Introduction: Journey To Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, And Kuwait
Review: Air France Lounge San Francisco Airport
Review: Korean Air Business Class 747-8 San Francisco To Seoul
Review: Korean Air Business Class 777 Seoul To Kathmandu
Review: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
Review: Kathmandu Airport Lounge
Review: Drukair Business Class A319 Kathmandu To Paro
Review: Le Meridien Thimphu
Review: Le Meridien Paro
Hiking To The Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
How We Spent Our Time In Bhutan
Review: Drukair Economy ATR42 Paro To Dhaka
Review: Presidential Suite At The Le Meridien Dhaka
Review: Dhaka Airport Lounge
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class A330 Dhaka To Kuwait
Review: Sheraton Kuwait
Review: Kuwait Airways Lounge Kuwait Airport
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Kuwait To Shannon
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Shannon To New York
Our flight from Paro to Dhaka was at 8AM, so our guide suggested that we leave the hotel at 6AM. That’s what we did, and we got to the airport around 10 minutes later.
Paro Airport is quite small, and there’s a security check as you enter the terminal, where all your bags have to be scanned, and you have to go through a metal detector. Given how small the airport is, there are two small check-in areas for the two airlines operating out of Paro.
We got in the Drukair line, where there were maybe a couple of dozen people ahead of us. Fortunately the line moved quickly, and within about 10 minutes we had our boarding passes and headed towards immigration and security.
There’s a departure card you have to fill out to get through immigration, which we only found out about after going to the counter and being asked for our form. So we had to go back and fill those out, though fortunately there was no line at immigration. We were through a few minutes later.
Then we had to go through security, which was also painless, as there wasn’t a wait. The security check was thorough, though.
Past that was a sitting area, and across from that a small duty free shop and a coffee shop.
Then there was the main departures hall, with several dozen seats. It was still empty when we arrived, though quickly filled up. At this point we still had about 90 minutes until departure.
At the far front left of the departures area was another coffee shop. Since we had time to kill (and there are no Priority Pass lounges at Paro Airport) we ordered some coffees, which ended up being really good. However, the place only took cash, so that’s something to be aware of. I try to spend all my local currency before going to the airport, though this place also took USD.
The coffee shop had a small sitting area, so we sat there for a bit while working on our computers thanks to the airport’s free wifi (which was fairly slow).
Paro Airport doesn’t have any gates, so there are two sets of doors through which passengers are called for boarding, and then they walk to their plane on the tarmac.
Boarding was scheduled for 7:30AM, though a few minutes before that I didn’t see an ATR42 anywhere on the tarmac. However, shortly after 7:30AM I saw one being towed, and moments later the crew boarded.
Finally at 7:55AM boarding for Dhaka was called.
Paro (PBH) – Dhaka (DAC)
Wednesday, March 15
Seat: 10E (Economy Class)
After our passports and boarding passes were verified, we were directed onto the tarmac, and walked past a Drukair A319 on the right (with the sun shining in the background).
Our ATR42 was to the left.
On the ATR42 the cargo hold is in the front of the plane right behind the cockpit, while passengers board through the rear.
The plane had about 50 seats, in a 2-2 configuration.
We were in row 10, which was a few rows from the back.
That was towards the back of the wing, which made for some good views, especially given that the wing is mounted to the top of the fuselage.
Boarding was done within 10 minutes, and by 8:05AM the door closed. That’s despite the fact that there was widespread confusion about who was supposed to sit where.
There were maybe a handful of empty seats on the plane. There wasn’t a single female passenger, and best I could tell, we were the only non-Bangladeshi passengers. Everyone was screaming around the cabin talking to one another. Once the doors were closed the two flight attendants came through the cabin with packaged refreshing towels.
After that the flight attendants performed a very quick safety demonstration, and we were informed that the flight time would be an hour. Paro Airport has a single runway, and you enter the tarmac from near the center of the runway.
As a result we entered the runway around the middle, and then taxied to the far end of the runway, and then turned around before taking off.
By 8:10AM we were cleared for takeoff.
Our takeoff roll was long, at least for an ATR42, and our climb out was steep. While the landing in Paro is dramatic, the takeoff wasn’t quite as exciting. Perhaps that’s also a function of us being on a smaller and slower plane.
However, the views on the climb out were still beautiful.
About 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, and landing cards for Bangladesh were distributed.
After that each passenger was served a snack box.
That consisted of a small sandwich, roasted peanuts, and two breadsticks of sorts. There was also some packaged mango juice.
The crew then came around with a trash bag to collect the snacks, and then distributed candy.
The crew was friendly, though not overly so, and they simply sat down for the last half hour of the flight.
As I wrote about in a separate post, it was enjoyable to watch the passengers on this flight. Almost everyone was looking out the window the whole flight in amazement. It’s nice when people don’t take the miracle of flight for granted.
The landscape outside became significantly less mountainous about 20 minutes into the flight.
About 20 minutes before landing we began our descent. Not having been to Dhaka before, I was enjoying the views.
We had a smooth touchdown in Dhaka at 9:10AM, about an hour after we took off.
The second we touched down a guy got up and started making phone calls. The crew asked him to be seated, but he was genuinely confused as to why. It was only after some other passengers explained that he finally sat down.
Our taxi to our arrival stand took about five minutes.
We pulled into our stand at 9:15AM, right next to a Regent Airways 737.
Deplaning was quick, and everyone on the plane got on a single bus.
It was quite a long ride to the terminal, though I enjoyed the views, given all the airlines I don’t think I’ve ever before seen in person.
Eventually we drove by what appeared to be the airport’s cargo storage facility, or something, which was a bit… disorganized-looking.
Once inside the terminal we had to get visas on arrival, which took over 30 minutes, even though there was no line. First we had to fill out forms, then we had to pay at a separate counter, and then it took them about 20 minutes to process the applications. The visa wasn’t cheap either, at $50 per person, especially since we were only in Bangladesh for one day. They insisted there was no transit visa option (since we were only there for less than 24 hours), so whatever.
Since we were on a small plane we had to check our bags for the flight. I guess I’m grateful it took a while for the bags to arrive, as they showed up a few minutes after we arrived (despite how long our visa on arrival took). There was even someone there to verify our claim tags against the bags themselves, which is a nice additional security measure.
Just past immigration we were greeted by someone from the Le Meridien, who took us out a side exit. For what it’s worth, I felt that security at the airport was really tight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many machine guns at an airport between getting off the plane and getting into a car.
Drukair is one of the only ways to fly to/from Bhutan, so it’s not like you have many options. 😉 Regardless, I found the experience to be pleasant overall. The outbound on the A319 was of course nicer, but the ATR42 for the hour-long flight was perfectly comfortable as well.