Date: May 6, 2017
Flight No.: SL118
Route: Bangkok Don Muang to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta
Airline: Thai Lion Air
Type: Boeing 737-900ER
Up until this point, I took two flights as part of my return from Slovakia to Japan – Budapest to Bangkok via Helsinki on Finnair’s A321 and A350. After transferring from Suvarnabhumi to Don Muang using the free shuttle and then spending a couple of hours at the Amari Don Muang hotel, it was time to go to Jakarta on a Thai Lion Air 737-900ER.
Troubles with Booking the Flight
When booking this flight a couple of months ago, I encountered a slight problem. No matter which credit card I used, the Thai Lion Air website would refuse the payment.
After doing some research, I found three OTAs on TripAdvisor’s forum. However, none of those worked either.
In the end, the solution was simple – instead of using the Thai Lion Air website, I used the Lion Air website where the booking went through without any issues.
The Endless Check-In
As the Amari hotel where I spent the day was just a short walk away from the Thai Lion Air check-in area in Don Muang’s terminal 2, I left it around 4:30PM for my 7:05PM departure. In the terminal, I passed through the security check to enter the check-in area, and when I got to check-in zone 8, I realized I had a long wait ahead of me.
There were already tens of people – many of whom had tens… Well, not tens, but quite a few pieces of luggage with them. Long story short, it took exactly one hour – from 4:42PM until 5:42PM – until it was my turn to check-in.
Then, after another fairly long ten minutes of check-in “process” – for some reason, the staff kept looking at the screen and reading something out for herself – I finally had a boarding pass in my hand and could go through immigration and security. That part was a breeze, taking less than ten minutes.
The one thing to mention before going further is that even though Thai Lion Air is a low-cost airline, 20 kilos of luggage are included in the price of the ticket.
Boarding Thai Lion Air Flight 118
Given that there is no Priority Pass lounge in the international section of Don Muang, I got some drinks and snacks at one of the stores, and headed to gate 4.
The gate was on the ground level, and so I could look forward to boarding by bus.
Around the scheduled departure time, an announcement was made that our flight would depart 25 minutes late – at 7:30PM.
In the end, the boarding took place around our new departure time. I got my boarding pass scanned, and after dropping my iPhone and destroying its screen, I got on the bus that took us to the aircraft.
When the bus stopped, I was happy to learn that there was no equipment change, and indeed, a Thai Lion Air 737-900ER was waiting for us. With this, I could tick off another 737 variant off my “need to fly” list.
Onboard the Thai Lion Air 737-900ER
After getting onboard, I settled in my seat, 7C. The first noticeable thing was – as one could expect with a LCC – the lack of legroom.
Then, announcement was made that the use of all electronic devices was forbidden throughout the flight. This surprised me a bit, but in the end, this was not enforced and half of the aircraft was using laptops and cellphones throughout the flight without any issues.
While waiting for our departure, I checked the contents of the seat pocket. There was an unbranded waste bag, a safety card and a magazine. While other seat pockets also contained an in-flight sales menu, mine was missing it.
At 7:58PM, the purser made her welcome announcement – apologizing for the delay and mentioning the flight time of about 3 hours and 10 minutes. Then, just a minute later, the doors were closed – and at 8:00PM sharp we started the push back.
We took-off in the darkness at 8:13PM, and five minutes later, the seatbelt sign was switched off.
Cruising to Jakarta
In the first part of the flight, the crew did the in-flight sales with quite a few people getting a meal. As mentioned above, I did not get the meal, but below is a screenshot of the offering made online after I bought my ticket. A hot meal and a bottle of water for less than 5 USD sounds like a more-than-reasonable offer.
Then, Indonesian customs forms were distributed.
Even though they were titled “Customs Declaration,” their content was all in Bahasa. Luckily, one friendly attendant brought back a form with English annotation, and so the non-Bahasa speakers on the plane including me could fill out the form.
About an hour after take-off, the cabin lights were switched off. After working on an article for some minutes, I decided to try to get some sleep.
I woke up around 10:40PM when the Captain announced that we were flying at 36,000 feet at a speed of 780 kmph. He also mentioned our expected arrival time of 11:20PM.
Just as the Captain finished his announcement, the cabin lights were switched back on. Another announcement followed – this time that people should not take the safety vests out of the aircraft – while I haven’t heard a similar announcement before, it seemed to be the standard in Indonesia.
Descending to Soekarno-Hatta Airport
At 10:47PM, we started our initial descent, and about twenty minutes after that, the seatbelt signs were switched back on.
The landing gear was lowered at 11:17PM, and another three minutes later we landed in Jakarta.
It took the Thai Lion Air 737-900ER another ten minutes to reach our remote parking spot. After stepping on the Southern Hemisphere soil for the first time, I took some pictures of our aircraft, and got on the bus that took us into the terminal.
About thirty minutes after landing, I got through the immigration, ready to get to my hotel for the very short night before my daytrip to Yogyakarta – d’prima Hotel at Terminal 1.