The boarding lounge at Terminal 3 at Soekarno Hatta International Airport reminds me strongly of a Chiang Mai bus terminal I was in fifteen years ago, where I was with a group of other NUS students on a backpacking trip around northern Thailand. Flights seem to leave about every 15 minutes, though the same 2 gates*; there are announcements over the tannoy, random screens which may or may not show your flight info, and attendants walking around yelling “Last call, last call, Malaysia, Penang” (or whatever the next closing flight is).
It’s not bad, unless you’re super-sensitive, really. But it really is quite a different experience.
Also, the boarding passes are incomprehensible. See how it says “Gate: Z4” and suggests I can begin boarding an hour before the flight?
And then look — there’s Gate B, and next to it is Gate A. THERE IS NO GATE Z. Let alone Gate Z4. The first time I flew out of here, I was so confused, and super stressed that I’d miss my flight. When I asked about boarding time and location, I was told to sit, that I’d be called when it was my turn to board. Turns out the earliest they start boarding is 30 minutes before the flight. The gate sure as hell doesn’t close 20 minutes before, because 20 minutes before flight time, I’m still in line…
Case in point: my flight is scheduled for 18.45. They just opened boarding, at 18.15. To their credit, they do board really fast. A quick trot around the corner of the building, and across the tarmac, and I’m seated and belted in.
In general though, I’ve had pretty positive experiences with AirAsia otherwise. They do leave pretty much on time, offer decent ticket prices, and—this is important—on flights out of Indonesia at least, they sell prepackaged Chatime bubble tea on board.
For that, I’ll forgive the weird boarding procedures that don’t match their paperwork. 😀 (Actually, I’ll probably forgive hell of a lot more too, but shhh.)
(Edit: they didn’t have any bubble tea on board this flight. I feel cheated!)