Report #59: QZ554 - 2nd reposition flight for the day?
This will be my report on flying on Indonesia AirAsia economy class from Denpasar DPS to Kuala Lumpur KUL, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia, on board its Airbus A320-200. The review will be much shorter than usual as I was tired after the full-day segment run (my day started at 2 AM and I had flown the first 4 flights in the series within only 8 hours).
When I first planned the entire trip I was initially about to just return to CGK after the segment run, but since I had already went to Bali the month before I decided it may be better to go to Kuala Lumpur since not only I had not been there for a while, but also since there were plenty of timing options thanks to the AK group being based there and of course KL's business class to CGK for the last segment.
Since I thought it would be better to fly in the evening to try the lounge access from my credit card, I picked QZ for the trip, which I booked roughly 2 weeks before the flight and costed me Rp1.081.800 (US$72) one way before OTA cashback including a hot meal and emergency exit row seat selection. In return, I received 110 AirAsia BIG points and a bit of KrisFlyer miles from my seat selection since I didn't pay for the meal and actual flight booking by card.
Trip to DPS and check-in
Since I went to the airport by car I reached the international terminal at the departure floor.
As usual the arrival area was crowded.
I went to the check-in area where I had my boarding pass and passport glanced at and my bag searched, though they were fast.
Most carriers would use the check-in counters at the main check-in hall.
AirAsia group, though, had its counters located at a separate area downstairs. A couple of kiosks were available to help, but only at the proper check-in area.
This was the first time I went to the new check-in building, opened just the week before. While the area itself was nice, I was glad I had my mobile boarding pass at hand since it was crowded.
My boarding pass for the evening.
A walkway led us back to the proper check-in area.
The walkway ended near the priority check-in area, which was also quite close to the ticket check.
I then went for security and immigration. As usual, I went for the automated immigration gate, so I cleared both of them in only 5 minutes.
DPS transit area
After clearing immigration I went through the duty-free store. Also seen on the right are the newer automated immigration gates, which were not yet opened.
Even more high-end stores needed to be passed by.
The lounge I was about to visit was located upstairs, above the departure floor.
Lounge test #1: Premier Lounge
Premier Lounge is one of the two contract lounges in DPS, catering to most carriers' premium and elite passengers as well as Priority Pass holders. Unlike many other contract lounges in Indonesia, though, they only partnered with 2 local banks.
Fortunately my credit card provided me access through the bank's partnership (I didn't bank enough for them to give me Priority Pass, but again the bank would charge me for using Priority Pass within Indonesia so that didn't matter), so I reached the reception and after showing my boarding pass and credit card I was let in.
I was handed with the lounge access receipt.
Wi-Fi was acceptable, though not especially fast.
Reading materials were limited.
The lounge consisted of some seats randomly placed instead of being a bit more thematic (GA's business class lounge CGK is an example).There weren't many power plugs either, but at least the lounge was still quiet so I could pick seats with one - it could get really packed as many long-range flights from DPS depart on the evening.
I then went for shower in the lounge's shower room, consisting of somewhere dry to change clothes and the shower cubicle itself, but there was no lavatory inside. Most basic amenities and towels were provided on the basket, while the soap and shampoo were dispensed near the shower itself.
Even as the shower room could be refurbished, the shower was pretty much fine.
After shower I decided to eat from the "live" station, which offered penne aglio e olio. The "live" station also doubled as a bar, which offered basic alcoholic drinks.
The penne was delivered to my table. It tasted fine.
In terms of the canned drinks, soft drinks and beer were offered, with bottled mineral water was provided.
The meals were rather s**t for an international lounge - the choices were very basic, mostly starchy, and didn't taste good. Were it not for the wine offered, this would be just as bad as a contract domestic lounge.
In the drinks and snacks corner an espresso machine and a couple of drink dispensers were available - the cold water there was infused water, which may be the reason behind those bottled water in the fridge.
Cakes and some nibbles were provided, though they didn't interest me.
Lounge test verdict and departure
For international lounge standard this was rather bad, but I needed to make do with what I had. While the shower was fine, the lounge could really benefit from an upgrade interior-wise and also had mediocre foods so I wouldn't go to the airport earlier for this lounge.
After I went down to the departure floor again I proceeded through some stores before reaching the gates.
Like many other standard layout terminals the next corridor was the gate area, and it was really long.
My flight used a bus gate, so I went down to the designated waiting area instead of using the common ones.
Situation at the waiting area, which felt more stuffy than the gates above.
I was among the earlier to board, and I was directed to the bus about to bring me to the remote stand after my boarding pass and passport were checked.
Boarding was still underway, waiting for the next bus.
QZ's airport bus proved to be uncomfortable, not unlike the one JT had in CGK.
The plane for the evening was PK-AZA, a 6 years old 320.
Like some of QZ's 320, -AZA boasted a special ad livery.
I returned to my favourite seat, so I couldn't comment much on the pitch.
As usual, legroom was spacious. I was seated beside two American female, though they ended up moving to the row in front of me later on so I ended up having the entire triplet all for myself.
The seatback contained a table and a literature pocket, which meant that the seat felt rather wide.
Contents inside the literature pocket.
VA's 738 was parked beside us.
A couple of minutes later we started our pushback.
Safety demonstration was done as we taxied to runway 27.
After the safety demonstration the cabin lights were switched off since it was quite a short taxi.
The view as we taxied to the runway.
Takeoff was uneventful and it was time for me to bid farewell to Bali island.
~10 minutes after the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off dinner service commenced.
Since I prebooked the meal I received my meal before the others, which also came with mineral water.
The meal for the evening consisted of: Main course: Roasted chicken with cream pesto sauce served with mashed potato and sauteed vegetables Drink: Mineral water
The meal option didn't disappoint me - while it was airplane food after all and a bit on the salty side, the chicken was well-cooked and tasted pretty decent. On overall, I would recommend this menu when flying on QZ (and the meal costed me only RM10 (~US$2.5), so I would strongly recommend pre-ordering their hot meal for the fliight)
I slept through most of the flight and when I woke up we were already approaching KUL and the cabin lights were switched off.
The window proved to be unconducive for review so unfortunately I was unable to take shots of the outside during approach or taxi.
Landing was anything but different from usual and it was soon time for me to disembark.
Typical of arrival at KUL terminal 2, the plane used only the aerobridge.
Arrival at KUL and post-arrival trip
The passengers about to take the return flight to DPS.
I had the misfortune to arrive at the Q gate, which meant an arduous walk.
Even though the arrival area was already above the departure area, a long escalator ride was needed to get to the bridge.
Another walk along the bland bridge connecting the contact pier and the concourse.
There was barely any departure in the late evening.
I completed immigration in a couple of minutes despite some queue.
The luggage claim area, which I skipped since I had nothing to check for this weekend getaway.
To leave the airport I took the bus to KL Sentral before connecting to a private hire car to my hostel.
Independent Premier Lounge
Denpasar - DPS
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
As far as a reposition flight go, QZ offered a good value for money while delivering the basics. I found the extra legroom seats and meal add-ons to be pretty decent, but apart from that there wasn't much comment on this flight. What left more impression for me, though, was KUL terminal 2 - it was not only huge and not especially walkable, but felt a bit tacky given just how new the terminal is. The lounge in DPS was also rather basic - I was expecting more from an international business class lounge, so I was glad I went to GA's lounge instead before my DPS-SIN flight with KL a couple of years before.
On overall, though, I would fly with AirAsia again for my next flights when needed (or extremely cheap), but it's not something I would pick as my first choice.
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