Report #22: JT151 - First time being involuntarily bused on SIN
This will be my report on flying Lion Air economy class from Singapore to Jakarta, a short haul international flight within SE Asia. Due to my large number of other works, this is the shortest trip report I've ever made recently but I still work on maintaining a decent size of it.
As I was somehow lucky enough to meet my FYP professor on Thursday but at the same time I tried to stay as much as possible to be in stealth, I decided to fly on Thursday evening and return on Saturday morning. This trip was also an exciting one as I had the opportunity to meet my ex-colleagues in 3 different companies, which is one way to keep in touch.
With those, and also cost (it won't look great when my parents check my bank statement - at least since I use automated immigration gates in CGK and SIN there's no way to prove my trip by passport :p) in mind, the trip also need to be as simple as possible (i.e. just direct flights with the right times), which made me fall for Lion Air's evening flight.
The flight costed S$65 (US$49) one way, but after OTA discount it went down to only S$55 (US$41.7). Not only that, I also got further discount for my stay in Jakarta, which at the same hostel as on my first Jakarta trip costed me S$7 (US$5.2)
Trip to SIN and check-in
After I went to my campus' career fair and had lunch with some of my friends, I decided to proceed to the airport by electric metro train.
I arrived at the airport 1 hour 40 minutes to the scheduled departure time.
Entrance to the B2 retail area. I proceeded there as my friend asked me for the famous transparent milk tea.
After buying the milk tea order, I decided to proceed to the departure area.
As it was nearing Chinese new year, the check-in row signages were decorated.
The JT group, which in Singapore means JT, ID (which I used for the return flight), OD, and SL uses the row 1 check-in counters. Unlike in CGK, the counters happened to be pretty quiet.
As usual, I asked the check-in staff, so here are some that I asked: - How many persons on board (she mentioned 150 - obviously lying as I got sequence 153, so I'm assuming it's 150 - 160) - Why waa it so quiet (many others had checked in before, though given the lack of lounge access among others I preferred to arrive a bit later) - Can I get assigned to emergency exit row seat by the window (most certainly yes, despite JT being a LCC it adopts a no-nonsense-charge model which allows exit row seating free of charge).
This time the boarding pass was actually decent (by JT standard) with thick boarding pass stock
The departure area was rather quiet, as expected.
I couldn't figure out what it is, but seemed cute enough.
As usual, ticket check and immigration were swift and I cleared both of them in 1 1/2 minutes.
SIN transit area and departure
The most striking difference since I went there must be the new Louis Vuitton store.
Other than that, the terminal was the same as before.
As usual, flying from terminal 3 in late afternoon or evening (they're open on 3 PM to 11 PM) isn't complete with the free small glass Singapore Sling at The Long Bar, located in the second floor of the duty-free store. Unlike before, though, they have premixed it beforehand and have it chilled rather than making it from scratch since when I was there everybody else also ordered the Singapore Sling.
It's not JT if there's no delay (especially in the evening), so as expected the flight got retimed by almost an hour.
Considering that, I decided to get a seat by the window behind the LV store, which not only feature AC and USB plugs, but also a decent view of the apron, a rare sight in SIN.
The corporate photo.
The plane about to bring me to Jakarta was delayed.
I then proceeded to the gate.
It's weird that they put me to gate A1 - A8 instead of the usual A16 - A20
Security was fast and I was let through in 1 minute.
I then walked down the aisle to my seat, but since only the front door was used to board the plane it was a rather chaotic process.
My seat was behind the actual emergency exit row (row 31), but instead of just offering a good legroom it offered an almost unlimited legroom (except that the door made the left side slightly smaller) and therefore still constitute an emergency exit seat.
Two downside is that there was no table at my seat - the folding table was disabled, which means I needed to use the middle seat table, and that my seat pocket was inaccessible, necessitating me to use the one at the middle seat as well. Fortunately, though, the seat was empty, providing me with even more space.
The seatbelt is also unique to the seat, especially that one side is padded (or is it airbag?) while the buckle had an additional support below.
Safety card and exit row instructions were available.
Because Indonesia is a religious country, the classic prayer card was also present (I remember they had one even during their MD-82 days)
Meals and souvenir catalogue was available, but there was completely no service provided during the flight.
The lack of service rounds means that there isn't even any pre-landing cleaning done, resulting in the sad state of the seat pocket.
Throughout the flight I discussed with my seatmate, who happened to be an Indonesian investment advisor working in Singapore yet returning home to Jakarta every weekend (made possible by the fierce competition among LCCs on the route, of course), which means that I took very few photos of the outside.
During the cruise, lamps were set to bluish white.
I took time to go to the toilet, which wasn't that clean either.
Photo of the cabin, which was especially solemn.
The sole decent photo of the outside, which I took during the descent.
Soon after, I arrived at CGK and the plane parked at the E gates.
What do E gates mean? Bus ride to the arrival immigration.
Arrival at CGK and post-arrival trip
The bus ride to the D gates was anything but eventful.
After reaching the D gates, I then walked to the arrival immigration. This time, the automated gates were working and despite the massive queue to the manned counters for Indonesian passport holders the automated gates were rather empty so I was let through in 1 minute and most importantly without passport stamp. The automated gates work with all Indonesian passports, newer or older, e-passport or just machine readable passport, so it's surprising that not many people get to use it instead.
The arrival area wasn't that busy - or was it?
Not for JT, of course - they used the same carousel for not one but 3 flights at once. At least my bag got through in 17 minutes since I deplaned, which was acceptable.
CGK terminal 2 customs area - I was let through without any additional check.
The arrival area was chaotic as usual.
I took the bus ride to Gambir Stn (Jakarta's first/business class train station), and then took a car to the hostel.
Bonus: CGK "automatic" people mover
Bonus : Click here displayhide
CGK had decided to join other airports and start building its own APM, connecting between terminal 1, train station, terminal 2, and terminal 3 on a single line.
The APM stations, however, are not yet directly connected to the terminal, so I needed to walk through the pick-up zone (which can be really chaotic, and being in Indonesia, hot) to get in.
The trains are not yet automated, and I couldn't help but to notice the train being really slow.
The train interior itself was nothing special, but certainly lacked the modern factor and felt a bit dingy since some lamps were not turned on.
A typical detached APM station, found in the airport train station, terminal 1, and terminal 2. The Instead of having tracks going to one direction, each side is only used by one train running bidirectional, hence the excruciatingly slow waiting time.
I tried to get the last train to the city scheduled to depart in 8 minutes, but I was out of luck - they closed the in-station booking 15 minutes in advance (I wonder why?)
Self-service ticketing kiosk for the airport train.
Lion Mentari Airlines
Singapore - SIN
Jakarta - CGK
While I loved JT for providing free exit row seating, one really gets what he paid for. From the ever-present delay (in evening/late afternoon), unclean cabin, lack of in-flight magazine (JT has one, just that it was missing), to complete lack of service, it almost feels like taking a bus to Jakarta.
Would I fly with them again? Yes, especially on domestic and (in secret) Singapore - Jakarta flights - upgrading to GA alone is usually a massive undertaking and even with my best effort to convince my family it often met with resistance. For a stealth trip like this, Lion is also unavoidable thanks to its usually cheap fare which won't show that much dent in the bank statement.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable fare (S$55 (US$42) one-way) + Acceptable check-in waiting and processing time + Decent boarding pass stock paper (by Lion standard) + Fast immigration at SIN + Seating area at SIN + Acceptable security at SIN + SIN terminal 3's quietness + Free exit row seat assignment + Working immigration gates and immigration time at CGK + Reasonable baggage claim time
Things that can be improved: - Gate usage at SIN (bus gates instead of the usual A16 - A20) - Long boarding queue - Cabin cleanliness - Lack of in-flight magazine - Complete lack of service - Gate usage at CGK (E gates instead of D gates) - Slow, low frequency, still manual people mover - Airport train booking cut-off time
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