I suddenly felt the urge to write about an older trip today, while I am waiting for my next flight to Tokyo.  One of my favourite pastimes at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport is to check out the departure screens for flights to destinations that I can’t pronounce in a single go. The many times that I have flown through different airport, I haven’t seen flights to such unique destinations from one locations.  Where would you find flights going to Yekaterinburg, St Denis de la Reunionn, and Tashkent on a display screen. I find Bangkok unique in that aspect. On a broader scale, of course lots of flights to secondary cities all over Asia and to major cities in Africa.  And there is variety too. A few years ago, I counted that I could fly almost a dozen airlines from Bangkok to Singapore or Hongkong.

But now, back to my flights from a few years ago. It was August 2005. I did a crazy routings of flights. In the first phase, I went to Karachi – my first time to Pakistan. It was fun. The PIA experience – I was given a seat in business class in the Kathmandu – Karachi sector,  – but with economy service. It was one of their A310.  Of the five people who actually were going to Karachi, I was one. The rest were all connecting to destinations in the Gulf.  The details of my security escort in Karachi is a story for another day. But I did enjoy the food and the people I met in Karachi and we setup the ground for hosting the first SANOG in Pakistan in 2006.

After Karachi, I flew PIA to Delhi. I spent about 12 hrs in Delhi. While I was expecting hassle at IGI, it was as smooth as it could get. I could see that the Immigration guy was relieved to see a non-Indian or a non-Pakistan passport. Less work for him, I believe.  My 12 hrs in Delhi was spent visiting friends and eating lunch and dinner. I had a car pick me up from the airport, go around town all day with me and then drop me off at the airport again in the evening. Delhi can be intimidating for first time visitors, but definitely it’s fun , if you know your way around the system there.

In fact, I had no real reason for being in Delhi – other then how my flights got done. I was en-route to to Ulan Bator in Mongolia. If you use the Great Circle Mapper (http://gc.kls2.com), you realize that Karachi to Ulan Bator is about 2670 miles or roughly 6 hrs flight duration. But then I was booked Karachi- Delhi – Singapore – Seoul – Ulan Bator, turning it into roughly a 33 hours long run.

The flights themselves were not that interesting, but I had a misconnect in Singapore, but SQ were so good that when I arrived, they had already moved me to a later flight and prepared new boarding pass to Seoul – Incheon. From Seoul to Ulan Bator, I flew the Mongolian Airlines (MIAT). It was a nice new 737 Aircraft. Of course, my bags didn’t make it to ULN that night with me. It arrived the next day. I never figured out if it was left in Singapore or in Seoul. The bag was tagged with so many pieces of paper that it was a jumble.

After a week in ULN doing BGP Multihoming with the good Dr. Smith, the return was not eventful at all. Korean Airlines (KE) to Seoul. Both Philip and I thought we had business class seats, but then there was no visible difference from the Economy class.  I flew back to Delhi on Singapore Airlines from Seoul. Bags made it with me.

But this was not the end. A few months before this trip, I had a trip to Mumbai cut short  due to massive floods in Mumbai. It was now time for me to finish that trip. So I flew the excellent Jet Airways to Mumbai and back. And finally back to Kathmandu.

On this one trip, I had flown on 5 Airlines, flew 7,300+ miles to cover a distance of 2670 miles, had misconnected, missed bags and was now back home in about 3 weeks.  I had visited 3 countries, and transited through two more.

I know how I ended up with this complex routing. For the non-regular travelers, it may not make sense – but it does if you look at it deeper. The choices of flying to Ulan Bator were limited, either I had to fly through Beijing or through Seoul.  Flying back to Kathmandu from Karachi would also have resulted in another set of flight that would have taken me to Beijing or Seoul via Bangkok. So, in terms of absolute number of flights or time – it wouldn’t have really made a difference. On the other hand, I still had the un-utilized Delhi-Mumbai- Kathmandu portion of my ticket from the aborted trip a few months earlier. Thus if I flew to Delhi from Karachi, I would have the return already covered. In the short of it – by going via Delhi, I saved myself one Kathmandu – Delhi Flight. Make sense, doesn’t’ it.

Even if it doesn’t, don’t worry  – now you can fly direct from Kathmandu to Seoul on certain days, and hopefully the non-regular flight between ULN and BKK will become regular one day.

Safe Travels !!