07 Aug 2009 Jetstar 3K 676 Penang (PEN) - Singapore (PEN) A320 9V-JSH Economy Class
After a short 2 nights stay in Penang, it was back to Singapore. Had booked Jetstar for the flight back as it was the cheapest (around S$25 tax inclusive) but initially was quite fearful as Jetstar had canceled the exact same flight just a week ago. We reached the airport 2.5hrs before the flight, and that was when the fun begins.
Entered the small terminal building and proceeded to the flight information screen to look up for our flight check-in counters. But no Jetstar flight was to be seen! Scrutinised the screen again but yep, no Jetstar flight to Singapore. Suddenly had the feeling that my fears had come true. We then scoured the whole terminal for Jetstar's ticketing office, but Jetstar did not have one. Wierd, since Tiger had a small office. There were also no check-in counters for the Jetstar flight. Hoping for the worst, we approached the airport information counter to query and the staff actually told us the flight was canceled and it was a frequent occurance! But we just booked the tickets 2 wks ago!! The information staff then told us to approach Malaysia Airlines's ticketing counter as it was Jetstar's GHA. So we went over to MH's office for assistance. I was secretly hoping that Jetstar would transfer us to the Silkair flight that was departing around the same time. But no such luck. The MH staff informed that yes, the flight would be operating and the check-in counters would be opened in 5 minutes, and that the airport information staff also have no idea if the flight was operating as it was frequently canceled recently.
True enough, our flight suddenly appeared on the flight information screens and check-in counters were opened by MH staff. We check-in immediately and was issued boarding passes printed on Malaysia Airlines stock. Cool! Jetstar flight on Malaysia Airlines boarding passes.
As there were nothing much else to explore landside, we cleared immigration and went airside. Penang airport had gone through some refurbishments recently, with some new shops and lightings, but it was still quite cramped.
Cool ceiling lights in the terminal.
Shops were also very limited airside and within 15 minutes, we had finished browsing all of it. So did some plane spotting but there were no planes at all parked at the terminal building! However, as it was going to be the peak hour at the airport, planes starting landing one after the other.
First up, we had Silkair's A320 from Singapore.
Then a Thai Air Asia B733 to Bangkok. Interestingly Air Asia do not use aerobridges even though their planes are parked at one. They used their own stairs and passengers have to walk up to the terminal building.
Followed by our Jetstar A320 from Singapore
Also saw a Firefly ATR72, an Air Asia A320 and a Malaysia Airlines B734. Suddenly the terminal felt so packed with people when it was almost deserted just half an hour ago.
Interestingly, the Silkair plane was swamped by ground handling staff once it parked but for the budget carriers like Air Asia and Jetstar, you barely see more than 5 persons (including baggage handlers) preparing each flight. Silkair passengers were also issued boarding passes printed on Singapore Airlines stock and handled by Singapore Airlines ground staff. Seems that Silkair is just SQ in disguise. Why don't SQ just operated a few A320s on these regional routes?
How I wished I was on this plane instead.
Our plane, 9V-JSH. Noticed the difference in number of ground handling equipments?
We were nearing our departure time but still no boarding announcements were made. By this time, the Silkair flight, which was supposed to depart 5min later than us, had finished boarding and started to push back. Only till departure time was an announcement made that we would be experiencing a short delay. After some pax questioned the ground staff, it was revealed that the authorizing person who had to sign the pilot's departure papers was not around. Apparently, it was possible that he was also not aware that the Jetstar flight was operating today and had to rushed down to sign the papers. Boarding started soon after the delay announcement was made and was done by row numbers. It was orderly and quick.
Was welcomed aboard by a crew and directed down the aisle. There were 4 crew onboard today, 3 females and 1 male. In my opinion, Jetstar's crew presented themselves much more casually than Tiger's. It is up to one's own preference on the service delivery method.
The cabin of the A320 looked old and yellowish, but clean. Don't know what is the age of the plane though. Settled down and the seat pitch was really tight! My knees were already touching the seat pocket in front just when seated!! Forget about recline as i it was almost negligible. Might was well or my knees would be crushed if the person in front reclines. Seats were upholstered in leather though.
Very tight seat pitch!!
Stuff in seat pocket. Still prefer Tiger Tales to Jetstar Asia Magazine (how creative is the magazine title)
At the gate.
After a delay of about 20 minutes, we finally pushed back. Safety demonstration were done manually. Taxied to the runway and we were number 2 for takeoff after a MH B734 and 2 landing flights. Flight time was announced to be 1hr.
However there was some bad news. According to the captain, Penang airport ATC was experiencing some technical problems and so it had to schedule a longer time period between each landing and takeoff. Therefore, we had another 15minutes wait on the taxiway while the MH B734 took off and 2 flights landed. The captain himself sounded fustrated as well!
Finally we took off!
Made a u-turn and flew into Peninsular Malaysia.
Climbing to 35000 feet.
Immediately, cabin service started, first with the sale of newspapers, then food/drinks, followed by duty-free shopping. Again, not many takers on this short flight. Cabin crew were friendly, but nothing more. They just lacked the poshness of the Tiger crew, but it is up one one's personal preference. The whole time, I was trying to be comfortable in the super cramped seat. I really cannot imagine flying on Jetstar to Taipei for 4 hrs!!!
Then for the lavatory visit. Horrors!! The lavatory could only be described in one word, GROSS!!! Not that it is smelly, but the whole toilet seat cover underside was stained by yellowish and brownish particles and was really disgusting. You will not need much imagination to know what they are… In fact, it was almost the filthiest toilet seat cover I had ever seen in my whole life!! Did not take a photo of it as I rushed out immediately after doing by business. Even if a photo was taken, I would not have dared to post it here, fearing it would spoil my readers' appetites for 3 days.
Soon, descend started. We did not hold much and were basically just doing a very quick descend and then straight into Changi. Guess the pilot was trying his best to make up lost time.
We landed about 20min late and had a quick taxi to the gate. Passing a Jett8 B742F.
Parked at the gate, beside an Air Asia A320. Terminal 1 is now Changi's unofficial budget terminal, with Air Asia being the main occupant with more than 25 flights a day.
Jetstar Asia Airways
Penang - PEN
Singapore - SIN
Apart from the delay. Jetstar offers the standard LCC service. I don't feel that they are in anyway much better than Tiger, even though they use Terminal 1 in Changi. Planes are clean, crew friendly but they really do need to do something about those toilets! But the main intention of this post is that with the influx on LCCs on the regional routes, would I continue to fly on full-service carriers? Yes, only if the prices are low enough, or else it is LCCs for me as there is very little differences in service on such a short flight to justify the price differential. SQ or MI would never be able to match the LCCs prices on these very short flights. Gone are the days when these regional routes (KL, Penang and Jakarta) were cashcows for the airline. With even more flights added by LCCs to more regional destinations such as Jakarta and Bali, I can only see SQ's capacity to these destinations being reduced further or even transferred to MI.
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