Report #48: GA7127 - Interisland joyride on Garuda's newest ATR72
This will be my report on flying on Garuda Indonesia economy class from Tanjung Pandan TJQ to Pangkal Pinang PGK, an intercity flight within Bangka Belitung province, on board their ATR72-600.
Here are the 3 parts of the trip: CGK-TJQ on Garuda Indonesia CRJ-1000ER economy class: Read here TJQ-PGK on Garuda Indonesia ATR72-600 economy class: You are here PGK-CGK on Sriwijaya Air 737-900ER economy class: Publishing soon
When I planned the trip I realized that as TJQ only serves CGK and PGK there are two possible combinations for the trip: - A quick return to CGK (i.e. CGK-TJQ-CGK), or - Add a trip to Bangka island and make the itinerary a circle trip (i.e. CGK-TJQ-PGK-CGK).
After assessing both options I opted to add a trip to Bangka island, While IN and IW offered lower cost alternatives I opted for GA as not only it was more comfortable, the schedule also allowed me to do a quick side trip at Belitung island in the morning as well as allow me to get the silver status (i.e. the lowest elite tier) on GA's frequent flyer. The flight costed me Rp521.250 (~US$35) after a staggering 25% OTA discount, which was again not shown.
Trip to TJQ and check-in
I took motorbike taxi to get to the airport.
The airport was quite far away from the city centre, so it took me ~30 mins to get there.
Beliting island is known for its tourism, and especially for quick getaways from Jakarta, so the view in the carpark consist of quite a number of buses.
A bust of the airport' namesake could be seen as well.
I went to the terminal building and as usual I needed to go through the initial ticket check.
After the initial ticket check I proceeded through the initial security, which was fast.
The check-in area was quite small. I then checked in again for my flight and also verified the latest load, which was quite reasonable.
The boarding pass printed from the sales office earlier, which was as usual in GA's stock paper - this would be my last boarding pass on GA with non-elite frequent flyer level at least until the end of next year.
Its sole canteen inside the terminal building is located beside the check-in counters, with its hot food offerings limited to instant cup noodle.
I then proceeded to the security.
Security was fast and I was done in ~2 minutes.
TJQ transit area and departure
The transit area consisted of an open room containing seats - in fact, something as simple as visiting the toilet meant getting out of the area and having another screening.
This airport, like TKG, was managed by the Ministry of Transport as it was on the smaller side.
The sole place available at the waiting lounge to charge my devices is at the charging point at the front of the waiting lounge (they don't even provide one elsewhere, and not even a power plug at the pillars or wall.
One plus side of the waiting lounge is the rare opportunity to do some basic plane spotting at the ground level.
The plane for the afternoon soon arrived, which was PK-GAR, a 2 months old AT7 and also the latest AT7 delivered to GA.
SJ's 738 then arrived, which was bound for CGK.
Situation at the gate.
SJ's 738 was quite severely delayed, which was the reason behind the crowd.
As the passengers from the delayed SJ flight left the plane it was my flight's turn for boarding, which was fast.
The culprit for the packed waiting room for the afternoon.
It was a short walk on the tarmac to our plane, which was parked facing the side of the apron instead of the buildings.
-GAR as seen from behind.
I was the first to board so by the time I was about to enter the plane the last cleaning staff on board disembarked and the flight attendant apparently preparing for the next departure.
When I boarded I also asked whether this was a quite new AT7, to which the flight attendant said that this was even the latest AT7 delivered to GA.
The cabin was still immaculate.
I then reached my initial seat at 21K.
Being a bulkhead seat, the legroom on the exit row seats weren't that spacious
A foldable table could be found at the armrest.
On my right side was the shared literature pocket.
The safety card was unfortunately a copied version of the original one in mica.
The emergency exit row safety card was properly printed.
An inflight magazine was also present, though due to the short-haul nature of the flights operated by AT7 no inflight magazine was provided..
The side view of the seat. Since there were nobody in the entire row I ended up having the exit row safety briefing for myself.
Is it starting to become a trend to have fabric window shades?
The view from my seat consisted of ground support equipments.
The PSU above my seat.
Selfie test: while the seat was a bit on the narrow side it was at least comfortable enough.
Safety demonstration was then manually done.
As TJQ is a small airport the taxi to the runway was fast.
After a short hold we then reached the runway for departure.
Take-off was uneventful and we soon climbed away from the Belitung island.
Unlike Java island, Belitung island still has a lot of greenery.
After the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off the flight attendant seated at the front jumpseat then left.
Snack service commenced shortly afterwards.
I went to the seat pair behind mine, which was unoccupied as well, for seat test. The seat belt was normal.
The legroom was more spacious than on the bulkhead seat.
Anytime is snack time on all GA's flights under 2 hours, so I received mine as well in the standard economy class snack box (and yes, they have their own business class snack box - more on that in the subsequent review).
The snack when unboxed.
The snack service for the afternoon consisted of: Savoury snack: Battered glutinous rice with shredded chicken filling Sweet bread: Bread with sweet chocolate filling Drink (default): Mineral water
As usual on GA the filling amount strongly correlated with whether it was meat or non-meat.
I then visited the lavatory, which was clean.
For a regional plane, the lavatory was surprisingly quite spacious.
One thing that I hated, though, is the hissing sound every time the sink stopper was opened.
I then did a galley visit and found out that: - The entire crew is KNO-based, so they first repositioned to PLM and then stayed there before the trip. - The rotation of the day for them was PLM-PGK-TJQ-PGK-PLM-TKG-PLM (note than PLM-PGK-TJQ as well as TJQ-PGK-PLM each carry one flight number).
As usual I took a photo of the cabin from behind, which showed just how many passengers were seated on the left side compared to the right.
GA's regional network map.
Being an interisland trip, the view during cruise mainly consisted of sea.
As we started our descent we started to approach Bangka island.
Our final approach brought us closet to the city.
Being the capital city of the province, Pangkal Pinang was much more developed than Tanjung Pandan, yet somehow PGK was far closer to downtoen Pangkal Pinang than TJQ is to Tanjung Pandan.
We soon landed at PGK, which was uneventful.
The old PGK airport terminal, which was located on the other side of the runway.
I would instead arrive at the new terminal.
We were then parked just beside JT's 738.
It was only after the luggage at the compartment behind the cockpit was unloaded then I got the chance to get a cockpit visit, which still looked new. I didn't talk too much there since their schedule was quite tight (plus I heard from the flight attendant that the pilot wanted to go down and inspect the plane by herself), though here are some of the things that we discussed: - GA's pilots, at least for those flying the AT7, have single rating so they can't just get rotated on, let's say, CRK and AT7, - PLM serve as the base for a couple of AT7 (so in case of problems they can just return to PLM and get the plane repaired without going all the way to CGK), and - The entire crew set follow the same rotation as the flight attendants (i.e. PLM-PGK-TJQ-PGK-PLM-TKG-PGK for that day).
While waiting for the cockpit visit and afterwards the cleaning staff was already there turning the plane for the next flight.
Our plane was being prepared for her next flight to PLM.
-GAR as seen from the front.
I then walked on the apron to the terminal building.
Arrival at PGK and post-arrival trip
I then arrived at the arrival floor.
However, PGK's layout meant that an upward escalator ride was needed to get to the luggage claim area.
I was then led through the interstitial corridor.
It was another short walk through the interstitial corridor and then to the arrival area.
Infographics of the new terminal building.
I then went down to the arrival/check-in floor.
Since the waiting room is located upstairs transit passengers may need to take as many as 3 escalator rides.
The luggage claim area.
Since I only had my backpack I then went to the public area.
One of the recommended fish cake establishments in Pangkal Pinang - little did I realize when I took that photo that I would eat at its original place downtown.
The departure kerbside - to go to the pick-up floor I needed to cross the road and go down.
A view of the outside of the airport.
I stayed at Santika Bangka, which I got free of charge by redeeming my points from an online travel agency.
Three days later my new status was posted (my name and card number were hidden).
Bonus: Dining at Bangka Belitung Province
Those who know me, know just how much I love good food - and there are quite a lot of them on both Bangka and Belitung islands.
From the place where I had dinner it was a short walk to the city square, where there were a number of stalls selling Bangka-style fish cake accompanied with soy milk - note that this was different from the fish cake found in Palembang. Each piece went for only Rp2000 (US$0.14), which was quite affordable.
On the following day after my breakfast I went downtown again for my lunch.
If you somehow managed to remember the fish cake brand at the PGK public area, I went to its original place. While a tad more expensive than the roadside stalls (those here went for Rp2500 (US$0.17) per piece except for the large one, which went for Rp5000 (US$0.33) per piece), the setting and fishcake was better.
For my afternoon snack at PGK for my next flight back to CGK I bought some stuffed pancake, ostensibly first made by the ethnic Chinese there, at yet another renowned establishment - while a bit greasy (it was cooked with a lot of butter/margarine after all) it was sinfully good, a far cry from what I had elsewhere (there's a reason people call it as martabak Bangka after all)
Since I don't want to turn this to a food blog, let's end this with a cutout of the stuffed pancake.
Tanjung Pandan-Belitung Island - TJQ
Pangkal Pinang-Palaubangka Island - PGK
This flight was as comfortable as it ca be for intra-province trip in Indonesia with modern plane, low load factor, and decent dining offerings. In terms of the airports, TJQ was a breeze to pass through though minimally equipped while PGK was nothing unusual (except for the multiple escalator rides needed).
On overall, I would fly with GA again if the price was right.
Some thing done well for the trip (airports): + Fast check-in at TJQ + Fast security at TJQ + Compact terminal layout at TJQ
Some thing done well for the trip (on board): + Low load factor + New airplane + Acceptable dining offering for the distance + Clean lavatory + Cockpit visit opportunity
Things that can be improved (airports): - Lack of shops at TJQ transit area - Poorly located power plugs at TJQ - Airport layout at PGK
Things that can be improved (on board): - Lack of properly printed safety card - Narrow bulkhead seat pitch - Wait before the cockpit visit
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