Flight Review – AirAsia AK6173: EXTREME 7 Hours 27 Minutes Delayed Flight from Alor Setar to Johor Bahru by Airbus A320-200 – Abandoned

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From my Ekspres Kesatuan bus from Penang Sentral and my Grab from Alor Setar Terminal Shahab Perdana, I arrived at Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport about 1 hour before the departure time for my AirAsia AK6173 flight from Alor Setar to Johor Bahru. Seems to be smooth sailing from Penang so far.

Or so I thought.

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Arriving at the departure driveway of Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport.

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The departure driveway of Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport.

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Heading into the departure hall.

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The departure hall of Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport.

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Heading to the check-in side of the departure hall.

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Just two check-in kiosks are available here, but that seems fine since AirAsia just has flights to klia2 and occasionally to JB from here.

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Printing out my boarding pass from the check-in kiosk.

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My boarding pass for my AirAsia AK6173 flight from Alor Setar to Johor Bahru.

Nothing seems out of the ordinary yet.

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With the impending departure of my flight in 50 minutes, I headed straight to the departure area.

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My flight is “calling”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

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Entering the domestic departures area.

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Once security was done, a linkbridge leads to the gates.

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Two cafes are located at the end of the linkbridge, with some passengers waiting for the flight on the cafe tables.

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Gates 2 and 3 are located on the left side of the terminal.

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The queue for boarding takes up more than half of the terminal length.

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Heading to get my boarding pass checked since I was seated towards the rear of the plane.

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Once checked and torn, I headed to board the plane via the aerobridge. Seems perfectly normal.

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Yay, a properly connected aerobridge instead of walking down the staircase and up again by the mobile stairs.

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9M-AJY taking me from Alor Setar to Johor Bahru today. Or so I thought.

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The Royal Terminal beside the passenger terminal building, probably for the exclusive use of the Sultan of Kedah and other members of the royal family.

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Heading down the aerobridge.

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A Firefly ATR72 boarding passengers diagonal to the gate.

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Boarding the aircraft as per normal.

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The interior of the AirAsia Airbus A320-200.

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The view out of the window from my seat.

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The legroom of the AirAsia Airbus A320-200 towards the rear of the aircraft.

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The tray table advertisement slots are empty on this aircraft.

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Pushing back from the gate. Yay, I’m going to make it to JB in good time, or so I thought.

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After the push back and safety demonstration, the plane was strangely silent, without most noises associated after push back.

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After about 10 minutes, the usual shutting down of the aircraft sounds were heard. This isn’t good.

The captain then came on the PA system to tell everyone that the plane had an engine issue, and that we were going to be towed back to the gate. He also mentioned that everyone needs to disembark from the aircraft back to the terminal building.

Well, that’s not what I want to hear.

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Being towed to a remote gate.

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Lots of sighing and grunting are expectedly heard in the aircraft.

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As the plane is now at a remote stand, mobile stairs are used and both exits are used to disembark passengers.

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Unhappily disembarking from the aircraft.

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What’s wrong with the engines, I wonder.

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As there are no other aircraft on the tarmac, passengers freely walked straight towards the terminal wherever they are coming from.

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Looking back at my supposed transport to JB.

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Heading back to the terminal.

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Will probably never get the chance to walk straight into this terminal though.

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Heading under the aerobridge to the terminal entrance and arrival hall.

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However, instead of heading to the arrival hall, passengers are led back up to the departure area by the lift or staircase.

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Heading back to the gate.

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So near yet so far.

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Back in the terminal building.

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The flight information screens still refer to the flight as Gate Closed.

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Taking a seat in the departure area.

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Yup, this was what I had planned for the onward journey, to Grab to Kulai and catch the 43dn Ekspres Selatan back to JB Sentral.

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I had also camped online 30 days before departure to purchase my Shuttle Tebrau ticket, which might be useless now. (I didn’t buy an earlier train ticket because it was all sold out in 5 minutes, but seems like a glimmer of hope for a quick connection now, maybe?)

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About 1 hour later after returning to the terminal, the departure screens finally showed that my flight was delayed.

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At about 6.45pm, an announcement was made that the estimated time of departure for my flight was 10.30pm.

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Fearing that this was a little bit too quick to be able to solve the problem by 10.30pm, and I expected further delays, I decided quickly to abandon boarding the flight and quickly thought of alternatives to return back to Singapore.

Thankfully I’m pretty familiar with Malaysia transport, a few others had no idea what else to do but to keep waiting.

Passengers are allowed to freely leave the departure area in the reverse direction.

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Back in the public area.

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Quickly getting a Grab to head to Anak Bukit KTM station to catch the next KTM Komuter Northern Sector train departing very soon back to Butterworth to hopefully speed up my journey back to Singapore, be it getting a train, bus or flight back.

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Not a sight that I would like to see – Selamat Datang ke Alor Setar.

Considering that I was pretty far away from Singapore, I quickly processed mentally my options to get back and decided to do my ticket purchasing decision in the train later on as this was just a short 5-minute Grab ride to the station.

Fast forward to 9.30pm, AirAsia finally sent me an email saying this:

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My flight was re-timed to 1.20am the next day. Thankfully I had made my alternative arrangement by then since it would be a disaster to try getting out of Senai Airport AND across the Causeway at 3am in the morning.

Then, at 11.16pm while I was asleep, another email came in.

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This time, it said that the estimated time of departure was 11.45pm.

In reality though, the flight departed at 12.27am according to Flightradar24.

However, thankfully when requesting a delay letter to claim for my insurance, AirAsia didn’t give the timing as stated in the email reminder, but almost the actual time of departure.

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AirAsia gave a timing of 12.17am, which is probably the timing of the push back from the gate rather than take-off timing. At least this allowed me to safely claim from my insurance. Wasn’t sure what “operational requirement” here means though.

This is unfortunately my first terrible delay experience with AirAsia, but I think I would rather be stranded at Alor Setar than to have the engine stop working mid-flight. Sure, I was angry and worried that I can’t get back in time, but I guess that’s normal for a human being. You can’t expect me to not be angry at my favourite airline of 2018 and still blindly forgiving them in an instant when such a delay happens right?

Based on data from Flightradar24, seems like only this particular flight has been affected by the severe delay, which means that it’s probably not a regular occurrence.

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