After wonderful 9 days in Flores, sadly it was time to leave and return to Jakarta. My Flores trip started from Kelimutu (near Ende) and ended at Komodo Islands, so my last stop was Labuan Bajo instead of Ende. To save time, I decided to take a direct flight from Labuan Bajo to Jakarta, which is only offered by Garuda Indonesia. I think Garuda will remain a solo player for long time since I doubt that 738 or A320 will ever fly to Labuan Bajo soon (though technically it is possible).
FYI, I paid IDR 2.021 million (around USD 150) for this flight. Of course this was expensive, but budget airlines (via Denpasar) would have charged me at least IDR 1.8 million at the time of purchase, so for me adding extra IDR 200k is worth faster journey and the Garuda perks. I could have flown Garuda via Denpasar for IDR 1.9 million and Boeing 777-300ER on DPS-CGK as well, but considering I would start working on the following day, I decided that flight duration was my top priority.
The flight was scheduled at 4.45 PM, however since my friends and I wanted to try Se’i Babi (Flores kind of smoked pork) near the airport, we arrived at the airport at noon using our hostel’s airport shuttle. Check-in was not open yet, so we went to the eating place… then we found out that it does not open on Sundays. So at the end we went to Exotic Restaurant just in front of the airport.
Labuan Bajo's Komodo Airport
Labuan Bajo’s Komodo Airport is a new airport – renovation finished on 27 December 2015 – and hence the terminal building looks modern in comparison to other airports in Flores. There are around 8 check-in counters with spacious check-in hall. Waiting hall is upstairs.
Since I had a lot of time, I tried taking pictures of the airplanes. The aircraft operating my flight was already there, PK-GRE. There were also other airplanes like Wings Air’s ATR 76, NAM’s B735, and Garuda Explore’s ATR 76; though unfortunately the design of the airport’s jet bridge – which resembles Komodo’s tongue – blocked the apron view.
NAM Air PK-NAP to Denpasar Ngurah Rai
Though this airport is modern enough, unfortunately there is no flight information screen, which forced me to check Flightradar24 to know the flight schedule. From there I realised that my flight was the last to depart for that day. That sounds strange for me who frequently travels between Singapore and Jakarta…
The boarding time was stated on boarding pass as 4.25 PM, however the actual boarding commenced early at 4.09 PM. This is understandable since the load factor on that day was 95/96. Apparently there were a lot of Jakartans who rushed for their Monday work (including me…).
Garuda Indonesia Flight GA453 Origin : Labuan Bajo Komodo (LBJ) Destination : Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International (CGK) Aircraft : Bombardier CRJ-1000ER registered as PK-GRE Scheduled Departure : 04.45 PM Actual Departure : 04.51 PM Scheduled Arrival : 06.00 PM Actual Arrival : 06.20 PM
This was my first time flying with a Bombardier CRJ-1000ER, and luckily I got the bulkhead 21A seat. Some people may not like it, but I do like the extra seat pitch it offers. There is no IFE anyway…
Seat pitch at 21A
Inside the pocket
Boarding finished at 4.27 PM; however pushback did not start until the next 15 minutes despite the door has already been closed and the FAs have demonstrated the safety instructions. Then the door was opened again with unknown reason. Ultimately, the aircraft could only take-off at 4.51 PM, a bit later than the schedule.
Goodbye Labuan Bajo and Flores as a whole :)
LBJ's tiny ATC tower
Waving goodbye to the stunning islands
After around 45 minutes, the meal service started. There were 2 options: chicken with peanut sauce (like Madura satay) served with rice cake and curry fish with rice. I chose the first option since I am a fan of satay. For me, the chicken and the rice cake was good, but I would have preferred softer peanut sauce. FYI, the cutleries were (unfortunately) plastic, which was not a problem for me but might be for others. Garuda may need a premium competitor to force them to use metal cutleries on this route.
One thing that I notice from this CRK was its quietness. It did not sound as noisy as B738 or A320, most likely thanks to the location of the engines which are near the tail. Overall, the cabin also felt comfortable.
Mount Agung (Bali) in the sea of cloud
Mountainous area… I wonder which area was this
Despite late departure, the flight was still going to land on time, with the aircraft started descending at 5.25 PM Jakarta time. The pilot also announced that as well. Unfortunately, the aircraft got a landing slot at runway 25L near Terminal 1. That means we would have to taxi all the way until Terminal 3… delaying the arrival time to 6.20 PM.
The aircraft was parked at a remote stand and passengers were brought into the terminal using buses.
Thank you / Danke / Grazie / Gracias / Merci PK-GRE!
After I arrived inside the terminal building, I got an impression that somehow the arrival hall for domestic flights at Terminal 3 is less boring (compared to the international) with a lot more decorations. Good to see!
Terminal 3 Interior
Then I came to the baggage carousel with a high expectation since my baggage on GA825 (link) did not take long. However, CGK let me down again. When I came, the timer showed that the first baggage would come in 5 minutes. Okay. But at the end, the first baggage came 7 minutes late (in addition to the 5 minutes) … though there was something interesting. Probably for transparency, the carousel shows a CCTV footage of the baggage handling, so passengers could see if their baggage is arriving.
After (when the carousel finally worked)
While waiting for my baggage, I noticed another thing. The carousel was designed in such a way that the baggage would drop and hit the sidewall before it goes around the carousel. Okay…
How the baggage enters the carousel
Labuan Bajo-Flores Island - LBJ
Jakarta - CGK
That was a smooth flight by Garuda Indonesia. The whole process happened without any problem, except for the minor delay in the departure. I always hate it when the aircraft lands at CGK's Terminal 1 (I almost never use Terminal 1 airlines) which means a painfully long taxi, but there is nothing Garuda could do. Baggage handling was also slow, further reducing the efficiency of CGK. On the other hand, LBJ as a small airport functions well and just enough to do all its tasks.
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