Monday, 31 March 2014

Discovering Kal Star Aviation and Pangkalanbuun's Iskandar Airport

Introduction

Booking with this airline was no-brainer. There wasn't any other airlines flying on CGK-PKN route besides Trigana Air and Kalstar Aviation. Not just a new airline for me, it would also be my first Boeing 737-500 without winglets, the original version.


This was my original booking.



 I had to change it to a month later due to Trigana's sole 734 aircraft being grounded in SUB which meant cancellation of that flight for the rest of the day. As a result, this flight was changed to this date. At that time, this flight was also delayed until 2225 hours, not ideal at all for departure, but it didn't matter anyway. No outbound flight from CGK, pointless anyway.

On the day itself, after arriving at Iskandar's Airport from my Trigana's flight, I had about 2 hours left before my return flight back to Jakarta. I did some exploring around the very small airport!













This is the departure hall!









This is the arrival hall! 





The airport control tower, the controllers don't have much traffic to handle. 



The photos below are the interior of the departure hall.






The check-in counters! 




The waiting room - the most it can handle is 1 Boeing 737 and 1 ATR72  loads. 





Trigana Boeing 737-400 had its engine started and was on its way to Semarang.





About KalStar Aviation 

The airline is currently operating 8 aircraft: 3 ATR42-300s, 2 ATR-72-600s, 2 Boeing 737-500s and 1 Boeing 737-300. The airline is in the European Blacklist along with Trigana and quite a number of others such as Lion Airlines (Not a surprise). This carrier started operation in 2000 in Kalimantan, with its original name, 'P.T KAL STAR NUSANTARA'. 


Its goal is to make travelling more convenient and comfort for others; offering flexibility in easy connection and service. Lastly it focuses heavily on safety and you can be assured that the aircraft you fly on would be safe to fly according to the airline. 


As I knew nothing about this airline before booking, I did a bit of homework. It seems better than Lion Airlines, even though the network is much smaller. 


Departure 

There were a few counters opened for both Trigana and Kalstar. I checked in once I was done with my exploring. The check-in counter staff issued me an emergency aisle seat, but I told the staff whether he could change to a window seat near the rear. He changed it for me but on the emergency row which I didn't want. But I got sorted that out before departure. More details to come! 

The beautiful Boeing 737-500 arrived about 20 minutes before the scheduled departure and only caught it when it was taxiing in! How sneaky it was!


The classic boarding pass! 






Beautiful livery isn't it? Definitely nicer than Trigana's. 

Once the boarding announcement was made, we walked to the aircraft. No problem with taking photos and I even get a thumb up from the Captain! 




No: 57th airline
Airline: KalStar Aviation 
Flight: KD721
Routing: PKN - CGK
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-500
Registration: PK-KSP 
Used to fly for SAS, LOT, British Midland and BMI baby. 
Line: 2279 
Engines: 2 X CFM56-3C1
Delivered to airline on 2nd July 2013 
Schedule departure time: 1310
Took off: 1308
Schedule arrival time: 1415
Actual arrival time: 1419 
Duration: 1 hour 
Departing runway: 13
Arrival runway: 25L 




Once on board, there were 2 passengers already sitting beside me. I decided to wait until everyone was on board before checking behind for empty seats and then moved. The cabin crew welcome us on board and one of them came to brief us about the safety emergency procedure. She had to repeat twice, in English (for me) and in Bahasa, I appreciated that!

Not long after, the passengers doors were closed, I had a glance behind and the row behind mine was empty, so I moved into it. Not long after, the passenger who was sitting beside me moved to my original seat. A win-win situation for all! Looking at the seats around me, it looks like a 70% load with most empty seats at the rear. 

Here are some photos of the cabin! 
















Legrom space at my new seat was pretty tight. 


The leg room space at the emergency row, definitely enough space for tall passengers.












The leather seats are comfortable, prefer them over fabric. 

Once the seat belt sign was turned off, the cabin crew were in action. This batch of crew were a lot better than Trigana's. They were warm and friendly and were absolutely ok with me taking cabin photos. That's great about flying in Indonesia! The orange 'kebaya' certainly looks attractive in my eyes. 

About 15 minutes in the flight, a snack box was given out to every passenger and this was what was in it. 




My first time having donut on board! I must say I like the snacks from both Trigana and this airline. 

Once I finished the snack box, it was time for me to explore the cabin and take some photos elsewhere in the cabin. 




The rest of the flight was uneventful and we had a much better landing (comparing to my previous Indonesia Boeing 737 landing) this time. 

What's inside the seat pocket? 







Here are some of the window-shot photos!


If I was sitting at this emergency row, I wouldn't be able to take the many photos, that's why I moved to a row back.


My window seat and you see that gap? That is the reverse thrust in action - to slow the aircraft down. Nothing to worry about! 

                         This is the standard Boeing 737-500 (No winglets)













































I must try to catch this aircraft the next time I am back here. 

My rating:

Website: 6/10 (Basic website just like Trigana. However, it accepts overseas credit card) 
On-ground service: 5/10 
In-flight service: 7/10
Seat comfort: 7/10
Cleanliness: 10/10 
Punctuality: 10/10 
Aircraft: 9/10 
Inflight-snack: 7/10 
Overall rating: 61/80

Conclusion

My flight experience with this airline was a positive one. I certainly enjoyed this more than Trigana. Both airlines are small carriers and they only operate a small fleet and fly to very limited places. I am delighted to have them part of my flight logbook. It was certainly an adventure for me. I know some of my friends was wondering whether was I mad, but then in the end of the day, you live only once. A passionate person like myself will go all the way to do it! Both airlines have flaws and that is poor on-ground service, they would need to do something about it especially bother to reply the emails. KalStar Aviation's on the other hand had better in-flight service than Trigana and if I will certainly fly with this airline again, but I am not so sure about Trigana. I certainly recommend KalStar to anyone, as for Trigana if you have other choices, you should consider others first. 

Thank you for reading this trip report, if you have any questions, feel free to leave any comments. 


Cheers,
Charles


My take-off video! 




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