Report #38: QG9820 - Making our mark in West Java aviation history
This will be my report on flying on Citilink economy class from Surabaya SUB to Majalengka KJT (Kertajati International Airport), a short-haul intercity flight within Java island, on board their Airbus A320-200. This is also the first scheduled commercial flight arriving at KJT, so read on!
Here are the 12 parts of the trip: KUL - CGK on KLM 777-300ER business class: Read here CGK - SUB on Garuda Indonesia 737 MAX 8 economy class: Read here SUB - SRG on Citilink A320-200 economy class: Read here SRG - SUB on Garuda Indonesia CRJ-1000ER economy class: Read here SUB - KJT on Citilink A320-200 economy class: You are here (first commercial flight to KJT) KJT - SUB on Citilink A320-200 economy class: Read here (first commercial flight from KJT) SUB - DPS on Garuda Indonesia 737-800 economy class: Read here DPS - SIN on KLM 777-300ER economy class: Read here SIN - DPS on Jetstar Airways A320 economy class: Read here DPS - CGK on Lion Air 747-400 economy/business class: Read here SUB - CGK on Garuda Indonesia 737 MAX 8 business class: Read here CGK - SIN on Lion Air 737-900ER economy class: Read here
Note that among the reviews series the KJT and 744 flights would be published soon, followed by the rest of the series.
It's not an usual occasion to be among the first to fly on a brand new airport (it's one thing when a new terminal opens, but when it's a whole new airport opening, let alone a long-awaited one, that's on a completely different level), so when I heard of the airport's first flight being confirmed I decided to make a trip around the very joyous occasion. The first flights announced to operate was the daily QG flight from/to SUB, so I decided to hop on it.
The prorated fare after OTA discount came at Rp401.000 (US$28), which was still cheap as the airport was virtually in the middle of nowhere with no expressway or rail connection yet.
Confession time: I paid up for the 1D seat, the closest possible seat to the door 1L so I would be one of the first to arrive at the new airport as well as a chance to rub shoulders with the officials. As much as I don't fancy paying for bulkhead seats, this was indeed a historical moment.
Trip to SUB and check-in
I opted to take a car to SUB terminal 1. At least the road wasn't crowded, so that's a plus (note that it would be particularly messy from afternoon onwards).
SUB terminal 1 kerbside
Like in many airports in Indonesia, ticket check was needed to enter the check-in area.
FIDS of the morning for SUB terminal 1A (1A refers to the ex-international terminal while 1B refers to the domestic terminal proper - QG together with ID and FS flies from terminal 1A) - where is the KJT-bound flight?
I then went through the preliminary security, which was fast.
Despite the seemingly quiet kerbside, the check-in area for QG was already quite bustling.
QG operate an all counter check-in mechanism for all flights, but their counters are often written as for one or two particular flights. Check-in took me around 5 - 6 minutes. During check-in I also asked: - If he was aware of any form of celebration (ex.: reception) for the flight (no - in fact there was none of it in SUB), and - The load for both flights (initially at 70/180 and 174/180), and - Whether it would be possible to get my boarding pass for both flights (yes).
My boarding pass for the morning.
ID's check-in counters
After an escalator ride I went to the departure screening area, which first consisted of ticket check.
The ticket check was then followed by second security check. Due to my tight review schedule I had my 20 Ah portable battery with me, which had its capacity checked.
SUB transit area and departure
The transit area was still quiet with barely any shops opening.
The waiting room wasn't that crowded, owing to the light load.
Between me not reading the boarding pass or the flight time being changed without informing, I then realized that the flight's boarding time was 4.30 AM instead of 4.55 AM had it followed the original schedule, so I quickly proceeded back after I had my breakfast at the public area. The boarding counter also sport Surya newspapers.
I then walked through the interstitial corridor to the aircraft stand at gate 11.
After that it's a short walk to the aerobridge
Those with blue and white clothing are the officials from various stakeholders such as the East Java branch of the Ministry of Transportation as well as from the airport itself.
Even some SUB-based officials were also seen shaking hands with the passengers for the inaugural flight.
I soon reached the aircraft where Ms. Rani, one of the flight attendants greeted. It also came as a strange revelation that she was also one of the flight attendants on the SUB-SRG flight the day before.
Flight: QG9820 Plane: PK-GQO STD/ATD: 05.00/05.02 STA/ATA: 06.25/06.02 Load factor: 38%Y (69/180) Seat type: Standard economy class (bulkhead aisle seat)
The cabin for the morning. I was seated in 1D and therefore was the sole non-official in the first few rows. Note the person in uniform in 1B, who was the head of the East Java branch of the MoT, and also the improperly fitted seat marker.
Like most bulkhead seats, the seat pocket was located by the wall.
The table wasn't that big, but was enough given the meal service for the flight.
The standard contents were there as usual: Safety card
Plastic airsickness bag
Seat pitch was pretty good.
Safety demonstration was done even before pushback.
We soon taxied out and afterwards took off from SUB, which was uneventful.
After the take-off it was another usual climb to the cruising altitude.
As I had paid up for the upfront seat (those who got into those seats without paying like the officials didn't receive anything) I received a complimentary snack service. The snack service consisted of: Snack: multigrain bar Drink: coconut water drink
I went to the lavatory, which was clean thanks to the low load, no free snack service for most, and the flight being the first one for the day.
The cabin as seen from behind. The person walking to the lavatory would then ask me to have a photograph of him taken with the crews.
Galley visit time: I asked to Ms. Rani and the other flight attendant in the galley: - Whether it was the exact same set of crew as the SUB-SRG flight (somehow yes), - Was it the same plane as before (i.e. -GQL, note that I didn't have the chance to see the plane properly; no - it was -GQO instead), - Were the catering for SUB-bound flight catered straight from KJT (no, they doubled up on the supplies from SUB), and - About the flight time change (she only knew that there was an email from QG about flight time change).
In the spirit of tit-for-tat, after one of the officials asked to have his photo taken with the crews I then asked for the same.
Ms. Rani also offered me a hot drink, to which I opted for the powdered hot chocolate.
The view during descent, which despite being quite good was accompanied with some
During the flight I also discussed with the officials seated nearby (i.e. 1F and 1C) and found: - A research done by an Indonesian IT consulting company found that there is significant traffic of people from Cirebon and its surroundings traveling to BDO for their flight, - Either of them asked me whether the news of KJT had reached out to people in my university (no, even if it's been known based on the current flight timing the connection would be very inconvenient), - There were plans for international flights, starting from Singapore, - All shared the issue on road connectivity, which was still more than 2 km from the province road and even further from the Cikampek to Palimanan expressway, and - The main VIP of the day would be Mr. Wahid Wahyudi, the person in seat 1B.
The weather was still rather foggy during the final approach.
We soon approached the airport and landed, which was fortunately quite smooth.
The control tower.
Side views of the terminal, which looked quite grand.
Afterwards it was a short taxi to the gate.
Note the still unfinished apron.
Our plane was then greeted with a water salute, and afterwards followed by applause from the passengers inside.
After I bid (not really a) farewell I proceeded through the aerobridge and then through the short corridor.
Arrival ceremony at KJT
At the corridor we were greeted with children dancing following the song.
Some photos of the airport during its construction were displayed.
Instead of being brought straight to the arrival hall we were brought down the interstitial corridor.
A clearer view of the control tower as well as -GQO.
The airport after construction was done from above.
We were in fact brought for the reception session.
The officials were readying themselves for the ceremony.
The arriving passengers receive a flower garland.
After the garland was worn we were greeted by one of the directors of the airport authority.
Other passengers queuing for the flower garland.
Me with the garland worn.
Some members of the press were present.
The crews and officials had their photos taken first.
Afterwards the other passengers were invited (and no, I didn't join the photo taking session).
While waiting I checked for Wi-Fi at the airport, which was still non-existent.
After the photo taking sessions it was time for the speeches session: The first speech was from one of the airport officials, who also noted that among departing passengers that day they started arriving as early as 12.30 AM for 7.25 AM departure.
Afterwards it was speech from Mr. Djoko as one of Angkasa Pura II's directors.
There were quite a few members of the media, including from Berita Satu, CNN Indonesia, and Metro TV.
The last one was from Mr. Juliandra as QG's general director.
As I had a proper preview of the airport to do for the review, I excused myself and quickly made my way to the arrival area.
Arrival at KJT and post-arrival trip
After those who couldn't bear the speeches were escorted down the interstitial corridor again it was an escalator ride down to the arrival floor. I was talking to one of the persons building the airport and he told me that it was not yet ready the last time he was there and he wouldn't hesitate complaining had it not worked by the time the airport was opened.
The arrival floor looked pretty bare like in DPS. On the left is the planned conference room, where conference sessions can be made afterwards instead of using a waiting room.
Lavatory visit: I don't usually take photo of an airport lavatory, but as it was empty and for the sake of review I did. The lavatory was pretty clean as there was still barely anybody using it.
The floor plan layout of the airport. Note the symmetrical design.
A clearer view of the floor plan (edited for contrast). Further note the 11 immigration counters planned on the left side.
Afterwards it's a right turn to the luggage claim.
The carousels number 5 and 6 were still not installed.
Instead, only carousels number 3 and 4 were used.
As I didn't have any luggage I proceeded straight to the public arrival area.
Since there was only 1 flight daily (i.e. this and the QG9821 back to SUB) and the location was rather remote only one private transport provider opened their stall.
A view of the public area from the side.
The public transport option was Damri bus, but even that was still limited as well.
Surabaya - SUB
Majalengka - KJT
Citilink is a rather decent way to travel short-haul within Indonesia, and the bulkhead seats are also quite spacious. It was indeed improved by the friendly flight attendant, so that's a positive note. Apart from the check-in queue SUB terminal 1 was rather efficient, although the lack of stores in transit area opening at such hours made it less appealing. For a new airport, KJT wasn't that bad after all with its modern design and arguably an improvement over the space-constrained BDO it was meant to take over. The ceremony indeed feature some prominent figures, but apart from that was nothing special (note how the reception didn't even feature any snack buffet).
Nonetheless, the fact that it was a once-in-a-while opportunity made the trip pretty worth it (just don't expect anything lavish with QG).
Some thing done well for the trip (airports and ceremony): + Acceptable security at SUB + Fast boarding at SUB + Modern design at KJT
Some thing done well for the trip (on board): + Reasonable price (Rp401.000 (US$28)) + Decent bulkhead seat legroom + Free snack and beverage provision for paid seats + Friendly cabin crew + Clean lavatory
Things that can be improved (airports and ceremony): - Slow check-in time at SUB - Dingy terminal at SUB - Lack of stores in transit area opening at early morning in SUB - Lack of Wi-Fi at KJT - Lack of transport options at KJT
Things that can be improved (on board): - 25 minutes flight time change without notification - Low load factor from SUB (it's unusual I put it here, but if the load kept on being that low there wouldn't be much more flights to/from KJT)
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