A personal trip home: A Pisa perfect landing


As an ex-pat living in Southeast Asia, one of the challenges for me, is to find reasonable and efficient flights home. Home for me can mean Europe or the USA, depending on the time of year as well as business constraints. Living in Kuala Lumpur and having one of the world’s best airports to rely on makes for an easy getaway with ample choices.

Flying Westbound from Kuala Lumpur to Europe means a choice between a nonstop flight with a European carrier, flying to a gateway hub in Europe such as Amsterdam or London, and then connecting on to one’s final destination. My destination is Nice and there are few nonstop flights from Asia to the Mediterranean region. Oh yes there is Emirates, from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai with a long layover in Dubai (minimum 4 hours) and on to Nice. This time I wanted to avoid that congested airport (World Central-Dubai), which I call Las Vegas with robes, due to its glitz and overcrowding at peak hours. Enter Doha and Qatar Airways. The recently built Hamad International Airport in Doha makes for smooth and seamless connections and is the home of Qatar Airways. The airline is expanding its panoply of worldwide destinations almost on a weekly basis and if it wasn’t for a slowdown in Aircraft production from the likes of Boeing and Airbus it would probably be growing even faster. According to Dato Muzammil, Country manager for Malaysia, “growth in the region is strong and there is a void to fill as Malaysia Airlines continues downsizing into becoming more of a regional carrier.”

Now back to my search for that perfect flight that would get me to Nice or close to it.

Both Emirates and Qatar Airways fly several times a day (via Dubai or Doha respectively) to one of my favorite un congested European hubs, Milan. Milan is a three-hour drive from my home in France-a far better option than flying via Paris, London or Amsterdam. Even better, Qatar Airways just introduced a daily flight to Pisa in Italy (also a three-hour drive to France). The night flight out Kuala Lumpur connects seamlessly with its new Pisa service out of Doha. It was only launched in the beginning of August 2016 and I expected it to be relatively quiet. Much to my surprise it was nearly three quarters full. An Airbus 320, is used and makes the six-hour flight feel more like a short hop over the Mediterranean. Service was smooth and efficient and in around 17 hours (from starting in Kuala Lumpur to touch down in Pisa) I was in a different world, catching a glimpse of the leaning tower of Pisa, on landing.

My point here is, look for those smaller out of the way regional airports for a hassle free experience and avoid the over congested airports of London, Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt when travelling to Europe. They could be Copenhagen, for Northern Europe, Munich and Vienna for Central and Barcelona and Lisbon for the Iberian Peninsula.