This will be my report on flying on Indonesia AirAsia economy class from Singapore to Jakarta, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia. This trip features the very new terminal 4 at SIN and hopefully becomes the first one to feature the terminal operating here, when it was the 5th day AirAsia group flew from that terminal.
As I had some things to do in Jakarta, I decided to proceed and buy a pair of tickets from Singapore to Jakarta and back. However, as I understand some airlines are moving to SIN terminal 4 including AirAsia group, I opted to fly with Indonesia AirAsia for the departure and Jetstar Asia on the way back.
AirAsia group is quite famous for its reasonably priced add-ons (including exit row seat assignment + priority boarding from only S$15 (US$11.3) and a hot meal at only S$4 (US$3)), so I decided to opt for both, making my trip costing in total S$73 (US$ 54).
Trip to SIN and check-in
The evening before the trip started with attending a talk by my ex-employer who happened to visit my campus.
After the talk, I proceeded to my hostel as seen below, packed some of my belongings, and then started my journey to the airport. It was a slightly rainy day, so I decided to take a carpooling service to Clementi station followed by metro train, although as the other person was going to the Cathay, I decided to go with him so I could start my metro train ride from Dhoby Ghaut station instead.
The metro train shuttle route to the airport was quite quiet, but the ride from the city to Tanah Merah was quite crowded – I counted myself lucky to have a seat for the earlier segment.
The Changi Airport station has already updated the sign with the terminal 4 sign.
Singapore SIN terminal 4 feature Snorlax – I wonder why is that selected, although at least it looked quite cute.
As the bus to Singapore SIN terminal 4 had already started boarding, I decided to rush to the bus, which made me unable to clearly take a picture of the bus waiting area.
SIN terminal 2 drop-off area.
After a short bus ride, I then arrived at Singapore SIN terminal 4. Bus shuttles may either use the newer bus or the older one, which I will review further down.
I was then dropped at the departure area - nonetheless the pick-up will still be at the arrival area.
The drop-off area quite much resembled the ones at SIN terminal 2 or 3.
One last view of the bus which took me to the terminal 4 public area.
The first impression when I entered the terminal was that it looked quite modern and have some sense of excitement, but at the same time I couldn't help but to compare it with a newer Singapore SIN terminal 1.
Contrary to my thought, SIN terminal 4 still has quite some manned counters for the more traditional airlines instead of going fully self-service
AirAsia's check-in facility, however, resembled a lot like Jetstar's back in terminal 1.
Their check-in area consist of check-in machines, self bag drop kiosks, and (not visible) payment and document check counters. Some staff members were there to assist passengers when needed.
The resulting boarding pass unfortunately looked very cheap with receipt-like boarding pass stock and didn't even have any perforation.
AirAsia's ad on the end of the check-in row.
The terminal's check-in area felt tighter than the others, especially evident on the walkway between the check-in counters and the immigration counters.
SIN terminal 4 feature much more immigration gates than in other terminals. Different to other terminals', instead of having an officer check your boarding pass you can simply scan it before entering the gate, and also you have your photo taken for automated boarding. However, I found the experience with the new automated gates to be unpleasant. First, despite having no document check required, my boarding pass was rejected and the officer asked me to get the document check stamp. In addition, my photo in the passport and my real life face did not match (my passport was issued in 2014), so after the officer fiddled with the mobile application for the gates I was finally let through.
The security feature new machines, which are much more convenient as I did not need to remove my laptop from my bag among others and also separated bags requiring manual check with the ones cleared for departure. Instead of metal detectors, they also used full body scanners.
SIN transit area and departure
I passed through the duty-free store, which was laid out quite similarly to DPS.
Fortunately, the maze ended there as afterwards the transit area consisted of seating areas and shops behind the gates like in CGK terminal 3, the main difference being CGK terminal 3's retail area felt much more cramped.
An art piece showing a traveling family.
Map of SIN terminal 4 - due to its layout, there are quite few moving walkways around the terminal. Also, the H gates refer to the bus gates, where they have some of them downstairs.
A sample of the signage at SIN terminal 4 - it could be seen that there are only 2 lounge clusters available, both of which are upstairs.
The food court unfortunately quite lacked the variety seen in its terminal 3 counterpart.
Much like the other terminals, the sleeping area feature sleeping chairs and seats.
From the sleeping area it is possible to see the public check-in area.
One of the two lounge clusters consist of Plaza Premium/SATS Premier lounge cluster,
Cathay Pacific lounge is also available. Unfortunately, the Cathay Pacific lounge mainly caters to its own customers as only those flying out of terminal 4 may access the terminal.
As I was looking for some drinks, I decided to proceed to the terminal 3. To start, we needed to go to the terminal 4's arrival area by the elevator.
Afterwards, I proceeded to the staff who asked me why did I want to go to the main terminal, stamped my boarding pass with the M stamp, and escorted me to the bus waiting area.
The people there also asked me to put the T4 sticker like below on my T-shirt to identify me as a reentry passenger when I go back, and perhaps to return me to terminal 4 should they look for me.
By the time I arrived, the bus was already waiting for me, which was always the case for all my subsequent bus trips.
This shows the interior of the terminal 4 shuttle buses fleet, marked with the Terminal 4 Shuttle writing. The load factor was very low with only me, a security officer, and the driver inside.
The ride was quite a long one at around 7 minutes like the shuttle between Singapore SIN terminal 2 and 3 transit area when the people mover was not operational (2.30 - 5.00 AM daily).
I then arrived at SIN terminal 2 transit area, which apparently was refurbished to match the design at terminal 4.
SIN terminal 2 arrival immigration seemed quite quiet.
Escalators from the transit floor to the arrival immigration - another escalator going up is located just behind.
After I arrived at SIN terminal 2, a staff member upon seeing my sticker asked me whether I know how to return to terminal 4, and just after I went up to the transit floor another person asked me the same thing again when he saw the sticker. I wonder if it is Singapore SIN's standard procedure, and while I appreciated the care it may seem a bit overwhelming for the others.
A view of SIN terminal 2 transit area. I then continued walking a bit to the people mover station.
The station features a display of views in Singapore where when people came nearby at the specific range they are also displayed in the image.
The people mover was typical of the others at SIN.
Unlike the other people mover trips, we had the chance to see the outside the airport much better were it not for my bad camera.
The terminal 3 transit area people mover station. The platform to gates A15 - A21 is opposite the one for the interterminal transfer.
Returning to the familiar home.
First, I decided to have a ramen for supper, which was quite good and reasonably priced except that they used paper bowl.
Unlike usual, SIN terminal 3 which was usually quiet turned very crowded that evening.
My next destination was the Long Bar, which unfortunately was closed even though it was only 20 minutes away from its closing time.
The pre-mixed Singapore Sling looked especially interesting.
I then tried the S$7.5 (US$5.5) minced meat noodle again, reminiscent of the lost passport incident on my previous trip.
For comparison, here is the S$5 (US$3.8) minced meat noodle.
Irvins, a brand selling salted egg products, is about to open a store at Singapore SIN terminal 3, so at the moment the sole store is in Singapore SIN terminal 2.
I then returned to Singapore SIN terminal 2, and along the way I did not take any more photo.
Some views of SIN terminal 2 transit area, which looked pretty dingy.
LH's 388 about to return to FRA - the airline had some sentiment on me as my first intercontinental flight in 2002 from CGK to FRA via SIN was operated by them.
To return to terminal 4, I needed to first show my boarding pass and passport to the staff on the unused gate F51 to verify that I would fly out of terminal 4.
Security screening was also conducted at terminal 2, but as they used the conventional screening machines I needed to separate my laptop among others.
Escalator leading to the bus waiting room downstairs.
The waiting room looked especially comfortable and felt quite common with the waiting area at Singapore SIN terminal 4.
This time, the bus used the normal buses instead of the designated terminal 4 bus.
I then took some photos before the security officer asked me not to take photos on board.
As I arrived at terminal 4, I reported to the transfer staff and went up with a view of the quiet arrival immigration area.
Unlike at the other terminals, they even managed to put some trees at the arrival area.
The lavatory was quite much like the other terminals.
As there is (close to) no scheduled late night flight, the terminal was very quiet at night.
I then took a sleep at the sleeping lounge, and while the seat itself was fine and they even have adjustable headrests, they are still quite uncomfortable as it could not reach high enough to support my head (I am 5' 11")
After sleeping for around 3 hours, I returned to terminal 2 again to take the salted egg snack orders.
The dining area at Singapore SIN terminal 2 had started to become crowded, so I postponed my breakfast.
This is the Irvins brand salted egg potato chips (they also have the fish skin version), which has become quite popular in Indonesia and usually commands a Rp40.000 (US$3) premium per package.
I then started working on this report at the laptop access area, one of the very few places featuring 2 universal power plugs per person.
For my breakfast I went for curry puffs.
A view of the aircrafts on Singapore SIN terminal 2.
Since I had bought the snack orders and it was around 1 hour to departure I returned again to terminal 4.
The view was noticeably better on the way back.
SIN terminal 4 admittedly looked a bit dull from the outside.
There was only one CX plane this time - on my previous trips I remember I saw 3 planes parked which made me wonder if this is mini-HKG or SIN.
The public area looked especially brighter during the day, but at the same time they didn't rely too much on natural sunlight.
I quickly went to the gate, only to hear my flight being retimed by 20 minutes.
FIDS of the morning.
As I broke my denim, I decided to immediately go to a store, get a new pair of running pants, and proceeded to the lavatory. When I arrived at the lavatory near gate G7, I was pleasantly surprised to see the toilet there featuring Japanese style bidet which include among them warm seat, multiple bidet water settings, and proximity sensor to open/close the toilet lid. If only other toilets at least have the bidet ….
United's 787 departing to San Francisco SFO.
Boarding gate at Singapore SIN terminal 4, featuring automated boarding gates.
The plane of the day, which was PK-AZD, an A320-200 plane fitted with new winglet.
Boarding soon started, but typical with flights to Indonesia boarding was chaotic as the priority for exit row and select front row seats were not enforced.
As my boarding pass bore the M stamp, I needed to proceed to the gate agents to have my boarding pass checked and partially tore despite using the automated immigration counters. Seems like a sign for me not to go around the airport?
We then went down one floor to go to the aerobridge.
Further unlike in other terminals, the arriving passengers go through a separate corridor to go to the arrival immigration.
The aerobridge was nothing special, akin to the other terminals.
We soon reached the plane's left door for boarding.
The flight attendant welcomed me and I went down the aisle.
As few were willing to pay for the emergency exit row seats I had the whole row to myself, at least until the passengers in 12AB moved to 14AB after the meal service. The load factor for the emergency exit row seats stood at only 41% (5/12).
The seat pitch may not be as huge as SilkAir's A320 row 10, but nonetheless it was acceptable.
Safety card together with the exit row guide were present
AirAsia also loaded the global as well as Indonesia Travel 3sixty magazine.
Duty free and accessories + dining menu was also present.
Last but not least, Tony Fernandes' book and an airsickness bag was present.
As the plane was first bought for the Indonesian market, the signages are also still in Indonesian and English.
A view of outside the aircraft. The window wasn't at their best, so all photos of the outside will look slightly worse than usual.
The cabin didn't look that full despite the ~80% load factor.
The plane soon pushed back for departure.
It was quite a long taxi as we departed from runway 20C.
Takeoff was uneventful and soon we climbed to the cruising altitude passing SIngapore's east coast
There was only one table available for exit row seats, although it could be extended quite far away commensurate with the seat pitch.
The first trolley carried the preorder meals while the second one behind served the others.
The menu I opted for the day consisted of: Appetizer: Finna brand mini prawn crackers Main course: Rice with anchovies, beef rendang, cassava leaves, and green chili sauce Drink: Coca Cola The general sales trolley with a full suite of items, including ice.
The glass was a semi-glossy paper-lined paper glass, which is used regardless of whether it is for a cold or hot drink.
Here is the meal provided from the preorder trolley.
The meal after being opened and complimented by the glass of ice from the sales trolley.
To start, the shrimp crackers tasted fine despite being on the slightly smaller side. With regard to the main course, the rice was a bit on the drier side while the rendang was quite tender except the last piece, where it was a bit tough. It was also complimented with cassava leaves which was again slightly on the more chewy side and green chili sauce which had a bit of kick, so would appreciate having more of the chili sauce to compensate the reduced flavour. Even though the meal may not be stellar, with the whole meal and the drink costing only S$4 (US$3) when booked ahead, it was very well worth it I even joked to my friends of AirAsia almost running a charity when it comes to preordered meals - compared to other LCCs on the same route they came as a very clear winner in terms of value for money.
After the meal, I went to the lavatory, which fortunately was quite clean except for some water on the basin.
To keep the meal costs low, apparently they loaded the meals at CGK as seen on the paper at the trolley saying CGK-SIN-CGK.
As usual, I took a view of the cabin from the rear.
The cruise itself was uneventful, although at 11.50 Singapore time we encountered some light turbulences.
I worked on my laptop and listened some music from my phone for quite a while before descending.
Descent was fine except for some minor bumps.
As the plane was landing at runway 25R, the short final offered a view of Tangerang.
The pilot didn't use the reverse thrust upon landing, making the landing roll slightly longer so the plane can reach terminal 2E faster.
Upon taxi we passed MH's 738 bound for KUL.
A better view of CGK terminal 2.
As we reached the gate I saw GA's 333 about to depart.
Our plane was parked beside JT's 739.
I decided to deboard last and asked if it would be possible to visit the cockpit for a while, which was unfortunately not possible as there was not enough space due to people investigating an error shown on the plane's computer system. I bid the flight attendant a goodbye and proceeded out of the plane.
The aerobridge looked very dated, as usual.
One last view of PK-AZD.
Arrival at CGK and post-arrival trip
As terminal 2E does not have any immigration facility, we went down from the aerobridge.
The bus looked quite shabby compared with even SIN's ordinary airport bus.
We were welcomed by the ground staffs sitting unorganized at the bus arrival area.
The design of CGK terminal 2 felt very Indonesian.
After walking to the main building, some more walk is needed to go to the immigration counters/gates.
Counters and gates for Indonesian passport holders are on the left side. The immigration took me several minutes.
After passing the immigration, I went to the dingy arrival area.
As I didn't have any checked luggage to claim, I could proceed to the customs. Despite a lot of the others being redirected for scanning, I was let through in no time.
I was then offered taxi service by the people at the counters, but I rejected it.
Traveling by bus require a further walk to the bus stop, which was not appreciated.
CGK terminal 2 public arrival area is semi-outdoor, which doesn't help as Jakarta is often hotter than Singapore where I am staying.
As I was picked up by a car, I needed to walk further to the pick-up area, which was again not air conditioned.
Since the pick-up area is connected to the people mover station, I decided to have a look on what's in store.
The people over was still in its early stage, so very few trips are being made daily.
My friend picked me up later on, and we started going back to Jakarta.
I stayed at a budget room chain, which although insufficient for the discerning travelers was acceptably priced if you are only looking for a place to sleep.
In the evening, I got to meet some of my friends and acquaintances on an activity. Guess which one is me :p
Singapore - SIN
Jakarta - CGK
The trip quite much showed how AirAsia offers a good value for money for the trip. Despite the relatively low total fare, I managed to get exit row seating, hot meal, and drink, which would simply be close to impossible elsewhere. Singapore SIN terminal 4's innovations are also a warm welcome with more efficient space usage and several new technologies, although especially in terms of the immigration they still have pretty much to learn.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable fare (S$73 (US$55) one-way) + Acceptable check-in waiting and processing time + Acceptable security at SIN + SIN terminal 4's quietness + Portable bidet at Singapore SIN terminal 4 toilet + Relatively new plane + Acceptable cabin crew + Reasonable meal for the price paid + Lavatory cleanliness
Things that can be improved: - Lack of automated people mover to/from SIN terminal 4 - Uncolored boarding pass stock - Multiple issues at the immigration at SIN - Poor connectivity between SIN terminal 4 and terminals 1/2/3 transit area - Lack of universal power plugs at Singapore SIN terminal 4 sleeping chairs (at least there are very few UK-style plugs) - Few people eligible for automated boarding at SIN terminal 4 - Rather uncoordinated boarding - Shady apron buses at CGK - Some immigration gates not working at CGK - Inconvenient access to bus or car pick-up area
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