – notice the lei of flowers around the Eskimo’s neck.

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Hawaiian B767-300 without winglets

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Hawaiian Boeing 767-300 with winglets.  These winglets help reduce drag, resulting in an improved fuel economy of about 3-4%.  One of Hawaiian’s new Airbus A330s is in the background.

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Japan Airlines Boeing 767-300 in “Oneworld” alliance colors.  This plane is bound for Osaka.

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Another Japan Airlines plane, this one a Boeing 777-200, destined for Tokyo.

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The other major Japanese carrier, ANA (All Nippon Airways), Boeing 767-300.  This is operated by ANA subsidiary Air Japan, which operates charter flights to popular vacation destinations.

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A United Airlines B777-200 scheduled for Chicago O’Hare.  A Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 departs for another island in the background.

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Our ride to Guam: A Continental (but in the new United livery) Boeing 767-400.

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The gate area was particularly crowded.  In fact, the flight was oversold and they were asking for volunteers but $300 in travel vouchers was incentive enough, since I’d have to use the vouchers on another Continental flight!

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The interior of our plane during the boarding process.

A video of our takeoff from the Reef Runway in Honolulu and landing in Guam.

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The lunch service was a choice between cheese tortellini and some chicken dish.  I overheard the flight attendant tell another passenger that the pasta was the better of the two options, so that’s what I went with.  It was actually pretty tasty, better than the food we had been served on the inbound flight.

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Mid-flight the flight attendants served ice cream – cups instead of sandwiches – and then about an hour before landing in Guam, they served these turkey ham sandwiches.  All in all, I think the flight from Honolulu to Guam and onto Hawaii was better than when we had traveled to Hawaii, probably because it was a daytime flight and we weren’t utterly exhausted.

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We didn’t have that much connection time in Guam.  Here’s a picture of a Chinese tour group taking a picture moments before boarding.  While they were seated further back in the plane and thus were to board earlier, we sneaked ahead and the gate agent, seeing the unruly crowd coming towards the boarding gate, let us board ahead of them.

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Our flight to Hong Kong, a Boeing 737-800.

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Once again, we had the option of buying extra leg room by sitting in the exit row.  It was worth it and just like on the flight from Hong Kong to Guam, we had an empty middle seat between us.  Interestingly, this flight was operated exactly a week after we had left Hong Kong and one of the flight attendants from the flight out of Hong Kong was working our flight back to Hong Kong.  I don’t think he recognized us.

Some thirteen hours after leaving Honolulu we arrived in Hong Kong, at about 8:00 pm.  We headed into Ho Man Tin, a portion of Kowloon where friends of ours live.  More about our two days in Hong Kong – and two Xangans we ran into – tomorrow.

Honolulu to Lihue

Route Map
Link to Part 1: Bangkok to Hong Kong
Link to Part 2: A Half Day in Hong Kong
Link to Part 3: Hong Kong to Guam to Honolulu

After some 29 hours traveling, we had safely made it to Honolulu and had just one more short hop to our destination: Lihue, Kauai.  To get there, we had to take a 20-minute flight about Hawaiian Airlines, which has a codeshare agreement with Continental. 

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We exited our plane from Guan (pictured) above and walked downstairs where we had to claim our luggage and go through customs.  As you can imagine, since Hawaii is a bunch of islands they are particularly concerned about fruits, vegetables, uncooked meat, plants, and anything else entering the state that might harm local agriculture.  About forty minutes after landing we found ourselves outside in the fresh (and very pleasant) air, and made our way to the inter-island terminal.

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The inter-island terminal is a ten-minute walk from the main terminal and is also connected by these buses called Wiki-wiki busses.  In Hawaiian, “wiki” means quick, so “wiki wiki” implies very quick.  In place since 1970, the buses really are anything but that.  Ostensibly a new moving sidewalk system has been opened but I didn’t see it.

Since our bags were checked through (we placed them on a belt outside customs so they could be connected for us), the walk was leisurely and we proceeded through security.  We realized, though, that we still had better than an hour before boarding time, so I walked around the inter-island terminal to get some pictures.

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For the longest time, the state of Hawaii had two dominant airlines: Hawaiian and Aloha.  In March 2008, Aloha went out of business, at least in part because of predatory practices by Mesa Air Group (who operate many regional affiliates for major US airlines) who decided to open their own island carrier called “go!”  Hawaiian continues strong, though, and consistently ranks with the best on-time percentage and fewest mishandled bags of any US carrier.  Here is their fleet of Boeing 717s (a modernized version of the 1960s era Douglas DC-9) at Honolulu.

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The airport has lots of open air areas, although since I was last there in 1994, they have enclosed and air conditioned the gates.  The walkway in the picture above is open air.  The garden below in the picture below is viewed from the left edge of this walkway.

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One of several beautiful gardens in the airport which passengers can spend time in.  What a peaceful place to wait for a flight!

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As the sun set, I caught this nice picture with the Hawaiian Airlines maintenance hangar in the background.

Throughout the terminal are wall-sized enlarged photos taken from different eras of Hawaiian Airlines’ history.  Talk about a walk through the past!

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1960s – Hawaiian received their first Douglas DC-9 aircraft in 1966 and along with them, these funky flight attendant uniforms and hot boots!  Go, Nancy Sinatra, go!

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In the 1970s, the carrier updated their look both in terms of livery and flight attendant uniforms.  I’m curious where they got the California surfer boy?  Must have flown in from the OC and been accosted on the ramp by the flight attendants!

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This picture, probably from the 1980s, is very pretty, showing off both the beauty of the islands as well as of the airplane.

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One reminder of Aloha Airlines is this mural from a route map they had published in the early 1960s, based on the aircraft shown, a Fairchild F-27.  Beautiful illustration, isn’t it?

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Speaking of nice illustration, the toilet signs are appropriately decorated with aloha shirts for the men and muu-muus for the women.

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As night fell and departure time neared, the gate area started to fill up.  Among our fellow passengers, a group of elementary school students and their parents, flying to Kauai for a weekend outing.  The flight attendants gave them a special shout-out when we landed.

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Our aircraft, almost ready to board.  Watching their ground crew move, you can understand why they have such a good on-time record.  Despite the islands’ laid-back culture, they certainly hustle when there is work to be done.

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The interiors are a bit old and dark, but for such a short flight it was fine.  Service was friendly, along the lines of Southwest Airlines.  For our 20-minute flight, the only “inflight service” was the handing out of containers of POG – passionfruit, orange, guava juice – and then quickly collecting them.  Seriously, we took off, leveled at about 5000 feet (versus 35,000 for a normal flight), and then were descending almost as soon as we had leveled off.

Finally, about 32 hours after leaving Bangkok, we landed smoothly on Kauai, retrieved our bags in the open-air bag claim, and waited for my parents to arrive and pick us up.  At last, we were there!

 

Bangkok to Hong Kong

Well, I’m back and reasonably well recovered.  Recovered enough, at least, to start sharing the story of our trip to Kaua’i.  First part of the story, our flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong.  This may be a bit more detailed than you are interested in, but I’m going to cross-post it as a trip report on Airliners.net.  I hope you enjoy.

Route Map

The alarm rang too early, but since the first leg of our four-flight trip from Bangkok to Lihue, Hawai’i departed at 6:30 am, perhaps that was inevitable.  A quick shower, a double check of critical documents and must-bring items, and a few minutes to whip up some sandwiches to eat onboard later, and Tawn and I were headed downstairs for the waiting taxi.

As we walked across the condominium driveway, a small toad hopped into the bushes, startled by our approach.  On the 25-minute ride to the airport, the taxi driver pandered to us, selecting English songs from his MP3 player.  “YMCA” by the Village People, “Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer, and “Ice, Ice, Baby” by Vanilla Ice were among the selections.  “Do you really like these songs?” I asked the driver in Thai.  “Of course,” he responded with all seriousness.  “Don’t you?”

Air Asia’s ticket counter was its usual early morning chaos, although once we pushed through the masses of infrequent travelers, we found the online check-in queues had only a few people waiting in them.  After our bags were tagged and our travel documents checked, we headed for immigration. 

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As of late, lots of letters to the editor of the English-language Bangkok Post newspaper have been inspired by complaints of the long queues at Suvarnabhumi Airport’s immigration counters.  However, at 4:50 this morning, lines were about ten people deep and it only took a few minutes to clear immigration.

Just beyond immigration is this epic sculpture taken from Hindu mythology of “The churning of the Ocean of Milk.”  More about that story here

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After a latte and some duty free browsing, we headed to our gate.  The airport is laid out in the shape of a massive letter “H” and our gate was at the far end of the upper right leg.  We had checked in close to the near end of the main terminal in the center of the “H”, so it was a bit of a walk.

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A lonely, dimly-lit pier stretched out ahead of us as we traversed one moving sidewalk after another.  The airport authority has made some attempts to warm the interior and make it more welcoming, especially in a well-publicized desire to rank as one of the top five airports in the world.  This jealousy of peer airports such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Seoul should be a good motivator, but unfortunately the airport authority is run by people who either know little about airports or else pay little attention when visiting the competition.  Compare the above photo with one later on from Hong Kong to see a night and day difference.

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Boarding began about 6:00, an orderly affair.  We had purchased “hot seats” – designated as the first five rows and the two emergency exit rows – for an extra 250 baht (about US$ 8.50) per segment, per person.  This gets you priority boarding and, in the exit rows, a smidgen more leg room and a fixed (not reclinable) seat in front of you.

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A look at the leg room in the exit row.  About 36 inches, which is 3-5 more inches than you get in most American economy class seats.  In a three-seat row, we reserved the window and aisle seats, betting correctly that few people would choose to upgrade to a middle “hot seat”, thus effectively getting us three seats for the price of two.  If someone did come along with that seat, we could always offer them the window or the aisle instead so we can still sit together.

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This flight was operated by Thai Air Asia, one of four subsidiary companies that together make up “Air Asia”.  The fleet is completely made up of new Airbus A320 aircraft.  The interior was clean and the black leather seats look sharp.  Flight attendants are friendly and attentive and seem very capable.

As the sun rose over Suvarnabhumi, a final passenger count was done and the main cabin door was closed for an on-time departure.

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After a quick safety demo in Thai and English, we taxied to runway 1-Left and since there was no other traffic at this early hour, we started our takeoff roll just ten minutes after scheduled departure time, climbing through the hazy skies of Central Thailand en route to Hong Kong.

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Housing developments on the eastern edge of Bangkok, as seen on departure from the airport.  The main part of the city is in the haze on the horizon.

Above, a two-minute video of the takeoff from Bangkok and landing in Hong Kong, if you are interested.

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The captain greeted us aboard the flight, informing us we were cruising at flight level 350 – 35,000 feet above sea level – at a speed of 815 km/h (506 mph).  The flight was smooth, crossing Laos, Vietnam, and the South China Sea on our way to Hong Kong.

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Air Asia is a no-frills airline.  Other than buying a seat on the plane, everything else from baggage to seat assignments to food has a price tag.  While I get bummed when I see formerly full-service US airlines doing this, I have no qualms about Air Asia doing it because that has been the arrangement from the first day.  Plus, they provide genuinely friendly and caring service, something most US carriers seem to be missing.

One arrangement they offer is the ability to pre-book your meals from a selection of more than 20 dishes such as pad thai, nasi lemak, chicken rice, and basil fried rice with chicken.  Out of Bangkok the catering is done by local restaurant chain Seefah (“blue sky”).  Dishes are around 100 baht, about US$3.30, and are reasonably tasty for the price.

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While they announce a “no outside food” policy, I’ve found if you keep your dining on the down-low, it seems to be no problem.  Before leaving home, I had used the last carefully-selected food items from the refrigerator to make two turkey and provolone cheese sandwiches, complete with homemade pesto-mayonnaise sauce.  All in all, I have to admit they were a little dry, but still a tasty way to start the day.

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Needing some more caffeine, I ordered two “Old Town White Coffees”, which are the three-in-one coffee, creamer, sugar mixes from the Malaysian chain Old Town Coffee.  Maybe it is just all the sugar, but these are a surprisingly tasty treat.

Food and beverage service concluded, the flight attendants plied the aisle with duty free and souvenirs.  I can’t imagine why people flying would want to buy some of these things, but it appears they do. 

As much as I have had my qualms about Air Asia in the past, more recently I’ve come to respect them.  Their once abysmal on-time performance has significantly improved.  Their website, which would crash under the pressure of too much traffic, performs more reliably.  And they keep their fares low and frequencies high.  Kudos for that.

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Interestingly, Air Asia is the official airline of the Oakland Raiders, despite Air Asia flying nowhere in North America.  The Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes has explained it as something of a preemptive move, building the brand in anticipation of an eventual service to the Bay Area.  Air Asia already flies to Paris and London through their Air Asia X long-haul subsidiary, so it would not be a surprise to see them begin flights to Oakland eventually.

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Descent into Hong Kong seemed to begin quite quickly, less than two hours after takeoff.  I’m reminded that there was a time in my life when a 2-3 hour flight seemed long.  Now that I cross the Pacific several times a year, two hours passes in the blink of an eye.  We touched down on runway 7-Left about twenty minutes ahead of schedule under skies as hazy as they were in Bangkok.

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The north satellite concourse (with gates numbered as 501-510!), which seems to serve carriers heading to and from Mainland China.  I like the design of the roof, which reminds me of a bird in flight. 

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We parked at gate N28, just a short walk from the main terminal.  Next to us was this Qantas Boeing 747-400, which has a color scheme similar to Air Asia’s, I think.

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Here is the transit check-in and duty free area just before immigration.  Earlier, I wrote about how Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok fails to reach the same level as other regional airports such as Hong Kong.  Compare the above picture with the fourth one from the top of this entry.  While the chairs in Bangkok might be more comfortable, the whole setting here in Hong Kong looks more attractive and warmer.  Maybe it is the use of – gasp! – carpeting.  In either case, Hong Kong remains one of my favorite airports and sets the bar which Bangkok will have to reach.

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We exited customs and immigration with minimal delay and entered the spacious and well-organized arrivals area, another distinction between Bangkok and Hong Kong.

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Since we had exactly twelve hours between our arrival and the departure of our next flight, we decided to check our bags into the lockers and head into the city for lunch.  An attractive atrium leads from Terminal 1 underneath the Airport Express train station and to Terminal 2, where the lockers are located.  We were able to store our two large check-in bags plus a trolley bag for 80 HKD (about US$ 11) for up to 12 hours, quite a reasonable price. 

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Within an hour of touching down on the runway, we were boarding the Airport Express train for the 24-minute ride into the city.  I’ll write about our day in Hong Kong in the next entry.  Stay tuned!