A Weekend of Flying in May 2015 | Flight #1 Series Introduction: After numerous delays and a failed initial sales launch, V Air, a Taiwanese low-cost carrier, finally succeeded in selling tickets on its first route between Taipei and Bangkok (Don Mueang). I have been following all the news related to this airline very closely, but all along did not plan to "snatch" any of the cheap tickets during its sales launch since it wouldn't be exactly convenient for me to especially fly to Bangkok, just to try this new Taiwanese airline. Oh well, to cut out on all the long-winded story, I eventually still ended up with an approximately SGD67 one-way ticket from Bangkok to Taipei, scheduled on the first Saturday of May 2015.
Now, I needed to find a way to get to Bangkok before Saturday, and then to return to Singapore by Sunday night, so that I can report punctually on Monday for my first day at work. The initial plan was just to add two more budget airlines' flights, before and after the confirmed V Air flight, so as to complete the loop (SIN-DMK-TPE-SIN). The routing obviously did not turn out to be that simple in the end; just look at the route map below depicting My Weekend of Flying in May 2015. Enjoy the series!
This is a list of all the other reports in this series.
Flight 1: This Report > 08/05/15, SIN-KUL Jetstar Asia 3K663, A320 (Economy) Flight 2: Click Here > 08/05/15, KUL-BKK Royal Jordanian RJ181, B787-8 (Business) Flight 3: Click Here > 09/05/15, DMK-TPE V Air ZV6, A321 (Economy) Flight 4: Coming Soon > 10/05/15, TPE-HKG Cathay Pacific CX511, A330-300 (Business) Flight 5: Coming Soon > 10/05/15, HKG-SIN Cathay Pacific CX711, B777-300ER (Business)
Jetstar Asia 3K663 Aircraft Registration: 9V-JSH Origin: Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN) Destination: Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia (KUL) Date: Friday, 8 May 2015 STD/STA: 0935h (UTC+08:00) to 1040h (UTC+08:00) ATD/ATA: 0937h (UTC+08:00) to 1043h (UTC+08:00) Estimated Duration: 01 hour 05 minutes Actual Duration: 01 hour 06 minutes Flight Distance: About 186 miles / 299 km
On the morning of this flight, the traffic along the way to the airport was surprisingly light despite it being the peak hour. I arrived at SIN's terminal 1 within 30 minutes from boarding the taxi. A great start to my trip.
Since Jetstar Asia ("3K") is based in SIN, most of the airline's flights are now eligible for self check-in and all passengers will be directed to the self check-in kiosks.
There were many kiosks available so I didn't have to queue.
These check-in kiosks belong to the airport's management and not the airline. So I guess this is a sign that more and more airlines will be rolling out this service in the near future.
You can choose to use either English or Mandarin to operate the machine.
The next step will be to enter your PNR reference, scan the barcode on your itinerary, or search for your itinerary using your flight number.
Then key in your name.
Confirm your flight.
Declare that you have no dangerous goods.
Scan your passport to verify your identity.
Enter your baggage information.
Confirm your seats.
And collect your baggage tags.
This wasn't the most intuitive system I would expect for self check-in but it was already simple enough, since I was guided step-by-step with clear instructions.
It's possible that travellers who are less tech savvy will not appreciate such systems and will prefer the traditional way of checking in at a counter.
Anyway, with my boarding pass and luggage tag printed, the next step would be to attach the bag tag on my check in bag and then drop it at the counter.
The bag drop process was also automated.
I just had to place my bag on the conveyor belt and scan my boarding pass.
My check in luggage weighed 5kg.
Once I selected "check-in", the conveyor belt automatically sent my bag, and I was done!
A baggage receipt was printed at the end of the whole process.
One standard shot of the departure FIDS before I head to immigration.
Anyway, my flight was codeshared with Sri Lankan Airlines as UL3277.
Off I go for my short weekend trip with 5 flights!
After I went through the self check-in process, immigration was also self-clearance and the automated process meant I was airside in less than 5 minutes.
The first thing I saw was an exhibition of Qantas' new A330 Business class suites.
It was a pity the exhibition wasn't opened yet. Otherwise I would have gotten a chance to try out these beautiful seats.
I travel quite frequently on the SIN-MEL route, but in economy of course. It'd be great if they upgraded me just once to these seats…
I should stop daydreaming; what's awaiting me at my boarding gate was an A320 with 180 seats. Let's get going.
On the way to the gate, I saw two aircrafts from China.
The first: Air China's A333 operating CA975/CA976, and it was bound for Beijing that morning.
The next aircraft was Xiamen Air's B737-800, which arrived in Singapore from Xi'an via Hangzhou, and will be departing for Tianjin via Xiamen as MF856.
Finally at my boarding gate after killing off some time. Apart from the above-mentioned codeshare agreement with Sri Lankan, this 3K flight also codeshared with Emirates.
The next flight to depart from this gate was also a Jetstar flight, but its IATA code was "BL", indicating that it was a Jetstar Pacific flight from Vietnam.
I was very punctual and arrived at the gate according to the stipulated boarding time, but at that time, the departure information boards already indicated "last call" for the flight.
Despite the "last call", boarding had not actually commenced; but it began in another minute or so.
Anyway, this was my aircraft for the short hop over to Kuala Lumpur - 9V-JSH, it was about 9 years old at that time. Interestingly, even though Valuair had technically transferred all its aircrafts to 3K, this particular aircraft still had the "Valuair" logo on it.
9.21am, the flight wasn't very full so boarding was quick and efficient.
When I took my time to stroll down the aerobridge, it was already empty as the initial boarding crowd had cleared.
In May 2015 when this flight took place, the aircraft was still carrying the Valuair brand with it as it flew all over Asia. Two months later, however, 3K has repainted this aircraft into a special livery commemorating Singapore's 50th National Day. (See this photo.)
Anyway, I boarded the aircraft and headed straight to the lavatory, HAHA!
It wasn't nature's call but rather, I just didn't want to walk around the aircraft later on during the flight since it was going to be a very, very short one.
Clear signs that the aircraft was ageing.
Anyway, back into the cabin. 9V-JSH is one of 3K's first few aircrafts. It therefore had the older version of leather seats, which were actually slightly more comfortable than the newer ones, in my opinion.
While this may be my first report on 3K, I am actually extremely familiar with this airline, having flown on it countless of times between SIN and TPE since a decade ago.
9.25am, boarding was almost completed and I estimated that the flight's load was about 70%.
9.30am, doors were about to close.
Soon after, the pilot came on with a short PA, and here's what he said:
Flying time will be about 40 minutes We will depart on time He will be back with the weather information later
In the video, you could hear many Sri Lankans in the background, reconfirming the fact that many Sri Lankan Airlines passengers were booked on this flight, completing their journey to Kuala Lumpur after arriving in Singapore from Colombo. (The Sri Lankan flight from Colombo arrived in Singapore at about 7.30am or so.)
9.37am, 3K663 pushed back two minutes after the scheduled time of departure. 9.57am, we took about 20 minutes to finally line up with Runway 02C and then took off for KUL.
We made a 90 degree left turn soon after leaving Singapore and at this point, the captain turned off the seatbelt signs.
10.07am, arrived at our cruising altitude of 20,000ft; but we stayed at this flight level for really just a short while.
This is Jetstar Asia’s shortest flight and thus everything needs to be done quickly.
On this particular flight, we only cruised at our “cruising altitude” for a mere 8 minutes, so basically both pairs of crew had to be really efficient in distributing pre-purchased meals and selling BOB meals. The first pair of them were distributing the meals and the other pair was conducting the sale.
I bought a plus bundle (as I always do when flying with Jetstar) and this bundle allowed me to earn Qantas points, provided me with 20kg checked in luggage, and included a sandwich combo. So soon after we were airborne, I prepared the table for my food.
The 4 FAs were definitely rushing to complete their service but that didn’t stop them from displaying a high level of professionalism - and personally this seems to be what I frequently observe on 3K’s flights: professional, friendly and efficient crew members.
However, no matter how professional the crew members were, I was still glad that the flight was only about an hour because I felt extremely constrained by the legroom that day. It wasn’t my first time on 3K but the legroom just seemed exceptionally tight on that morning’s flight. It might be because I was experiencing some rather nasty headache, but oh well… I already knew very well that 3K has the standard LCC seat pitch of 29” and what can one really expect from that?
Anyway, another 5 minutes passed and the crew members were already collecting trash and selling duty free items (yes, they managed to conduct a round of duty free sales even on such a short flight with a flying time of just 33 minutes).
It must have been real tiring doing a series of these return KUL flights in a day and kudos to them for still being cheerful throughout the service.
An announcement then came again from the flight deck and this is what the pilot said: - Our estimated landing time was 10.35am - And we should be at the gate at about 10.45am
10.15am, descent began; and we were flying pass Malacca.
10.21am, the seatbelt signs came on, and it was just 24 minutes since take off. This was my fifth time flying between SIN and KUL, and every single time I felt that the flights really ended too quickly. But in this case, since I wasn’t feeling quite comfortable on this particular flight, I was actually quite keen to get off the aircraft for some rest during my layover in KUL.
There were some time left before we touch down so let’s not forget to look at the seat pocket contents.
Menu - quite expensive, especially so if you compare 3K’s prices to that of AirAsia’s.
Duty free catalogue.
A 1:200 scale Jetstar Asia A320 model was available for sale. There were also some other 3K related products.
And then the in-flight magazine, where we have a message from Jetstar’s Group CEO.
In her message, she mentioned that 2015 was Jetstar’s 11th year of operation and the entire group currently has a combined fleet of more than 120 aircrafts. (Pretty impressive I would say!)
I also flipped through some of the travel articles; this particular one focused on Kansai in Japan - a country that I have always wanted to visit!
But! If I were to fly from Singapore to anywhere in Japan, I will never choose to fly on Jetstar Asia. Can you imagine spending more than 7 hours in an LCC's A320? (With a transit stop in Taipei, Bangkok, Manila or Hong Kong.)
I had a good time analysing and looking through Jetstar’s route map. It is nice that the various airlines under the Jetstar Group have close ties and are working together well - on the other end of the spectrum, think: Tigerair Singapore and Tigerair Australia - two airlines with an exact same brand but virtually no affiliations with each other as of 2016.
Looking at the domestic network for Vietnam, Jetstar Pacific basically seemed to have Vietnam all covered! Seriously. Just look at how you can join the dots (orange stars) from Hai Phong to Ho Chi Minh City and then basically sketch out the Eastern coastline of Vietnam!
Not forgetting Jetstar Group’s hometown.
Jetstar Asia’s flight schedule, along with JQ’s MEL-SIN-MEL/PER-DPS-SIN-DPS-PER and BL’s SGN-SIN-SGN schedules.
Alright, into the final approach now.
10.30am, touched down on KUL’s Runway 32L.
This satellite image really shows just how huge KL International Airport is if you include the newly built KLIA2, which was still reflected as an empty plot of land in this map.
Here’s a recording of the cabin announcement after landing.
10.43am, we arrived at the gate slightly after our STA. It’s obvious from this photo that most people were eager to get out of the aircraft after a short 1 hour flight in this 180-seater A320. (Can you imagine, instead, if you flew in this cabin from Singapore to Japan?)
I wanted to head into the terminal asap too, but I wasn’t actually in a rush since my transit time was almost about 12 hours long!
You can see from the photo below that the cabin crew was already prepared to tidy up the aircraft before the next batch of passengers board flight 3K664 back to Singapore. It really seems tough to work as a cabin crew on a budget airline and I salute the professionalism displayed by this set of crew, despite their undoubtedly tiring schedule that day.
One last view of these seats. To be fair, the seats were really comfortable, it was just the legroom that spoilt everything.
Anyway, good bye to Jetstar Asia and till we meet again (really soon).
Some fun facts: The following aircraft departed Singapore for Kuala Lumpur about 15-20 minutes before us. Interestingly, Uzbekistan Airways does have fifth-freedom rights on the SIN-KUL-SIN sector of its flight from Tashkent.
Uzbekistan flies a triangle route TAS-SIN-KUL-TAS every Thur/Fri (which was the routing of the aircraft you see below) and another routing every Mon/Tue (TAS-KUL-SIN-TAS). The outbound flights from TAS are numbered HY551 and the inbound flights back to TAS are numbered HY552.
Apart from Uzbekistan, the only other non-Singaporean/Malaysian carrier that operates this route is Oman Air.
Just for everyone’s information, the one-way ticket from SIN to KUL on HY will probably cost about USD110, which is much more expensive than a budget airline ticket.
One more shot of 9V-JSH as I left for the main terminal (we were parked at the satellite terminal). The aircraft was being prepared for its journey back to Singapore.
Here is the full route of my flight.
To get to the immigration counter, a short ride on the aerotrain was essential.
Here is a preview of the next report in this series, which will feature a totally new airline for me and also the MH Golden Lounge!
On the baggage information screen, there was a column that shows the duration left to the first bag being delivered - a very nice touch.
The aerotrain operates 24 hours a day, with different frequencies; but the longest you may have to wait is just 5 minutes.
I unknowingly captured the scene of a young man guiding an elderly to a seat on the train - really nice of him!
And then I was off to the immigration checks.
It was not peak hour in KUL but there was still a little bit of a queue, which took just about 10 minutes to clear.
My bag was delivered safely to KUL.
After collecting my only checked baggage, I headed through customs and was greeted by this huge arrival FIDS; showing the exact locations of aircrafts around KUL.
It took me quite a long while to finally figure out the direction to the KLIA Ekspres Train platforms.
There seems to be a need for the signages to be improved. Still no signs directing me to the trains.
I took the train to KLIA2 - AirAsia’s main hub in Malaysia. And it was not because my next flight departs from that terminal, but rather…
… the fact that there is a nice capsule hotel located near the bus terminal in KLIA2. The bed was quite comfortable and the rates were reasonable.
I decided to rest in a capsule hotel even though it was right smack in the middle of the day because I really wasn’t feeling very well, and I still have a long way to go before finally arriving in Taiwan.
Of course, I didn’t spend my entire 12 hours of transit time sleeping, and instead headed to the city for a meal with my friend in the afternoon.
The Qantas points for this flight were credited into my account the next day.
And that’s all I have for now, do keep a look out for the rest of this series. Thank you for stopping by!
Jetstar Asia - a no-frills airline that I will personally recommend. From my experience, 3K may not always have the cheapest ticket but from all of my experience with the airline, it has always been very reliable. It's not on every flight that I meet very professional cabin crews but at the very least, all of 3K's cabin crew members appear to be very well-trained for the job. This flight, however, was one of the better ones whereby the team of cabin crew really looked motivated to complete their tasks efficiently, but without compromising their service standards, kudos to them!
It was quite a breeze getting to Changi Airport by taxi on a weekday morning; not what I actually expected due to the peak hours, but nevertheless still something that started off my trip on a good note. Other than that, the departure experience in SIN was good as usual!
Immigration at KUL took a little while and then I waited just a little more for my bag. Other than that, arrival formalities were very smooth. The first terminal, i.e. KLIA, of KUL opened in 1998 at almost the same period of time as Hong Kong Airport. But as of 2015, KUL was already starting to show its age and becoming just a little bit worn out, especially if compared to HKG. Don't get me wrong though! KUL is a perfectly okay airport to transit in and given the size of it, I don't think you will find a problem finding a place to kill time while you wait for your flight. It will be a big bonus if you have lounge access.
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