After stepping off my flight from Bandung at Halim Airport, I made sure I catered enough time for transit between the 2 airports in Jakarta. I learnt a lesson the last time that despite having highways, the traffic jams can be notorious in this city – plus, I didn’t want to get caught in the midst of a jam caused by the presidential election campaigns. Thus, I chose the morning flight out of Bandung and I still had enough time, after I arrived in Jakarta, for a massage in Menteng and afternoon tea in Plaza Indonesia.
SOEKARNO-HATTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
After tea, my mate and I caught a Blue Bird taxi from Plaza Indonesia straight to Bandara Soekarno-Hatta (CGK) and the commute took me slightly more than 45min. Not too bad. Alighted at Terminal 2F, which is the only domestic concourse in Terminal 2, utilized by Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia. The rest of the domestic flights operate from Terminal 1A, 1B and 1C, leaving Terminals 2D and 2F for international flights.
Evenings must be a peak period for this airport. Cars were arriving in an endless fashion, alighting departing passengers. And the airport police were at hand in loud hailers to shoo the cars away, to prevent them from stopping kerbside for too long.
Sheesh, it was like a mad house in the terminals. Looks like it was also the period where Muslims went to Mecca for the umrah (mini-haj) so trolleys piled high with baggage were all over the place with people milling about trying to figure their way around.
Since my last trip, I have figured out the way this airport functions. Even though it is close to an hour before your flight departs, the information boards still does not reflect the check in information. So this time I just went past security to the check in area, looking out for Lion Air signs.
Ah… the lovely Lion Air stewardesses. They were all very hot!
Indeed I found the check in for JT 010 at Row 26. Boy were the Lion Air counters full of action! Queues snaked all over the hall because there were JT flights to Makassar, Padang, Banjarmasin and Denpasar / Bali all departing within minutes of each other. Even the Garuda counters next to them seemed so quiet and neglected.
Thankfully, the queue for JT 010 was the shortest!
1750H: After standing in line for about 20min, and 2 queue-jumpers later, my mate and I finally reached the counter and was checked in by a very tired male officer, Tri Yuhono. He seemed overworked and reminded me more of a student activist demanding the resignation of a president than an airline employee – hair all messed up with ruffled half tucked shirt.
Paid the airport tax of Rp 20000 to Tri, who accepted the money with his bony fingers, and issued our paper boarding passes. He later informed us that they would be serving “bread” on the plane because I asked if there was dinner in-flight (hey…. This is after all my first time flying a low-cost carrier ).
A walk into the departure Concourse F revealed the same architectural concept as the international concourse. But this area lacked duty free shops. So shopping was kinda boring, not that I shop a lot at airports! Who in the right mind would? I actually saw a shop at this airport selling crockery!
Walking around, there was much action outside and at the adjacent international terminal, with a KLM 747-400 Combi PH-BFR being prepared for her journey (I was on that plane not too long ago). Another Garuda A330-300 parked next to it. Could not see much beyond the tail of the A330 but I am sure that JAL, Lufthansa, Air France, Emirates and Singapore Airlines had aircraft somewhere in this airport as they are the visitors at this time.
ARE WE LEAVING YET?
Proceeding into the departure holding lounge for gate F1, I found that the passengers for the earlier flight JT 328 to Banjarmasin has yet to board their plane. There was a MD 82 (PK-LMI) docked at the aerobridge outside and I observed that there were passengers within. I later heard people talking that it was the earlier flight JT 788 to Makassar that was delayed. It was supposed to pushback at 1750H. So now, this lounge held 2 MD 82s worth of passengers (JT 328 and 010), so it became very crowded and air very stale.
This is not good news. Meanwhile, ground engineers started to gather around the left engine with a ladder to probe into it, running back and forth to the open window of the cockpit, shouting to the pilot. These ex-Continental machines must be giving Lion some headache! Meanwhile, I am sure that the passengers were suffocating to death in the stuffy cabin of an idle aircraft on the ground.
Because PK-LMI was still at the gate, the Banjarmasin-bound passengers were bussed to a remote parking bay at 1830H.
JT 788 finally pushed back at 1903H and left for Makassar after a delay of more than an hour. This is not reassuring at all for my first flight with Lion. Wait a minute, 1903H? Hey, I am still at the lounge watching the delayed Makassar flight when I am supposed to depart at 1845H! This is bad; there were no announcements at all for my delay. In fact, there were hardly any announcements at all other than boarding calls!
1910H: Boarding call for JT 010 – FINALLY!
I guess since there was no time for the aircraft to be towed to gate F1, we had to be bussed to a remote parking bay as well, just like JT 328. And true enough, we walked down the stairs into 2 waiting buses.
The 5 minute bus ride brought us on a journey into the under-belly of the airport zooming by very close to more Lion MD 82s and Garuda 737s. The bus finally applied its brake next to PK-LMP, an age old MD 82 with a battered nose cone. Now, I am finally boarding a Lion Air aircraft. God bless me!
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
A short walk up the stairs, I was greeted by Sherlyn, who looked like she had somewhere else better to be. So no smiles at all...
Other than the battered nose cone, the interior was rather battered as well. Let’s start with the grey leather for the 4 First Class seats. They were torn and stained – pitch so tight there were no leg rests. Inching into Y Class…. The seats had time worn thin cushions (if you could still call them that!), so thin that I could feel the metal fittings beneath! The pitch for Y Class has to be the narrowest I have ever experienced in my life! There was no way I could have sat down and put my bag under the seat in front. At least they had the moveable headrest…
God… why the hell did I ever choose Lion? Oh yes – the cheap tickets. S$60 one way.
There were no magazines in the seat pockets, but something unusual caught my eye. It was an “invocation card” or otherwise known as “doa doa perjalanan”. It was like the size of a safety card but within held travel prayers for the sanctioned religions in the country of Indonesia (Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestant, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity).
Welcome announcements came on speedily in Indonesian followed by English (incomprehensible, as usual). The Indonesian announcements were not repeated in English; rather it was in part of both languages. Thus, during the manual safety demo, you learnt to buckle the seat belt in English, and the use of the oxygen mask in Indonesian. How queer! The quality of the PA was very bad so even the Indonesian announcements became incomprehensible behind a veil of cackles and hisses.
1926H: While we began our taxi for runway 25R, there was no walk though by the crew to check on the seatbelts as they simply disappeared. Actually, I think they must have been very tired because none of them bothered with saying “hello” during boarding. So they are probably catching 40 winks on their jumpseats now drooling away. Lights are darkened in the cabin in preparation for take off.
1935H: Captain comes on and he sounds Aussie. He apologized for the delay and said it was due to weather, and that caused the schedules to be pushed back. And he also pointed out that we were no 3 in the line for take off after an Air France 777, a KLM 747 and a Bouraq 737-200 landing.
1945H: We finally enter access N1. After the Bouraq 737 exits the active, the engines are spooled and off we go!
1950H: Or so I thought…For some reason, we stayed at that position for 5 more mins before we heard the whine of the engines.
1951H: It is amazing how silent the front of the aircraft is. In fact, all we hear is a muffled “hum” as we race down the runway for a 30 sec roll. My last experience on a Northwest DC9 was similar to this. I guess it is due to the fact that the engines are situated so far aft.
A right turn is immediately executed as soon as we are airborne to bring us to the coast of northern Java.
1955H: The cabin lights come back on but it does not make much of a difference. The seatbelt sign also “pings” off but I guess the sound is not working; the sign goes silently without anyone noticing it.
2000H: It is time for the drink service and the cart (with the Continental logos still attached to them) appears in the aisle. Louise is in charge of Rows 1-9 while a second cart from Row 10 onwards. The service stops 15 min later because the weather out there is not kind to us tonight. The navigational lights reveal some thin cloud.
Meanwhile, the seatbelt sign quietly turns on and off 2 min later without a soul realizing.
The drink service continues and Louise appears next to me.
I saw a bottle of calamnsi juice on the cart and requested for that instead.
“Orrrrrange juice?” repeats Louise again like a robot from Austin Powers.
“No, I would like calamansi juice, please”
“Orrrrange juice.” affirms Louise. I gave up so I accepted the “orrrrrange” juice.
In the midst if this, the sulking cabin crew distributed meal boxes that contained paper towels, bun & muffin and pre-cupped water.
2030H: The cabin crew gave out questionnaires for the passengers to fill up. Louise, while handing me mine, gestured to my meal box and said “Eat alrrrready?” and snatched it away before I could even say anything.
Hmm…. Girl, you are definitely getting a black mark in my questionnaire!
A trip to the toilet at the aft of the cabin revealed a noisy engine rumbling environment from Row 30 onwards. Good god, I didn’t envy the passengers seated in that area! It was so loud that a decent conversation would not have been possible. Those further back even had the lovely view of the engine cowling just out of their window, simply making it impossible to look at anything else.
2108H: HisssssssSSSS…HIIIISSSSSSSSsssssss went the PA system that doubled as our arrival announcements getting us to fasten our seatbelts and keep our seats upright. There was a walkthrough the cabin by Louise at least, this time!
Since we were approaching Bali from the southwest, the island would have appeared squarely outside my window but because this was a night flight, I was robbed of this normally picturesque approach for Ngurah Rai International Airport.
We venture inland to fly over Bali’s capital town of Denpasar before heading out to sea again, then making a right turn and approaching the airport’s runway 27 via Tanjung Benoa.
2114H: Landing gears are lowered.
2115H: The Ngurah Rai Bypass, Bali’s only 4-lane road zips past underneath the plane before we touch down on terra firma smoothly. Reverse thrust, if deployed at all, is extremely silent. Local time is now 2215H, an hour ahead of Jakarta.
The international terminal hosted a SIA 777-200 and a Garuda A330-300. Other aircraft spotted at the domestic side included more 737s of Garuda, Bouraq, Batavia Air and one of Air Paradise in a hybrid scheme that saw the livery of Transavia on its fuselage.
A lone Garuda DC10 also stood pensively at a distant parking bay next to an Air Paradise A310.
2219H: The MD 82 finally comes to a stop at a parking bay and we de-plane via stairs to be bussed to the arrival terminal.
While waiting for the bus, I get a chance to walk about the plane, even under the wing!
Ngurah Rai Airport
Let’s just say that this airport has seen better days. It is old and well worn. The arrival hall was inadequate to handle 2 arriving flights – mine and another of Batavia Air from Cengkareng as well. Not enough trolleys to go around so there were many passengers lugging their baggage around, not funny when you have endured a delay and incompetent airline employees.
Bags took about 30 min to appear. VERY SLOW!
Check in: 5/10… Very disorganized as the lines led to nowhere and there were no proper signage.
Departure: 4/10… No attempt to keep departing passengers informed about delays.
In-flight service: 5/10… No hesitation here for this low score. This is Asia and I would expect something more out of a kebaya-clad stewardess. This really felt like a US domestic flight.
Safety: 5/10… I didn’t feel safe with Lion at all. I do not normally include this quotient here but when cabin crew do not ensure that belts are fastened, or when the seatbelt sign pings on and off with no sound, or an inoperable PA system… you begin to wonder…
Catering: 6/10…. What do you expect from a domestic flight? This is not MAS!
Arrival: 6/10… Bali’s airport is in need of a serious upgrade. Broken signage and inoperable air conditioning et al, this does not reflect well at all on the country’s premier tourist destination.
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Garuda From Indonesia, joined Nov 2000, 584 posts, RR: 2 Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 5150 times:
Nice report Ryanair!!
DPS domestic terminal is indeed a dump. It used to be shared with International traffic before the present International Terminal was built, so you can imagine what it was like before. The present international terminal is much better, but still a bit cramped inside though.
Airpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 934 posts, RR: 37 Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5061 times:
Hilarious report - Reminds of the last (and only one) time I flew Lion last year from KUL to CGK - or at least that's what my ticket said. At check in, I was told Lion had decided "to divert to Surabaya".
We were promised that a same-plane connection would bring us CGK-bound passengers back to Jakarta but after leaving us in a secure area at Surabaya airport, the ground agents forgot all about the dozen or so passengers!
The MD82 was all ready to leave, with doors closed, when when they realised something amiss and rushed us frantically running across the tarmac!
The ticket was dirt cheap but what an experience... I threw away my return segment (when that flight was delayed 9 hours) and flew home on Garuda instead.
Ryanair!!! From Singapore, joined Mar 2002, 4652 posts, RR: 27 Reply 9, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 5019 times:
There is a reason why Lion's operations are so messy. They only have that handful of planes and they fly so many routes. So you can imagine the way those poor rusty MD82s are being abused.
Which is why they only have one flight to Bali, Makassar, Banjarmasin,.... and these planes work on such a tight schedule that once there is a breakdown, the whole delay snowballs into other departing flights as well - simply because they rely only one that one plane to fly those routes on that particular day.
My return flight was a joke. I expected the delay so I wasn't pissed off. But I will save it for the report.
Do you own any shirts with sleeves Ryanair!!!??
Hahahaha... u noticed huh? It is not funny commuting in hot and humid weather like ours. I like to be comfortable. Not that I was expecting to be upgraded or something! If I could be naked, I would! I just hate to be hot under my clothes...
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