As I somehow managed to be awake at 7 AM on one fine day, some of my friends alerted me of MH’s ex-CGK great mistake fare with one-way fares starting from only Rp38.300 (US$2.5) each way including the airport fee it was almost as if they were paying people to fill MH’s seats (the airport fees alone from CGK and KUL were roughly 6 and 3 times of that respectively). Interestingly, when I checked the fares I found that the mistake fare was so screwed up it also included business class fares and even some flights operated by MH’s partners as long as it’s in essence CGK-KUL and ticketed on MH. Some of the options appearing were CGK-KUL via SIN or KNO, though in the end I opted for a day trip to Medan before proceeding to KUL since I had not been there for 8 years (in hindsight, I should have looked for CGK-xSIN-KNO since I had been looking to try QF's and BA's lounge at SIN and GA's international lounge at CGK)
I randomly bought the business class ticket for CGK-xKNO-KUL-CGK for the weekend (before MH thought of cancelling the ticket, of course), which in total costed me Rp639.200 (US$42), of which only Rp181.400 (US$12) were the fare and carrier surcharge and the rest were all taxes (so at least I paid something to actually fly :p). In return, I received on all: - Rp4.800 worth of points on an OTA, - 64 Asia Miles miles from my credit card, - 1635 GarudaMiles award miles (earned on this flight; 1308 + 25% status bonus), - 4 GarudaMiles segments (earned on this flight; not that I needed them anymore for the year), - 1185 Avios, and - Access to up to 5 lounges on 3 airports (including 1 for this flight)
Departure to CGK and check-in
I did my check-in at one of GA's sales offices and had my three boarding passes for this day and the day before in the boarding pass folder.
The boarding pass was printed in GA's typical boarding pass stock paper.
On the day of departure I took the first bus to CGK from the bus terminal nearby.
Since I didn't take the bus alone I was dropped between door 3 and 4.
I walked all the way to the end of the kerbside before entering the check-in area through door 5, which usually had less queue for security.
After I cleared the security check, which took me less tan 1 minute, I reached the empty premium check-in area.
I went to the check-in desk just to get some updates (if any) of the airport upgrade surcharge, and then I found out that my entire fare for these 3 flights couldn't even pay for the upgrade surcharge on this flight alone. This was also the last update I had since a couple of weeks later they would halt the airport upgrade surcharge scheme. To find out more about the (now-defunct) airport upgrade scheme, read here.
It was time for ticket and security check, which was done in only 3 minutes.
CGK transit area
After passing through security I passed through the mostly closed shops.
There are few better ways to start an early morning flight than to refuel at the lounge, so I went there.
Lounge test #1: Garuda Indonesia Domestic Lounge
As a business class passenger I received complimentary access to GA's domestic business class lounge in CGK when flying within Indonesia. Since I have visited the lounge quite a few times this review will only cover part of the overall experience in the lounge - for a more detailed review of the lounge, read here.
I went to the business class reception and was let in after the staff checked my boarding pass.
Despite the quiet-looking seating area near the business class entrance, further behind it's nothing but (almost) pure chaos.
This is what it looked like behind the dining area. Until end-December GarudaMiles Gold members were also able to access the business class lounge, though they must enter from the rear entrance, which partially explained the crowd.
The movie theatre was also empty.
Since it was still very early morning newspapers were still unavailable.
It's early breakfast time in the lounge, featuring the exact same menu as the day before.
Porridge proved to be a hit among the crowd, so much so that I had difficulties taking a decent photo of the area.
The porridge was ordinary in hindsight, though that's the closest thing to something warm and Indonesian for the early morning in the lounge - mind you the meatballs weren't available yet.
Drinks consisted of espresso-based drinks, water, and some juices, apart from the canned soft drink in the fridge.
I checked the GarudaMiles Lounge section (i.e. the lounge for GarudaMiles Gold members, equivalent to SkyTeam Elite) beside, which was much more quiet yet pretty warm - mind you it's still not even 5 AM yet.
Since the lounge was a downgraded version of the business class lounge, free seats were still abundant although mostly consisted of padded chairs instead of sofas.
Foods on offer were also equivalent with the business class lounge, minus a couple of cuts. In fact, since the business class section was so crowded some of the items otherwise out of stock there could be found here.
Lounge test verdict and departure
As I have said in the previous ex-CGK report, the lounge on overall was barely able to cope with the sudden increase of users. Add that with uninspiring foods and lacklustre service, and I won't make additional efforts to arrive early just for the lounge except if I need a place to work.
I went down to the departure floor.
By that time the early morning departure peak was about to begin, which meant some crowd on the terminal. This was before the massive ticket increase in Indonesia, so this was almost as busy as CGK terminal 3 could be.
It must have been quite a while since the last time I used the working space.
Buggies were provided for all guests to go to the farther gates, though that means there was no priority offered for business class passengers.
I took the complimentary buggy service to get to the gate.
This meant that I reached the gate as boarding was well underway instead of after they had started closing the gate.
I then walked through the corridor to the aerobridge. Unlike at gates 5 - 19, there was only one aerobridge and therefore one corridor for departing passengers available.
The plane for the morning was PK-GFK, a 8 years old 738.
A side view of the plane about to bring me to KNO.
Before long, I was greeted by Mr. Ferry as the purser and Ms. Ida, who would be working on the business class cabin (though most of the services would be conducted by Ms. Ida).
Typical of GA, newspapers and candies were provided during boarding.
On most of my flight I passed by the business class cabin to go to my seat in economy class, but not this time.
My seat for this morning flight, which was a bit on the firmer side.
As I settled in, a hot towel was provided. I was also asked for my choice of welcome drink, for which I opted for orange juice. On a side note, is it just me, or that GA should either get a more decent towel tray or may as well serve straight to the passengers' hands?
In business class a magazine service was conducted, for which I opted for Tempo.
The welcome drink was brought on a tray but based on our selection instead of allowing us to pick the drinks from the tray.
Legroom wasn't that bad as usual.
Time for a seat tour: unlike on GA's 7M8 there was no screen on the seatback, just a literature pocket.
Contents inside the literature pocket.
Save for crappy business class, each of them have their own remote.
A cocktail table was there, as expected in a business class product.
The seat as well as armrest were manually controlled.
Like some of the older recliners, this seat feature a stowable monitor. It's pretty much unusable during taxi/takeoff/landing, though, so that's not the best arrangement available.
Me on the seat.
The view from the window showed another 738 operated by GA, for this is GA's own domestic terminal.
I had a look at my usual benchmark of musics, which were still lackluster.
The door was closed 10 minutes before the STD.
A safety video was shown from the two overhead screens in business class, one on each side of the cabin.
As we pushed back I was offered with a view of the huge terminal 3 apron, spanning well over 1 km.
PK-GMH could be seen taxiing out from CGK.
We passed along the terminal 3 as we taxied.
The cabin lighting was dimmed in preparation for takeoff.
As we lifted off for a westbound departure I was offered with a view of CGK's planned third runway development.
The clouds hid what's otherwise a bright sky, which we soon climbed over. I decided to have my nap afterwards, so I didn't get to take more photos until it's almost halfway through the flight.
As I waited for my breakfast I made my way for lavatory inspection, which was clean yet basic.
During this time I also talked with both FA Ida and FSM Ferry, and survived to tell the following tale: - The meals were catered only to the number of passengers on board, meaning I couldn't get both the normal and fruit platter meal, - Both of them would continue to fly on the return immediately after the flight, - KNO was one of the few trunk routes where GA would seldom bring their wide-body fleet (in contrast to DPS and SUB),
I also peeked at the passengers list and found that out of 8 passengers in business class for this flight: - 6 were GarudaMiles Platinum members (SkyTeam Elite Plus-equivalent, reachable by flying on 13 one-way flights in business class or 17 one-way flights in fuly flexible economy class), - 1 was a GarudaMiles Gold member (SkyTeam Elite-equivalent, reachable by flying on 7 one-way flights in business class or 10 one-way flights in fuly flexible economy class - from what I understand he'd be a Platinum member the day after the flight :p), - 1 was a non-member.
The view during cruise mainly consisted of clouds since I was seated viewing the Malacca strait.
I was still asleep when the initial meal service was done so instead of being woken up for breakfast Ms. Ida promptly brought it for me upon me waking up upon my request. She also inquired about my drink choice, for which I opted for orange juice.
She then brought the drink as well as the breads, which were separately served on the cocktail table.
The fruit platter breakfast for the day consisted of: Appetizer: Melon, watermelon, and papaya cuts with sweetened longan Bread in-lieu: Whole apple Bread: Bread basket (croissant and raisin pastry) with butter Main course: Melon, watermelon, and pineapple cuts with sweetened longan Dessert: Yoghurt Drink (default): Water Drink: Fruit juices / soft drink / water / coffee / tea / hot chocolate
Though I didn't get to know what else the other passengers had (i.e. their appetizer or dessert), it was understood that their main course options consisted of either rice cake with meat or omelette.
While I had a rough estimate of how much fruit on a fruit platter meal my sister got on another flight in economy class (which she claimed as making her full compared with the usual snack box), the amount of food provided for this flight was way more than what I anticipated - in fact, size-wise this was my single most substantial meal on any flight ever. The fruits were quite fresh and served chilled, though the breads were a bit softer than expected. On overall, this was an acceptable short-haul business class meal - perhaps even better than gambling with the possibly bad normal business class catering (which is quite often the case for GA's domestic flights).
A view of the cabin from behind.
Thanks to my sleepiness, by the time I was done with my nap it was already more than halfway of the flight.
It was soon time to descend from 36,000 feet where we encountered some cloudy weather. Luckily, we only encountered a few minor bumps.
As the fasten seatbelt sign was switched on the cabin was prepared for arrival.
After approaching KNO via the Malacca strait, it was time to go back to Sumatera island.
Landing was uneventful and we soon reached the taxiway to the terminal building.
KNO was designed to allow expansion to support 2 runways, meaning that the runway as well as the adjacent taxiway were situated perpendicular to the terminal building.
KNO's single terminal seen as we taxied in.
We were finally parked beside QG's 320.
No matter what the class was, we also queued to deplaned.
After bidding my farewell, I made my way to the terminal building.
Arrival at KNO and post-arrival trip
After I arrived at KNO I walked along the interstitial corridor to the arrival hall.
Last view of the -GFK.
After walking through the interstitial corridor I went down to the arrival floor.
Typical of Indonesian airports photo areas were present, including ….
The ever-present image of Indonesia's president on a bicycle.
KNO's luggage claim area happened to be quite quiet, though it started showing its age.
As I exited the luggage claim area I went to the semi-open area featuring shops and even a transit hotel above it.
Right outside the arrival area was the train station, which I would touch briefly on the next review.
Bus services run between KNO and a number of destinations around Medan, which were reasonably priced. For example, the bus service right into Medan's city centre costed me only Rp20.000 (~US$1.3).
The bus was on the smaller side, though at least the bus service was nonstop.
Garuda Domestic Lounge
Jakarta - CGK
Medan - KNO
The flight itself was as uneventful as a commuter shuttle could be, which wasn't an issue as for an early morning flight the routine consisted of a breakfast and then a nap. While the food was fine, given that this was longer than even CGK-KUL and that the standard fare for this route was at least Rp4.000.000 (~US$270) one way the use of recliner seats seemed inappropriate. In terms of the airport, CGK was a bit of a pain to get through with its farther gates requiring a buggy ride and the lounge was simply overcrowded with breakfast seekers, while KNO was fine apart from the aging terminal.
On overall, though, if it's not for the extremely steep discount I would just trade down to economy class on this route as this offered a poor value for money.
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