After getting back to the Park Inn, we had no trouble locating a taxi who would take us to the airport. Only problem is – we knew how much it should cost based on previous rides, so that’s all the cash we had saved up. A bit of negotiating in Russian, showing the wallet to prove what we had left, and we were good to go. Down to the last coin!
Got to the airport around two hours before the flight, and check-in was not yet open. Baku is not exactly JFK – it seemed like there were very few flights, and the airport really only came to life about 75 minutes before our flight. Checked-in, got boarding passes and seat assignments (no advance assignments on AZAL, despite the rather hefty one-way fare) and off through immigration and security to the gate area. No lounges were to be had, and there were no restaurants that would take credit cards, so we sat in the gate area for around 30 minutes waiting for our flight. About 45 minutes prior they loaded us onto the bus, and out to the plane…which was nowhere in sight despite the airport not being that busy. We were hoping that the promised ATR wasn’t to be had, but…
Flight J2 225 – Baku to Tbilisi
Seat 3A, ATR-72 – Registration 4K-AZ67 – Manufactured 2008
Departure 23:30 – Arrival 23:50 – 1 hour time change
Honestly not a ton to say about this flight. It was 80% or so full, service, for what it was worth was efficient. I got water, and a better “snack” than any US airline would ever give on a segment of this length:
Landed a few minutes early, and was off to immigration, where despite being the first one to the counter in this ultra-modern airport, I was the LAST one out of 50 or so to be through. Seems my passport was “слишком болшой” – too fat – too fit into their passport scanners. Eventually they gave up, typed the data in manually, and we were good to go. Out to the taxi queue, where we negotiated what seemed a mildly reasonable (although higher than advertised online) rate to the Sheraton. At this hour, I wasn’t about to quibble over $5 or so.
Off to the Sheraton at around 150kph down “George W Bush Highway” – where there were signs – complete with pictures of the former President on them. Obviously, there’s still one place in the world that he’s well liked. Soon, we were at the Sheraton and checked into to what was promised as a “suite.”
The room was quite large – huge living room and kitchen area, with a completely separate bathroom and bedroom area. Only problem was…the room was rather warm. Somewhere around 22-24C would be my guess. Two fans were delivered which made it sleepable (mind you, I’m someone who prefers rooms in the range of 17C to sleep), so we were out cold considering it was past 1am in Azerbaijan, and ready for the next day’s adventures!