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Biman Bangladesh Airlines. An Unforgettable Experience

Updated on November 27, 2013
Biman Bangladesh Airlines DC-10-30 arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, April 2007.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines DC-10-30 arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, April 2007. | Source

My Experience With Biman Bangladesh Airlines.

It wasn’t as if I had intended to take Biman Bangladesh Airlines to Kuala Lumpur, but at such short notice, the other choice was something like $1000 more. And that’s Economy!

I had been in London over 10 days, had been to the Olympics and done some marvelous touristy things like shopping at a ‘boot fair’ outside of Canterbury and visiting the beautiful Isle of Wight. Though I would have liked to stay longer, I was also impatient to move on to Malaysia to see my family.

Right. My story. The flight was scheduled for 6.15pm, August 18th.,2012. Whatever transpired between 6.15pm and actual boarding at 8pm, I do not know, but after boarding, there was another hour’s delay before taking off for Manchester to pick up passengers for Bangladesh.

Beautiful air stewardess of Biman Bangladesh Airline.
Beautiful air stewardess of Biman Bangladesh Airline. | Source

I can’t complain about the in-flight service, which is par for the course in Economy. The stewardesses were lovely, and the food was all right. I did not mind the absence of a personal TV screen or even any TV service. The bathrooms were reasonably clean, considering that people just would not clean the sink area after use. That’s not the staff’s fault, since no airline I know of employs an in-flight cleaner. I also can’t complain about the quite empty plane, for that left me the whole 3-seat central row to lie down in for some sleep, arriving at Dhaka Airport at 3pm instead of 12noon.

Now, the upside of being 3 hours late in taking off is that the transit time at the airline’s hub is shorter by 3 hours. Or would have been if the ongoing plane had been on time. Still, it was only one hour late, and I arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 2am on August 20th. So far, let’s consider the trip quite uneventful.

The fun was on the return trip, Oct. 13th, 2.15am. My brother and sister had dropped me at KLIA at 12mn, and I made them go home. I was hopeful of leaving at 2.15am.

A large bunch of people waited to be checked in, but there was nobody manning the desks. At about 1.30am, when we should have been boarding, the desks came to life with four or five check-in clerks. There was a concerted rush, the haphazard queues notwithstanding. It took a security guard at the front to keep order.

I was checked in, and the question the clerk asked me should have alerted me: ‘Does Biman go to London? I’ve never known Biman to fly to London.’

‘Sure,’ I replied. ‘I’ve got a ticket for London on Biman Bangladesh Airlines.’

Everybody sat where they could outside the boarding gate ( there was no Biman plane anywhere). By 4am, they were draped anywhere there was space. We were then allowed in the gate after 4am. The plane touched down at KLIA at 5am, and we boarded at 6am.

Waiting for the late, late plane at Kuala Lumpur International airport. People plopped down anywhere they could. The lounge was closed till the plane landed.
Waiting for the late, late plane at Kuala Lumpur International airport. People plopped down anywhere they could. The lounge was closed till the plane landed. | Source

Never mind the rule that you could only bring one on-board bag besides your handbag - those people had several large packets each, bedcovers, duvets, luggage, whatever. And many did not fit in the overhead compartments without hard forcing and took more space than one allowed bag. My overhead was stuffed tight by the time I got to my seat, so I had to put my bag in the one in front. Many people were standing around trying to find somewhere for their baggage and I began to understand why Biman flights were so delayed. The stewardesses were frazzled, the noise level was unbelievable.

Then some alpha male pulled out my bag and put his in and no amount of protests moved him. I couldn’t slap him. So, above all that din, I shouted angrily, at top volume, ‘Hoi, where is my bag going to go?’

Shocked silence for a second, and the stewardess hurried forward and found a tight space in another compartment to squeeze in my bag.

Onward. No more drama, until I went to the toilet. The floor was flooded, the sink was flooded, there was a mop among the piles of paper on the floor. Then while I was standing by the sink washing my hands (thank goodness not before), somebody pushed, pulled, banged and kicked at the door until it popped open. I turned, startled, into the angry face of a male, who then banged the door shut. I would have understood an apology in any language. When I emerged in two seconds flat and said he could use it now, he looked like he could have killed me and I thanked my stars he had no power over me. And no, I didn’t overstay in the toilet, and there were other ones there. I suppose they were occupied too.

Now for the piece de resistance. We arrived at Dhaka Airport at 8am instead of 4am. I went to the first desk and said I had an ongoing flight to London at 10. ‘We have no flight to London today.’

‘I have a ticket for London at 10am,’ I said. I showed my ticket.

‘There is no plane to London today. The next plane to Heathrow airport is on the 20th!’

‘What?‘ Dear Lord, please wake me from this nightmare.

At the Transit desk he directed me to, I repeated my information, only to get the same reply. From the computer the officer printed out the information that ‘today’s flight was canceled 7 days ago.‘

‘Nobody told me.’

‘They should have informed you.’

Well, nobody did. And, in answer to my queries, there were no airlines leaving for London or New York, and nothing going anywhere where there would be a connection to London. What was I going to do for a week in Bangladesh, and what about the next leg, from Heathrow Airport to JFK? I must have looked too pathetic, for he told me to ‘go and sit down there and I’ll see what I can do’. I watched him busily making calls and working his computer.

Two hours later, he brought a printout.

‘I have booked a flight for you to Abu Dhabi. It leaves at 5.45 pm. and reaches Abu Dhabi Airport at 8.45pm. You’ll go on Etihad at 2.30am and reach Heathrow Airport at 7.20am. Your baggage has been checked through.’ Such relief, I couldn’t thank him enough. An hour later, he brought my boarding pass and told me to go to the dining room at 1pm for lunch.

My waiter, Mohd. Ramu.  Lovely man.
My waiter, Mohd. Ramu. Lovely man. | Source
a simple lunch of rice, chicken curry, cucumber salad and a dal soup.
a simple lunch of rice, chicken curry, cucumber salad and a dal soup. | Source

I was so relieved I went and got a cup of tea at the cafeteria with some Bangladeshi taka I had exchanged with thirty Malaysian ringgit. With the money I also managed to call to London to inform my family.

An hour later, another officer came to exchange my boarding pass for another that put me in the first row seat. ‘Any complaints?‘ Absolutely not! It was an executive seat! Why would I complain? Gosh, these people were nice!

At 1pm, another man came and led me to the dining room where transit travelers were served a simple lunch of rice, chicken curry and a little cucumber salad. I had a cute waiter who practised his bit of English on me. I left him the rest of my taka.

All’s well that ends well. The Blue Panorama airline plane to Abu Dhabi Airport was very comfortable and clean. The sun was just setting behind the plane while we were waiting to board. I took a few shots of that dramatic sunset. I nearly always have my trusty Kodak Z990 with me when I'm out of the house, just for such moments as these.

We boarded a sparkling clean plane, and traveled in comfort all the way to Abu Dhabi airport.

I got to see the much talked about Abu Dhabi, even though it was only the airport. It was fabulous. And while waiting for the ongoing flight, I befriended two Ugandan-born Indian ladies, sisters returning to Leicester in the Midlands from a trip to Nepal. I now have two new friends to visit next time I cross the pond.

Dramatic sunset at Dhaka airport. That's a Blue Panorama Airlines plane that we were waiting to board.
Dramatic sunset at Dhaka airport. That's a Blue Panorama Airlines plane that we were waiting to board. | Source
Anju and Sushila, two lovely new friends I made at Abu Dhabi airport.
Anju and Sushila, two lovely new friends I made at Abu Dhabi airport. | Source

I spent a couple of pleasant hours with my family before heading back to LHR for my flight home to New York City.

I’m not blaming Biman Bangladesh airlines for the unpleasant experiences I had. The transit staff was very helpful and efficient and made up for all that had gone before. The airline is working to overcome a reputation for poor service due to cancellations, and delays caused by an aging fleet. Since its creation in 1972, it has suffered corruption and mishaps and heavy financial losses. Rising oil prices have put additional pressure on the airline’s finances and it seemingly has been unable to pay the state-owned petroleum corporation. It is also now facing rising competition from a number of local private airlines and some international carriers.

An airline industry report described Biman Bangladesh airline as ‘poorly managed, overstaffed, undercapitalised and subject to excessive political interference in its day-to-day management’. Until there is a strong incorruptible management to reshape the airline, Biman will continue to flounder and lose money. Hopefully for the nation as a whole, there will be a turnaround, the sooner the better.

Will I fly Biman Bangladesh airlines again? If they upgraded their aging fleet of planes, retrained their ground staff, enforced stricter passenger rules and behavior and improved their time-keeping, sure, I'll give them another chance. They are a lovely people.

Street Food in Dhaka.

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    • profile image

      Rishabh arora 3 years ago

      You seem to have had a very bad experience in the Biman Bangladesh flight. It is definitely a positive take to look at it as an adventure and move ahead. Cheap flights like this can often make you pay for the poor choice you made. The blog is sure to help frequent fliers, thanks!

    • mizjo profile image
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      mizjo 3 years ago from New York City, NY

      True, Mostafa, they are a lovely people. Let's hope their airline brings itself into line with the modern flying public.

    • profile image

      Mostafa Aziz 3 years ago

      Dear mijzo,

      Thank you for the review. I am really sorry for the experience you had with Biman. I know they have poor time management still I travel with Biman. The main reason as you said, " they are lovely people"

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 3 years ago from New York City, NY

      You're right, but I do have some really lovely Bangladeshi friends, so I must give their country a second chance. They have had a turbulent recent past and Muslim governments have such a hard time separating religion from government/corruption that catching up to the twenty-first century is pretty daunting for them. And doing it amid such poverty makes it more seemingly impossible.

      Can't blame you for never wanting to fly with them again, though!

    • G Miah profile image

      Gous Ahmed 3 years ago from Muslim Nation

      You had it easy! Bangladesh Biman is the worst airline in the world. They have no discipline, no rules, travellers have no manners and no nothing! You looked at it all positively, which is really good of you.

      I only flew once with them domestically, never again!!!

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hello, Aziza. Looks like you have had experience of Biman too. Yes, they have to improve on their performance or they could find it hard to survive. Thank you for visiting.

    • aziza786 profile image

      Zia Uddin 4 years ago

      Very good hub on the Biman airlines and the experience you had with them. You're right, Biman airlines need to improve their service. The tickets are overpriced and the flight arrives and departs late most of the time. Thanks for sharing your experience and will vote this hub up.

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

      Ha ha, by the time I got to Abu Dhabi, my hair had reverted to its dyed color. Poor Bangladesh, I think they are still reeling from their war of independence.

      I don't mind flying, except in those far off days when I got sick as soon as the plane took off, and again when it floundered on its way to landing.

      Thanks for your visit, Vision. Always happy to see you.

    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 4 years ago from North York, Canada

      Holy cow! Talk about the mother of all flights from hell. I'll be sure to give Biman wide berth. Thanks for the warning. Glad it all ended well for you though. Man, I hate flying so much, I can't begin to tell you my flying woes...but I digress. Enjoyed your hub even though my eyes were wide as saucers as I read of your travails. You rose above them most graciously, I must say. I admire your positivity and good nature. :)

      Thanks for sharing!

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

      Oh, Gus, you know, you're quite right about their smiling - they were quite a serious people while I was going through. Even that sweet young waiter was very low-key.

      But I have a Bangladeshi friend in London who is full of smiles and sweetness. Maybe they were still at war with West Pakistan when you knew your friend? Now that's a serious business.

      I think they need new planes to make them laugh again.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 4 years ago from USA

      Mizjo - Good thing that we got you back in one piece. Now, don't get the wrong idea about what I am about to tell you, but it is the flat truth. I worked with a guy who was originally from Bangladesh. One day we were talking about stuff and he mentioned his birth country. I told him to quit lying to me about being a Bangladeshi. He asked me why I thought he was lying about that. I told him that i had never yet met a person from Bangladesh who smiled (as he often did). He thought about that for a minute or so and then said, I understand what you are saying, Gus.

      I have no doubt that their airlines are pretty well screwed up. You cannot properly run an airline without smiling once in a while, anyway, particularly so when the airline is laughable.

      Gus :-)))

    • mizjo profile image
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      mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hello, Papa Bear, thank you for visiting and your lovely comments. Looking forward to more of your songs.

    • PAPA-BEAR profile image

      John W Townsend 4 years ago from London England UK

      What a compelling read, enjoyed your style and excursions into different directions every so often. Thank you.

    • mizjo profile image
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      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      That's US$12.71 today, just enough for a Starbucks coffee and a really nice pastry - maybe with a few cents' change.

      Guess the high-ups thought you could keep body and soul together with that. It's like the super rich taxi-rider thinking twenty-five cents tip is pretty good (I knew someone like that, really).

      Welcome to HP.

    • Xava Ireland profile image

      Amit Wadhwa 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      €10 was just about enough to buy a coffee and a pastry! Had to spend my own money for lunch and dinner and drinks:)

      Thanks for following me here:)

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      That's unacceptable that KLM should treat any of their passengers like that. I can't imagine that ten euros would have got you much, the way food is priced in Europe.

      Biman certainly had better customer relations; at least the transit staff did. The simple meal was delicious and most welcome.

      Just for that, and because I like the ordinary citizens, I will give their airline another chance. Thanks for reading my hub, and your comment.

    • Xava Ireland profile image

      Amit Wadhwa 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Very interesting conclusion because I think most people would have been happy to slate the airline - a rather compassionate point of view:)

      On a side note, in terms of ground treatment, you were better served by Biman. I recall years ago I was stuck in Schiphol airport as a passenger with KLM for 18 hours and all I got was a €10 voucher for food to last me all the way from 9am till midnight - at least you got fed:)

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Never thought I'd get you here. Good little piece of history there.

      Abu Dhabi - yes, the airport is beautiful. Maybe I'll get to see the city sometime too. I'd be more interested in the desert and its culture, though.

    • profile image

      Klaggie 5 years ago

      That's my sister! Yes. Us Hakkas are rather resilient. Don't forget "Hakkas" means "guests" and not in the nicest terms then in China in those long gone days. We didn't have a state or a territory to call our own and we were only tolerated wherever we "squatted". And you find Hakkas all over China.

      We are also philosophical too! Just judged from your experience on Biman. I envy you though that you managed to see Abu Dhabi altho only the airport. Remember my telling you how beautiful it's reported to be and how I hope to visit it one day soon. Lots of love from Ji.

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hi, Luna, how lovely to hear from you. Glad to be back, and looking forward to meeting soon.

    • profile image

      Luna 5 years ago

      Hi Joanna, it's Luna. You're quite the journalist :) You are a very calm and patient traveler. Can't wait to hear all about it when we meet next. Glad you're back safe.

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hi, darling, thanks for the boost up. Certainly survived. We Hakkas are strong stuff! Yes, soon.

    • profile image

      Jazbo 5 years ago

      Hi Mom, I reposted this on FB and my friends loved it! I'm sure it was a rough trip, but sometimes they make the best stories - as long as you survive them! :) See you soon? xxx

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hi Danny, lovely to see you here. Yeah, it was wonderful being with you for that little while. I would like to visit Bangladesh sometime, under different circumstances. Love You.

    • profile image

      Danny Boy:) 5 years ago

      Hi Mom! Interesting to hear an in-depth detailing of the whole experience! Nice to see you for those couple of hours after tho:) Glad you made it home safe n sound and now you can tell the whole experience with a bit of humour too:)))

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hi there, glad you found your way here. Yes, quite hair-raising. If it happens again, maybe I'll be more prepared. It was just too unexpected.

      Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      Siew Foong 5 years ago

      Interesting but scary experience. Thank goodness your trip ended well.

    • mizjo profile image
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      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hi, Pat, thanks for the visit.

    • mizjo profile image
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      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      @Nathaniel: Thanks, for the visit and the nice comments!

      I wish Biman all the best..

    • profile image

      Pat 5 years ago

      wow what an ordeal! glad you're doing well now :)

    • profile image

      Nathaniel Huffheinz 5 years ago

      Great story!! Almost unbelievable;) You sure have a unique outlook on situations. Thanks for sharing your experience and humor! May Biman Airlines receive a makeover in honor of you :)

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      @quicksand.. Thank goodness it ended well. The transit people were really kind and efficient, and I think I might visit the country some day. Just read some interesting reviews of travelers there. Thanks for visiting.

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 5 years ago

      That's an interesting story with a happy ending. I too have experienced flight delays and missed connections. But in all cases the airlines concerned have been able to sort out everything perfectly well. :)

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hi, yes, I had a really fabulous holiday. Looked up everybody I could and met long-lost extended family at my niece's wedding (you know Chinese weddings - everybody and their offspring turns up!)

      I did have a good rate with Qatar, with whom I originally booked, for 29th August. When I decided to go earlier, I was already in London and had no online access just then. Took over an hour on the public phone to set up the new booking - for 2 days' time.

      Good to see you here. Thanks, Mazlan.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Interesting experience and I am surprised you couldn't get the good rates from other airlines. Flight from London to KL is very competitive and if you book online, you get good rates. I bet you had a good holiday in KL!

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Nice to see you, Phoenix.

      Unfortunately, flying is almost a necessity nowadays. I'll be sure to read reviews first next time I book .

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hi, Mhatter99, I remember that era. But it was also when I got airsick as soon as the plane took off!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      What an adventure. I have some very trying experiences when travelling. While there are airlines I would never fly with again or recommend to anyone it hasn't put me off. It's mishaps like this that make for good stories such as this.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing. There was a time when air travel was a party in the sky.

    • mizjo profile image
      Author

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Hi, Pavlo, yes, you get further by being positive. It was an interesting journey, now that it's over. Thanks for visiting.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      I Like your positive approach to problems you had during your journey. :) Interesting hub!