Kathmandu turnround

Old May 19, 11, 2:18 am
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Kathmandu turnround

I was overtaken by enthusiasm booking a short redemption-trip to BKK, and routed myself through Kathmandu. Clear mileage benefit AND a new destination!

The charges/expenses make this a cost neutral exercise, at best: but it's a great opportunity to see somewhere new.

What a smart-arse !! I need to shorten the trip even more, and while I'm prepared to take on cancellation charges, the alternative traveling home directly from BKK involves Chennai, Frankfurt and economy class. Big

I can do a date change from the other end, and spend a day flying to KTM and back, but that involves a 65-minute turnround at KTM before returning to BKK on Thai. I have no idea if such a thing is possible - the airport can't be too big, but I can imagine it isn't too experienced at short international-international transits.

Has anyone done this before? Or should I steel myself to more conventional transfers at Madras, then Frankfurt...
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Old May 19, 11, 3:23 am
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Originally Posted by IAN-UK View Post
I was overtaken by enthusiasm booking a short redemption-trip to BKK, and routed myself through Kathmandu. Clear mileage benefit AND a new destination!

The charges/expenses make this a cost neutral exercise, at best: but it's a great opportunity to see somewhere new.

What a smart-arse !! I need to shorten the trip even more, and while I'm prepared to take on cancellation charges, the alternative traveling home directly from BKK involves Chennai, Frankfurt and economy class. Big

I can do a date change from the other end, and spend a day flying to KTM and back, but that involves a 65-minute turnround at KTM before returning to BKK on Thai. I have no idea if such a thing is possible - the airport can't be too big, but I can imagine it isn't too experienced at short international-international transits.

Has anyone done this before? Or should I steel myself to more conventional transfers at Madras, then Frankfurt...
Don't think this is possible. KTM is set up in such a way that you would have to clear customs and then exit again. 65 minutes probably won't be doable at all.
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Old May 19, 11, 3:59 am
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Kiwi Flyer did a turnaround at KTM. Read about it here. I've done a huge number of turnarounds on TG, but for KTM I spent a day there, so can't give you any real specific advice. One thing though, be sure to bring a printout of your e-ticket with you. This is absolutely necessary at KTM. For any TG turnaround, I'd recommend first trying to get your return boarding pass at BKK. It's real hit-and-miss as to whether they'll give it to you there, but explain that you have a very short turnaround time and would prefer to get the boarding pass before you leave BKK. Sometimes being able to issue it is related to the amount time before the return flight. If you request the return boarding pass too early, the computer system might not allow it, but if it's not too long before the return flight you might be in luck. But I think this varies from location to location, so be prepared to leave for KTM without your return boarding pass. I'd also recommend you ask TG to contact KTM about your arrival, so that they're aware at KTM that you're coming, which might greatly assist things along.

I've done TG turnarounds under much worse/time constrained conditions than I think would exist for this turnaround, with a 100% success rate to date. If it was me, I'd certainly go for it, but then I love doing these turnarounds.
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Old May 19, 11, 4:39 am
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Originally Posted by A_Lee View Post
I've done TG turnarounds under much worse/time constrained conditions than I think would exist for this turnaround, with a 100% success rate to date. If it was me, I'd certainly go for it, but then I love doing these turnarounds.
Many thanks, Messrs Lee and pogonation.

While I appreciate that squeezed turnrounds could be exciting, the consequence (in this case) of not making this one would be dire. But with a boarding card and TG cabin crew/KTM station manager on my side, it should work. If it doesn't I could settle down as an expat in Kathmandu ....

I've studied Kiwiflyer's trip report - I must say I'll be happier if the turnround doesn't involve being completely spat out of the system before climbing back into as a point-to-point passenger!

Last edited by IAN-UK; May 19, 11 at 4:50 am
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Old May 19, 11, 4:55 am
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Off-hand, I recall doing turnarounds on TG to the following destinations:
AKL, ARN, BOM, CCU, DEL, DME, FCO, FUK, HAN, HYD, ICN, LAX, MAA, MAD, OSL, PEN, SGN, SIN, VNS, All domestic airports in Thailand, not to mention lots of turnarounds on SQ, OZ and other airlines. As you can see from that list, I've done turnarounds at most airports in India, of which many I would classify as being similar to KTM. I'm sure Indians and Nepalese would disagree that they're similar, but from my viewpoint as an outsider, the countries and thus things like airports seem more similar than different culture and business-wise.

Anyways, buy letting TG at BKK know about my turnarounds to India, they had on at least one occasion staff meet me at the door of the plane and guide me through the transit process, assuring me that it would be no problem and they'd hold up the returning flight if necessary to accommodate me. Even on flights where I didn't ask them to be notified, the staff was great in seeing that the unusual transit went smoothly. I assume you're arriving in business class, meaning you should be one of the first off the plane. Just be prepared with your documents and photo ahead of time. I recall there's now a reduced visa fee for passengers only staying a short period of time, so check into that to be sure you don't end up paying the full amount, unless things have changed recently.

Lastly, if you happen to be fond of flirting with flight attendants, as I am at times, doing a turnaround such as this, where TG's flight crew is the same both ways, gives a great way to break the ice with the FA of your choice. When they come and ask me why I'm returning immediately, I like to say something like, "oh, because I really wanted to see you again." Yeah, of course they know it's just B.S., but they usually end up chatting quite a bit with me for the rest of the flight if they're not unusually busy.
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Old May 19, 11, 5:26 am
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I was in Kathmandu on the TG flight in October last year, and while I didn't do an immediate turnaround, the following may be relevant:

1. If you're in business class, you'll be first off the plane and through to the visa desks. I did the whole process in 10 minutes. But if you're further back in the queue, it could take much longer. Make sure you have the visa form, money and photo all ready.

2. Going back through departures, you don't have to worry about paying the departure tax any more, since this is now included in the taxes on the ticket. There are several security checks. You'll just have to be politely assertive and go to the front of the queue if you're short on time.

I would say you should be able to do it. You'll probably miss the TG lounge, though, which is quite nice given that they only have one flight a day.
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Old May 19, 11, 7:36 pm
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Yes, do make sure you have photo, cash, and visa form ready and get to the front of the line.

Do get a window seat on the right BKK-KTM or on the left KTM-BKK.

If the weather is clear, you will be able to see Mount Everest

Enjoy the flights.
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Old May 19, 11, 7:54 pm
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I have connected airside at KTM. There is a transit desk which is usually unmanned but asking one of the security personnel standing around will result in their fetching someone. If you are flying J, they escort you to the lounge and they go and fetch your BP from the airline while you wait in the lounge.
Several remarks:
1) Security staff study your itinerary seemingly carefully and I am not sure that they would let you connect airside for a turnaround as opposed to a connection from different flights.
2) Staff at KTM tends to be rather paranoid about security and I very much doubt that they would understand the concept of a turnaround. Even genuine connections are rather rare there.
3) Security staff will object to your BP not having been stamped by immigration. It can be solved but will certainly raise eyebrows with security staff and raise eyebrows even higher up when they realise that you are connecting but doing a turnaround.
4) 65 mins is short at KTM given the multiple security checks that you have to go through and the often long and slow moving queues for the main security control (where everybody's bags are systematically searched).
5) I have not checked the check-in deadlines but I have a sneaky suspicion that, it you were to go through customs/immigration, the TG check-in counters would be closed by the time you reach them.
6) I do not think that online BP would solve the problem because they need to check your travel documents (visa, etc...) so you cannot simply turn up at the gate.

All in all, I would personally not risk it and would spend the night in KTM as so many things can go wrong and, on a redemption ticket which has zero flexibility once travel has started, it is just too risky. On a flexible J ticket I might try it but not on a redemption ticket.
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Old May 19, 11, 8:31 pm
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I've been met with lots of raised eyebrows in India when doing turnarounds, and lots of disbelieve in why anyone would want to immediately return to where they came from. But in the end, they've always allowed me to transit, provided they have the facility. If they had a rule that transit passengers had to be going to a third country, and not returning to the same country they came from, then there's a good reason for them to deny the transit. If not, I think it's more likely they'll simply check with their supervisor, and you may need to explain the situation several times, but in the end they'll likely allow the transit. Especially in this case where there's a more reasonable explanation for the turnaround, rather than the incomprehensible term "mileage run." Of course, without any reports of anyone trying exactly this, who's to know for certain.
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Old May 20, 11, 2:41 am
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Originally Posted by A_Lee View Post
without any reports of anyone trying exactly this, who's to know for certain.
Well, Kiwiflyer did it - though it sounds like he had quite a measure of good fortune on his side!

I'm not a comfortable guinea-pig. And as Nick points out, I'd be a completely stuffed guinea-pig if I had to wave bye-bye to a departing TG B777.

So I think i'll sacrifice a day out of my already shrinking stay in BKK. I really didn't want to do that, as 1 night in KTM seemed a bit useless: I wouldn't have time to differentiate it from the chaos of the Indian cities I know.

But a friend came up with the idea of turning my back on the city and heading to Nagarkot, where the scenery should compensate for the dislocation from BKK, and where longer than one day would be over-kill.

Thanks for the advice - and sorry to whimp out of the experiment!
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Old May 20, 11, 4:22 am
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Originally Posted by IAN-UK View Post
Thanks for the advice - and sorry to whimp out of the experiment!
Aw, you're no fun. We all love FT guinea pigs. Anyways, for my one night there, arriving/departing on TG, I chose to wake up early the next morning, check out of my hotel, and take an early Mt. Everest scenic flight before heading to check in for my flight. It wasn't especially cheap, but still I quite enjoyed the flight and felt I made good use of my time/trip to Nepal.

Kiwi Flyer's turnaround was on Silk Air, not TG, and he went through immigration and didn't try to do a transit. So quite similar to what you were proposing, but not identical. That's what I meant. Based on the turnaround reports on FT, I think he's probably done the most turnarounds of anyone. I'm guessing I'm second, or close behind. I think in both of our cases it's not really so much luck, as perhaps just a bit of experience in doing these turnarounds, plus being looked after by the airlines. I did have one, a turnaround at Varanarsi, India that I thought for sure I wasn't going to make, but did due to a lot of luck, but that one wasn't a planned turnaround. I only changed my schedule after arrival to be a turnaround. For planned turnarounds, I wouldn't say any of them succeeded due to luck. Though I suppose bad luck could have made one or more of them to fail.

Last edited by A_Lee; May 20, 11 at 4:27 am
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Old May 20, 11, 5:34 am
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Originally Posted by A_Lee View Post
I've been met with lots of raised eyebrows in India when doing turnarounds, and lots of disbelieve in why anyone would want to immediately return to where they came from. But in the end, they've always allowed me to transit, provided they have the facility.
This is sensible and my guess is that there would be 90% chance of it happening just like that. When I did my transit and the security guy checking my luggage pointed out the lack of stamp on my BP, I mentioned that I was in transit between DEL and BKK. He scratched his head (figuratively speaking), asked me 3 times "so you come from Delhi and going to Bangkok?", went to speak to a supervisor who seemed happy with it, came back and still was not 100% sure what to do and hesitated stamping my BP (perhaps because he had a different stamp to the one used for BPs?) but finally did it and I was on my way.

In many ways, KTM feels much like India in terms of progress through the airport (broadly similar processes), except that the security is more tense and agents do not speak as good English as an India, which makes communications somewhat more difficult and slow. I have done turnarounds in India and it worked OK (despite surprised looks by the agents) but that was with >2 hrs between flights. With only 65 mins, this is a little more uncomfortable if a security agent takes a little more interest in your case, which could cause you to miss the flight even though they eventually satisfy themselves that there is no problem.

Although the odds are on the side of it working, the problem I would have in the OP's shoes is the downside. If all you risk is just getting delayed one day and you are not in a hurry, then it is worth risking since the odds of encountering a problem are lower than the odds of making it through. However, if time is of the essence and you must catch that flight or dire consequences follow, it is just too risky, imo.
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Old May 20, 11, 5:47 am
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
When I did my transit and the security guy checking my luggage pointed out the lack of stamp on my BP, I mentioned that I was in transit between DEL and BKK. He scratched his head (figuratively speaking), asked me 3 times "so you come from Delhi and going to Bangkok?", went to speak to a supervisor who seemed happy with it, came back and still was not 100% sure what to do and hesitated stamping my BP (perhaps because he had a different stamp to the one used for BPs?) but finally did it and I was on my way.
Yep, about the same experience with me. The lack of the stamp throws them for a loop. Despite being told by several people, including I'm guessing his supervisor that it was ok, because I was in transit, he still wasn't sure he should let me pass. Then more issues boarding at the gate because I didn't have the proper stamp.

I didn't really notice security being more intense in Nepal than in India, though my trip to Nepal was I think two years ago so maybe security has been beefed up since then, or maybe I just didn't notice it.
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Old May 20, 11, 6:55 am
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Nepal was bashed for inadequate security repeatedly (most famously for the lapse that led to the hijacking of IC814 in 1999) so I can understand why security is wary of turnarounds.
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Old May 20, 11, 1:35 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
I have done turnarounds in India and it worked OK
OK - elephant in the room: what in heaven's peruaded you and Mr Lee to make so many turnrounds in India? I'm concerned there might be a trick I'm missing....
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