Saturday, 6 June 2015

Batik Air - the Jewel of Indonesian Airlines (Part 1: Economy Class)

Introduction


Welcome to my 76th airline trip report!






Flying with Batik Air has been on my wishlist since its launch. The tail livery has to be one of the nicest out there, even though its under the Lion Group, the airline offers better service and cabin than the main airline, Lion Airlines. Shouldn't it be the other way round, Lion Airlines as the Boutique airline while Batik Air as the Low Cost Carrier? But it doesn't matter anyway, Batik Air has been quite successful since its launch and long may that continue. 

I have been waiting for the airline to launch flights to Singapore in 2014 but that didn't happen. Finally, my chance came in May 2015. Even though it has an identical cabin with Malindo Air, I was very keen to give this airline a try especially on the Business Class which is cheaper than Malindo. 

Airline's background

Lion Air, the parent airline, created Batik Air in May 2013 with the leased aircraft, Boeing 737-900ER from its parent airline. The airline is set up to be full-service carrier to compete with Garuda and also to be used to launch international routes in the near future with the fleet of Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Later on, the airline added both Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800 to the fleet and all of these aircraft are configured in 2-class; Business and Economy Class and they come with Personal TVs. Snack and drinks are provided on the airline's aircraft. 

May 2015's fleet: 

13 Boeing 737-800 (J:12 Y:156 Total:168)
7 Boeing 737-900ER (J:12 Y: 168 Total: 180)
7 Airbus A320 (J:12 Y:144 Total:156) 

I will be doing 2 parts: Economy Class (Trip report) and Business Class (Part 2 - Click here.)

Lion Air's group consists of 

Wings Air (ATR-72-600)
Lion Air (Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-900ER)
Batik Air (Airbus A320, Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-900ER)
Malindo Air (ATR 72-600, Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-900ER)


Airline's website

I tried using Batik Air's website but it didn't work for me, used both Internet Explore and Goggle Chrome, but failed. A friend told me to use Lion Airline's website to make my booking and I did it without any further problems.





After a few attempts, I gave up and used the Lion Air's website instead. 



After looking at the schedule, I decided on this flight timing. No tour of the city due to the lack of time, perhaps next time, but what's important is to sample the airline's Economy and Business class offering. Both in-flight products are identical to Malindo but I want to sample the Indonesian hospitality, to compare which airline offers better service. 


Since the business class ticket on the return was not too bad, I decided to go for it and it would be great to sample both classes. Altogether I paid around $160 for the return trip, not too bad, right? 



Flight route of the day: CGK-JOG-CGK

Total miles: 567


My accommodation

I stayed at the Hotel Pop! Airport Jakarta Hotel which is near the airport but because of its location, the taxi ride there takes around 15-20 minutes. The roads in Jakarta are still quite bad, nothing has been doing to help ease the traffic. What Jakarta Airport needs is a train system linking the airport to town or have a bus service. Currently the only transport to town is either by private or public taxis. I only take the Silver Bird taxi cabs as they are more reliable than the others. Make sure they use the meter system and not let them rip you off by deciding on the price. 


The hotel room's interior 



The cafe offered some nice local dishes.

This is Seafood Fried Rice. 


Meatball Soup 


The hotel provides free breakfast from 7.30 to 9.30, this is quite delicious. Rice with fried meat, can't remember the name for it.



Web check-in 

Batik Air provides web check-in only for the Jakarta to Yogyakarta sector, for the return, I had to do the check in at the airport. 

Surprisingly, the website's check-in page worked for me this time. Picked my desired seat and didn't have to worry about any possible long queues.



Plenty to choose from. Green seats cost nothing, you have to pay for the red ones which offer better leg room space. 


Do take note: If you book Batik Air now, the airfare includes the airport tax. From what I know, if you book after April 2015, you won't have to worry about it. 

On the day of departure

I booked the 9 am bus to the airport, stopped at the Terminal 1A. Since the first time I stepped onto this airport till today, nothing much has changed. No one seems to be interested in upgrading the outdated airport facilities at Terminal 1 and 2. A lot could be done to compete with the likes of Changi Airport and Kuala Lumper Airport. Here are some photos of the terminal. 

These photos are taken at the land side. At least this time, there weren't many private taxi drivers bothering me about taking their taxis. 



You need to show the security your flight itinerary before being allowed into the check-in areas. 



Not much traffic at this timing.


Batik Air used to operate from Terminal 3, but now it uses terminal 1C.


I was told that because of an idiotic fellow who jumped into the airport tarmac long time ago, the airport authorities installed these grills which means photography was not possible. 

A couple of Batik Air's Boeing 737s being perpared for their departure.


After showing the security staff my itinerary and passing through the luggage security, I was at the air side, made my way to the check-in counter for web check-in. However, a couple of staff at the next counter, told me to move to the one at the other end, for what reason? I have no idea! 



Got my boarding pass within minutes and my assigned seat. Some airlines would changed your seat especially if the flight is low. I had this experience with Malindo and Garuda (CRJ1000). 


Last year when I was here, they would be two counters for passengers to pay the airport tax before entering the air side. 


Dull-looking air side and the only thing that caught my attention was Belinda's Brownie, as it reminded me of a friend. 


This place is air-conditioned and free wifi is available.


I checked the contents inside this shop, but nothing caught my attention. So I left and headed my way to the gate. 


There's a food court here, but I prefer having my meal at the land side before going in.


The walkway towards your gate. There are plenty of seats here and I sat here for a while, using the airport's wifi. The connection of the wifi near the gates was poor, kept getting disconnected.





Checking my flight, it was on schedule. Later on it turned out that my aircraft was parked at Gate C6, not C4 shown on the screen or Gate C7 published on my ticket. It's confusing for the passengers! 


This part of the air side is air-conditioned, but the Wifi connection is poor. 



For Business Class passengers, you can use this entrance. The staff will notify you when your aircraft is ready for boarding.


This is the seating area which is linked to other gates. 


I had a quick walk and noticed a Citilink A320 was parked at C7 and a Batik Air Boeing 737-900ER aircraft was parked at C6, I knew something was not right. No announcement was made so I had to do regular checks on the screen and soon the status of my flight flashed the sign 'boarding'. So I went over to C6 and the screen was indeed displaying my flight's details and passengers had started boarding, it was a good thing I checked, so if you are taking a domestic flight in Jakarta, be careful.


As you can see, my flight was still showing C7 when clearly it was C6. What's so difficult about showing the correct information? Reminds me of my Trigana experience.



My aircraft: PK-LBM



No. 76th airline
Date: 24th May 2015
Airline: Batik Air
Flight: ID6368
Route: CGK-JOG
Terminal: 1C 
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900ER
Registration: PK-LBM
Date of delivery: 3rd May 2013
Aircraft is leased from Lion Airlines, ex PK-LKZ
Configuration: C12 Y168
Engines: 2 X CFM56-7B26E
Line number: 4441
Seat: 28A
Departure time: 1150
Boarding: 1120
Push back: 1145
Take off: 1155
Schedule arrival: 1300
Actual arrival: 1242
FL: 270
Duration: 50 mins
Departure runway: 07R
Arrival runway: 09
Load: 40% in Y class

Joining the queue that was boarding this aircraft, my flight info was confirmed on the gate C6's screen, why did the gate agent and the screen gave me the wrong info, only CGK folks know best? I never encounter this issue with other airports. Once on board, I was greeted by the Indonesian crew in the same uniform as Malindo. They are certainly quite friendly and welcoming to every passengers that boarded the aircraft, that's a good start. 

I got to my seat and fortunately for me, the seats beside mine remained vacant. As the cabin is identical to Malindo's, I didn't take many photos. You can check out more photos over here.

Here are some photos of the cabin (Economy class)

Comfortable leather seats with 34' inch, my seat preference over the other 737 operators so far. 



I am a big fan of the Boeing Sky Interior. 


The first row of the Economy Class gets PTV screen at the front instead of the foldable type, its the only row with remote control. 


This is my seat, I chose the left side so that I could video the Jakarta Airport during take off.



A Batik Air crew was assisting the passengers in the front. 


The seat pitch looks pretty decent, don't you agree?





The view from my seat. 


The cabin shot without the mood lighting.


The seats at the last row, they cannot be reclined.


The cabin with mood lighting



We can disembarked the aircraft from the rear. 


More photos of the seat

Exactly the same IFE's system as Malindo, I was quite familiar with the system. The crew activated the system for us to use after the seat belt sign was turned off while climbing to our assigned flight level.



Comfortable legroom space. 


There should be English instructions.


The mandatory safety video was done.


IFE box doesn't take up too much legroom space. 


Welcome to Batik Air!


You can pay to use the earplugs or use your own, that's pretty fair considering how cheap the airfare both Batik and Malindo offer. 


A decent selection of Hollywood movies. Its better to fly on longer sectors to be able to enjoy these movies.


Flight map - one of my favourite features of the IFE system.



Take note: there is no handset on most of the seats, you have to use touch screen to navigate it. Its easy to use, so one shouldn't have any problem. 


The IFE system was deactivated while descending and we received this message instead. 


In-flight service

Announcements were made in both English and Bahasa. I think I was the only foreigner on board, so was grateful for that. Some airlines I flew in, made announcements only in their local language despite having a group of foreigners on board, that is not correct. You can't blame them if they don't follow according what was just announced. 

The crew on my flight were pretty good, better than the ones on Malindo. My experience on Malindo has been hit and miss, but on this flight, they were professional and friendly. Even after snack service, instead of hiding in their corner, they walked around to check that everyone was comfortable. Nothing but praises for this set of crew. 

In-flight snack


The crew distributed boxes to every passengers. This is how it looks like. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy flying on Indonesian domestic flights. On a 50 minutes flight like mine, we get served some decent snacks. 



The box contains a bottle of mineral water, curry bun and a banana cake. 



What's inside the seat pocket?

In-flight magazine 


Safety card and prayer card (for Muslims)


Lion Air's group routes 




 Window shot photos (Take off to landing)





Quite a number of Citilink's aircraft being prepared for departure. 


Saw some interesting while taxiing to the runway. Kalstar's ERJ190, I have to fly that one day.







We stood at the runway for a couple of minutes before we were given clearance to go. A great day for flying! The ride to Yogyakarta was smooth for most parts, just some small bumps along the way, nothing bad. 




Sorry for the blurred photo, can you spot the 3 different Garuda's wide-bodies?




Spotted a football stadium while the aircraft was turning. 



Not long after, we left Jakarta and flew overland to our destination.





The ride went past very fast, we started our descend and was soon on approach to JOG airport. Speedbrake was deplayed to slow the aircraft down.





One more turn and we were on final approach. How do you know if you are on final approach? When you hear the sounds of the landing gear while descending, that's it. 



Flaps at 20, we were on final approach and its my very first time arriving at Yogyakarta. 




Touched down! 


There is only one runway and we soon reached the small terminal. Parking beside its parent airline, Lion Airlines' Boeing 737.


As there are no aero-bridges at this airport, we disembarked the aircraft by the staircases and that means we had to walk from the aircraft to the terminal via the tarmac, that's great! I took lots of photos along the way and no one stopped me, in fact there were a few others taking photos as well. 

Here are some photos taken at the tarmac!

My beautiful aircraft, PK-LBM!







Lion Airlines Boeing 737-900ER



Garuda's Boeing 737-800 






Videos of the take off and landing 




My rating:
Website: 2/10 (Doesn't work on I.E, Chrome and Safari browsers) 
On ground service: 6/10 
Jakarta Airport Experience: 3/10 
Seat comfort: 9/10 
Cabin interior: 9/10 
Cleanliness: 10/10 
In-flight service: 8/10
IFE System: 7/10
Snack: 8/10
Punctuality: 10/10 
Overall rating: 72/100


Conclusion

The overall rating is based on my experience combining the airport and in-flight experience, the poor rating of the airport experience and airline's website have certainly pull the overall rating down, but the experience on board has certainly made up for it. The cabin crew were professional and friendly, they certainly give this airline a good name and a good reason why recommending this airline to others is a deserved one. I hope Batik Air start international flights in the near future, perhaps taking over some of Lion Air's international routes like Singapore and to other popular cities within the range of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, more travellers will certainly notice this airline. Like Malindo Air, its not a Low Cost Carrier, you can say its in between Low Cost and Premium airline; offers free luggage, free snack and drink and IFE system available in all classes. So if you have to fly on domestic routes in Indonesia, I highly recommend this airline. The airline's routes may be limited, but it will continue to grow as more aircraft enters the fleet which means more routes. With an order of Boeing 787 Dreamliner and more narrow-bodies to come, the future of this airline looks very bright. 

Hope you enjoy this trip report! As usual, any questions do feel free to ask. 

For my part 2.

Cheers
Charles 



4 comments:

  1. Hey Charles Great report, with great pictures.. I am looking to book a Batik flight from Jakarta to JOG and ran into your trip report.

    I am trying to decide between Eco or Biz. The price difference is about 575,000 IDR, which for a short flight might not be worth it.

    I was just curious is you remember how much the Exit rows cost at check in. If they were cheap I will probably just book Eco and pay for the exit row at check in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alex,

      I cannot remember whether you have to pay for the exit rows but for the extra price on Business Class, you get lounge access and business class comfort (2-2 seater beats 3-3 seating configuration especially when its a full flight) and for that even for a short flight, is worth it.

      Delete
  2. Hi Charles, the government bus service is from DAMRI will take you to a few areas in downtown for 25K rupiah ( US$2 ). The service is pretty good. And also Blue bird is a reliable taxi service without hefty price :)

    ReplyDelete
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