Tag Archives: economy class

Flight Review: Lion Air Economy Class B737 SIN to CGK

To get from Singapore to Jakarta, I flew Lion Air, which is an Indonesian low-cost carrier. Traveling around Southeast Asia can be super affordable thanks to all of these low-cost carriers (e.g. AirAsia, Jetstar), although you often have to be cognizant of fees.

It’s a little misleading for me to title the post “Lion Air Economy Class”, since Lion Air only has economy class on most of its planes. You can pay for extras like priority boarding or exit row seats, but most of the planes are all just one class. That being said, when I checked in, I was proactively offered an exit row seat, even though I hadn’t paid for one. Not sure what I did to merit that, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. (I also didn’t have to present my credit card that I used to purchase the flight, even though I was warned that I would have to).

Singapore’s Changi airport does security at the gate, and my gate area was shared with a beautiful Singapore Airlines A380. I longingly reminisced about my flights in Singapore Suites, but I instead was going to be boarding a Lion Air Boeing 737-900ER.

Unfortunately not my ride for the day :(

Unfortunately not my ride for the day ūüôĀ

My main impressions of the flight were how empty everything was. There wasn’t a line at gate security, and the flight was maybe only 1/3 full. The plane itself was very no frills with no amenities to speak of. There’s no in-flight entertainment, no overhead screens, and no power outlets.

Lion Air B737 cabin

Lion Air B737 cabin

The pitch is pretty darn tight for the normal seats (SeatGuru says 29 inches), but it’s bearable for relatively short flights within the region. Then again, I’m only 5’9″, so taller people might feel differently!

Tight pitch!

Tight pitch!

As stated before, I was seated in the exit row, and a flight attendant came over to do an exit row briefing. I’ve sat in the exit row many, many times in my life, but I still try to pay attention during these briefings. This time, however, the flight attendant did the briefing in Bahasa, which I guess makes sense, but I didn’t understand a word.

Extra room in the exit row

Extra room in the exit row

On these flights, there are no complimentary snacks or drinks (unlike, say, on Bangkok Airways), but they have a variety of snacks and drinks available for purchase.

One aspect of this flight that I particularly enjoyed was the following sign in the bathroom. Just goes to show how unintuitive so many things are! We just think they’re “intuitive” because we’ve been well conditioned, but there are so many things we take for granted.

Don't squat on the toilet seat

Don’t squat on the toilet seat

We landed at a remote stand in Jakarta, which wasn’t super pleasant because the buses to take us to the terminal weren’t air conditioned. Once we got dropped off at the terminal, though, it was pretty confusing because there weren’t adequate signs or directions to go to immigration.

One last noteworthy part of this segment of the trip was that there were people at baggage claim who were checking people’s bag tags. Like once you retrieved your bag from the carousel, you had to produce your corresponding bag tag and show it to someone before you left the baggage claim area. Just something to keep in mind if you’re flying into CGK.

Overall, I happily fly low-cost carriers like Lion Air when the price is right. Yes, it’s no frills and the seats are tight, but those things don’t matter as much for short flights. It also helps that you can still get lounge access via things like Priority Pass to make the travel experience a bit more enjoyable.

Flight Review: Cathay Pacific Economy Class A330 BKK to HKG

I’ve flown Cathay Pacific’s A330 within Asia in business class multiple times (including on the reverse direction of this route), but this time I¬†was in Cathay Pacific’s economy class on the A330.

Boarding was a bit of a zoo. They put on the boarding passes that you should get to the gate 40 minutes prior to departure, but boarding didn’t actually start until 20 minutes prior to departure. At BKK, you do scan your boarding pass upon entering the gate area, though, so you don’t need to scan your boarding pass again to board the plane.

I unfortunately don’t have many pictures of the cabin because boarding was the aforementioned zoo and the cabin was quite full. After getting comfortable, the service manager on the flight came up to me to welcome me and give me a bottle of water, which I thought was a nice touch. I believe she greeted all oneworld Emeralds on the flight.

Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment system (Studio CX) has a great selection, but they do play ads before movies. At least you can fast forward through them. There was also a power outlet at every seat.

Personal IFE

Personal IFE

I had pre-ordered a vegetarian special meal, and the VGML was fine. It was vegetables, some tomato-y sauce, and polenta. It was served with fruit, soy milk (yum!), bread, and juice.

VGML

VGML

Even though this was only economy class, I felt like I received great service. I was referred to by my last name by multiple different flight attendants (e.g. when I went to the bathroom and when my tray was cleared), and the flight attendants were gracious, attentive, and seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs. It probably helped that I had oneworld Emerald status on this flight, but flying on Cathay is such a stark departure from flying on American carriers. The service in economy class on this flight was better than the majority of my domestic business class flights in the US. A great product in the air and awesome lounges in Hong Kong (even for business class passengers or oneworld Sapphire members) make Cathay Pacific one of my favorite airlines to fly.

Flight Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) Economy Class B767 NRT to BKK

To get from Tokyo to Bangkok, I flew Japan Airlines in economy class on a Boeing 767 plane. The first thing I noticed upon entering the plane was that the seats and cabin looked pretty old.

Economy class cabin

Economy class cabin

Economy class seats

Economy class seats

A nice thing was that it was only 2-3-2 seating in economy class, and the load was pretty light, so I was able to get two seats to myself. This flight is about 7 hours long, which is pretty darn long for an intra-Asia flight, but they at least had personal IFE at every seat. It was a little old and janky, but at least it was on demand entertainment, even if the selection was only mediocre.

IFE screen

IFE screen

The flight boarded late, and we ended up departing an hour late for an unknown reason. But what made the flight all the more interesting was that the two people sitting behind me were having a loooong argument about how much they hated each other. From what I gathered, they were traveling together, and one person was essentially crying about how the other was being so mean to her while the other was saying how she deserved being on the receiving end of so much hate. This conversation/crying lasted for the entire delay through the meal service, so about 2 hours of hating on each other.

Now, I’ve traveled a fair amount both by myself and with other people, and what I’ve learned is that I’d much rather travel by myself than travel with someone I dislike. When you’re traveling with another person‚Äďparticularly when you’re traveling in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language‚Äďyou’re going to be spending a ton of time with that person in potentially stressful situations. And you also have to navigate the other person’s likes and dislikes and quirks and idiosyncrasies, and it can be hard to find other people to blow off steam with since the people around you don’t speak your language. The moral of this story is make sure you’re compatible traveling with someone before you commit to a trip with them! Just because you’re good friends in daily life does not mean you’ll be good travel companions.

Anyway, onto the flight. I pre-ordered a VGML, and it was not good. The food wasn’t flavorful, the bread was terrible, the rice was mushy, the vegetables were overcooked, etc. This made me sad since JAL has such good food in first class and in their lounges. I also got some frozen fruit for dessert while everyone else got ice cream.

VGML

(Pretty bad) VGML

One nice touch was that there was a card posted in the bathroom, and they had toothbrushes available. Pretty good for economy class!

Card and amenities in bathroom

Card and amenities in bathroom

Special meal sticker

Special meal sticker

Given that it’s a 7-hour flight, there was a pre-arrival snack. The VGML snack was again really disappointing. This was a piece of bread with a slice of fruit and lettuce in it. I really don’t know what the JAL catering was thinking…

Pre-arrival snack

Pre-arrival snack

JAL First Class may be one of my favorite products in the sky, but this flight was a bit of a let-down. The seats were a bit old, the IFE wasn’t great, and the food (or at least my special VGML) was pretty bad. I’d rather fly Cathay Pacific or Dragonair within Asia.

Trip Report: Air France Economy Class SFO to CDG

Last year (around this time, in fact), I needed to fly to France for a couple of days. Because¬†I was living in SF at the time, I could take the nonstop on Air France or United, or I could connect on American Airlines. Even though it wasn’t good for my status requalification, I decided to take the nonstop on Air France to save some time. This also meant I flew in coach! No opportunities to use SWUs for me.

Boeing 777-200 taking me to Paris

Boeing 777-200 taking me to Paris

On the way there, the flight wasn’t 100% full, and I had the good fortune of having an empty seat next to me. The pitch in economy class wasn’t great, but it¬†was fine for me (I’m 5’9″).

Economy class seat

Economy class seat

Each economy class seat has a personal IFE screen. The selection of entertainment was decent, and it’s on demand, which is a step up from flying in economy on American’s 777-200s. The seats all have cup holders and foot rests as well.

Seatback entertainment

Seatback entertainment

The flight attendants handed out packages with headphones and eye masks, and they gave out refreshing towels. They also have colorful menus in economy class. None of this was particularly fancy, but they humanize the coach travel experience, and I appreciated these small touches.

Colorful menu in economy class

Colorful menu in economy class

Contents of menu

Contents of menu

One thing that I noticed was that they have a champagne on offer for the beverage service, which I guess should not be unexpected given that it’s Air France.

For my meals, I had pre-ordered AVMLs aka asian vegetarian meals. AVMLs are supposed to be Indian-inspired, but my first AVML on Air France was just a VGML with a packaged piece of cheese. The fruit was tasty and the applesauce was fine, but the entree pretty terrible. Just some overcooked vegetables with rice.

Two pet peeves of mine that this meal highlighted:
1) One of my biggest issues with vegetarian meals on airplanes is that they just don’t contain enough calories to sustain a person for an 11-hour flight. That entree is maybe 200 calories total? With the fruit and applesauce, you’re looking at maybe 300 calories? Granted, you’re just sitting for the whole flight, but that is not enough calories. There’s also essentially no protein or fat on the plate (ignoring the cheese), so nothing to keep you satiated.
2) Bok choy is terrible when non-Asians try to cook it. Somehow, they simultaneously overcook and undercook it so that it’s both mushy and stringy at the same time. It boggles my mind.

AVML

AVML

In the middle of the flight, they handed out ice cream bars, and there were mini-cakes, crackers, sandwiches, and probiotic drinks available in the galley. I ate a lot of crackers on this flight because of the calorie-deficient AVML.

In-flight snack

In-flight snack

The pre-arrival meal was a proper AVML. The entree was decent and flavorful.

AVML pre-arrival meal

AVML pre-arrival meal

As a bonus, here’s the menu from my return flight.

Menu on the way back

Menu on the way back

And here are the AVMLs on the way back. Again, one of the meals is just a VGML, but the other one was Indian-inspired and decently tasty.

AVML

AVML

AVML

AVML

Overall, I had perfectly acceptable experiences flying Air France in coach.

Review: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class B737-800 KUL to PEN

To board this flight, you first had to scan your boarding pass to be let into the holding area. After that, it was essentially a free-for-all, even though they made boarding announcements to let families with small children, business class, and oneworld elites to board first. In the US, I can understand why people jockey for boarding position given the fight for overhead bin space, but I generally haven’t seen the same fights happen in other countries until this flight. Even though passengers are supposed to be limited to 7 kgs of carry-on baggage, there was definitely a scramble for overhead bin space on this short flight. And in comparison to my nearly-empty Malaysia Airlines flight from DPS to KUL, this flight was nearly full.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800

Business class seats

Business class seats

The interior of this plane looked really new. Lots of dark leather. The seats in economy class and individual IFE screens (controllable via touch screen and remote), in-seat power outlets, and a USB port. The IFE selection was on-demand and pretty sizable for a domestic route, and there were personal air vents. Overall, this was a super nice plane for a domestic flight.

Economy class cabin

Economy class cabin

Economy class seat

Economy class seat

Exit row

Exit row

Power ports in economy class

Power ports in economy class

Seatback IFE and controller

Seatback IFE and controller

I managed to snag an exit row seat for this flight, which meant that I had lots of leg room. The seat did not appear to recline, though.

Since this was such a short flight (~201 miles), there was no meal service, but they did do a full drink service with peanuts. Rather than use a cart, they did the entire service via trays.

Yet again, this was a positive experience on Malaysia Airlines. This plane was great: new interior, personal IFE, air nozzles, and in-seat power. Can’t ask for much more on a domestic flight!

Review: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class B777-200 DPS to KUL

On this trip, I needed to fly¬†from DPS to PEN. I had a number of different options, but I ended up choosing to fly Malaysia Airlines through KUL. I’d flown MH before in business class, but this was my first time flying them in economy class.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200

Boarding started only 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time, but that may have been because it was such a light load. For some reason, I was assigned a seat essentially at the very back of the plane, but I didn’t complain because I essentially had a couple of rows to myself at the back of the plane.

Business class seats

Business class seats

Economy class

Economy class

There are two large economy class sections, and I enjoyed the bright colors of the seats. The seats are generally in a 2-5-2 seating configuration, and the seats are fined for a <3 hour flight. There are personal IFE screens at each seat, and there are individual air nozzles! The side seats in row 29 have unlimited leg room because of the emergency exits. At row 39, it switches to a 2-4-2 seating configuration, but the center seats in that row have immovable armrests.

View from the back

View from the back

Economy class seats

Economy class seats

The IFE screen quality wasn’t great, but at least there was personal IFE. It took me a long time to figure out that in addition to looped movies, there was also some on-demand content.

Seat-back IFE

Seat-back IFE

IFE controller

IFE controller

Prayer

Journey prayer before the flight

Even though the flight had a super light load (there were maybe 20 seats taken in the section of economy that I saw), there were tons of people who had ordered special meals (myself included), and the flight attendant brought out multiple trays of special meals. I ordered an AVML for this flight, and it had lentils, rice, and paneer. The lentils were quite delicious (the paneer not so much), and I would definitely order this special meal again. The lentils were really good for airplane food.¬†The flight attendant serving me drinks did address me by name several times, and¬†I wasn’t sure if this was due to my oneworld status or just because there were so few passengers.

VGML

VGML

Overall, I’m a big fan of Malaysia Airlines, and I’m still sad that they’ve had so many bad things happen to them. There’s no reason to avoid flying this airline, and I’ve only had positive experiences with them.