This will be my report on flying KLM economy class (if only I could get a reasonably priced upgrade) from Jakarta CGK to Kuala Lumpur KUL, a short haul international flight within SE Asia. For the trip from KUL to CGK with Batik Air earlier that morning, read here.
To prevent confusion, KL refers to KLM while KUL refers to Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
It was a pretty difficult situation as many (especially JT and 3K - I could go straight to SIN with the latter) offer better trip options on price and timing, but between hoping to get a reasonably priced upgrade on check-in and trying KL economy class after being in the business class before, I decided to book KL, which for last-minute booking was steep at Rp912.242 (US$66 / €54) after OTA discount.
The itinerary for this trip turned to be: Jakarta - CGK: airport train CGK - KUL: plane (i.e. this flight) KUL - Johor Bahru: intercity bus Johor Bahru - Singapore: cross-border bus
Trip to CGK and check-in
After I cleared some matters in downtown Jakarta, I proceeded to the airport train station by car as it was raining for a while.
Unlike the train station in CGK, the ticketing and waiting area are located above the turnstiles floor, which almost caused me to miss the booking time cut-off for the 3.51 PM train.
Further unlike the train station in CGK, the waiting area looked much more spartan.
My train ticket.
A few minutes before departure I proceeded to the turnstile and down to the train.
The train had waited. On a related note, airport trains do not even have separate platforms at the downtown train station since they are supposed to terminate at Manggarai Int, so it couldn't stay for too long there.
The train interior, which still looked new.
We traveled past the traffic madness as seen from near the CBD.
After one hour of futile attempts to get a sleep, I finally arrived at the airport train station.
I then took the people mover to the airport terminal.
EK's 77W on gate D1 - it's surprising that now some gates at the terminal 2 already have glass-walled aerobridges.
SJ, IN, and QZ at the terminal 2F - the only reason I could take this photo was because I thought KL flies from terminal 3 like GA and some other SkyTeam carriers while it was in fact still at terminal 2.
One thing that frustrated me was that the people mover was so slow - in fact it seldom went to 25 km/h or above and never 30 km/h, which wasn't appreciated as it significantly reduced the train frequency.
After backtracking to terminal 2 people mover station, I proceeded to the terminal 2 building and then to the departure floor.
I then proceeded through the ticket check and first security check, which was done in ~1 - 2 minutes.
KL's check-in counters were rather empty, but it took me a while to clear check-in since there were quite some questions thrown.
During check-in I asked: - Whether there are paid upgrades available (not this time), - How much would an upgrade otherwise cost (€100 / Rp1.700.000; may as well buy business class outright which would cost Rp2.250.000/€132 one-way with 2 weeks advance purchase), and - How much was the load of the day (pretty light (no exact figures) but no miles-awarding upgrade space available; I just wanted the business class seat so that shouldn't matter, plus KL specifically said that upgrades only offer services, not miles), - Whether it would be possible to get a window seat instead (yes, but at the the second economy cabin) In return, she also asked: - Some standard luggage questions, - My return ticket (NA, but I explained my intent to go to Johor Bahru and then by cross-border bus to Singapore; I bought my bus ticket to Johor Bahru after check-in), and - My ticket out of Singapore (I flashed my students pass instead; she was unsatisfied with my statement of no return ticket). After she was satisfied of my plan, she then issued my boarding pass, which as usual looked dull.
She also tagged my laptop bag, which was let through.
I proceeded to the automated gate, which actually worked this time.
CGK transit area and departure
The automated gates seen from behind, while JT crews ended up still using manual counters.
I proceeded to the D gates.
After several months of waiting, the Sundanese restaurant was finally opened and I had my dinner there.
Dinner of the day, which came at an exorbitant price of Rp96.500 (€6) without ordering any drink. I could eat better even at fast-food restaurants, so it was unacceptable.
A playground just before the second security, which was unused.
Fast-track security for different needs people but not for business/first class passengers?
On a side note, security took me less than 2 minutes, which was good.
The gate seemed to be also used by QF, but there was otherwise no sign of QF at all.
I then proceeded to the waiting room through the corridor, where afterwards it was ticket check. I also checked the load of the day, which at last I got the exact figures.
The waiting room is typical of what you would expect in CGK terminal 1/2 except that it was roughly divided among different seat rows.
The sole view of the plane of the evening, PH-BVR.
After waiting for quite a while thanks to some issues with a handful of arriving passengers, we finally started boarding with priority strictly enforced.
I passed through the corridor.
Then it was a walk through the renovated aerobridge.
Despite the new walls, the glass was in a very poor state.
Soon it was my turn to enter the plane, featuring mostly senior cabin crews.
After I was welcomed, I passed through the business class cabin, which was not for me to enjoy this time.
The bulkhead rows have wider footwells.
I then continued to the economy class cabins.
My seat of the evening.
The first thing I noticed is the larger than normal seatbelt hole.
The next thing is the narrow armrest (my hand is for comparison) and how the seat recline button could be accidentally pressed just by my thigh. At least the middle seat was empty again, otherwise I may be ready to be canned when I arrive.
The magazine and in-flight shopping catalogue was present.
The safety card was also present.
Last but not least, the airsickness bag.
Legroom was fine, but it was because of the slimline seat which was rather hard. On a positive note, the headrest can be adjusted quite high.
Coat hangers are located between the seats, which doesn't seem really appealing.
2 power plugs were available for the seat triplet.
Flight attendants were distributing the headset.
The seemingly flimsy headset - I didn't bother using it and instead used my own earphone, which works on the IFE and also miles better.
Safety video was then played.
Afterwards I checked the classical musics selection, which was quite extensive.
We then taxied for departure.
Lights were dimmed.
At least they did the moving map right - including not substituting 77W with another type. The image was blurry as the plane shaked quite a bit.
We passed through some cloudy weather, which means that the fasten seatbelt sign was not switched off until quite a while after reaching the cruise altitude.
The economy class seats from aside, which also shows the recline and the seat's thinness, hence the seat being a bit hard.
I then visited the lavatory, which was very clean and feature Zenology soap.
Despite the fasten seatbelt sign, as it was a rather short flight drinks and snack service needed to commence. The hand-carried blue box contained the hot snack, while drinks were served by cart.
The hot snack of the evening - vegetarian risoles (rissole in English) served hot. The outside was pretty soggy, while the inside and also the taste was acceptable. It was pretty sad to only have hot snack instead of full meal on this sector, which is longer than CGK-SIN, but one gets what he paid for.
The carts were not designed with Marcel Wanders' pattern, being used for economy class.
I opted for the white wine, which was a South African one and being loaded during its stop in KUL earlier. The menu of the flight (based on what I could see) was therefore: Savoury pastry: rissole Non-alcoholic drinks: juices / soft drink / mineral water / sparkling water Alcoholic drinks: gin & tonic / red wine / white wine
KL-branded glass was used with bicycle, tulip, and one more depiction.
Trashes were collected on yet another cart bearing KL's first logo - how many kinds of carts do they carry?
I then had a look at the rear cabin, which was very sparsely filled.
After I went to the lavatory again, I asked whether I could get spare Delft Blue (KL's signature miniature house) from 3 different flight attendants, with all of them yielding different results: - First flight attendant at the rear galley: not there, but she suggested me to ask the flight attendants at the front, - Second flight attendant at the 4th door galley: no, he mentioned the need to keep it exclusive, and - Third flight attendant at the 2nd door galley (upon disembarking): no, but she suggested to look for it at the internet.
Since I couldn't get the upgrade this time, perhaps some people here have some spare instead?
I then played some musics from the IFE. While not that responsive, it's a big positive on me that I can rewind the music.
Duty-free sales was conducted during descent.
We soon approached KUL and landed safely despite the landing being slightly rough.
As some condensation had formed on the window again, taking photos outside was rather challenging.
Some preset videos were played on loop.
Last view of the cabin.
I bid farewell to the crew and left the plane.
Afterwards, it was a short walk through the aerobridge and corridor.
Not wanting to lose out, the queue for MH flight to SYD was also equally long.
The new set of crews for the KUL-AMS sector.
I then proceeded to the main terminal by the people mover.
KE crews just arriving from ICN.
From there, it was an escalator ride down to the arrival hall.
The counters weren't crowded, but it still took me 5 minutes. I asked the officer whether there was a peak earlier (i.e. like on my recent flight to KUL; yes), and he also asked me on why did I depart and return to KUL at the same day, to which I told him of the trip being a change from the usual shuttle.
Arrival information screen.
The first bag arrived 27 minutes after arrival, which was decent enough for a wide-body, and this time priority was applicable.
There were quite some people already waiting for the bag.
My bag arrived 6 minutes later.
Grab and Uber are both still competing , despite Uber about to sell its SE Asia business to Grab. On a side note, customs was pretty fast.
I proceeded to the bus terminal after reaching the public area.
I passed through the corridor serving both the bus terminal and the carpark above
Bus schedule - I took the 11.45 PM bus to Larkin.
Seats were as expected on an intercity bus.
I connected to the cross-border bus, shuttling Malaysians working in Singapore.
Rather than going up and down at the Woodlands/Sultan Iskandar checkpoint, I proceeded via the Tuas/Sultan Abu Bakar checkpoint. The Malaysian checkpoint staff looked at me like a three-headed traveler upon seeing my sequence of entries and exit before asking the reason for the strange pattern, but I was let through after mentioning the trip.
The motorcycle traffic.
Jakarta - CGK
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Despite some minor shortcomings, KL is indeed one of the better ways to travel between CGK and KUL but only economically feasible when booked in advance (for last-minute trips, stick to the Lion Air group, i.e. OD/ID/JT). In terms of upgrading, this is not a particularly good route to put a bet on as it would be much better to get a confirmed business class seat instead.
Would I repeat the flight again? With multiple connections and 2 consecutive nights of sleep in the bus for the whole trip, I would avoid it in the future (except, of course, if it's either only one-way [i]with confirmed business class flight[/i] or somehow split, ex.: overnight stay in Kuala Lumpur).
Sponsored message: If any of you have some spare Delft Blue and are going to Singapore, I would love to get my hands on some as well :)
Some thing done well for the trip: + Short check-in queue at CGK + Acceptable immigration and security at CGK + Enforced priority on boarding + Low load factor + Acceptable seat pitch + Headrest adjustability + Extensive, proper IFE + Clean lavatory on board + Reasonably fast baggage claim
Things that can be improved: - Expensive last-minute fare Rp912.242 (US$66 / €54) one-way) - Plain boarding pass stock paper - 10-abreast 777 configuration - Rather hard seat - Lack of hot, full meal - Immigration waiting time at KUL
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