Saturday, September 29, 2007

Air Asia’s turnaround secret

We arrived back in KL in the early hours of the morning after our Air Asia flight from Shenzhen. For this flight I had to compete with about 20-30 other passengers who had bought the express boarding option (see Sept 23 blog). I was lucky though as I was fourth out of the boarding lounge door and managed to overtake two other passengers in the race to the aerobridge, and thus succeeded in getting a front seat again.

I realised then how Air Asia manages to achieve its 35 minute turnarounds, which full-service airlines would never be able to do: Because there are no allocated seats, the passengers start queuing at the gate at least half an hour before departure, and then run to the plane in order to try and avoid getting stuck in a middle seat. That means boarding is over in about half the time it takes normal airlines to fill their planes. But having to queue for so long and then having to run to the plane takes all the pleasure out of traveling by air.

The flight attendants must have problems on this particular flight with non-English speaking passengers not knowing what the words 'flush' and ‘press’ mean. They had taped a piece of tissue paper in the toilet, next to the flush button, on which they had written in Chinese the words “Please press flush button, thank you” and an arrow pointing to the flush button. I thought that was very ingenious of them. Maybe they’d had problems with nobody flushing the toilet on the flight from KL to Shenzhen.


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