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S'pore-Jakarta On KLM World Biz Class (Pt 1)  
User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 7000 times:

Singapore – Jakarta / Cengkareng
KLM #KL 837
Boeing 747-400 Combi (PH-BFR City of Rio de Janeiro)
Seat 77A, World Business Class (WBC)
ETD: 1650H
ETA: 1730H (local time)

21 Jan 2004

Background: I have not been back to Jakarta for close to 15 years so this trip was something to look forward to. While visiting a country that has seen drastic political changes in the last 5 years, another highlight of this trip was a ride in an Indonesian made CN 235 which will be covered in a later report.

Note: Photographs taken during the trip will be posted later.

Check in for KLM flight in Changi is at Terminal One. Row 13 had one counter for WBC and three others for Economy Class. Salmah warmly welcomed me and asked if I preferred the upper or lower deck. I chose the upper deck as I miss traveling there, and was thus assigned to 77A. Formalities painlessly completed in less than a minute and my boarding passes, CIAS Lounge invitation, and Indonesian immigration disembarkation forms were all bundled together in a blue KLM paper wallet. Nice touch!

Changi Airport should do something about the signage for CIAS Lounge. I never thought I would have any complaints about this airport but I spent a good 20 min figuring out how to get to the lounge. The directions posted behind the invitation card were useless as I ended up at the swimming pool on the roof. Staff was helpful in directing me to the lounge and they pointed out that it was a usual occurrence for passengers to get lost. Not good at all!

Tucked away in a quiet corner on the second level, I found the lounge. Many other airlines utilize the same lounge (NW, OZ, MK, GA, PG, and GF, just to name a few). One word to describe it – PATHETIC. Changi squeezed so many chairs into it that it seems like a sorry excuse for an airline lounge. Hors d’ouvres were smoked salmon or eggs on stale tasting bread cut into bite size, chicken nuggets (the kind found in large quantities in supermarkets), samosas and chicken puff. I am rather appalled by the standards of Changi because going by the looks of the SATS Lounge at Terminal Two, it is no better. Both do not have windows.

Having surveyed the disappointing lounge, I headed for Gate D32 and there she was… The KLM Boeing 747-400 Combi registered PH-BFR (christened City of Rio de Janeiro), still resplendent in the old livery. There was a swan on the fuselage and the titling “The world is just a click away”. There was not a spot of dirt on the aircraft and it looked so shiny after leaping a long way from Amsterdam.

Boarding process started as soon as I stepped into the holding lounge after clearing security. WBC pax were invited to board first so I just walked right through. Entering through Door 1L, I was greeted rather sternly by a wrinkled and warm stewardess in reading glasses.

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Wietse de Graaf


“Hhhello, Sir. 77A is down that way and up the stairs.”

Silly me, I should have walked through Door 2L. I was directed through Zone B which had that weird wall along the entire length on the right hand side. And this was Economy Class, so this cabin separated the WBC cabins in Zone A and the Upper Deck. Something like the photo below but it is in YCL configuration, 2x3. (2 seats by the wall and 3 on the right)

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Andy Smulders


“Oh hello!” greeted another friendly lady in blue, who was standing by Door 2L. This was where the famous KLM service ended for me, unfortunately.

I climbed into an empty upper deck and found 2 cabin crew chatting in the aft galley. The male FA (R. Van de Creeke) peeped out and asked “you know your seat?” and continued to banter when I nodded my head.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Andy Smulders


Pitch for WBC is amazing, even more so at 77A as this is at the emergency exit. Seatbelt buckles are so shiny you can see your face in it, doubling up as a mirror. Cabin was clean and bright and the TV monitors were pulled down from the ceiling. Seat, though not the most modern, is absolutely comfy. Nothing is automated though. With all the Spacebeds and lie-flats, KLM’s WBC suddenly seems very primitive.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Andy Smulders


6 other pax sauntered upstairs and drinks were served by a rude African FA. She stood in front of me and with one arm, extended the tray of water, OJ and a red coloured liquid. And because she acted like a mute, I didn’t know what the red liquid was so I played safe and took the OJ. No smiles, and also observed that she was chewing gum!

When I finished my drink, the African FA came over and took my glass. As she did, she asked me for my boarding pass as well. She pursed her thick lips and asked for my passport for some photo ID. I was the only one that had the honour of being verified. Jesus Christ! Do I look like a street urchin that I need verification to be sitting on the upper deck? That really ruined it for me. And her name? D.C. Frenzen d’ Arnault (I will put her in the same room as that bitch named Patsy from SIA that destroyed my liking for SIA).

1635H: Captain comes on the air to welcome us. Flight time will be 1 hr 15 min and cruising level is FL390. Announcements were in Dutch first followed by English.

1640H: Bridge moves back from the aircraft and we wait for pushback. Meanwhile, neither Frenzen nor Van de Creeke is seen anywhere.

1650H: All doors to automatic as Frenzen decides we are all worthy of her presence in the cabin. She walks to each of the doors and pulls a lever.

Meanwhile, the safety video comes on. Safety videos, you see them one, you’ve seen them all. While we are taxiing, Frenzen walks down the aisle one more time after pushing the two TV monitors into the ceiling, before strapping herself into the jumpseat across from me looking like her sulky self. Van de Creeke sits behind me like a passenger.

Flaps are silently deployed when we taxi to runway 02R, following behind a SIA 777-200 (9V-SQJ). Entering E11, we line up at 1704H and power off a minute later. Rolling for 25 sec, we rotate way before Concourse F.

A right turn puts us on a southerly heading towards Jakarta and we stay that way for the duration of the flight. The seatbelt sign pings off at 1710H and the service begin. Frenzen appears at 1720H to dish out hot towels while Van de Creeke takes drink orders.

A pre-recorded announcement in Bahasa Indonesian welcomes passengers, which I thought should have been played on the ground instead.

My meal tray appears at 1727H that is served directly from the aft galley. As Van de Creeke hurriedly puts down the tray, I ask if it is any trouble for pack of playing cards.

“Of course it is not a problem, Sir” and he says that with a smile. Thank God he is not another Frenzen! He later came back with 2 packs of cards.

Meal: Chicken puff, walnut chocolate cake (tasteless)

As I am negotiating the tasteless meal, the lead purser for today’s flight comes up to each pax in the cabin and greets them. Including me, of course. She was just a delight to talk to but I only managed to get a fleeting glance of her name (T.C.) because KLM’s nametags are so small! I had half a mind to mention Frenzen to her.

My tray is cleared at 1740H and Frenzen then asks if I want “Tea? Coffee?”. She serves me my tea in less than a minute. I have to give it to her for the fast service though.

1758H: Descend.

Arrival announcement is made by the purser at 1805H which is then followed by the Captain that informs us about the weather (raining) and the southwesterly direction that we would be landing in.

Soon enough, the coastline appeared out of the misty horizon and there was Tanjung Priok. The city skyline loomed hazily in the background and all was grey. Water threaded horizontally across my window as Frenzen cleared the loose items in the cabin.

1809H: Cabin crew, prepare for landing.

The seatbelt sign pinged on at 1814H and the pre-recorded Indonesian announcement came on again. After flying past Jakarta, flaps were deployed and gears lowered at 1818H.

The piano keys for runway 25R zoomed past and so did several aircraft like Lion Air MD80, two Garuda 737-300s and a SIA A340-500 taxiing for take off.

1821H: touchdown.

A taxi to Gate E7 brought us to a stop at 1821H. Local time was now 1721H (+7hrs GMT). In the vicinity were more Lion Air MD80s, Garuda A330-300s, an SIA 777-200 at Terminal D and an Air France 747-400.

Frenzen was strangely chirpy while saying goodbye to me at the stairs...

Here I was, back on Indonesian soil after a 15 year absence. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (Bandar Udara Nasional Soekarno-Hatta) looked as regal as ever on the outside. But the insides have changed. The airport has aged expectedly with the walls and lighting darker. Immigration was quick as I was one of the first ones off the plane. Baggage took about 20 min which is quite a wait if you are used to the efficiency of KLIA and Changi. While the belts were churning with no baggage in sight, pax were getting impatient. Suddenly, from beyond the rubber flaps a wooden block with the word “PRIORITY” appears on the belt and my baggage behind it. Not too bad! Hehehe…

The arrival greeting area was just a mess. Arrival schedule board was not working properly because I was looking for my friend’s arriving flight from Medan but his flight had the AW Air logo next to his flight number of GA 187. I curiously saw CP Air (yep, Canadian Pacific) up on the boards as well for an arriving Merpati flight. People, people everywhere, smoking, shouting, crowding…

Welcome to Jakarta indeed!

Verdict:

Check-in: 8/10 (Very friendly CIAS personnel)
Lounge: 5/10 (Changi should seriously look into improving their lounge facilities)
Departure: 7/10 (Boarding process was smooth despite security checks)
Catering: 3/10 (Absolutely shitty...)
In-flight: 6/10 (Terrible service by Frenzen was rescued by Van de Creeke)

Overall: 58% KLM lacks the soft touch that we find in most Asian carriers, maybe that is the same for all European carriers too. The service levels were acceptable largely so there are no major complaints. I would like to think that Frenzen was just a one-off.

End note: The key word for Jakarta during this period is "security". There were metal detectors EVERYWHERE! Cars were searched when entering carpark compound of malls (Plaza Semanggi, Plaza Senayan, Plaza Indonesia, Cilandak Town Sq, ... u name it!) Hotels are not spared the stringent checks. Pedestrians are searched at the entrance to these buildings and have to walk through a metal detector. Armed guards overlook the procedures. Despite the dark undertones to the scene, I never felt more secure with these checks and was sure glad the government is finally taking the terror threats seriously.

Chinese New Year celebrations were out in full force. Lion dances all over and Jakarta was truly decked out in red. Even TV presenters wore chinese costumes! It is a sight to see because these celebrations were only made legal in Jan 2001. The chinese culture was squashed and made illegal during the New-Order era of Suharto for more than 35 years for the fear of communist insurgents.


Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 6845 times:

Really fun to read as usual. When can we expect the CGK-SIN report? ... or rather, are u back in SIN yet?  Smile


There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 2, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 6831 times:

Excellent trip report but one word, Ouch!

While you know I swear by KLM for my long haul travels, it is surprising the way Frenzen treated you. I can assure you it is not the norm. In case you have not flown your return leg yet, may I suggest sitting in the nose section. I have always found it cozier. For me the service has always been the same on the lower and upper deck, amazing every time.

You are right, this is something with European airlines, but to be honest, you should in no way be expecting MH/CX/SQ/TG service when flying these airlines. You have to expect "less" than normal. This is how I approach NW and as you know, has turned out to be a good option.

CX/SQ/MH are one of a kind, and no Western airline can come close to replicating their service. I like KLM's staff for not for treating me like a king the way the Asian airlines do, but rather for being friendly and professional while anticipating my needs with a smile. That’s all I have come to expect from them, and in most cases I have encountered some blondes that could knock the socks off some SQ robots and CX models.

Seat, though not the most modern, is absolutely comfy. Nothing is automated though. With all the Spacebeds and lie-flats, KLM’s WBC suddenly seems very primitive.

I agree, but having tried my fair share of "lie flats," I still find KL's WBC seats to be one of the best and most comfortable business class seats around. I had a very comfortable 9 hour journey earlier this month.

SR 103


User currently offlineEx_SQer From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 1436 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 6817 times:

Wow, that bad huh? By the way, when you talk about the lounge, why do you say "Changi" when it is run by CIAS...? Just curious! CIAS also caters KLM, right?

User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Reply 4, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 6743 times:

Wow, that bad huh? By the way, when you talk about the lounge, why do you say "Changi" when it is run by CIAS...? Just curious! CIAS also caters KLM, right?

I say "Changi" because the SATS Lounge in Terminal Two is just as bad. Thus, both CIAS and SATS should seriously look into how they should improve lounge facilities. C'mon, you know how I bitch about the Silver Kris (SK) Lounge all the time. But this time round, even the SK Lounge seemed miles better...

I still find KL's WBC seats to be one of the best and most comfortable business class seats around

I absolutely agree. It is indeed very comfortable. I can imagine falling asleep on a long haul to AMS in that seat. I got Seat 2A on my return flight. I shall not spoil it for u a.netters and spare u the details for now until the trip report.  Big grin

BAD NEWS: All my photos in one of my memory cards got corrupted. And it contains the photos for this flight. But my photos for Bandung - Halim, and Cengkareng - Singapore turned out ok thankfully.



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 6735 times:

Because CIAS means "CHANGI" International Airport Services?
CIAS handles all aspects of KLM's operations...ground handling, interior cleaning and yes, catering too.





There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlineGaruda From Indonesia, joined Nov 2000, 584 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (10 years 7 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 6586 times:

Great report!!!

I do hope you enjoy your stay in my home country after 15 yrs ... (as much as I enjoy staying in Singapore...)  Smile

JA


User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Reply 7, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6354 times:

Another unsuccessful attempt to link the photos to this website. I tried, but nonetheless, just cut and paste the url into another window to view it.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040002.jpg
The crappy interior of the CIAS lounge...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040003.jpg
Look at how quiet the surrounding is outside the lounge. No wonder people cannot find this place because it is so hidden!

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040004.jpg
Queueing up to enter the holding lounge for the flight at Gate D42.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040005.jpg
Ah... My first time on board a KLM 747-400 Combi...PH-BFR City of Rio de Janeiro.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040006.jpg
The serene upper deck of World Business Class. The rude Frenzen can be seen chatting in the galley with Van de Creeke. Looks like the would rather be there than to help pax settle in. Says a lot for service on board this flight!

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040007.jpg
My pre-departure drink of OJ.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040008.jpg
We wait patiently for the pushback. TV monitors are installed in the ceiling.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040009.jpg
After turning away from Pulau Tekong taking off from Runway 02R. On climb to cruising altitude...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040010.jpg
My comfy seat. But I still prefer the Golden Club seats on MAS though...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040011.jpg
And may I present, one of the worst tasing meals I have ever eaten! They didn't even bother with laying the linens on the table. So much for a flight on World Business Class!...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040012.jpg
Nothing left to do after the meal but to wait for the plane to descend.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040013.jpg
30 mins to touchdown...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/?action=view¤t=04_Feb_040014.jpg
The mess that greeted me when I stepped out into the International Arrivals. People, people eveywhere! Ah! Give me some space!



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 6372 times:

Sorry, I heard it was password protected, so just use these urls...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040002.jpg
The crappy interior of the CIAS lounge...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040003.jpg
Look at how quiet the surrounding is outside the lounge. No wonder people cannot find this place because it is so hidden!

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040004.jpg
Queueing up to enter the holding lounge for the flight at Gate D42.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040005.jpg
Ah... My first time on board a KLM 747-400 Combi...PH-BFR City of Rio de Janeiro.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040006.jpg
The serene upper deck of World Business Class. The rude Frenzen can be seen chatting in the galley with Van de Creeke. Looks like the would rather be there than to help pax settle in. Says a lot for service on board this flight!

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040007.jpg
My pre-departure drink of OJ.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040008.jpg
We wait patiently for the pushback. TV monitors are installed in the ceiling.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040009.jpg
After turning away from Pulau Tekong taking off from Runway 02R. On climb to cruising altitude...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040010.jpg
My comfy seat. But I still prefer the Golden Club seats on MAS though...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040011.jpg
And may I present, one of the worst tasing meals I have ever eaten! They didn't even bother with laying the linens on the table. So much for a flight on World Business Class!...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040012.jpg
Nothing left to do after the meal but to wait for the plane to descend.

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040013.jpg
30 mins to touchdown...

http://img18.photobucket.com/albums/v53/compact_cruiser/SIN-CGK/04_Feb_040014.jpg
The mess that greeted me when I stepped out into the International Arrivals. People, people eveywhere! Ah! Give me some space!



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
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