Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Last Flight For The Year 2015: Flying Thai Lion Air From Bangkok (DMK) to Singapore

Welcome to my Trip Report on Thai Lion Air's joyride from Bangkok (DMK) to Singapore!


*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers 

This flight only came about when I decided to extend my stay in Taipei and forfeit my return ticket with Scoot. I found a great deal with this airline for the one way ticket for just U.S$60 including 15kg allowance. There are 2 flights to choose from, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, so that is quite convenient for budget conscious travellers. My previous flight was with TigerAir Taiwan, flew in to Bangkok from Taipei Taoyuan. As the flight arrived in Bangkok late, I had no choice but to stay a night at Bangkok to catch the next day's flight back to Singapore. Since I dislike waking up early for morning flight, I decided to go for the afternoon flight, take my own sweet time to head to the airport in the afternoon. 

Airline's website 

This airline may be under the Lion Air Group, but it uses its own website just like Malindo. The website is pretty basic but its functional and that's the most important thing. My previous flight experience with Batik Air, this airline's website didn't work for me at all and I had to use Lion Air's website to make my booking. 



I took advantage of the promo fare of $77.20, decided to pay a bit more so that I could sleep longer. The $11 difference, trust me is worth it! 


Unlike Tigerair, there is no hidden charges. Do note that Thai Lion Air is not considered a Low Cost Carrier, its a hybrid carrier similar to Malindo. Hybrid Carrier = Between Low Cost and Premium carriers. This airline offers 20KG allowance and free snack and drink. However, you can purchase additional luggage allowance and order in-flight meal from the menu on board, no pre-order. 


Got my email shortly after booking, the booking experience was a pleasant one. You can also do your web check in 24 hours before your flight. Selection of seat is only available either web check in or checking in at the airport. I would recommend the former. 

History of this airline 

Thai Lion Mentari Co. Ltd also known as Thai Lion Air is a hybrid carrier operates in Thailand to compete with the Low Cost Carriers and give the national carrier, Thai Airways a run of its money. This airline is based at Don Mueang, Bangkok and started commerical flights in December 2013. It partners with Malindo Air on the Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok flights which allows partners to sell tickets on each other's flights. It make sense as both airline are under the Lion Air Group based in Indonesia. 

Current flight map


Current fleet 

Boeing 737-800 (5 aircraft)



Boeing 737-900ER (13 aircraft)





Online check-in

I did my online check-in the night before its important to do so in order to get your desired seat. If there is an aircraft change, your seat may be relocated. 



White seat means its available. For a short flight like mine, I went for the window seat.


With that, my check in was completed. Boarding pass is to be collected at the check-in counter. 


On the day of departure 

After checking out at the apartment I stay near the airport around noon time, I took a cab to the airport. Catching one took around 10 minutes under the blazing hot sun and the ride was around 10 minutes. The roads are in pretty bad shape with lots of bumps, not good for those with motion sickness. Finally, it seems hours when we finally arrived at the departure hall at DMK Airport. It is one of the worst airports I been, the experience was like hell with the staff had no idea how to handle the crowd. 

Stepping into the airport, it was filled with passengers queueing up to get the luggage approved by the security before checking in at their airlines' counters. Because of the crowd, it wasn't easy to move around especially with trolleys and luggages all over the place. Finally, I found my airline's check-in counter. Here are some photos. 


Passengers are required to have their luggage checked and with sticker of approval before being allowed to check in. 


Some of the airlines' counters were quiet, like Thai Smile's. 


Here is the long queue to Thai Lion Air's domestic and international check-in counters. 




The passengers in front of me were looking as bewildered as me as we were also feeling hot. 


Finally, I made it through the crowd and this counter 8D opened while I was waiting at another queue. Once I saw it, I made a 'dive' towards it and I was 5th in line. After that, it took less than 10 minutes before my turn. Got my boarding pass and I was soon on my way out of this mess. The only benefit for web check in to select your seat and anything else. Perhaps there should be an option for LCC passengers to check in early with a fee, I wouldn't mind paying for it. 


It took quite a lot of patience and sweat to get this boarding pass!


Looking at my watch I was still quite early, so I went to grab a bite at one of the restaurants on the next level near the observation deck. 

Not heading to the air side yet. 


It was pretty crowded at that time and I hope the queue at the immigration won't be very long.


Ordered a drink of Ice Milk Tea


Ordered a plate of Thai noodles which is not too bad. Overall, it is overpriced. You get cheaper and better food elsewhere, so my recommendation is to grab a bite outside if you have the time.


The is the observation deck. Currently, part of it is closed for renovation. To get to the other side, you have to go down one level and walk through the departure hall, before taking the escalator up when you reach the other end. (January 2016)


The view of the tarmac - Thai Air Asia's Airbus A320s and the sole Nok Air's Boeing 737-800. 


This beautiful rooftop certainly caught my attention 


Fortunately, the queue at the immigration wasn't long so after 10 minutes of waiting, I was through to the air side. 

I decided to go in early to do some plane spotting. Here are some photos of the air side (departure hall).


There are some duty free shops to check around, do take note of the timing though as some of the gates are far away. 



I don't think non-flying folks are allowed to be at the air side


Airport Wifi is available 


Great place to photograph aircraft! Just don't forget your flight. 


Pretty quiet at this part of the terminal 



My flight was departing at this gate


The only good thing about this airport is how photography friendly for the aviation photographers. Here are some photos!

My ride: HS-LUH, a 4-months-old Boeing 737-800. Thai Air Asia X's Airbus A330-300 caught my attention, a dedication to the South Korean player, Park Ji Sung who used to play for Queen's Park Rangers and Manchester United. 


Thai Air Asia's Airbus A320 


Orient Thai's Boeing 767-300ER


Thai Air Asia's Airbus A330-300


Thai Air Asia Airbus A320 


Thai Air Asia's Airbus A330-300


Orient Thai's Boeing 737-300 


Flight route: DMK-SIN

Miles: 893



My ride: HS-LUH 


Date: 2nd December 2015
Airline: Thai Lion Air 
Route: DMK-SIN
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Registration: HS-LUH
Delivered on 21st July 2015 
Engines: 2 X CFM56-7B26E
Configuration: Y 189
Line number: 5495
Gate: 23 
Load: 100%
Seat: 28A
Duration: 2 hours 20 mins 
Departure time: 1605
Boarding: 1600
Push back: 1630 
Take off: 1642
Schedule arrival: 1930
Actual arrival: 1954
Take off runway: 21R
Arrival runway: 02L 

Departure time was fast approaching, yet there was no sign of activity at the tarmac. By right, the aircraft should be being prepared for departure. Example: Aircraft being refuelled, luggages loaded to the aircraft, pilots doing the aircraft check but none of these were happening. It was just the aircraft parking at the gate and nothing else. I knew at once that our flight would be delayed. The worst thing about it is there was no announcement of the delay and few of us gathered at the desk to check for updates. According to the gate staff, the cabin and flight crew were not there yet so the flight would be delayed. 

Finally, around 1540, some movements on the tarmac were spotted and I saw the pilots inside the cabin. 20 minutes later, boarding started. Fortunately, the delay wasn't that bad, but the service recovery = fail! 

At least the aircraft was parked at the terminal which means a short walk to the aircraft via the aero-bridge. 


Finally, we were on the move


Once on board, we were greeted by the Thai crew and I was directed to my seat. Good first impression. The Boeing Sky Interior matches well with the blue seats with tight legroom space. 189 seats on the Boeing 737-800 is the maximum capacity, so can't expect much. The airline flies these aircraft on short regional routes, so it doesn't matter.

Interior of the airline's Boeing 737-800 (Boeing Sky Interior)


The leather seat looks good 


 For better legroom space, choose the bulkhead row at the very front. You can request for it during your checking in.




You can see the tight legroom space! I had a struggle after a while. 



The dreaded windowless seat! Fortunately, I was not sitting at this row. 


Reminds me of my experience on Scoot's 787-8 flight.



Legroom space at the emergency row is also better. 




This is my seat, the plastic bag belonged to my seat mate. 



I love the blue lighting, as it makes the cabin looks even nicer. 


Photo taken during the flight and it was a full flight!




Last few photos of the cabin taken after the flight 





In-flight experience 

The cabin crew were efficient as they managed the full load of passengers pretty well. Half of them were from mainland China as I overheard from a tour guide (I think) that they flew in from China with another airline. The passengers were well behaved as the flight was uneventful apart from the delay. The ride to Singapore was smooth for most parts with a few bumps while cruising but the seat belt sign was kept off for most part of the flight and was only turned on when the captain announced to the crew to prepare for arrival. 

I wanted to order a meal, unfortunately I didn't have enough cash so I tried paying by card but the airline accepted cash only. 

In-flight snack 

A cup of water and a packet of Oreo 




What's inside the seat pocket? 

In-flight menu 



Airline's merchandise - I wanted to get the t-shirt, but because they didn't accept credit card payment, I had to give it a miss


In-flight magazine 


Airline's safety card 


Photos of the toilet 




Video of the take off 


Window shot photos 

Our aircraft was parked beside a Thai Air Asia Airbus A320



The aircraft pushed back before our turn. 




Engines started, check list complete and we were soon on our way.



Passing by a bunch of mainly Air Asia's Airbus A320 aircraft 



We were soon lined up at the runway 21R. 


Off we went 


Take off was pretty smooth 



Until we hit some clouds 




Once we left the clouds, it was pretty much smooth for most parts.



Heading home after 3 weeks of break was difficult especially I had work the following day!


Seatbelt sign at this point was turned off and the cabin crew were in action. 



We left Thailand and start flying over South China Sea 





Light was fading, pity that I couldn't enjoy the view of the sunset 




We started descending in darkness 


Spoilers deployed and landing gears were out, we were soon on finals to Changi Airport



The sight of the ships means we were coming in to runway 02 






Runway 02 Left was the assigned runway and we touched down a little bit hard on the runway, slowing down with the reverse thrust before back taxiing to our assigned gate at Terminal 3. 


I wasn't feeling enthusiastic about returning home! 


Parked beside this beautiful Airbus A350-900, A7-ALB of Qatar Airways 


With that, my trip has come to an end. It had been an enjoyable 3 weeks, managed to get some ticks off my must-do check list. I want to thank the wonderful people I met along the way and hope to see you guys soon! 

Meanwhile, I have started planning my future trips and for Taiwan, I would probably return at the end of this year. 


My rating: 

Airline's website: 6/10 
Check-in staff: 6/10
DMK Airport Experience: 4/10 (Saving grace is the photography-friendly windows)
In-flight service: 7/10
Snack meal: 7/10 
Cabin interior: 7/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
Cleanliness: 10/10 
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Punctuality: 3/10
Overall rating:

Conclusion 

It wasn't the kind of experience I was looking for to end my last flight for year 2015. However, it could have been a lot worse with a lengthier delay of my flight and thanks goodness that didn't happen. Thai Lion Air's reputation seemed better than Lion Air in Indonesia with no incident so far and I haven't heard much complaints about the service either. I wasn't happy with my experience at DMK airport, as it was disorganised and lack of communication between the staff and the passengers. Not to mention how outdated the airport is, but that is another issue. On the whole, it isn't that bad if the airport check-in procedure could be re-organised. A separate queue for web check-in passengers and also allowed passengers to pay a fee to do an early check-in would be great.  As for the flight, the interior is quite nice with comfortable leather seat, only thing is the tight legroom space which I recommend tall passengers to book yourself on the emergency row seat or the bulkhead seat. My flight's cabin crew were professional and friendly, no complaints about that and the cabin itself was clean and new. Overall, its neither the best nor the worst hybrid airline, perhaps in the middle. For the low airfare it offers, I say its value for money. 

Thanks for reading and this marks the end of my Flying Adventure for 2015. 2016 trip reports to come. 

Cheers,
Charles 

5 comments:

  1. Hi Charles. Mind you sharing your contact details?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, may I know for what purpose?

      Delete
    2. I'm from PR agency (Malaysia-based) and would like to keep you in the loop for future correspondence on behalf of our client who is in aviation industry. They are looking for aviation bloggers :)

      Delete
    3. Here is my email, charles787dreamliner@gmail.com.

      Thanks!

      Delete
    4. Hi Charles. Noted with thanks for the email.

      Delete