Tag Archives: flight review

Flight Review: Tigerair SIN to BKK

To get to Bangkok from Singapore, I decided to try a low-cost carrier I hadn’t tried before. Tigerair is a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines and headquartered in Singapore.

Tigerair plane to BKK

For many destinations, you can check in online, but for Bangkok, I couldn’t. So I arrived at the airport 2 hours prior to departure to find a very long check-in line. After about 25 minutes in line, I had my boarding pass and checked my bag, and it was a quick trip through immigration to the lounges.

The flight didn’t start boarding until 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure, but everything ended up being on time. Somehow, I was assigned an exit row seat, even though I hadn’t paid for it or requested one. Perhaps the check-in agent was just feeling generous? The pitch in the exit row was great for a quick flight, although the typical seat pitch is 30″.

Cabin

Cabin

Good pitch in the exit row

The cabin was relatively plain. There weren’t tons of ads everywhere like on AirAsia, and it wasn’t particularly colorful. There was an in-flight announcement that only food and drink purchased on board can be consumed during the flight, but I’m not sure how they enforce that rule.

That being said, there was an extensive buy on board menu. In the future, I might be tempted order a meal just to try it. You can pre-order meals for a discount, and there were lots of different meal and drink options (including vegetarian meals!).

Extensive buy on board menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

In general, I’m perfectly content flying low-cost carriers in Asia. The flights are usually pretty short, and the prices are often significantly cheaper than legacy carriers (although not always! especially when you add in bag and ticket fees).

Flight Review: Cathay Dragon Business Class HKG to PEN

My final destination for this trip was Penang, Malaysia, so I connected to Dragonair (now called Cathay Dragon) in Hong Kong.

Plane to Penang

The business class cabin was completely full for this flight, and I think the economy class cabin was almost completely full as well. This was a flight with a regional business class configuration, so nothing fancy, but the seat is pretty comfortable with good legroom. This isn’t a good seat for sleeping, though, since it doesn’t recline that much.

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Seat back entertainment and leg room

Business class cabin

They were serving pre-departure beverages of water, fresh orange juice, or a cocktail of passionfruit and gin. There were already headphones at every seat. Instead of a wet towel, they provided antiseptic packaged towels.

Now, it had been a couple of years since I had last flown Dragonair before this flight, and one of the things that I remembered loving about Dragonair was the canned Hong Kong style milk tea that they had. Unfortunately, they no longer carried the drink.

Menu

Menu

Menu

I had pre-ordered a special VJML (Jain vegetarian meal) for this flight. The starter consisted of cold chickpeas, peas, and kidney beans. They were served plain, which was fine, since I was happy that there was at least some protein in the vegetarian meal.

VJML starter

My seat mate had the typical starter of smoked duck breast, and graciously allowed me to photograph his meal.

Smoked duck breast starter

For the VJML entree, it was a pretty tasty combo of lentil curry, rice, and peas and cauliflower.

VJML entree

My seat mate had the angel hair pasta with mixed seafood in a cream sauce and vegetables, and he seemed to enjoy it.

Mixed seafood and pasta

Overall, I think I’ve had better special meal catering on Dragonair than Cathay Pacific, but the regional business class product is largely identical. I think there are small differences like the fact that Cathay Pacific uses hot towels while Cathay Dragon uses the packaged towel wipes, and you unfortunately can’t add Cathay Dragon on an Alaska award, but otherwise, they’re pretty darn similar products.

Flight Review: Cathay Pacific First Class BOS to HKG (CX 811)

On most flights, I typically like to sit on the right-hand side of the aircraft, but in Cathay Pacific first class, the seats on the left (1A and 2A) are more private since the center seats open up to the right-hand aisle. So on this flight, I had selected seat 1A. I will say that it seems like the flight crew defaults to using the left-hand aisle to pass through the cabin so as to disturb fewer passengers, so there is slightly more foot traffic on the left-hand side.

Cathay Pacific doesn’t have overhead bins in the first class cabin, so it feels more spacious. Instead of overhead bins, there are lockers at every seat for you to store your belongings.

My seat, 1A

Footrest and IFE screen

Seat and IFE controls

Storage closet

I was soon offered a pre-departure beverage of water, juice or champagne. I was also offered an amuse bouche of prosciutto and cauliflower, but I asked if they had a vegetarian option instead since I had requested a vegetarian meal. The flight attendant scrounged around for a bit and brought me a flaky pastry filled with hummus, an olive, and marinated sun-dried tomato instead. I was then given Bose headphones, PYE pajamas, and an amenity kit (I requested the female one to give to my sister since I already had several of the male amenity kits).

Headphones, amenity kit, pajamas

Vegetarian amuse bouche

For this flight, I had pre-ordered a special VJML (Jain vegetarian meal). I was still provided a menu and wine list for the flight, and I was told that I could order off the menu after the flight attendant asked the other passengers for their selections.

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

After takeoff, I was given warm cashews and almonds to start. I ordered a Cathay delight to drink.

Nuts to start with Cathay Delight

I started my meal service off with the caviar service. I prefer blinis to toast, and I like the spoon that Cathay uses, which makes Cathay’s caviar service one of my favorites. I was also offered an entire warmed breadbasket, although there was no handwritten card.

Caviar service

I next had a soup of white asparagus with some freshly ground black pepper. If you like soup and asparagus, then it was pretty tasty.

White asparagus soup

The salad that I was served was the salad off the menu without the lobster. It was a little odd to eat without the lobster, since the salad was mostly just frisee otherwise, but I could imagine that it would be good with lobster.

Salad

My VJML entree was not very good. There were cut green beans and cauliflower in a brown sauce. I wish there had been lentils or chickpeas or something with more protein.

Pretty bad VJML

The fresh berries in rose syrup, though, made up for my sub-par entree.

Berries in rose syrup

And since I’m a glutton, I also tried the pistachio cake with ice cream. A little too sweet for my tastes, but still good.

Pistachio cake and ice cream

After dinner chocolates

After dinner, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and when I got back to my seat, the bed had already been made. In general, I found the service on this flight to be good and proficient, but maybe not quite as personable or memorable as crews I’ve had on the past on Cathay Pacific.

One benefit of the departure time of this flight is that I found it easy to sleep. I slept soundly for about 9 hours, and I find the Cathay Pacific seat and bed to be one of my favorite hard products. It’s nice and wide, and the bedding is comfortable.

Bed

For breakfast, I started with a fruit plate that was pretty delicious. I also ordered some earl grey tea which came pre-steeped.

Fruit plate

The VJML pre-arrival meal was way better than dinner. It consisted of okra, cauliflower, potatoes, and peas in a spicy and flavorful sauce.

Much tastier VJML pre-arrival meal

Overall, this was a solid flight on Cathay Pacific. It’s one of my favorite hard products for sleeping, and I felt that the service was pretty good.

Flight Review: Finnair Business Class A320 HEL to BUD

For my short hop from Helsinki to Budapest, I flew Finnair in business class on an A320. It was European business class, which just meant a blocked off middle seat.

Video screen

Video screen

Seat back

Seat back

Blocked off middle seat

Blocked off middle seat

Even though the seat wasn’t any different from economy, there was a proper meal service on this flight. And they even had printed menus!

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

There was no pre-departure beverage offered, but the snack they offered after takeoff were crackers shaped like airplanes! There was also video playing on the in-flight entertainment, but there wasn’t any sound. The video playing, though, was from just for laughs, so I guess you don’t need to hear the sound for that.

Airplane crackers

Airplane crackers

I had pre-ordered a VGML special meal, which was actually quite solid. There were beet patties of sorts with carrots and potatoes. This was served with a side of tofu with mango, as well as a small bowl of fruit. I thought the food was reasonably tasty, and the carrots seemed like they came from an actual farm. It wasn’t fancy, but I was impressed by the actual ingredients in the hot dish.

VGML

VGML

Overall, I’m a fan of Finnair. It’s not a flashy carrier, but I find their product to be solid, and I enjoy the Helsinki airport.

Flight Review: Finnair Business Class A330-300 KIX to HEL

I’ve flown Finnair before, but this was my first time flying Finnair in business class. Finnair doesn’t fly as much to North America (they used to fly to a number of destinations, but I believe only New York, Miami, and Chicago still have service, with San Francisco coming next year), but they seem to connect many people between Asia and Europe.

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

This A330-300 featured flat-bed seats business class in an alternating 1-2-1, 2-2-1 seating pattern. This seat is very similar to the product I’ve flown on Swiss and Austrian.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

I was seated in seat 9L, which is a single window seat closer to the window in the second mini-cabin of business class. In the future, I’d probably try to go for a bulkhead seat, as the foot cutouts are larger for those seats.

My seat

My seat

The IFE screen was also on the smaller side and a bit hard to navigate, but I appreciate that the IFE was started on the ground. I also appreciated that announcements weren’t deafening if you have headphones in. As a trivial aside, there were ads before movies, and even though the movies had swear words dubbed, the ads had audible swear words that were not…

IFE screen and leg room

IFE screen and leg room

At each seat were slippers, an amenity kit, and headphones. I always appreciate slippers, but the slippers were actually pretty small, and I’m not sure if that’s because we were flying out of Japan. The amenity kit was designed by Marimekko, so it was colorful and playful. The contents were basic–ear plugs, eye mask, Clarins lip balm and lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste–and there was a note saying that you could ask for a shaving kit, mouthwash, hair brush, and makeup remover wipe.

Marimekko amenity kit

Marimekko amenity kit

The menu offered both Western and Japanese options, but I had pre-ordered a special Asian vegetarian meal (AVML).

Menu

Menu

The AVML started off with raw vegetables. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I do not know many people who like eating cold raw vegetables, so I do not understand why they serve them. They could at least serve them with hummus or something.

AVML amuse bouche

AVML amuse bouche

For an appetizer, there was a cold spring/egg roll of sorts with some super hard bread, but I managed to snag some much better bread from the bread basket. The roll would have been tastier if it had been served warm, but it was edible.

AVML appetizer

AVML appetizer

The main course had some cauliflower, chickpeas, mushrooms, and rice. It was passable for an AVML, but nothing special.

AVML entree

AVML entree

For dessert, I had some jello-like substance that came with my meal, as well as some tarts from the dessert menu.

Dessert

Dessert

One thing that I appreciated about the flight was that the cabin was kept quite cool. Too often, I find myself overheating on non-US carriers. The pillow and blanket were also pretty good for business class. I found the seat to be pretty comfortable for sleeping. I don’t think the seat is truly lie flat to the plane floor, but I don’t mind that since being flat to the plane floor would mean that you’re actually leaning back slightly.

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Partway through the flight, I had a pretty delicious cinnamon roll of sorts. There was a small self-serve snack bar with packaged snacks and other things available.

Delicious pastry

Delicious pastry

Prior to arrival, I again had my AVML. This time, it was some green beans, lentils, and rice pilaf. Again, nothing great, but perfectly passable.

AVML pre-arrival meal

AVML pre-arrival meal

Overall, I thought this was a solid business class flight. The service was great (all of the flight attendants working the cabin appeared to be Japanese–not sure if that had any bearing on anything), the seat was comfortable, and the food was passable. I would happily fly Finnair again, and I’m big fan of transiting the Helsinki airport.

Flight Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class Boeing 787 BKK to KIX

Prior to this flight, I used the JAL lounge in Bangkok, which is decent, but you should probably go to the Cathay Pacific lounge instead if it’s open. For this flight, only the JAL lounge was open.

This flight marked the third time I had flown on a Boeing 787, and the third airline’s 787 I had flown (the others being ANA and Qatar).

Plane spotting at BKK

Plane spotting at BKK

In spite of being a relatively new plane, JAL installed a 2x2x2 angled-flat business class product on these 787s. Why angled flat? I have no idea. They also do have 787s that have lie-flat seats, and you can tell if your plane should have lie-flat seats by the presence of a premium economy cabin. That being said, the plane felt very new. The seats looked great, as did the bathrooms, and I love the giant windows on the 787. There were also personal air nozzles on this plane.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Seats in a 2x2x2 configuration

Seats in a 2x2x2 configuration

Business class seat

Business class seat

Seat controls

Seat controls

I sat in the bulkhead, which I would recommend for the extra legroom. There were only 8 passengers in business class for this flight, so the load was quite light.

Lots of space at the bulkhead

Lots of space at the bulkhead

Less space in other seats

Less space in other seats

At my seat, I found a sleep kit (which contained an eye mask, ear plugs, face mask, and eye refresher–more airlines should provide face masks), slippers (one of my favorite airplane amenities), headphones, a pillow, blanket, and meal order sheet. JAL also has helpful guides to the seat, so you can figure out all of the different functionality. They even have a screen with information on the location of the lavatories!

Slippers, headphones, amenities

Slippers, headphones, amenities

Guide to the seat

Guide to the seat

Guide to the bathrooms

Guide to the bathrooms

A flight attendant came around offering a “relaxing wear” top (i.e. pajamas). It was a little thick, and JAL has notoriously warm cabins, so wear it at your own risk. I was also offered a bottle of water and customs and immigration forms, but no hot towel or pre-departure beverage. I’ve read that people have had issues with English proficiency on JAL, but I’ve never had any issues. One thing that I appreciated was the meal order sheet before arrival. Given that the flight was a short red eye, you could specify whether you wanted to be woken up for breakfast or not, as well as what you wanted to eat.

Meal order form

Meal order form

Given that the actual flight time for this flight was less than 5 hours and that it was an overnight flight, the menu was super abbreviated.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

The angled flat seats are not great, and the pillow and blanket were a bit flimsy. I slept for a bit, but I ended up getting woken up by loud and long announcements about 1h 15m prior to landing. On some airlines, they really try to let you sleep for as long as possible and make very few announcements, but that was not the case on this flight.

Given that I was awake, I decided to have some breakfast. JAL posts their in-flight menus on their website, and based on looking at the menu prior to the flight, I thought I’d find something that I’d be okay eating (e.g., “plain omelette”), so I didn’t pre-order a special meal (partly because past special meals on JAL have been terrible). Little did I know that there was lots of meat in the “plain omelette with bechamel mushroom sauce”: the plate was covered in bacon, and there was chicken and shrimp in the bechamel. Also, the orange sauce on the fruit plate was actually a gazpacho.

Breakfast

Breakfast

In addition the overly early announcement, the flight attendant was extremely persistent that I be buckled in starting 30 minutes prior to landing. Like to the point of being rude. I get that it’s for my safety, but I’ve never had a flight attendant want people sitting down so early prior to landing.

Anyway, while I enjoy flying 787s, and it’s probably my favorite plane to fly if I’m in economy, I would avoid the angled-flat seats on some of JAL’s 787s. And besides the barking at me for being out of my seat 30 minutes prior to landing, the service was impeccable.

Flight Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A330-200 Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Doha (DOH)

To get from Central Europe to Thailand, I ended up flying on Qatar Airways. This was also partially to visit the relatively new (at the time) Al Mourjan lounge in Doha (the Al Safwa lounge had not yet opened at the time of this trip).

At Berlin Tegel airport, there was passport control and security at each gate. And then we took a bus to the plane (an A330-200).

Walking up to the plane

Walking up to the plane

Business class on these planes is not great. It’s a 2x2x2 configuration, and the seats aren’t lie flat. They’re angled-flat with 165 degrees of recline. On the upside for this flight, the business class cabin was only about half full, so I had two seats to myself on this segment.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Business class seat

The in-flight entertainment system (Oryx) had a pretty good selection of movies, but as might be apparent from the picture, it’s a somewhat older hard product, and it had an inelegant user interface. This is mostly just a function of the age of the plane, though, as I’ve flown Qatar’s A350, which has a much nicer interface.

IFE screen

IFE screen

Side storage

Side storage

Seat + IFE controls

Seat + IFE controls

Waiting at each seat was an amenity kit by Armani. Each kit had a giant bottle of aftershave, a small bit of eau de cologne, some lip balm, ear plugs, an eye shade, and socks. I was a bit surprised to not find a toothbrush and toothpaste in the bag, or at least some mouthwash. In the bathrooms, there were Ritual products, which are also featured in the lounge at Doha.

Amenity kit

Amenity kit

One perk of Qatar Airways business class that you don’t often find in business class is pajamas. They were unwrapped as they were handed to me. I liked these pajamas better than some of the pajamas I’ve received in first class. The bottoms have pockets (very useful), and the material is relatively soft and lightweight. It’s not my beloved PYE pajamas from Cathay Pacific, but I thought these were solid.

Pajamas

Pajamas

Next are pictures of the menu. I had pre-ordered a VGML, so I ate that for my main meal, and then I had some breakfast off of the normal menu prior to arrival.

A la carte menu

A la carte menu

Pre-arrival menu

Pre-arrival menu

Beverage menu

Beverage menu

Champagne menu

Champagne menu

Up first was an amuse bouche of what seemed like make-your-own bruschetta. The topping in the cup was pretty tasty, but the bread could have been a bit better. I am non-ashamedly drinking non-alcoholic champagne in this picture.

Non-alcoholic champagne and make-your-own bruschetta

Non-alcoholic champagne and make-your-own bruschetta

For an appetizer, I had the arabic mezze off of the normal menu. I enjoyed the hummus, and the tabouleh was decent. This was served with two kinds of pita.

Arabic mezze platter

Arabic mezze platter

My pre-ordered VGML was something resembling falafel served on top of rice with a vegetable tomato sauce. On the side (upper right), there was a cup of curried cauliflower and chickpeas which were the best part of the meal.

VGML–something like falafel on top of rice with a tomato vegetable sauce and a side of curried cauliflower and chickpeas

VGML–something like falafel on top of rice with a tomato vegetable sauce and a side of curried cauliflower and chickpeas

After the meal service, I got some sleep. My strategy for sleeping in angled-flat seats is to not actually recline the seat the entire way. I find that if I recline all the way, I slide down the seat, so I recline partway between “flat” and recline, and then I can sleep on my side and not slide down the seat. I will say that if you’re on this configuration, you should aim for a bulkhead seat, as that way your feet don’t have to go underneath a seat in front of you, so it feels a lot more spacious. This isn’t true for Qatar’s Boeing 77Ws, as all of the seats in business class are “lie flat”.

Prior to arrival, I wasn’t super hungry, but I had some bircher muesli with a smoothie. The bircher muesli was very creamy and pretty tasty. And immediately prior to landing, they handed out Valrhona chocolate bars.

Bircher museli

Bircher museli

Flight Review: Porter Airlines Boston to Toronto (BOS to YTZ)

Porter Airlines is a regional airline that’s remarkable primarily for the fact that they fly into YTZ (Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport) rather than YYZ (Toronto Pearson International Airport). YTZ is extremely close to the downtown area of Toronto, so it can be considerably more convenient depending on where you’re going.

They fly out of Terminal E at Boston Logan. Security was empty at 10am when I arrived, but arriving at that time also meant that I didn’t have lounge access. There’s an Air France lounge at Terminal E that accepts Priority Pass, but it doesn’t open until 1pm.

Prior to my flight, I received multiple emails about checking bags before the flight. Their carry-on bag rules seem standard–22 inches by 16 inches by 9 inches and 9 kgs total–but 9 kgs isn’t very much, and they WILL make you put your bag in the sizer if it looks like a standard carry-on size.

Stuffing my bag into the sizer

Stuffing my bag into the sizer

I originally thought that they were just being a bit mean, but the planes are absolutely tiny (I flew a Bombardier Q400), and the overhead bins don’t fit very much. Even though my bag fit into the sizer (see picture above), there was absolutely no way it was going to fit into the overhead bin, so I had to gate check my bag.

Cabin

Cabin

The seats are perfectly comfortable with a decent pitch, especially for such a short flight. Announcements were made in English and in French, and people were asked to remove headphones for takeoff.

Legroom on Porter Airlines

Legroom on Porter Airlines

Another thing that’s notable about Porter Airlines is that they provide free snacks and drinks to everyone. The snacks were also pretty good: they had Terra chips, almonds, and cookies. For drinks, you could get wine or beer as well as the typical assortment of beverages, and the drinks were served in actual glasses instead of plastic cups.

Real glasses

Real glasses

Arrival at YTZ

Arrival at YTZ

Upon arrival at YTZ, I was excited to take the ferry to the mainland given that it’s supposed to be one of the shortest ferry services in the world, but the ferry wasn’t operating, so I had to walk the very short distance through the tunnel to the main land. And then it was a quick (free) bus ride to Union Station.

Flight Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) First Class CGK to NRT Boeing 777-300ER

This was my second flight on Japan Airlines first class. You can read a review of my first flight in JAL first here.

I was welcomed warmly on board. I’ve heard other people criticize JAL for having flight attendants who don’t have a great command of English, but English proficiency was high across the board for this crew. Four of the eight first class seats were occupied on this flight, and there were two other Asian people who don’t speak Japanese on this flight (or at least they preferred to converse with the flight attendants in English instead of Japanese).

I really like the first class cabin on JAL. I think it’s classy (except for the carpet), and the hard product is great. The seat is super wide and comfortable, the screen for the in-flight entertainment is large, and there’s lots of storage space for the seat (your bag can go underneath the foot rest/ottoman, and there are a number of side compartments for storage of smaller items like a laptop or glasses case). It’s also easy to look out the windows (unlike, say, the ANA First Square product).

JAL First Class seat 2K

JAL First Class seat 2K

Looking forward into 1K

Looking forward into 1K

IFE screen and foot area

IFE screen and foot area

IFE, seat controls, and side storage

IFE, seat controls, and side storage

More storage and power outlet

More storage and power outlet

Privacy divider up

Privacy divider up

There was an amenity kit waiting for me at my seat. This was different from the one that I had received on my prior flight flying from NRT to LAX, and I asked the flight attendant if the kits had recently changed. She told me that they hadn’t, and it turns out that JAL has different amenity kits for inbound vs outbound flights. I was also offered pajamas, a pre-departure beverage, a blanket, a menu, and a small set of Shiseido amenities for men.

Inbound first class male amenity kit

Inbound first class male amenity kit

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

I don’t really understand why they build airplanes without personal air vents. The cabin got super warm during taxiing and takeoff, but they corrected the cabin temperature and kept it much cooler for this flight than my previous JAL flight. I went to sleep immediately after takeoff on this flight, and I was able to sleep much better on this flight because the cabin was cooler.

I find the JAL bed to be quite comfortable. The seat is wide, so the sleeping space doesn’t feel constricted, and they have a thick mattress pad on top (you can choose between the “hard” side and the “soft” side for the mattress pad, although I’m not sure how much difference there is between the two functionally).

Made bed

Made bed

The crew on this flight was amazing. They were extremely attentive and friendly, and there was great attention to detail. For example, they would rearrange your slippers for you when you’re sleeping so that when you wake up, you can slip them on more easily. They also unwrapped the pajamas in front of you, and they were meticulous about the amount of time the tea was steeped for. I almost felt bad for sleeping through so much of the service because this crew was so great!

The flight from CGK to NRT is blocked for about 7.5 hours, which really isn’t that long for a red-eye flight, especially if you want to eat anything. I asked a flight attendant to wake me up 1.5 hours prior to landing so I could try out some of the food. For my meal service, I started off with the caviar. The caviar presentation is maybe not as elaborate as on other carriers, but it was quite tasty, and the spoon was actually made of mother of pearl and wasn’t just shiny plastic. JAL takes their food very seriously.

Caviar service

Caviar service

Up next I had the fruit plate. Although I’m not a huge fan of dragonfruit, it was surprisingly decent.

Fruit plate

Fruit plate

For my main course, I had the pancakes. They weren’t quite like American pancakes, and they were a tad dry, but they were delicious when eaten with the cream sauce they were served with.

Pancakes

Pancakes

As accompaniments, there was a marinated vegetable salad, yogurt, bread, and green tea jelly. Perhaps not the traditional assortment of Western breakfast accompaniments, but I enjoyed the green tea jelly.

Gelatin dessert

Marinated vegetables, green tea jelly dessert, yogurt

Soon after finishing my meal, we began the descent into NRT. The flight was scheduled to land at 6:35am, and we landed a bit early. One thing to keep in mind is that the JAL lounges at Narita airport don’t open until 7:30am! I found it super strange that they have flights that arrive about an hour before the lounge even opens (e.g. most carriers will make sure that their lounges stay open through the last departure, so you’d think that the lounges would open for the first arrival).

Saying goodbye to plane

Saying goodbye to plane at NRT

Overall, this was a great (if short) flight. The service on this segment was incredible, the food was solid, and the hard product is great. Definitely a great way to fly within Asia!

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 🙁

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.