Report #49: SJ77 - a first taste of SJ after a while
This will be my report on flying on Sriwijaya Air economy class from Pangkal Pinang PGK to Jakarta CGK, a short-haul domestic flight within Indonesia, on board their Boeing 737-900ER.
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: Read here PGK-CGK on Sriwijaya Air 737-900ER economy class: You are here
As I was aiming to get as much time as possible in Pangkal Pinang I opted for late afternoon flights back to Jakarta. However, there are a few key factors to consider: - There were only a handful of routes where flying with GA made sense (I had already collected enough segment for the trip anyway and I can't afford to buy flexible ticket for this route to get enough segment - the title for cheap flexible tickets on GA is only for CGK-TKG and DPS-LOP; more on that later), and - While flying with JT would be fine for morning or even afternoon flights, the same can't be said for its late afternoon or evening flights due to its reputation for delays.
I then settled for the late afternoon flight on SJ, which not only offered free snack service at a price just a tad more than JT, but unlike GA still has very few recent reviews here despite being the largest carrier in Indonesia outside GA/JT groups, including none on their new 739. The trip ended up costing me Rp423.000 after 25% OTA cashback, which was not shown on the receipt.
Trip to PGK and check-in
The trip to PGK's new terminal from downtown involved going through the road passing by the runway end.
Soon I reached the airport entrance.
Before I reached the departure kerbside an officer asked my driver, and after he said that he was just about to drop me off we were let in.
Since I had loads of time on my sleeve before my flight I decided to go to the parking area and took a photo of the terminal from the front.
FIDS of the afternoon.
There are more storrs at the inner part of the public area.
Typical of Indonesian airports a basic ticket and security check was needed.
While there were a number of people security was done in 2 1/2 minutes.
Like TJ, there aren't many check-in counters.
The airport also sported a couple of self check-in counters, though its positioning and dark screen rendered it useless.
SJ had unfortunately decided to charge Rp77.000 (~US$5.3) for emergency exit row seats even upon check-in, though the check-in agent advised me that it would be free of charge 1 hour before departure so I decided to settle for the window seat just behind the second left window emergency exit row seat.
I then received my boarding pass for the late afternoon.
It was a short ride to the transit area floor.
There is a lounge available as well, and while the entrance fee wasn't that much, I had already had my snack to eat at the gate.
After I had my boarding pass checked I made my way to security, which was fast and I was cleared in ~1 1/2 minutes.
PGK transit area and departure
While the airport wasn't big, there were also a couple of eateries as well as a coffee shop.
Boarding for the JT flight to CGK had started.
Despite the electronic gates, most people still ended up being assisted anyway.
SJ's 738 being pushed back for departure.
I then spent some of my time at the coffee shop trying to work on the other reports.
1 hour before departure I exited the transit area to the check-in hall through a series of corridors and escalator.
The sole difference this time was that instead of going out to the public area I went to the check-in hall through the bypass door.
The cabin baggage tags seemed to be unused.
Despite the minor crowd I still had my seat assignment changed in no time.
With the new seat assignment I naturally received another boarding pass.
I won't go through this again, but since I had gone out of the transit area I needed to go through ticket and security check.
JT's 739 had arrived from CGK and was parked at gate 2.
Situation at the gate before boarding. Since I was early for boarding, the queue was short. Since SJ is an all-economy class carrier
Two 739s, both parked together at PGK.
I went through the corridor and then the aerobridge.
The plane for the day was PK-CMO, a 3 1/2 years old 739.
Since I was boarding quite early I managed to get to the plane without much queue.
While most of the seats were ordinary, my row stood out as one of the more spacious ones.
As usual, I went for the window seat.
Legroom was quite spacious, as expected on an emergency exit row seat.
The table feature a literature pocket and a table, which could be opened one-way.
Since this was an emergency exit row seat, the table was able to be extended quite a distance.
The normal contents inside the literature pocket.
Being at an emergency exit row seat, an additional guideline was provided.
The seatbelt was nothing unusual.
Selfie test: despite not having an adjustable headrest, it was made up by the additional padding on the upper part on the seat as well as the seat height.
The window was quite clear this time, which has traditionally been a problem at emergency exit row windows.
The view from the window was JT's 739.
A flight attendant then briefed those seated on the emergency exit row seats, followed by the others checking the cabin for taxi.
After the JT plane pushed back the next view was of GA's 738 in its vintage livery.
It was finally our time to push back.
Safety demonstration was manually done as we taxied.
A training plane could be spotted using the runway before us.
Since PGK is a rather small airport we needed to get to the other end of the runway and rotate for departure.
One last view of Pangkal Pinang.
Take-off was nothing unusual apart from being a bit powerful and we soon climbed out of Bangka island.
The sky cleared as we passed above the clouds.
As it was on the late afternoon the cabin was bright enough even without lighting.
However, the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off and we reverted to using the mood lighting.
While SJ claimed to offer a Wi-Fi-based IFE, it was unavailable for the flight and the flight attendant said that it would be provided only on longer flights such as CGK to UPG (i.e. ~2 hours).
SJ offered a snack service for all its flights, including this one.
Its snack was packed in SJ-branded paper bag.
The content inside the snack bag.
As usual I unpacked the snack.
The filling of the bread, which was acceptable.
The snack service for the late afternoon consisted of: Sweet bread: Bread with green beans filling Drink: Distilled water
The bread was slightly overcooked, which lent unpleasant hints of burned bread. While I am not exactly a fan of green beans, the filling was otherwise uneventful. Therefore, this was a just slightly less than acceptable snack for the flight.
We briefly passed over Sumatera island.
I then tried to close the window shade, which like those newer planes were made of fabric.
A round of sales then commenced.
I waited at the galley while waiting for the lavatory to clear.
I must admit I somehow cheated by taking the rear cabin shot before the lavatory visit, but still ….
As the lavatory was clear I decided to pay a visit, which was 737 MAX-style lavatory (read: exceptionally narrow).
The sink also used the same spraying faucet.
Though there was no sink stopper at the rear lavatory, there was one at the front lavatory.
Since the last few rows were completely unoccupied I decided to have a look around for a comparison.
Legroom was exceptionally tight on the normal seat, since this was denser than even the often reviewed JT's 739.
The reason SJ was able to put 5 extra seats was the narrower lavatory as well as the sculpted lavatory wall.
The wall sculpting was high enough for most not to hurt their head.
A view of the cabin from the front. Interestingly enough, the first row on the right side was located at the front of the curtain.
A view during cruise at dusk.
SJ was a significant carrier in PGK with flights to various destinations (for comparison, GA flies from PGK to PLM, TJQ, and CGK, with services between PGK and PLM/TJQ by an AT7)
Compared with JT or GA, SJ had a rather high average age figure as they still used 733 and 735.
As the fasten seatbelt sign was switched on the flight attendants checked the cabin prior to arrival.
I then just realized that the signage on the table was written on both Indonesian, English, and unlike other Indonesian carriers Chinese.
The cabin was dimmed for arrival.
Some views during descent.
Instead of approaching towards runway 25L/R we were directed to land at runway 25R, which meant that the view was more of Tangerang than Jakarta.
Landing was uneventful and we soon taxied with a view of GA's maintenance facility.
The aerobridges being prepared for extending CGK terminal 3's international section.
As we were parked some passengers had started queuing to deplane.
Rather than queuing, I opted to be among the last to deplane since there wasn't much to do for me that evening.
After bidding farewell to the crew I walked down the aerobridge as well as the short corridor leading to the gate.
Arrival at CGK and post-arrival trip
As we arrived at the proper gate I needed to take a downward escalator to get to the arrival floor.
Typical of CGK, before going to the main "spine" of the terminal I needed to walk down the corridor from the gate.
After reaching the main corridor of the arrival floor there was some additional walk to get to the luggage claim area.
The luggage claim area was slightly packed.
Since I had nothing to claim I went to the public area.
As the only official ride-hailing option in CGK, they have their own pick-up area near the exit. However, to compensate for the agreement they have with the local cooperation there was an additional Rp10.500 (US$0.7) surcharge levied for each ride.
Officers from the cooperation assisted in organizing the traffic at the pick-up area. Also note the uniformed driver seen at the luggage door.
As usual, taxi was still available.
Pangkal Pinang-Palaubangka Island - PGK
Jakarta - CGK
SJ offered a good value for money for the short route with free snack and modern cabin, although the tight legroom and lack of IFE on shorter routes remain a concern. In terms of the airports, PGK was a small, efficient airport with basic amenities while CGK terminal 2F was a bit past its due (though this was better than CGK terminal 1A/B/C).
On overall, I would like to fly with them again if the price is right.
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