Dear fellow A.netters,
Each time my partner and I visit Indonesia, we include two immediate destinations in our itinerary which are Bandung, my mother’s hometown, and Semarang, my birthplace. This holiday was no exception.
During our layover in Kuala Lumpur, we had a great time with fellow A.netter Airpearl. Allow me to invite you to visit Finally Asia Part 1: A.net Meeting And BDO With QZ (by akhmad Sep 4 2010 in Trip Reports)
Thanks to our great experience two years ago, we decided to fly Mandala again to Semarang, my birthplace. For this purpose, we were watching out for her promotion until one day RI released the smart fare offer.
I notified my partner about it and he just said, “Book it!”
However after some clickings, we ended up paying more than twice IDR 1,000.
Although RI advertisements nowadays display all-in fares, at the time of our booking RI did not pursued such yet. In our case, there would be another IDR 493,000 to force the up the price! But anyway, no matter how disproportional it might look like, we were still happy to pay IDR 495,000 (about EUR 42).
While dealing with the RI booking engine, I observed the following changes after two years.
In cooperation with a local underwriting agency, RI conducts its own branded travel insurance Mandala Plus Guard. Once you get to your booking quotation, the total price will be automatically marked up with the insurance. You just have to be aware of it and make your decision before proceeding to settle down the bill.
Further on, on the contrary to our previous booking back in 2008, the system did not accept credit card issued outside Indonesia anymore. Instead, the international customers are required to make payments with PayPal.
Eager to fly with RI, I applied for a PayPal account before eventually finalizing our booking. Well, it was not such a big deal about using PayPal. In fact, I did not expect that PayPal could be so easy.
As a final note on the customer service side, if you send an e-mail inquiry through the input mask on RI website, you will be provided a reference number to follow your inquiry status online.
About three weeks before our departure date, we found out that our departure time has been retimed from 16.35 to 17.45. I was not really happy with that as my chances of decent window view in-flight simply evaporated due to the fact that we would be flying in darkness.
One week before our departure, I received the following message from RI on my mobile phone. ‘Your flight time has been retimed to 17.45. Our sincere apology for the inconvenience. Please contact our call center for further inquiry.’ The message ended with the phone number of RI’s Indonesian call centre.
I told my partner about the message. We could not really figure out the need of calling the call centre, but decided to follow it up anyway.
RI call centre was surprisingly easy to access. After choosing preferred language and dialing another digit to get directed to the right department, I got a RI lady on the phone in the matter of seconds.
Before getting a chance to go any further, the RI lady got me showered with questions.
“Could you please tell me on which mobile phone number you have received the notification?”
I passed my mobile number to the lady.
“Which e-mail address have you been submitted for your booking?”
I spelled our e-mail address for her.
“Could you please tell me your PNR and the names of the passengers traveling on the itinerary?”
She got the details she needed.
“Which cities are involved in your itinerary?”
“Jakarta to Semarang,” I said.
“Thank you. Could you please wait a moment, please?”
By that time, I got the feeling that she might proceed with questions like:
‘What will be your aircraft type?’
‘Which registration will it be?’
‘Can you tell me its first delivery date?’
Fortunately there were no more other questions. The RI lady was apparently satisfied with our answers.
“I am sorry for the inconvenience you may experience after the reschedule of your flight, Sir. Do you want me to rebook you and your travel companion to another flight?”
Since RI only had one early morning flight on our departure day which meant that we would have to miss our extensive breakfast at Hilton, we decided to stick to our existing itinerary.
“No, thank you. We are fine with our itinerary,”
“All right, Sir. I have made a reconfirmation of the following flight for you. RI 294 leaving on Thursday at 17.45. You can bring along your former e-ticket printout as you are still travelling on the same PNR,”
“Thank you for your information,”
“I hope you will enjoy your flight. Thank you for flying with Mandala,”
‘What a nice lady!’ I thought while hanging up. I could not fault her. With all the questions, she just wanted to make sure that she was dealing with an authorized person to our booking.
Novotel Semarang has been our sanctuary during our visit to Semarang in 2005 and 2008. And again in 2010!
I must say, Accor group does a great job by keeping on developing their global online booking engine to her guests’ advantage. For instance, unlike our experience in 2008, you can access your booking detail with a single reference number through any input mask of Accor brands.
We secured a double Executive room for two nights at IDR 883,000 (about EUR 76) during Early Brakes promotion. Our booking confirmation was promptly delivered upon credit card authorization.
The following day, front-office lady Devi confirmed our request for free airport pick-up. Novotel Semarang never disappointed us on this.
On this thread, you will find our adventure at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta airport’s new Terminal 3, our RI flight to Semarang, our stay at Novotel Semarang and a mini non-aviation trip report from Bandung to CGK.