The Chinese New Year holidays came early this year, and as it tends to get really hot in Malaysia this time of the year, we chose to take advantage of the holidays and took a trip to Bandung, Indonesia.
This trip was also around the time Covid-19 started making its way out of China. Both Malaysia & Indonesia had still not suffered an explosion in the amount of cases that it later had. Nonetheless, people had started taking individual precautions, as exemplified by the number of passengers wearing masks onboard the flight.
Note: From October 2023 onwards, all commercial jet flights to Bandung have been relocated to the brand new Kertajati International Airport (KJT). AirAsia no longer serves Bandung Husein Sastranegara Airport.
First published 1 April 2020. Updated 19 February 2023.
Departure experience at Kuala Lumpur (KLIA2)
Air Asia is one of 3 airlines linking KL to Bandung. The first flight of the day was scheduled to board at 0605 in the morning, necessitating a very early trip to KLIA terminal 2 (KLIA2).
Malaysian passport holders can avail of the autogates for border control, which significantly saves time compared to queuing for the manual counters. Our flight was scheduled to depart from the L gates, which meant a right turn after border control.
Boarding was called on time and we trooped down into the narrow boarding walkway, itself a product of the terminal’s questionable design process.
Flying us to Bandung was 2 year old 9M-RAB, one of 29 A320neo aircraft in the fleet. This was also my first time aboard a neo. Unlike their A320ceo predecessors, the neos seem to be much quieter, and the engines sounded like something out of a sci-fi movie when they throttled up to take-off power.
Cabin & Onboard Amenities
Air Asia is in the midst of installing slimline seats aboard their aircraft, with the new A321s already sporting them fresh from the factory. The aircraft I was on, however, still sported the older thicker seats, which are definitely more comfortable than slimline seats.
The neo features Airbus’s SpaceFlex cabin arrangement, which allows for an extra row of seats at the expense of rear lavatory sizes. The rear lavatories are now akin to walk-in closets and are extremely small.
I pre-ordered (Indonesian) Nasi Padang for breakfast when checking in online. I was quite intrigued with it since previously I’ve only tried Air Asia’s Uncle Chin’s Chicken Rice and Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak. The resulting dish is actually quite nice and spicy with an included pack of keropok udang (prawn crackers).
The Nasi Padang comes with beef, in case anyone has beef related dietary restrictions. A small bottle of water is also included with pre-ordered meals. Alternatively, you can buy your meals onboard, although you run the risk of having the supply of your choice of meal run out before the cart reaches your seat.
Arrival at Bandung
Bandung’s Husein Sastranegara International Airport is located within the heavily built-up Bandung urban area, making it a right proper city airport. Given Bandung’s elevation the approach into the airport is quite spectacular, and I’d recommend a window seat for the views.
The apron is also extremely small, and features no aerobridges. Rather than parking close to the terminal and performing a push-back during departures, aircraft actually taxi out in between parked aircraft and the terminal, which means if you stand right outside the door into the terminal, you get up close to moving aircraft.
Service levels on Air Asia are consistent and this flight was no different. I’d definitely recommend having the Nasi Padang meal for something different than the usual Malaysian fare.