Everytime I make a long journey, it starts inevitably in a small little airport in the southern end of Sumatra. It is in Bandar Lampung’s Raden Inten II that I start my journey to return to Vancouver. I await this journey not least because I would also be trying out First Class for the first time, in seat 1A onboard a 747-400! What could be better than that? After all the 747-400’s are going to be phased out real soon, so a good opportunity to try it out while I still could!
GA103 Tanjung Karang TKG – Jakarta CGK
7 Aug 11
Boeing 737-800 PK-GEF
Checking in for the flight was uneventful and because I have a relative who would be taking the same flight in Executive Class, I was able to check in with him and not pay extra fees for my heavy luggage. Not only that, I also manage to get the priority tags for my bags! After check-in, I chose to spend time outside the small terminal to bid farewells to my parents who are sending me off. Boarding started on time at 10:40 and I chose to head out to the plane early. There are no priority boarding and it is always a rush for the boarding gate in this small airport. However, I do enjoy the walk to the plane like all small airports around the world and was pleased to notice that it will be a 737-800 servicing this route today. The plane, however, still has the old Garuda livery and seems to be one of the oldest 737-800 under Garuda.
Once onboard, I was disappointed with the old seats, though for the short flight and the excitement of a new journey, I was still satisfied. Being one of the earliest to board, I had no trouble finding my seat and placing my hand-carry bags on the overhead compartment. Once most of the passengers were seated the flight crew came around with candies, and this small feature remains a distinctive service of Indonesian airlines, harking back to the good old days when Garuda operates a variety of routes around the world. I am truly glad that they are back on the right track!
By 11:05, we were already starting out taxi towards the runway as the flight attendants gave the safety demonstration. Being in a small airport meant there was no wait and the plane took off shortly at 11:07. The clear weather in south Sumatra means a smooth take off to cruising altitude and a nice view of the hilly regions of Southern Sumatra.
Today’s economy class cabin is about 60% full and there are also good occupancy in the Executive Class cabin, and there was no problem with the flight attendant serving the flight. Not long after take off, a small snack box was served to passengers. With the flight being during the Ramadhan or Muslim fasting season, Garuda provides a special snack box unlike the usual one which had the usual Kit Kat chocolate bar, fruit tea and a small bun. The Ramadhan snack box has a small chocolate box, nata de coco dessert, mineral water and the small bun. It seems to be a nicer package for this small flight! the small little touches in the flight also made it memorable. In addition, the inflight magazine for the month had an excellent feature on skiing in Melbourne. This is definitely a nice feature considering the heat in tropical Indonesia at the moment.
During our descent, I noticed how bad the air quality around Jakarta was, looking at the smog covering the area that went as far west of the city to the town of Serang. At this time, one of the child travelling today went on to give a wailing cry, breaking the relative calm of the cabin. Thankfully it did not last that long, and we were soon landing safely at Soekarno-Hatta by 11:50, 5 minutes earlier behind schedule.
As usual with this flight, we were parked on a remote stand between Terminal 2 and the ‘budget’ Terminal 3 in Soekarno-Hatta and took the airport bus to the terminal. This journey was still memorable though as I got to see for the first time the retro-livery gracing one of Garuda’s 737-800.
Usually flights between Bandar Lampung and Jakarta departs on time and arrives punctually. Even for the occassional delay, the flights usually can arrive around the scheduled time due to the very short distance between these 2 city pairs. With the priority Executive Class tags on my bags, I was able to claim them from a designated counter rather than on the conveyor belt and I was thus out very fast from the terminal shortly after that.
While this flight was nothing special for me, having taken it countless times, it was my first time on the old 737-800 cabin since I thought Garuda has all their 737-800s outfitted with their excellent new cabin. It was also unique to experience this flight during the Ramadhan period which has a special catering for passengers!