Bandung – Jakarta / Halim
Merparti Nusantara Airlines
CN 235 (PK-MNI)
Duration: 35 min
Left Jakarta by train on 14 March. This train ride is a definite must for visitors. The scenic ride over the expansive countryside and picturesque river gorges is simply breath-taking.
Another lovely time spent in Bandung. Stayed at the Holiday Inn again and I had no reason not to. This hotel has a superb location to nearby factory outlets which I went crazy in. Shopped like hell for Gap business shirts and surf shorts. Ventured up to the highlands of Lembang again – this time I made sure I went up there in the day time.
Finally, got up really early for my flight on the 15th and it seemed like déjà vu as I prepared to leave the hotel for the airport. Of course, just 5 weeks ago, I was going through the same routine!
There were 3 of us traveling today. And we looked forward to returning to Jakarta as we packed ourselves into the hotel van for a short ride to Bandung’s Hussein Sastranegara Airport.
The ride to the airport was uneventful until we reached the entrance. What greeted us was a demonstration! And boy was there a crowd. The speaker stood high above the back of a truck and hundreds, if not thousands of listeners were enthusiastically cheering him on, waving flags of white and green. Enthusiastic they were, enthusiastic I was not! The road was blocked and so was the access into the airport.
You see, Indonesia is in the midst of a presidential election campaign and demonstrations like these were commonplace. Of all the places to “demo” – as the locals call it, they had to do it at the entrance of the road to the airport!
Hence, my driver had to meander his way through small streets and back lanes in order to find an alternative route. We ended up on the other side of the airport compound where the factory of the Indonesian-made CN 235 aircraft was situated – IPTN. A while later, we pulled up at the terminal relieved but the drive of normally 10 mins lasted almost an hour! I was now staring at the demonstration from the other side; the lone voice from the megaphone could still be heard cackling amidst the cheers.
Security checks were carried out before we entered the terminal building and the silence within was welcoming from the “demo” din. Check in was completed at Counter 4 where the Merpati signs were bright and hard to miss.
Airport tax of Rp 10000 was paid at a separate counter.
Despite being the place where Indonesian aviation roots were sown, Bandung Hussein Sastranegara Airport does not see much traffic, other than props. Maybe the reason why the airport staffs look so laid back.
A trip up to the viewing gallery yielded little action with an empty ramp filling the scenery, with the expansive factory of IPTN forming the background.
With nothing much to do, we all went past security to the departure holding lounge. I spent the next few minutes relating my experience of flying the CN 235 to my 2 other traveling companions because they have never flown in one before, despite one of them being an Indonesian.
The bright white CN 235 finally purred and sputtered into it’s parking position after landing at 1030H from Jakarta / Halim. Passengers were unloaded as airport staff busied them selves with preparing the aircraft for the next flight, some of them were pushing carts that were similar to the ones used by the hawkers on the streets!
1045H: Boarding call…. And off we went into the bright and cool sunshine to our aircraft that was the one and only one in the ramp. My favorite part of the journey. Just check out the photos below!
Here I am with my Indonesian friend before he got sick….
The closer I got, I realized that the registration was PK
-MNI! This was the same aircraft I flew on 26 Jan 04!
Wow…. I walked up the stairs and into the familiar cabin once again.
Like before, there was only one stewardess but this time she had no name tag. So let’s call her Dewi.
Unlike the previous flight, there were no sounds of electric guitars doubling up as ambience music. Instead, it was just silent inside. Much nicer this was, thank you!
1100H: Welcome announcements came on in Indonesian followed by English, which interestingly, Dewi referred to us as “Dear customers, welcome on boarrrrd Merrrrpati…” And that was all the English words I managed to catch.
1101H: Taxi begins and there isn’t any safety demonstration despite Dewi describing the safety features. No need for pushback as the aircraft simply moves off from its present position.
After the announcements are over, Dewi sashays down the aisle with a basket of sweets for the passengers to take. The smile never goes away, a very sweet girl.
Reaching the threshold of Runway 29, a tight u-turn is performed and the prop starts to churn louder and louder. The cabin rattles and amazingly nothing falls apart.
1103H: Brakes are released; we begin the 20 sec roll and rotate into the clear and sunny skies of Bandung.
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM…… Up and up we fly towards out cruising level of FL210. A few bumps here and there but nothing to write home about.
1109H: The seatbelt sign “pings” off and Dewi waste no time in bringing out the meal boxes which we all receive in less than a minute. Wow…. Must be bionic woman at work.
The meal box consist of a butter cake with shredded cheese, potato croquette, and a pre-cupped calamnsi juice. It was pretty tasty! There was even a wet towellette for my perusal.
Meanwhile, the vibrations of the cabin kept my loose window shade progressively closing down. It was pretty annoying trying to keep it up for photo taking!
1119H: Dewi cracks over the PA and begin arrival announcements as the first signs of descend are felt. The engine also becomes noticeably quieter which becomes a relief momentarily.
The approach for Halim becomes a little bumpy over West Jakarta as the pilot struggles to maintain the plane on course. I think it must have been a windy day. Passengers gasped as the plane dived down and up and down again. While I was enjoying the ride, my Indonesian friend had his arms on the seat in front of him and his head buried in them…. Bracing for a crash? His face looked green.
“Saya pusing….” He later commented. (I am giddy)…. And here is a partial shot of his almost throwing up. I know, I am evil.
The tyres finally screeched with a few bumps on Runway 24 at 1126H. Ah… we landed safely at Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport, Jakarta.
This was another wonderful flight with Merpati Nusantara. My mate naturally took this opportunity to get shimmy with the attendant.
And now, one final look back at the trusty little rust bucket that brought me from Bandung, which looked so small when compared to the Fokker 100 that we parked next to!
Merpati has proven to be consistent since my last flight with them. Service is friendly and flight has always departed on time. No major delays. Hence, my rating for them remains unchanged from my last trip report on the same sector.
Check in: 9/10
In-flight service: 8/10