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Err ... Should we even be flying?

View 2009 Perth & Sulawesi on alexchan's travel map.

Killing time

We had to checkout at 10am as it was the required time for Tune Hotel ... but it wasn't too much trouble to fill in the time till the 3:50pm departure:

1. A leisurely breakfast at the patio of the hotel.
2. Walked over to the Food Garden at the airport for cheap drinks and reading.
3. Some more drinks and Wifi at another airport cafe (expensive) ... the airport Wifi was a bit patchy.

Then we boarded our flight bound for Manado [Manado-travel-guide-866704] ... only to be held up by an errant headcount caused by someone who had boarded the wrong plane to Denpasar [Denpasar-travel-guide-863220] instead but we managed to find and on-load him rather than offload his luggage.

Should we even be flying?

Our feet felt a bit of vibration shortly after takeoff. The ground engineer onboard noticed that his bottle of water was ripply at the surface. He said there was something wrong but the pilots have logged it for attention.

Kim wasn't comfortable with this ... he didn't feel that turbines should be vibrating ... especially on a near new plane. His airline had an incident with a fanblade flying off but fortunately didn't pierce the fuselage skin. Anyway, I'm sure he'll be speaking to a pilot about this incident once he gets back to work.

Note: Upon returning to work, Kim asked a pilot within his own airline ... ya, it is OK to fly with that kind of engine vibration. Just unbalanced fanblade apparently.

From my side, I felt that the pilot wouldn't be risking his own safety ... we have previously noted Air Asia crew to be very safety-conscious. Who knows ... he may have been on the radio discussing the issue with maintenance crew?

Things are never what they seem

As it was a relatively long flight, we managed to get a conversation going with the crew.

We were surprised to learn that many of the cabin crew have previously flown for Singapore Airlines or 5-star airlines like Malaysia Airlines ... or been cooped up in air-conditioned apartments in the desert flying for Emirates or Etihad.

And you'd think that an airline that charged me EUR6 for a 3h50 flight would pay its staff peanuts, right? Well, they claim to get paid about the same as Malaysia Airlines crew ... despite not having any overnights (and hence overseas allowances).

Sometimes they will get less but they also spend less ... apparently many crew found themselves having to deep dig to do all those fun things while overseas ... sightseeing, clubbing, dining, drinking etc.

But Air Asia does work them quite hard ... the rosters are completely shorthaul except for a handful of crew who have a sprinkling of longhaul trips through each roster. They can get as little as 12 hours in London between arriving and picking up the returning flight ... the flights re 14 hours and 13 hours!

Arrival Fiasco

Upon arrival at Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, the crew were advised that the airbridge was broken and directed us down the stairs at the rear. We were taken to a side entrance of the terminal building then kept on hold while the keys were found ... obviously this is a seldom-used entrance.

Once opened, they decided we should walk up the original airbridge instead ... then reverted to the side entrance. It appeared to be fiasco ... but it became apparent that they were trying to decide between the two evils:

1. It would be inconvenient for us to clamber up the airbridge by the side steps.

2. But if they let us in through the side door, the passenger flow through the health-check temperature scanning, visa fee payment counter, visa sticker counter and normal immigration counter etc would be rather awkward ... the flow was setup for a normal airbridge disembarkation.

Our Big Night Out

The Lonely Planet guidebook suggests that there isn't much to do in Manado itself ... it is mainly the springboard to excellent dive sites. However, the guide's drinking and clubbing section seems to packed with suggestions ... places with the sophistication of London and New York, and others that are the size of aircraft hangars!

So, we decided to go to a spot called "Haha" ... while the book described it as a nightclub where people can get down to boogie, we found it to be also a combined entertainment centre featuring bowling alleys, pool halls, bar and restaurant. As it was a weekend, only the pool hall was open ... good enough for a beer each before bed. Very adventurous in our old age, aren't we?

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia

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