This will be my report on flying on Lion Air economy class from Jakarta to Singapore, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia. For the return flight by Jetstar Asia as well as some photos of my trip in Jakarta, read here.
Due to my volunteer work in a Jakarta-based foundation, I needed to go to Jakarta on very short notice with ticket for both segments of the trip (SIN-CGK and CGK-SIN) booked less than 24 hours before the trip.
When I thought of booking the flight back to Singapore, I was split between Lion Air or Batik Air, with Batik Air apparently providing IFE, larger seat pitch, and free meal. However, I also watched a video showing Batik's free meal on the route, which was way below Garuda's standard (not that I could book special meal anyway), and considering that I also remembered that their seat also has no adjustable headrest and their IFE option is extremely limited (or is it that my benchmark is slightly difficult to achieve?) I decided that the Rp200.000 (US$15) premium would be better spent on nice food in Singapore, I went for Lion Air instead, which costed me only Rp500.000 (US$37.5) one-way before OTA discount even though it was booked only 9 hours before travel.
This report also includes Lion Air's new paid hot meal option, which is yet to be seen elsewhere.
Typical of international flights operated by Lion Air, web check-in was not provided for the flight.
Trip to Jakarta CGK and check-in
After I met my friend and charged my phone, I took Grab's carpooling service to the airport. To save on toll fee, the trip was routed via Daan Mogot road and Kalideres terminal.
Entering the airport area
Some blurry photo of the signage leading to each terminal.
Planes parked at Jakarta CGK terminal 1
After going to the western end of the airport, I finally reached Jakarta CGK terminal 2.
Jakarta CGK terminal 2 public drop-off area, which like Jakarta CGK terminal 3 is separated with the public pick-up area.
FIDS for Jakarta CGK terminal 2E. Even though Lion's check-in counters are closer to Jakarta CGK terminal 2E, it would fly from Jakarta CGK terminal 2D.
Jakarta CGK terminal 2 public area, with only a handful of places such as the exorbitantly priced A&W restaurants (it's also more expensive than others outside the airport as well) were open.
After trying to catch some sleep and failed, I proceeded to the check-in area. Security was reasonably fast at that time.
Malaysia's early morning flight to Kuala Lumpur seem to be quite popular.
In fact, the flight was so early no other airline had opened their counter yet.
One of the lamps flickered, which shows a lack of maintenance by the operator.
Premium check-in for several airlines were available at the end of Jakarta CGK terminal 2D check-in area.
The check-in counters looked very dated, possibly the same as what I saw on my first intercontinental flight to Frankfurt on 2002.
Thanks to Garuda moving to Jakarta CGK terminal 3, Jakarta CGK terminal 2F check-in area was undergoing a renovation.
Soon, queue for Lion Air group flights to Kuala Lumpur KUL and Bangkok DMK were opened with only one counter each. I decided to join the queue anyway as no counter for flight to Singapore had opened despite the ETD being only 2 hours 30 minutes away. Queue was very long for both flights.
As there were some network problems, I ended up waiting for 40 minutes. While it was gruesome, it was still better than the 1 hour wait on Cebu Pacific's flight from Hong Kong using their densely configured A330-300. Boarding pass was flimsy, typical in Lion Air Group's operation in Indonesia. I also inquired about the load for the day as usual, and the agent mentioned a load of 100 passengers on a 215-seats B737-900ER.
Meanwhile, the check-in queue for the flight to Kuala Lumpur KUL had grown that long, testament of the group's stinginess.
On my way to the immigration. As I used the automated clearance, it only took me less than 1 minute as usual.
Jakarta CGK transit area and departure
The immigration counters and automated clearance gates (only the bulky ones were used). The manned counter queue for Indonesians are surprisingly longer than the foreigner's for that day.
A view of the transit area.
Signs leading to the E gates - my flight would use the D gates instead, which means a long walk.
As it was still early morning, many shops were still not open, which is a dismay as I had yet to have a substantial breakfast.
FIDS showing my flight.
A cluster of lounges at Jakarta CGK terminal 2 international departure area - the Esplanade Lounge seem to be the closest lounge to a SilverKris lounge.
All gates in Jakarta CGK terminal 2D or 2E international departure area use common security screening area, but they are all located just before entering the gate, making it impossible to buy drinks for consumption at the gate.
The moving walkway was turned on this time, leading to the farther gates.
Only a couple (or only one) water dispenser was provided, which dispensed lukewarm and only worked using a proximity sensor. It was, therefore, quite a hassle to use it for large bottle as I needed to put my hand near the sensor several times to get enough water.
Walkway to the gates.
Instead of tearing the boarding pass upon boarding, in Jakarta CGK terminal 2 it was done when entering the gate. The tear shows how flimsy the boarding pass is.
The interior of the gate, which was sparsely filled with amenities. However, I stayed there for quite a while as universal plugs were only available there and my phone had been quite low on battery.
ANA's B788 and Singapore's B773 preparing to return to their base, while the plane about to carry me to Singapore was still being prepared.
Boarding was fast as the load was quite low and people slowly making their way to the gate rather than everybody waiting at the gate to board together.
Walking towards the plane never feels this quiet before. On a side note, why is it possible to provide carpet to the aerobridge and the walkway but not to the departure area?
Unlike as usual, even there were no bunching at the airplane door like usual.
To compensate for the legroom, the table could be extended for quite long.
Inside the seat pocket were the guide for those seated in the emergency exit row seats and safety card.
Lion's famous prayer card and inflight magazine was also present.
New to me, Lion also has food and beverage menu available, and instead of offering only snacks they also offered hot meal options.
A view of ANA's 787 from my seat.
Being one of the most generous LCCs with free 20 kg free checked luggage allowance, the overhead bin was not especially full.
Safety demonstration was done during the pushback.
Soon we started our taxi to the runway 25R, passing by Jakarta CGK terminal 2E and 2F.
Jakarta CGK terminal 3 was also visible during taxi.
Take-off was acceptable, as usual. After take-off, I decided to sleep, which lasted for an hour.
The flight attendants were offering their buy on board products, and on their last round I decided to buy their fried rice with prawn cutlet. They did not preheat their meals in advance, so I needed to wait for 10 - 15 minutes to get the meal.
The plane had started its descent to Singapore SIN.
The meal came in Lion Air Group's plastic cutlery.
When I opened the meal, I found out that their meals are very small, far smaller than the ones offered on Indonesia AirAsia. While taste-wise the meal was fine and the chili sauce was quite strong for an inflight meal, the portion size was unfit even for a child and therefore offered terrible value for money despite the side dish. As they provided the meal quite late, the flight attendant checked if the meal was served late and therefore still allowed me to use the table even during final descent.
Some more views of the descent as the plane approached Singapore SIN.
The landing was quite rough and a screeching voice was heard before the captain deployed the reverse thrust. Afterwards, we taxied to Singapore SIN terminal 3 gate B1/2/3/4.
Deplaning started afterwards.
Before leaving the plane, I checked if it would be possible to take a photo of the cabin, which the flight attendant allowed.
I bid farewell and proceeded to the transit area.
Singapore's A388 parked right beside our plane.
We walked along the corridor ….
To find out that there was no post-arrival security, which was appreciated.
Arrival at Singapore SIN and post-arrival trip
Singapore SIN terminal 3 gates B1/2/3/4 are doubtlessly the more convenient ones from the north arrival immigration counters.
A view of the gates.
The manned counters were not that crowded this time and the automated gates had no queue, allowing me to clear immigration in less than 1 minute
As I had no checked baggage, I proceeded straight to the public arrival area.
The electric train services were already operating, so I took it instead of carpooling.
Bonus: After the trip I got very tired I slept for the entire afternoon. On the evening, I had my minced meat noodle supper nearby, which was quite good.
Lion Mentari Airlines
Jakarta - CGK
Singapore - SIN
This trip perfectly shows Lion Air's service short-haul international route, which could be considered as below average. While I was quite lucky to receive emergency exit row seat free of charge, the rest of the offering were mostly subpar.
Jakarta CGK offered abysmal service, and worse, wasn't conducive for sleeping or even working. The airport itself may be award-winning on its early days, but nowadays seem to be in dire need of improvement. Its lack of amenities were also disappointing, especially as the majority of international passengers from the airport will still be stuck in the dated terminal. Singapore SIN, on the other hand, were well-maintained and very efficient, allowing me to go from the plane to the public arrival area in just 10 minutes.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable price (Rp500.000 (US$37.5)) + Lack of immigration queue at Jakarta CGK + Relatively new plane + Free emergency exit row seat assignment + Low load factor + Accommodating cabin crew + Singapore SIN gate usage + Reasonably efficient immigration at Singapore SIN
Things that can be improved: - Inability to do online check-in - Late night public transportation option to Jakarta CGK - Seats fit for sleeping at Jakarta CGK terminal 2 public area - Check-in counter opening times and queue length at Jakarta CGK - Jakarta CGK international departure layout - Amenities at Jakarta CGK international departure gates - Normal seats' seat pitch - On board meal portion size
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