Hello hello hello! Sorry guys for the long delay to finish this flight report. On top of my work load, I also escaped Shanghai for a short break in Bangkok during Chinese New Year holiday because it is incredibly quiet in Shanghai. 3 FRs will be available later to cover the trip
Background I had a wonderful week in Singapore. Between good food and good weather, I can say I was very happy to be back to this city state. I'll share with you some pics of my visit in Singapore. PS: My office is at Changi Business Park, right under the final approach path for landing on runway 02L. My cubicle is fortunately located not far from the window so I can gaze outside and enjoy the view. Also, I spent lunch eating my sandwich in the park while watching various types of aircraft land. Okay I admit I also stay a bit longer after work to go back to the park and watch the landings. My colleagues think I am crazy I beg to differ ;)
After work, I usually go to downtown area to eat dinner before I go back home. Singapore's CBD is not very big, buildings are not exactly crazy tall like in Dubai or Shanghai, but the quality of the architecture and the variety of shapes definitely make it aesthetically very pleasing in the eyes.
Singapore is a FINE city indeed!
I also managed to watch Cirque Du Soleil's Totem. Quite nice!
No visit to Singapore is ever completed without trying the famous Chili crab
What makes this leg especially unique for me is the fact that I tried Air France's newest business class seat offering albeit only for the short SIN-CGK leg. In addition, Air France will suspend SIN-CGK service in March 2016. Actually it's not the first time that Air France suspended CGK only to reinstated it again.
Okay, enough with the mumbo jumbo. Let's begin with the Flight Report shall we?
The Flight Route: SIN-CGK Date: December 7, 2015 Flight: AF254 Equipment: B777-300ER Registration: F-GSQH Load: F1/C18/W??/Y?? Seat: 11A Scheduled Time Departure: 4.40PM Actual Time Departure: 5.09PM Estimated Time Arrival: 5.30PM (Jakarta is 1 hour behind Singapore) Actual Time Arrival: 5.57PM (Jakarta is 1 hour behind Singapore)
My mom joined me in Singapore for a couple of days because she had to do medical check-up in one of the hospitals in Singapore. Since she had anesthetics during her check-up, she needed an adult to check her out, waited for a couple of hours under supervision, and then flew back to Jakarta. Initially, I was scheduled to fly on December 6 but I rescheduled to December 7 so I could assist my mom and made sure that she stepped her feet onboard her flight to Jakarta. Her flight would leave 1 1/2 hour before my flight.
She was flying with Jetstar while her beloved son flew Air France in business class. She raised me well indeed!
The day before the flight, like any other devoted aviation geek, I completed online check-in. During online check-in, I was offered the opportunity to upgrade not just to Premium Economy, but straight to business class cabin. Knowing that it would be the new seat, without hesitation, I gladly paid $120 to secure the seat.
The next day, we both went together to the airport. I took her to the check-in counter and surprisingly she chose to use check-in machine. That's her in white
Terminal 1 was quite busy for a Monday afternoon!
After she completed her part, I went to the far end of Terminal 1 to find AF-KL check-in island. It was quite empty. I was immediately assisted by the kind and warm staff. I inquired about the load and was informed that it was full from Paris but would be wide empty to Jakarta. I guess that explains the upgrade and the decision to suspend service to Jakarta. There would be 1 lucky passenger joining in F and only 18 passengers in business class cabin that could otherwise hold 60. Premium Economy is completely empty while Economy is half full. With such light load, I had high hope that service would be personal :)
After a 5-minute affair, I left the check-in island and I tried to take picture. I was immediately stopped by the staff and told not to take picture of AF-KL check-in activity. I said sorry and immediately left before she asked me to delete that picture. So, my apology for the blurry picture
We both proceeded to immigration. As always, it was efficient. Soon we found ourselves in the airside part of Terminal 1. I could have gone straight to the new DNATA lounge but I could not invite my mom in. So we went for some food at the food court instead since she was feeling peckish.
After a quick lunch, I brought her to the gate, waited until she cleared security, and made sure she went to the right jet bridge. When I was 100% she's onboard, I decided to do some spotting from the smoking area.
That's her plane! Nice livery, no?
Another shot with big brother Emirates!
This 777 was on her way to Brisbane and Auckland as EK432
After EK's 777 clear the apron and taxiway, I saw my plane arrived. She looked nice (and relatively clean hehehe) basking under Singapore's sun
Other than the arrival of my plane, KL's 777, and CX's 777, there was not really a variety in Terminal 1
I never understand the purpose of this social media tree. Maybe I'm too old for this?
With that, off I went to newly opened DNATA lounge. Could the moderator please help to add this lounge in this drop-down list?
The lounge is located on the same floor as the food court and a big area with a lot of lounge chairs for travelers to relax.
Lounge dragons were okay. No smiles flashing but at least they welcomed the guests and wished us pleasant stay. Upon entering, the lounge is set up in a rectangle area. To your left, you have the buffet spread and restaurant style dining tables. To your right, you have sofas and chairs set in pairs, a bar, business center, and coffee bar. It was fairly crowded that day so I didn't take too many pictures. All I can say is that this lounge is far better compared to the old DNATA lounge previously used by AF-KL.
Here are some pictures of the lounge.
If you ever visit this lounge, the coffee bar serves excellent coffee. My double espresso felt more like quadruple espresso, strong, just the way I like my coffee ;-)
Soon, boarding was called and I made my way to gate D32 which was just a short walk away. Upon arrival at gate D32, it turned out that security was still being performed and the actual boarding had not occurred. There was a separate lane for premium and elite passengers which was considerably shorter than the regular queue.
I was stopped at security because I brought two laptops with me, one is my personal laptop and the other one is from work. Security officer found it weird that I carried two but eventually she let me go, though she still retained a puzzled look. Then, I took a picture of my plane being prepped for a short hop to CGK.
Premium and elite passengers have a separated waiting area closest to the gate. This area is clearly roped off and guarded by two staff. I like this arrangement despite many dirty stares from other passengers who were denied entering this area.
You can see the staff in this picture
Boarding finally commenced at 4.30PM. I thought we would be delayed because there is no way we could finish boarding in 10 minutes for an on-time departure even with the light load. The sole F class passenger was picked up and escorted down the jet bridge. Then, J class passengers were invited to board the plane followed by Skyteam Elite Plus and Skyteam Elite. Premium Economy followed and finally Economy class passengers. The two staff previously manning waiting area did their job very well in turning back passengers who tried to jump the gun. Gotta love the Singaporeans and their love affair in following the rules :)
Upon entering the plane, there were two FAs standing at the door and two or three more running around the galley preparing F&B. The gentleman was nice saying "Bonjour welcome onboard, turn right over here and your seat is the third window seat" while the female FA with her 'chignon' was just standing there, not frowning but not smiling either. The gentleman looked more senior than her. Later, I found out that the purser for this flight was a lady with a light blue blouse and a pants suit . She was never to be found during the flight, staying in the galley all the time. I knew she was the purses because I saw her making passenger announcements "I am your purser in this flight".
I was excited to see Zodiac seats :) I honestly think the combination of white, beige, navy blue, and red really captures and personifies Air France. It's elegant yet stylish, c'est magnifique :) As you can see, the cabin is pretty much empty. I counted 15 passengers in my cabin, so that meant only 3 passengers in the forward smaller J cabin.
Pre-placed on the seat were a coat hanger, pillow, and slipper. No amenity kit and no menu distributed in this flight. Just a side comparison, KLM does provide menu and amenity kit for its SIN-DPS flight.
Okay, so let's explore the seat. First thing that I noticed was the IFE control that looks more like Sony PSP. Awesome! IFE control is very nice and responsive to input
Then the side storage that was also being used to hang the noise canceling headphone. There was also a vanity mirror. It's big enough to store small personal belongings.
And this is the slippers. I found it a nice touch because not even our beloved CX provides slippers. Quality is so so but the design is overall quite nice.
The reading material is of high quality. I really like it! I think it's as good as KLM's Holland Herald.
Pillow is nice and plush. I particularly like the design. Very nice!
A small Evian bottle was placed in the storage area next to the window.
The contrast between navy blue seat and the red logo is striking! I guess this is the kind of simplicity yet bold that CX wanted to achieve with their rebranding efforts.
Leg room is massive! Overall, the seat is very comfortable and private. Je t'adore :)
IFE comes with external tail camera! A very neat feature that is becoming more and more available and accepted as industry standard. Noise cancelling headphone was pretty decent too!
Seat controls are intuitive and stylish! I think everything about this seat is stylish
Soon, a female FA came and offered me pre-departure drink. On offer were water, champagne, and guava juice. I regretted I didn't ask for her name because she was lovely and engaging. She looks of North African or Middle Eastern descent because she has this exotic look of thick slick black hair but with eyes the colour of hazelnut. When I said "Since I'm flying Air France, I'll take the champagne" she smiled and just said "Baaaa oui monsieur! Bien sur! On Air France you must try the champagne!". So I did and it was lovely
I like the champagne flute that Air France used. It simply holds more volume :) You can't be stingy with this glass ;)
Next was oshibori. This was handed out by another female FA. Now this one was borderline unpleasant. She came to my seat while I was busy snapping pictures. She just stood next to me while looking at me as if I am of uber annoyance to her. She didn't say anything but "Be careful it's hot" and went back to the galley in speed of light. Okay…. this will be an interesting flight! For the rest of this flight report, let's give her a code name 'Monique'
While waiting for boarding to finish (we were already 10 minutes passed departure time), I took some pictures of our neighbour. CX is kindda omnipresent, aren't they? They're everywhere :)
I took the opportunity of USB port to charge my phone while waiting for boarding to complete. I was expecting to be asked to stow my phone away during taxing and take off but nobody said anything. In my limited experience, DL, CX, GA, KA flight attendants would have yelled at you for having dangling cables around during taxing and take off. The captain came online at 5.05PM to greet us and apologized for the delay in departure citing busy airspace around Changi. He told us that the flight would take a mere 1 hour and 20 minutes and that we would be flying on FL370 at around 900km/hr.
Finally, at 5.09PM, 29 minutes pass STD we were pushed back. Safety video was played and I'm loving every second of it :)
Some interesting traffic during taxi to active runway 02C
I didn't know Singapore still operates this good old Fokker 50
Silkair is transitioning from all Airbus operator into all Boeing operator
Scoot's Lickity Split is a B787-8 assembled in Charleston and delivered to Scoot on August 29, 2015. The livery is gorgeous!
We were number 4 to use the runway. A look to the left and I can see traffic is building up!
We entered the active runway as Scoot lifted up and flexed its majestic wings
Take off roll was powerful and very short considering how light we were!
As soon as we set course south, the purser made a passenger announcement explaining the service that would be provided during the flight and the number of different languages the crew are able to speak. For this flight, the flight attendants speak English, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, and of course French.
The flight attendants immediately sprung into action and I can feel that they were quite rushed considering how short the flight is. Unfortunately for me, Monique was the principal flight attendant manning port side of the plane. She came next to me, again, standing, saying nothing until I 'acknowledged' her presence. Then she asked curdly "Joining us for snack service?" I said "yes please". Without further ado, she immediately reached out to pull out the table. She then placed the linen in one swinging motion and left to the galley.
I felt a bit annoyed with her attitude and I could only hope that she's just like that momentarily and she will warm up a bit as the flight progressed. To my surprise, the lovely FA (the one with exotic look) came by and half kneeling to ask "Monsieur Bombieflyer, what would you like to eat? Today we ave uhmm risotto and hmm bœuf. I am sorry I don't know the correct english translation for that. But it's meat product and it's delicious" I find her accent very charming and her apologetic attitude enchanting. "What would you recommend?" I dared her to which she spontaneously replied "I'd choose the bœuf because it's lighter and less boring". I said "D'accord" and she smiled "Oui monsieur! I'll be right back".
The meal was delivered with a meal cart. Everything was already pre-placed on a tray. I find it a paradox that the china, silverware, and glassware were of nice design and quality yet the tray is made from this cheap plastic. In my opinion, in the end, it looked more like a hospital meal than a gourmet meal onboard Air France's premium cabin
She came back again to offer me bread from a huge bread basket. "Since I'm flying Air France, I will do justice if I choose croissant". She giggled and said "You can have as many as you want as we don't have a lot of passengers". She then took a glass and immediately poured me champagne without asking me whether I wanted it or not. She just knew it! I crossed my fingers hoping that Monique will never return.
So this is the beef option. Not what I expected because I expected a warm dish but actually, it was great. The sauce was lovely and the selection of cold cuts was fresh and tasty. The bread was crispy on the outside but soft inside. The one criticism I had was the appetizer. I had no idea what that was. I think it was an attempt for Vietnamese spring roll but it was super bland. It was just basically a rice paper filled with vegetables without seasoning and sauce. And as for the fruit, well.. it's fruit.
overall, the entree was nice. It hit the spot nicely for a snack service. The rest was meeeeeaaahhh… I wonder what they served in F cabin though considering it's neither lunch nor dinner.
Corporate logo of Air France is everywhere. They are doing a good job at it!
Cheers guys!My glass was topped up without being asked.
Did you notice that there was a coffee cup on my tray? Actually after dinner was done, Monique came by and just took the whole tray without asking me whether I was done or not. I thought she would leave the coffee cup with me to offer liqueur/digestive and coffee/tea. Nope, nada, nothing, nill. After I waited for 10 minutes and nothing every came out from galley, I admitted defeat and rang the flight attendant call button to ask for a glass of ice water. Lo and behold, Monique showed up. I politely asked her "may I have a glass of ice water please?" to which she gave a curd answer "wait" and I swear I could see her rolling her eyes.
While waiting for her, I went to the lavatory to freshen up. The lavatory was clean and stocked with Clarins products. Great stuff!
Time passed by quickly and when I looked outside, we were already on final descend along Jakarta bay. This happened around 6.30PM singapore time (5.30PM in Jakarta). There was no cloud around Jakarta but smog was noticeable. In fact, Jakarta is quite well-known its air pollution. Though I heard from friends and family that it has gotten slightly better now. You could see how massive the urban sprawl of Jakarta is, just like Los Angeles. But at the same time, you could also see how messy and dense it is. The lack of green space is also noticeable. In the picture below, you will notice land reclamation that is currently undergoing. It's part of a grand scheme to prevent rising sea water drowning North Jakarta in the event of tsunami and rising sea level. On top of that, luxurious housing, malls, hotels, etc will be built on it. I call this plan useless and does not solve the problems that Jakarta is facing. It's just another excuse for the corrupted government to create land that will bring more money.
In this picture, you can see towards the middle that there is a white ring shaped structure. That's the 'Stadion Utama Gelora Bung Karno' aka Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium. Locals would just simply refer it as 'Senayan' because the stadium is located in Senayan. This stadium is the biggest in Indonesia. It was completed in 1962 and the construction was partially funded by Soviet Union. At that time, Indonesia was leaning towards the Soviet Bloc and the then President Soekarno was trying to show to the world how advanced and how great Indonesia was by building massive structures. That's a little piece of history for you :)
Actually, I was lucky because we were not put on hold considering the time of the day. CGK is beyond over capacity that it has a notorious reputation for delays during peak hours. One infamous case was in 2013, one minister from Japan on official state visit to Indonesia was put on hold for an hour or something because the airport was too full/busy there was no space for the plane to park. Try to look at FlightRadar24 around 6-7PM and around 9-11PM Jakarta time. You will see so many doughnuts, more than what Homer Simpsons could ever eat.
Anyway, we performed downwind approach towards runway 07L arrival, the common direction during late afternoon/early evening. Runway 07L/25R (northern runway) is closer to terminal 2 which handles international and Garuda's domestic flights whereas runway 07R/25L (southern runway) is closer to terminal 1 which handles domestic flights. You can see Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 designed to mirror each other's layout. It looks like two big fans with brown roof. The runways are separated wide enough to allow simultaneous approach and landing. Linking the two runways are a set of parallel taxiways on the western side of the airfield. Along with the construction of Terminal 3, the airport authority will also construct a set of parallel taxiways on the eastern side of the airport to allow better and more efficient traffic management. At the moment, the current taxiways are often jammed because the airport is running over capacity. The airport was designed to handle 22 million pax, in 2014 it handled approx. 57 million pax making it the busiest airport in southern hemisphere. You can see the new Terminal 3 construction nearing completion. Terminal 3 is located right in front of Runway 07L/25R. This terminal is built in the former area of Indonesian Air Show 1996. The first and the last major international airshow ever held due to massive crisis that followed after.
We're almost there!
Seconds before touch down
We touched down at 5.57PM and after we exited the runway, the purser made an announcement "Madame et monsieur, bienvenue au Jakarta!" Ooppps I should tell her that she's cannot say that anymore. She should have said "Welcome to Tangerang!" There is a debate about this actually. The regent of the area where the airport is located insisted that flight attendants must say "welcome to Tangerang" instead of "welcome to Jakarta" because the airport is actually located in Tangerang, Banten province. Actually, the code CGK is short for Cengkareng, the village in Tangerang, Banten. This area used to be part of greater metropolitan Jakarta but a couple of years ago, it became a new province. It's silly right? Locals know that the airport is located in Tangerang but foreigners, especially first timers will not know about this fact. It's like saying "welcome in Roissy" instead of "Welcome in Paris" or "Welcome in Mississauga" instead of "Welcome in Toronto". How are you going to enforce this silly rule?
This is the new Terminal 3
Yes, you boarded the right flight to Jakarta! You just happen to land slightly outside Jakarta ;)
SQ has so many shuttle flights between Singapore and Jakarta that at certain time of the day, it's not uncommon to see 2-3 SQ's planes parked side by side. In fact, CGK-SIN is one of the busiest routes in the world in terms of seat capacity.
The lollipop man guided us to gate E5. Terminal 2 is divided into 3 departure area, the D gates, the E gates, and the F gates. D gates handle all non-Garuda international flights. E gates handle Garuda's and Skyteam's international flights. Occasionally, when D is full, you can also park at E. F is exclusive for Garuda's domestic flights.
Dual jet bridges were used so deboarding was super fast. I was not able to locate the super nice flight attendant to extend my gratitude being assisted by her. Instead, a male flight attendant was standing at the door wishing us goodbye. On the way to the door, I passed by La Premiere cabin. Absolutely fabulous cabin :)
Knowing that we landed during rush hour, I made a mad dash to the immigration counter because CGK is also famous for its notoriously long queue at the immigration. Another infamous thing about CGK is how dingy and messy the interior. Can you believe that this airport was actually designed by Paul Andreu?
I could list all the bad things about CGK and I guarantee you the list goes on and on and on and on….
I still had to wait for about 40 minutes until my suitcase arrived.
The rush of humid hot air greeted me along with thousands of hotel pick-up services, private drivers, taxi touts, money changer staff, etc yelling at you to get your attention.
With that, I ended my voyage with Air France. I hope you enjoy this flight report and I bid you adieu!
PS: next will be Garuda Indonesia flight between Jakarta and Yogyakarta
Dnata Lounge - 1
Singapore - SIN
Jakarta - CGK
My first time ever flying in J class with Air France albeit only short-haul. Am I impressed? Yes and no.
Yes, I am impressed: + The seat is very comfortable and tastefully designed. Very elegant, functional, and comfortable at the same time. La Premiere was superb! + IFE is very good. Selections is good, interface is good, airshow is good, noise cancelling headphone is good. Two thumbs up! + Small touch like getting a pair of slippers, a proper coat hanger, and nice amenity in the lavatory + FAs were well-groomed and well-dressed + The design of the cabin and peripheral screams this is France. Very well executed! + One particular flight attendant who served me. She was an asset for Air France!
No, I am not impressed - Tray quality and meal set-up is rather cheap. Everything came at once. It is a pity as the china, cutlery, and glassware is very elegant - No menu is offered - Appetizer tastes rather funky. No top-up on alcohol and water. Also no coffee and tea after the meal. - 'Monique' was the true embodiment of indifferent, distant, cold, just there to do the job, finish it, and go home kind of flight attendant. Also, purser never show up, perhaps only stay in galley and First class cabin all the time?
The overall experience from check-in at Changi until deboarding at CGK was good at best. There were high moments and there were low moments. Check-in was nice and efficient but when I was told not to take pictures, I was a bit disappointed. Lounge was a huge improvement over the previous one. Waiting area and boarding were definitely a big plus due to the staff who strictly followed the protocol. Overall onboard experience was okay.
I guess I should not be making overall judgement on Air France's premium offering on just one short flight but combining my experience and other flight reports that I read beforehand, I think the main improvement point that AF still needs to work is service consistency. I would say maybe it's a cultural difference? What I perceived to be cold and indifferent might be perceived by a French to be warm and professional.
Will I fly with Air France again? Absolutely! I'd be very interested to know how far they can transform themselves :)
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