Air Asia – AK 6434 – KUL – KBR
Seat 29A (Economy)
Flight time: 13:10-14:15 (13:11-14:08)
Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes
18th July 2020
O V E R V I E W :
This trip report covers my very first flight after a long hiatus, 199 days to be exact as the COVID-19 pandemic caused lockdowns all around the world with borders being closed. Fortunately, the situation in Malaysia has seen improvements after strict measures in place for a couple of months after which domestic travel was allowed as the implementation of the “Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO)” commenced. Sometime back in March, I managed to secure discounted tickets (probably the cheapest air tickets I have ever bought to date) for a domestic trip to Kota Bharu in Kelantan on Air Asia, which costed only RM24 return. However, the initial travel date was in May but due to the extension of the “Movement Control Order” and the cancellation of flights, I rescheduled my flight to a later date in July with the optimism that domestic travel should resume by then! Thankfully, no further rescheduling was needed as the domestic travel ban was lifted mid June and I was happily counting down to this flight after being grounded for so long! As this was my very first flight in the new normal, I decided to do a quick trip report to document my experience including any notable differences to the customer journey with Air Asia.
First difference was noted during the web check in process, whereby the COVID-19 declaration as above was required before check in can be completed.Fast forward to the day of departure, I decided to park my car at KLIA2 for this day trip. Interestingly, found out that free face masks were given out at the gateway@KLIA2 concierge and can be claimed by anyone who has a KLIA2 parking ticket.Excited to be travelling from KLIA2 again after 2 years plus!The new norm SOP, got my temperature checked as I entered the terminal building.Automated hand sanitizer stations are available upon entering the terminal.Proceeded to the self check in kiosk to retrieve my boarding pass.Very easy to use, contactless process where I just had to scan the QR code from my mobile and the machine will print the boarding pass automatically. Fret not if you have to use the counters for luggage drop off etc, social distancing markers are clearly indicated along with sneeze guard barriers at the front of the counters for protected interactions with the ground staff.Proceeded to security clearance next, again clear social distancing markers were in place, though one might question the usefulness of them given that it is not that clear where should one stand as the gap between the tables leading to the screening belt is quite a distance away, numbered boxes on where to stand would be a more precise indication in my opinion. What a sight on the FIDS! The usual bustling KLIA2 barely had any flights departing for the rest of the day…sad times for the aviation industry indeed.New normal upon entering the departure gate, temperature will be taken and recorded for all passengers.Boarding commenced on time and this is what flying in the new normal looks like, all passengers with a mask on. It is a requirement to have a face mask on to fly on most if not all airlines including Air Asia.Spot something unusual? Most of the seat back contents are removed, except for the safety card. This is one of the preventive measures to reduce contact of commonly used items for the protection of travelers. Cabin crew with their PPE (mask and gloves) on for this short flight, I believe for longer flights on Air Asia protective gowns are worn by the crew as well.Pro tip when flying in the new normal or when flight loads are low: Board the airplane last and you can enjoy the comfort of having the whole row to yourself (perfect for social distancing :P), after identifying the empty rows (likely to be towards the back end) as you enter the aircraft. The short flight flew by and before I knew it, I was back on the ground after arriving at sunny KBR!Interestingly, an announcement was made after arrival that disembarkation will be done in rows of 3 but unfortunately it was not really adhered to by passengers nor strictly enforced by the crew. Perhaps it was due to the low load (about 60% full) on this flight?!
C O N C L U S I O N:
Overall, there were no significant deviations to the customer journey despite the new normal, precautionary measures in place both on ground at the airport and in the air were satisfactory. I was particularly impressed with the contactless journey from the start when obtaining my boarding pass where no touch was required at the self check in kiosk. That said, some of the measures in place at KLIA2 for instance the security checkpoint social distancing marker could have been better indicated to serve its purpose. Even though this was a short flight and despite the challenging times in the aviation industry, the cabin crew on my flight still showed their warm personality and carried out their duties professionally. I personally did not dine on board given the short hop but I do appreciate the fact that hot meals are still available for purchase when most other airlines are going down the cold food path for their catering (especially for short flights). Finally, the announcement made pre-landing on the disembarkation by rows of 3 impressed me, although it was not really adhered to. That said, it does feel a little awkward when the crew were not strict on it, maybe it should not be announced in the first place?! All in all, it was a good flight in the new normal and I felt confident to return to the skies for more flights in the near future!