I arrived at Cengkareng, the name that Soekarno-Hatta Airport is also known, as the sister flight 9V-SYC just proceeded for pullback and make its way to Singapore. Which means I am really early for my flight, but given how bad traffic can be in Jakarta, it is better to be safe than sorry. After all, with the expansion of air traffic, it can be chaotic on the departure concourse. Check in was fast as there were no one on the business line, and the economy line was also sparsely populated. I had no trouble checking in my one large big bag which I enquired whether it was possible to tag all the way to Guangzhou. Apparently it was possible, since there was less than 48 hours to go before my next flight to Guangzhou. However there was something going on with their system and I was advised to do the check in when I reach Changi. Having said that, the agent passed me my lounge invite and boarding pass.
I proceeded to go through immigration, and it was a short queue as well not like the madness I encountered a few weeks back. This might just be a lull week in Jakarta for traveling. Most of the lounges in Jakarta are located in the D end of the concourse which meant a backtrack from the immigration which is located at the E sector. It is worth noting that the SIA check in is located at the D end and beside it now lies a JAS Priority Check in counter which should have a separate premium immigration. It is just too bad SIA doesn’t utilize their facility. Beyond security there isn’t much to shop in Jakarta’s international airport and the duty free shops were still closed at this time of the day. For plane spotting opportunities, the best location has got to be the Starbucks cafe from where one usually can get a view of either Etihad’s 777 or Garuda’s A330.
With my HSBC card, I was able to first pay a visit to the Pura Indah lounge. I was one of only 2 passenger in the lounge, but there was a lack of food choices which meant I stored my luggage in their locker – a nice feature of Indonesian airport lounges – before proceeding next door to the Esplanade lounge. While both lounges have window views of the Tarmac, they are covered with blinds, which meant covered views. The blinds are meant to keep the heat more than anything though I presume. While the Esplanade lounge is smaller, it has a better food choice since it is used primarily by SIA. I was able to get fried fish fillet with sweet and sour chilli sauce, and beef stroganoff. But having had a nice breakfast, it was more of a sampler than anything. The Esplanade lounge serves a mean cup of coffee though with coffee supplied by JJ Royal as seen by the brand on the cups and saucers. They are definitely more potent and robust than the normal airline coffee, or even the average Starbucks.
Using the lounge Internet I was able to Skype with my parents for a while to let them know I would be boarding soon and the journey has been smooth thus far. After the Skype conversation, I noticed some smoke from behind the SQ jet which had parked in front of the lounge. I enquired with the lounge attendant, but he seemed ignorant about it and gave me some weird reply of it being a signal for departing aircrafts. I never knew airports used such primeval methods… Well I don’t see anything regarding a plane crash from the CNN showing on the TV, so I didn’t bother much about it.