Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting Around: Air Asia from Jakarta to KL

I'm home in Malaysia! Back for a quick trip to see Mum and Dad and to celebrate Dad's birthday this weekend. I booked me a flight on Air Asia from Jakarta to KL. I've flown before on Air Asia from KL to Phuket for a family holiday last year and I was pleasantly surprised. The planes were on time and clean and service was friendly. So when I needed a flight back to KL, I didn't hesitate to check out Air Asia again.

It was a two-hour flight departing from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta. This is what I always do when travelling from Soekarno-Hatta and I need the washroom: I always bring my own loo roll in my carry-on, I always roll up the cuff of my jeans and I always wear closed-toe shoes, preferably waterproof. The reason is Soekarno-Hatta has some of the filthiest toilets I've ever seen in my entire life. The toilet floor is sometimes submerged in water and I really don't want to know where that water came from. Toilet paper is non-existent as well (I've been told you have to ask for it from the toilet attendants) but I simply prefer to bring my own supply. For those who've never been there, Soekarno-Hatta reminds me of a worse Subang. There.

My foreign resident departure tax was almost the price of my plane ticket. Each time I leave Indonesia, I get slapped with a Rp1 million tax (approx US$100). I also have to pay the usual airport tax of Rp100,000 (approx RM30+). The airport tax applies to all departures and is payable at the check-in counter. The Rp1 mill whammy is only for us foreigners who reside in Indonesia and is payable at the Bank Mandiri counter. Wah liao... very expensive for me to leave the archipelago lei...

I was so pleased when we boarded the plane on time. The plane looked new (or maybe just painted new!) and it was clean. It was an 830am flight and we were off and on the runway on the dot. The flight was the usual but I like boring flights. Who on earth enjoys drama in mid-air anyway? I mean, I'm a huge fan of the air crash disasters show on telly where they show you the investigations behind air crashes but I've no wish to star in the show.

And guess what? We actually landed 20 minutes early at the LCCT. Woohoo! I practically leapt off the plane, I was that happy to be home. Immigration was a breeze as they have a separate counter for Malaysian passports and I was greeted by a friendly Immigration officer. Wah! Thumbs up for him!

The only bummer was waiting for luggage. I totally forgot the baggage carousel was next to the duty free shops and nearly walked out while trying to look for it. When I realised I was heading for an exit sign, I made an abrupt U-turn. Haha... me blur... Our bags took about 20 minutes to arrive. Tut-tut... not so good, Air Asia. And why is it that the owner of the first bag to appear is never around? It was a brown suitcase that was still making its lonesome rounds on the carousel by the time I pulled my bag off a good ten minutes later.

My first meal on Malaysian soil was of course... McDonald's? Hey, it was convenient, I had a cab to catch back to my hometown and I wanted something that I could eat in the car without spilling everywhere. Given a choice, I would have plumped for a nasi lemak or something. But a McD Value Meal it was. A funny thing happened to me in the line. An Indonesian lady was behind me and she was asking me about the various Value Meal options. So I explained to her how it worked and I automatically used words I'd learnt from my short months in Jakarta. As I turned to leave, she said thank you to me and asked me if I was Indonesian. Hehe... nono... and I still sound far from Indonesian!

My cab arrived about ten minutes later and I had to laugh when I saw what the driver had in his boot. It was durians! I sms-ed Dear Hubby right away, telling him I was so glad he wasn't coming home with me this time because he would have fainted there and then from the aroma. I've got to go air my bags out... if there's even a whiff of durian on them, Dear Hubby is not going to let me back into the house.

I knew I was home in Malaysia when the taxi driver said admiringly to me in Malay, "Wow, you speak very good Malay for a Chinese! I can't tell from your accent that you're not Malay!" We here in Malaysia are so used to this race thing... almost everything I know about my life here has been coloured by race, including the language you speak. In Indonesia, everyone expects me to know B. Indonesia (a close cousin of the Malay language we speak in Malaysia), Chinese or not.

So there you go. A very pleasant uneventful flight on board Air Asia. I guess I've been lucky with them, I've not had the plane delays that some people have experienced. If you book early or during the promo periods, you can get real bargains. So highly recommended for the short hops around the region. I'm not sure I would fly them to the UK or Australia though!


  1. You need to pay rp 1million departure tax even if you're Indonesian citizen

  2. Craps. Really? Thanks for the info, I thought it was just a tax slapped on foreign residents. Seems rather unfair that they slap it on their own people as well. Rp1 mill is a lot of money for some Indonesians I know.

  3. I was flying with Air Asia to Australia, the route was JKT-KL-Gold Coast and I bought the ticket during promo period, it was unbelievably cheap!

    And believe it or not it was ok though, on time, new plane, and smooth take off and landing. Will definitely fly with them again.

  4. Yes, what is it with those toilets at the airport? How hard is it to put in some nice facilities and up the budget for some loo role!? Hey by the way, I agree with you even as a foreigner, the immigration people in KL are really nice. They were even nice to my African wife who often gets sneers from immigration in Hong Kong or Thailand as if she is desperate to move there haha.

  5. ecky: Sounds like you went in circles to get to Gold Coast but who cares, it was cheap! I've had friends who've complained but I've been lucky, Air Asia has always been great so far. I'm glad to hear someone else who has had a +ve time with them.

    Marc: Apparently, they've repainted some of the toilets at Soekarno-Hatta but never thought of doing stuff like installing newer toilets and making loo rolls readily available or improving the plumbing. Sigh.
    I'm glad to hear your wife had pleasant experiences with the KL Immigration! I've found that they have really upped their service levels, was really surprised to be greeted with a big smile from the officer.