Flying out of Leh turned out to be quite an experience for us. Thanks to changes made by Jet Airways long back, we had an early 7:40 am flight instead of our preferred 8:20 am flight. So, we had to be at the airport by 6-6:15ish. Again, we woke up real early and left without taking a bath, like we had to when we left for Nubra Valley. The Tuckhu staff was kind enough to bring some tea and milk to our room at 5:30 am. Rigzin, our driver, showed up around 6 am, slightly late, as we had asked him to be there by 5:45. We said our goodbyes to the folks at Tukchu and left. We reached the airport in about 15 mins since there was no traffic so early in the morning. The road near the airport was packed, and we took a few minutes to enter the airport gate. The reason for this slight delay was the fact that all drivers had to get an entry slip to enter the airport premises. After making it through, we unloaded all our luggage and said our goodbyes to Rigzin. We thanked him for driving us everywhere, as we had really enjoyed our time in Ladakh and it was a journey we would remember for the rest of our lives. But, had to be careful of the time as well, so off we went.
The airport of Leh was quite small. Interestingly, almost all the flights leaving Leh departed between 7:30 am and 9:30 am. So the airport got super busy in the morning. The check-in process was a bit confusing, as we were asked to check-in our hand luggage as well. Some people were allowed to take their hand luggage for whatever reason, but most were asked to check it in. Apparently, whether you took your hand bag with you or not seemed to depend on what stuff you had in your hand luggage. Certain items in the hand luggage were allowed, while the rest had to be checked in. I won’t go into the details of all this because these rules will probably keep changing very often. However, this rule certainly caused arguments between some of the passengers and the airline folks manning the check-in counters. A couple of people were especially upset because they had a long layover at Delhi, and they really wanted to keep hold of their hand luggage. We did not bother asking or arguing, and instead simply checked all our bags in.
Next came the security check. The queue for the security check was quite long. There were only 2 counters, one for ladies and one for gents. With passengers from at least 4 flights pouring in, the lines were moving slowly as the checks were quite thorough. All this ate up a lot of time, and once we were past security, we heard airline employees looking for passengers, with a lot of urgency, to board a couple of flights that were about to leave. Luckily we still had some time before we were to start boarding. But there was one last thing that we still needed to do! At Leh airport, once you are past the check-in and security, you have to identify your checked bags before boarding the plane. This was really important because if you don’t id your checked bags, then they don’t get on the plane and are left behind. One lesson from all this chaos – show up at the airport early and then figure things out. But don’t go way too early either, as Rigzin informed us that the airport won’t open too early.
We had done our web check-in the previous evening and got seats on the right side. While flying into Leh, it is best to get seats on the left side, and when flying out of Leh, right side seats are the ones to go for. The row which we booked our seats on had awesome leg room. It was like an exit row seat. We had no idea this was going to be the case when we did the web check-in, but no one was complaining! The flight took off on time and the first 30 mins were a treat, with snow capped mountains on view till the eye could see. Even the exit from Ladakh was scenic. Julley!
(fantastic views from the air)
(fantastic views from the air)
(somewhere near Manali)