I had a short break from 11 March to 14 March in Kuala Lumpur to visit my parents (and at the same time meeting up with my sis who was taking a short break from Finland). This trip was meant to be a break as I had been very busy since beginning of the year.
As I had some 15,000 miles left in my JAL Mileage Bank (expiring in June 2016), I decided to use it to redeem a return ticket on Malaysia Airlines. Accumulating miles on JAL is extremely difficult in Singapore (with no earning partners) and JAL redemption chart is not to my liking (distance based instead of sector based).
You will need 15,000 miles to redeem a ticket with traveling of distance of 0-999 miles. This means that a one way Y from SIN-KUL requires the same amount of miles as a return Y from SIN-KUL-SIN.
I decided to select MH 628 (SIN-KUL) and MH 605 (KUL-SIN) from the list of flights available (for timing reason). Redemption on One World using JAL Mileage Bank can be quite a painful experience as the whole redemption process took me almost 40 minutes! (booking can only be done via telephone).
PART 1 : Jet Quay (CIP) Lounge and Terminal 2 Priority Pass Card Lounges
My day did not start off well. While waiting for my turn to meet my girl’s school teacher (regular meet the parent session), my mom called me to inform me that my flight (MH628) has been cancelled. I was puzzled, as I received no notification on my sms/e-mail regarding this cancellation.
I was unable to contact the local MAS office, but thankfully I was able to get through to JAL office pretty fast (unlike the last time). I was given my reference code (which was a different from my original booking code via JAL) and I found out that I have been placed on the 1:40pm flight (MH called me at 10:30 am to inform me of the change while JAL called me at 11:30 am for the same reason).
I booked a Uber to CIP terminal (which is located at the extreme end of Terminal 2, away from Terminal 1). There is a security check point at the entrance of the Terminal, but you can be dropped off just in front of the entrance.
The terminal itself is pretty spacious and underutilized (which is very good for privacy). It has a main lobby which connects to the immigration counter and a spiral stairs up to level 2. On the right, there is a check in desk and further in, a rather spacious lounge. Once in, a concierge will handle your check in and luggage (if any) while you wait in the lounge (or you can help yourself to the food and drinks available). The terminal is pretty similar to Singapore Airline’s First Class check in section in Terminal 3 (a separate driveway and a cozy check in lounge). CIP however functions as lounge too (while Singapore Airline has a separate Silverkris Lounge).
Due to the unforseen change of my flight itinerary, there was no check in agents from MH when I arrived. I was told that, 24 hours prior to departure, the respective airline’s check in agents will be notified so that one personnel will be stationed in CIP for the check in process (which did not happen in my case). The check in took me about 20 minutes (from the time I arrived). This is the reason why CIP cannot be used on budget carriers (where they have no personnel coming over to CIP to handle the check in) and USA carriers (probably the same reason and security reasons too).
I love the lounge for being private, exclusive, spacious and clean. I can’t say the same for the food choices though. Although there were hot items, only 3 items available. There was pizza and some chicken drumlets too. Other items available were snacks (nuts and cookies), instant noodle and bread. Beverages were pretty standard; coffee (from a machine), soft drinks, juices and wine (not much left from the bottle available and it wasn’t topped up either). I decided that I shall have my lunch in a different lounge in Terminal 2 using my Priority Pass card.
Once my check in has been settled, I made my way through the immigration counter (a solo counter just like the private immigration line for SQ First Class passengers). Once through, I was escorted upstairs where the buggies are parked. The buggy will bring you to your departure gate (and in my case, the shopping area). The buggy is necessary as CIP is located at the extreme end of Terminal 2 (this is more so if you are departing from Terminal 1 or Terminal 3).
My overall opinion of Jetquay Terminal:
- exclusive and secluded, first timer may have problem directing a cab/UBER to the terminal
- large, cosy and underutilized check in facility
- concierge handling your check in and luggage
- private immigration line
- buggy service bringing you to your departure gate
- meet and greet service with baggage handling
- very bad (limited) food options
- CIP not available to those traveling on budget airlines / USA legacy carriers
Will I use CIP again? YES, if I am travelling on Economy, Business or non-SQ First Class (where the check in facility is excellent) and proceed on to another lounge for food. If I am travelling on SQ First/Suites? then NO (as the First Class check in facility in Terminal 3 is equally good but more efficient).
Currently, Jetquay Terminal access is complimentary to Citi Prestige cardholder from November 2015 – October 2016. However, only 75 access per month are available (limited to one per month per cardholder). 1 guest is allowed each time and it can be utilized either for departure or arrival service.
I decided to move on to another lounge in Terminal 2 for my lunch. I decided to stop over at Green Market Lounge as it used to be my favourite Priority Pass Lounge due to its food options. The lounge may not be as cosy as other lounges (it feels more like a café) but the food available was much better (with a set lunch/dinner which comes with sashimi). That has changed as the set lunch items quality (and quantity) has gone downhill significantly. The set lunch that used to include Gindara teriyaki and Salmon Sashimi has since been removed. The buffet option looked pretty much the same from what I can remember. The lounge was pretty busy as it was lunch hour (with many airport staff having their lunch there).
As the atmosphere was getting pretty noisy, I decided to move over to the Ambassador Lounge instead. The Ambassador Lounge is much larger and brighter (thanks to the presence of windows). Food option was rather limited (but still better than what was offered in Jetquay). Other amenities include shower facilities and a gym.
One interesting feature of this lounge is the outdoor viewing area which gives a good view of planes (excellent for planespotting).
Soon, it was 1:10pm and I had to proceed to my gate for boarding.
PART 2 : MH606 (SIN-KUL)
My original flight (MH628) was scheduled to depart at 12:55pm (arriving 1:55pm). MH606 was meant to depart at 1:40pm, but by 1:30pm there was still no sign of boarding. Boarding was finally called at 1:40pm with priority boarding. Within 5 minutes of priority boarding, an announcement was made that the flight will be delayed due to fault in air conditioning system. All passengers that boarded earlier was forced to disembark. Everyone waited in the departure lounge till 2:30pm when boarding was called again. Upon boarding, I could feel that the plane was extremely warm and stuffy. For a short-haul flight, I guess I could still bare with it.
Date: 11March 2016
Flight: MH 606
Seats : 15F
Plane: Boeing 737-800 (9M-MLE)
Photo taken: iPhone 6 Plus
9M-MLE is listed on planefinder as a 8-year-old 737-800, and the interior furnishing confirms the age of the plane! Both Business and Economy cabins were not fitted with any IFE and the side lighting (under the bag compartment, next to the window) are of T5 tubes (instead of LED). The seats were pretty standard for any 737 economy class seats but the pitch was pretty tight as my knee was pressing against the front seat. As mentioned earlier, there were no built-in IFE (but I guess it is ok for a short flight but definitely not ok if MAS uses this plane to HKG/TPE).
The flight was pretty uneventful, other than the rather warm and uncomfortable cabin. The crews were pretty friendly. For such a short flight, the economy passengers were provided with peanuts and juices.
The plane landed at KLIA at about 3:30 pm. The plane was parked at the main terminal (instead of the Satellite Terminal) hence there is no need for me to take the skytrain (hence saving me some time to get to the immigration).
PART 3 : KLIA PLAZA PREMIUM LOUNGE
After 3 days in Malaysia, it was time to go back. My flight was scheduled to depart KLIA at 3:35pm. I arrived at KLIA at 1:15pm and was expecting a quick baggage drop as I have done an online check in the day before. However, the baggage drop counter was not functioning and hence I ended up queueing up for 30 minutes at the regular queue to check in my bags.
After dropping my bags, I proceed to the Satellite Terminal to have my lunch in Plaza Premium Lounge (the only Priority Pass Lounge in KLIA). The lounge wasn’t particularly crowded in the noon, hence I was able to get a place easily.
I have been visiting this lounge every time I fly back from KLIA and I find that the lounge is pretty comfortable. Food option is not fantastic but there are hot food and a cook-to-order noodle station. There are both cold and hot beverages available while alcohol is available with additional charges. The lounge is also equipped with shower facilities.
Plaza Premium is quite bright and spacious but can get crowded at times due to it being the only Priority Pass Lounge available in KLIA. The lounge is pretty good for planespotting too thanks to the large unobstructed windows.
My take on Plaza Premium Lounge? It is definitely a comfortable lounge with a reasonable choice of food (HKG lounge has better food options though). The drawback is that the lounge can get pretty crowded at times as it is the only Priority Pass Lounge in KLIA.
PART 4 : MH 605 (KUL – SIN)
I slowly made my way back to the main terminal which is where my flight departs from. Thankfully, there was no delay with my flight back and we boarded on time at 3:05pm.
Date: 14 March 2016
Flight: MH 605
Seats : 7A
Plane: Boeing 737-800 (unknown)
Photo taken: iPhone 6 Plus
Flightradar 24 did not show any information of the plane I traveled in, but in my opinion the plane is probably not more than 5 years old. The cabin looked much newer than the MH605 which I took 3 days earlier. There were IFEs behind each seat and it was usable the moment we boarded (however, no headphones were provided). The cabin was equipped with LED lighting instead of T5 tubes.
The flight was generally uneventful except during the take off as it started to rain heavily and we had to go through very thick clouds before reaching cruising altitude (causing the plane to shake quite a fair bit). Once we got past the clouds, the flight was pretty straight forward.
We were served peanuts and juices (just like my previous flight). This flight however, I managed to catch 40 minutes of Star Wars Episode 7 and the cabin temperature was excellent.
We arrived into Changi Airport Terminal 2 at about 4:30 pm and after collecting my luggage, I managed to meet up with Mr. Upright Man (of SQTalk) for a cup of coffee as he landed in Changi Airport just 15 minutes before I landed. After a short chat, both of us booked a UBER to go home.