Review of Indonesia AirAsia flight Singapore Yogyakarta-Java Island in Economy

Airline Indonesia AirAsia
Flight QZ659
Class Economy
Seat 24A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 2:15
Take-off 27 Feb 16, 11:10
Arrival at 27 Feb 16, 12:25
QZ 8 reviews
Eric V P
By 348
Published on 7th January 2017
This trip report will be my report on flying Indonesia AirAsia economy class from Singapore SIN to Yogyakarta JOG which I took close to a year ago. It was quite long ago and some details may be missing but seemed to be worth putting since what I did on departure and arrival seem to be a bit different from what I would usually do.

Background
Nearing Chinese New Year, AirAsia held a special Chinese New Year sale, which included Singapore SIN to Yogyakarta JOG for only S$76 (US$52) including S$46 airport fees (excluding S$4 booking fee, paid by using eNETS direct debit). Such fare would be almost the same as (or even lower than) what they normally offer on Singapore SIN to Jakarta CGK, however Yogyakarta JOG being a tourist destination usually means higher ticket prices and with its flights to Solo SOC closed I only have either Yogyakarta JOG or Surabaya SUB. With fare that reasonable, I could fly for recess week.

On Singapore SIN - Yogyakarta JOG route, there are only two airlines serving the route: Indonesia AirAsia (daily) and SilkAir (subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, close to daily). Such low frequency and the fact that SilkAir being Singapore Airlines' feeder mean that Indonesia AirAsia can simply charge higher prices for O&D flights on the route.

Bonus: List of checked luggage allowance for more than 100 airlines worldwide (I made it on Google Docs) - check it here. AirAsia offers no free checked luggage allowances on its basic fare (additional allowances were bought at additional fee), however on business class (available through AirAsia X or other long-haul subsidiaries) it offers a reasonable 40 kg allowance.

D-1 at Singapore and check-in at SIN
As I stay at western Singapore (read: 2 hours by pubic transport to Singapore SIN), I decided to give sleeping at the airport a try. I went to the airport quite late at night, planning to catch bus 36/36A from Dhoby Ghaut Stn to Singapore SIN since shuttle from Tanah Merah Stn to Changi Airport Stn would be over by then. However, since it was late and it was impossible to catch the last bus I decided to change my plan and went to the airport from Tanah Merah Stn by car booked using a ride-hailing app.
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After I arrived at Singapore SIN, I decided to use self check-in machine as the manned counters were closed. I subsequently printed my boarding pass, which was to say the least flimsy, and the bag tag. Little did I know that the boarding pass I received at the counter would be flimsy as well since I expected the ones provided at the manned counters to be on a thicker paper. There's just a different feeling when you hold a boarding pass printed on proper, old-style paper. Here is how the self-printed bag tag look like (photo of part of my boarding pass visible later on):
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As I still had several hours before the manned counters and the pubic train services would be available, I went to the arrivals area and took some rest there. Earlier on, I had the chance to talk to another Indonesian who had arrived from US and had a supper together.

Since AirAsia's counters were expected to be open at 5.30 AM, I decided to join the queue to had my boarding pass reprinted and to drop my bag (AirAsia still has no self bag drop machines, so hopefully they would add some when they moved to T4). It was a slow affair with several people queuing and only 2 counters opened.
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Trip to the city and departure
After I had one less bag to lug around, I decided to take the public train to Chinatown Stn and had my breakfast of fried kway teow at the famous Outram Park Fried Kway Teow. For breakfast it may be slightly overwhelming for some, but I found it to be better than queuing around 15 mins had I took it around lunchtime.
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I then decided to return to the airport fully by bus, so from there I took bus 190 bound for Choa Chu Kang Int to Dhoby Ghaut Stn followed by bus 36 bound for Changi Airport PTB2 to Changi Airport PTB3. Bus 190 was the best way to go from Chinatown to Orchard Rd or back by bus while bus 36 overlooked some of the famous sights in Singapore such as Orchard Road, Suntec City, and Marina Bay Sands on the way to the airport, so if you have some extra time it would be the best way to end your trip in Singapore.


Garuda Indonesia's PK-GMP went across the taxiway above the road as it possibly went to runway 02C/20C for departure (T3 which Garuda Indonesia uses is on the left side, so its direction suggest that it must be departing instead of arriving).


Changi Airport's bus stops at the 3 terminals are all located at loading area, so security screening was conducted every time the bus went into each terminal.
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I alighted at Changi Airport PTB3 bus stop so I decided to have a brief walk around T3 and took some photos of the check-in area, which was quite quiet.


Out of boredom, I also walked to Singapore SIN T2 before proceeding to T1. Photo of Singapore SIN T1 exterior from the interterminal automated people mover:
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Around 2 hours before departure, I passed through the immigration, which queue was acceptable. However, I could not take photos of the area due to security issue (I once had myself chased by the immigration officer at Jakarta CGK for taking photo of it and afterwards asked to have the photo deleted, for real.)
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Since I departed from my hall the day before, I decided to have a shower at Plaza Premium Lounge at Singapore SIN T1. Since I only paid to have a shower (around S$17/US$12) instead of a proper visit, I decided not to give marks on it as usual, although I found the lounge to look acceptable for a proper visit (minus the cost, mainly due to the student budget). The shower room at the lounge consisted of washing basin, closet, and shower. They were functional and looked acceptable, so I would consider going there again should I departed from my place quite long before the flight.


Should you visit the lounge on a proper visit, here are the alcoholic beverages menu. The fact that they charged for even beer or generic wine made them look a bit stingy, although it was nice to see that they had a rather extensive beverages options available. Customers paying for shower were also eligible to enjoy one non-alcoholic drink, so I opted for a can of soft drink.
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After that shower, I decided to go straight to the gate and charged my phone battery. Unfortunately, since the plug provided at Singapore SIN was quite loose, I found it challenging to charge my battery, leaving me with less than 20% when I boarded the plane. I did not take any photo of the gate, but here are some more photos of Singapore SIN T1:


On board
Flight: QZ659
STD: 11.10
STA: 12.25
Seat type: Standard 180 seats (seat map here: https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Air_Asia/Air_Asia_Airbus_320.php)

As usual at Singapore SIN, I boarded by using the aerobridge and was welcomed by the flight attendant.
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The mandatory legroom shot. At 5' 10", the legroom seemed to be on the tighter side so I freed my legroom by putting all my bags at the bin. On the seat pocket was the usual reading materials: in-flight magazine, buy on board food menu, and safety card. At least the middle seat was empty - having it filled would seem to be a bit uncomfortable.
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Boarding in progress - since Yogyakarta is a quite popular tourist destination, there were some non-locals taking the flight. The advertisement on the bins seemed to be on the more intrusive side, making the cabin more like a flying banner, but at least the tables were not pasted with even more advertisements this time. This got more interesting since that brand of coffee was not available for the flight.
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The flight was uneventful and I decided to take some rest (and one photo of the view). It was, fortunately, quite a clear day.
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Since I preordered a meal for the flight (which at an additional charge of below US$4, quite reasonable compared to Singapore-based LCCs), I was served mine quite early after the flight attendant stamped my boarding pass, which as seen on the upper left part looked flimsy. The meal was edible (alhough not nicely presented, possibly to save space), but the free cup of mineral water was rather small at only half the size of normal mineral water cup. While I found beverages that size to be acceptable for welcome drink, on this case it felt almost like an insult and to some extent an invitation to buy more beverages from them as nobody would want to be half-thirsty. After I read the older issue of Indonesia AirAsia's menu, I found that the meal was again from Ms. Farah Quinn's recipe, the person behind KLM's business class meals for my flight from Singapore SIN to Denpasar DPS and back later on (see the trip reports here: SIN-DPS/DPS-SIN)
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After enduring the flights for around 2 hours, I arrived at Yogyakarta JOG reasonably on time.

Arrival at JOG and post-arrival trip
Since my phone had run out of battery again, did not take any photo of the airport, but I was surprised to see Yogyakarta JOG had a new terminal building, which houses some airlines' domestic departure as well as all airlines' international departure and arrival. The building itself, while trying to look modern, still ended up looking rather cheap with liberal usage of aluminium composite panel and ceramic flooring. Here are some photos of the new terminal from my later flight:


Immigration was rather slow due to lack of automated immigration clearance gates (but it's not even available at Surabaya SUB as well, so hoping for the officials to expand it). Baggage claim area was on the smaller side, although it was still an improvement over the old international arrival area. Upon exiting customs, as usual in most airports in Indonesia, there were taxi drivers touting their service and most of the time they would prefer fixed price (usually saying that we departed from the airport) rather than using meter.

After I arrived, I went to meet one of my colleagues over some coffee and we discussed several things while I was waiting for the intercity train (definitely better than waiting for 3 hours at the train station). However, since I called a taxi quite late and Yogyakarta's traffic was quite unforgiving, I ended up arriving at the train station almost late for the train, arriving at the station only around 10 minutes before the train departed. Since I had just arrived from overseas, I also needed to print the ticket at the self ticket print machine, which was still on a quite fancy ticket paper.
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There are several kinds of train cars on Indonesia's first class (kelas eksekutif/executive class) train service, the highest class of commercial train service, and unfortunately this time I was on one of the older train cars, which looked rather tired. However, it is the fastest intercity transport mode on Java island (except by plane) as roads can be quite congested. As an example, Yogyakarta (Tugu) YK - Madiun MN only took me 2 1/2 hours on this train which was configured with executive and business class (commuter trains and trains with economy class may take longer) instead of 4 hours by car.
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Legroom was restricted by the seat legs and the footrest, especially because of the seats' swivel mechanism.
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I arrived at my hometown after around 2 1/2 hours of trip by train.
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Verdict

Indonesia AirAsia

3.5/10
Cabin3.0
Cabin crew5.0
Entertainment2.0
meal/catering4.0

Singapore - SIN

6.9/10
Efficiency6.5
Access7.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness8.0

Yogyakarta-Java Island - JOG

3.4/10
Efficiency3.5
Access3.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness4.0

Conclusion

At around US$55 roundtrip including the booking fee and airport fees for flights that last around 2 hours one way, it was probably the cheapest international flights deal I could find. Considering the price, therefore, I couldn't see too many ways to complain for the trip, but to be impartial I still assess it as if I paid normal fare.

Due to Indonesia AirAsia's paltry offering and Yogyakarta JOG's rather unsatisfactory new terminal, I am afraid I would need to be a bit on the harsher side when it comes to giving marks even though I was still able to endure them.

Some thing done well for the trip:
+ Cheap price (on promotions, otherwise I would still prefer Garuda Indonesia economy class to Surabaya SUB)
+ Acceptable access to and from Singapore SIN
+ Acceptable airport design and amenities at Singapore SIN
+ Acceptable shower facility at Plaza Premium lounge at Singapore SIN
+ Reasonable on time performance
+ Edible, well-priced meal
+ Yogyakarta JOG's new terminal building

Things that can be improved:
- The need for document check after web check-in (admittedly it's cumbersome, especially since I don't need any visa to visit Indonesia)
- Check-in counter opening times at Singapore SIN
- Self bag drop provision (if you could print your own bag tag, why couldn't you drop it yourself? Hope it would be available when they move to T4)
- Shower pricing at Plaza Premium lounge at Singapore SIN
- Cramped legroom (I would suggest those 5'10" and above to book seats on row 14 which are reclinable exit row seats)
- Advertisements at luggage bins
- Onboard meal portion and presentation (plus the rather dismal free mineral water cup size, acceptable for welcome drink such as what was given when I flew on Scoot "business class" or Garuda Indonesia economy class (content changed to orange juice) but not for accompanying a meal)
- Autogate provision at Yogyakarta JOG (not a big issue due to the small international traffic, would be wiser to add some on Surabaya SUB first)
- Unofficial taxi touting at Yogyakarta JOG

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