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Deciding on travel details to Ambon


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#1 scubamarli

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 01:23 PM

I am trying to decide on the best way to get from Vancouver to Ambon, using points for part of the journey. I dread spending time in Jakarta. Here are my choices:

 

a) Points to Singapore, overnight at the Crowne Plaza, continue onto Jakarta the following afternoon. This is the most costly option, but leaves me with enough points for another trip to Asia. Excess baggage charges will start to accrue, as well, I guess.

 

b) Points to Jakarta, with a stopover in Singapore at the Transit Hotel.

 

c) Points to Jakarta, straight through, arriving a few hours before the flight to Ambon. (and probably feeling like crap) The cheapest, but those points are gone....

 

d) as above, but arriving a day early on Ambon to recover from jetlag.

 

Any advice on Garuda vs LionAir (aside from their planes running off the runway) would be appreciated.

 

Cheers,

Marli

 

 


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#2 MikeVeitch

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 05:53 PM

both Garuda and Lion depart Jakarta around 1am and get into Ambon around 7am or so, there is also the new Batik Air (Lion Airs "up scale" new airline that serves food and has bigger seats and more headroom for about the same price)  I would take Batik or Garuda myself.  With both of those options you can "sleep" on the plane (or not) but get into Ambon at a nice time of day so that you can join the afternoon dive after a short morning nap and taking time to put your stuff together

 

Batik Air ID6170 Jakarta – Ambon 00:30 – 06:00 (direct flight)


Lion Air JT790 Jakarta – Ambon 01:30 – 07:00 (direct flight)


Lion Air JT886 Jakarta – Ambon 05:10 – 11:55 (1 stop)


Garuda GA640 Jakarta – Ambon 00:30 – 07:35


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#3 scubamarli

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 07:24 PM

Thanks for the input, Mike,

 

My issue is that after almost 30 hours of travel, I am a total zombie. In film days I learned that diving the day I arrive = zombie-like behaviour which is not good for assembling camera gear. I am trying to figure out how to break up the trip. I notice that you would not choose Lion Air. Any reason aside form the Bali landing fiasco? I am unable to book anything yet, as I am a few weeks away from being able to book anything that far in advance, and Batik Air is so new, their online booking is non-functional, at least from here. I must admit the prices are great, compared to Garuda, but will they be there a year from now?

 

Cheers,

Marli


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#4 MikeVeitch

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 09:38 PM

I would also choose Lion, i have flown them a lot, but as Batik has bigger seats and more room that is a definite plus, as well as food!  Batik is a sister company of Lion, I believed they will still be there in a years time


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#5 E_viking

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 02:47 AM

I would make a stop in Singapore. Well, I am biased towards the great food in SGP.

The transit Hotel is not a bad choice. Since, you are allowed to leave the transit at Changi.

 

Lion works, but if you have a choice then I would go for Garuda!


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#6 Luko

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 01:26 PM

The three times I went to Ambon (from Europe) it was through Singapore as the long haul destination, I get a connexion for a short flight arriving Jakarta around 10PM with AirAsia.com. I then overnight for a few hours sleep at Jakarta airport hotel (terminal 2) and get the 5:10Am early morning flight with Lionair. Arriving Ambon I take a nap and do not dive until the day after.

 

If I had to choose I would take Garuda who are more flexible on overweight luggage (you can carry up to 35kgs for divers, while LionAir is stuck with 20 kgs) but Garuda domestic flight prices have increased drastically last year.


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#7 scubamarli

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 06:44 AM

Thanks, everyone!


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#8 Jock

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 02:20 AM

We have been flying to Ambon Easter this year from Europe via Jakarta and then with Sriwijaya Air (http://sriwijayaair.co.id.) - everything was perfect. 

 

We did not use Lion Air. Why? Because online-booking was not possible. The Lion Air website would not accept any of our credit cards, whereas it was no problem with Sriwijaya Air. 

 

I wrote a short mail to Lion Air to inform them about the problem, but of course did not get a reply or any reaction. I think here on wetpixel I read about other people having the same problems.

 

If you book through an agent or through the resort you are going to this should not be an issue.

 

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#9 Luko

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 06:16 AM

I don't know what is the problem with LionAir website I've never had any issues paying with my french VISA card, sometimes they had glitches which prevented paying for one night or so, but it went fine in the morning.

 

I remember a few years ago there was a trick on their website where you had to priorily select a web location outside indonesia in order to be allowed to pay with foreign cards.

 

Anyways I am having more problems trying finding a way to register to their loyalty program (!!!), each time I try it is never the correct location or I don't have the correct papers. By the time I am flying with LionAir I should be Elite rank or something VIP...


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#10 Drew

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 11:34 AM

Marli

The flight from CGK-AMQ is 3.5 hrs. You won't get much sleep going into AMQ anyways. So I suggest you just bite the bullet and sneak micro naps and take the JKT-AMQ direct flight, then dive all day and crash after dinner.  Use the first few dives as housing test dives without camera if you feel unconfident about setting it up while jetlagged. 

I don't know what is the problem with LionAir website I've never had any issues paying with my french VISA card, sometimes they had glitches which prevented paying for one night or so, but it went fine in the morning.

Anyways I am having more problems trying finding a way to register to their loyalty program (!!!), each time I try it is never the correct location or I don't have the correct papers. By the time I am flying with LionAir I should be Elite rank or something VIP...

The Lion Air website is buggy someitmes. Use the Batik Air site to list both airlines and book from there. Same prices.  I usually just get my travel agent to buy the tix and have them sent to me.  Lion Passport gives you another 10kg. 20kg if flying C.

As an aside, Batik I think gives 15kg in Y class and 30 kg in C. So I'd avoid using the Y class on Batik. 

 

I would also choose Lion, i have flown them a lot, but as Batik has bigger seats and more room that is a definite plus, as well as food!  Batik is a sister company of Lion, I believed they will still be there in a years time

I would also choose Lion first, then Batik and Garuda based on schedule.  Food and inflight entertainment aren't important on that flight since you'll be trying to sleep. Garuda is twice the price for C class.


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#11 scubamarli

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 12:18 PM

All interesting advice to consider. Drew, my concern is not the 3.5 hour flight, it's the prior thirty hours coming from the west coast. Stopping in Singapore and changing airlines results in an additional $250 for the Crowne Plaza each direction, or going to stay in the city; I have to pass through immigration to check in to my connecting flight, so the Transit hotel is not an option. I am not a napper, and do not sleep on planes, unfortunately. I am sure I will figure it all out.


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#12 Drew

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 12:32 PM

Marli, that's my point. Stopping in SG or JKT won't help with jetlag, if you want to take advantage of the direct flight.  Personally, the stopover in UPG is a pain, especially if you change flights (where the risk of missing bags increase!).  My friends use Ambien or other sleep aids.  I personally use melatonin a week before, taken at the timezone I'm headed to. Good luck.


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#13 diver dave1

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 03:52 PM

Help for sleeping on the planes:

Do plenty of phys. activity prior to leaving.

Have comfy ear plugs and install them once at altitude and ready for sleep.

Have comfortable eye covering and use them when its sleep time.

Eat a nice meal prior to being ready for sleeping. 

For me, Ambien gives me 4 hrs of sleep and I wake alert.  If I need 4hrs more, I take another and again I wake in 4 hrs. etc.

But my wife does not like Ambien for her.

Just some ideas for thought..


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#14 Luko

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 08:19 AM

 

Lion Passport gives you another 10kg. 20kg if flying C.

 

 

I would also choose Lion first, then Batik and Garuda based on schedule.  Food and inflight entertainment aren't important on that flight since you'll be trying to sleep. Garuda is twice the price for C class.

That's exactly the problem, Drew. Lion Passport theoritically gives 10kg. But for real, it can't be obtained unless you live in Indonesia.

 

It's almost impossible to get the Lionair Passport without spending a full day in Jakarta and having the good papers (which as in Murphy's law are never the correct ones.). Let me explain this :

I went to Manado LionAir office to register to LionAir passport, they claimed three used boarding passes, we showed the useless clerk girl the bunch of three tickets we had bought and used a few days before landing Manado. My wife -arline business professional- told her she only had to look into her system to see that we had checked in and embarked the flights but no, the oyster IQ girl wanted to have three boarding pass to pin to our LionAir passport file. I asked for the manager and was replied he was at home (a tuesday at 3:30PM).

 

Then back in Singaporen using our 5th LionAir ticket of the trip, I asked LionAir at the airport for the LionAir passport, they couldn't provide me the LionAir passport inscription of course, they explained I had to go to Jakarta downtown office, (LionAir probably believes nobody would be fool enough to take a plane or buy a ticket at the airport).

When I also asked them what I had to show for the LionAir passport registration, they told me that three TICKETS were fine, I didn't need to show the boarding pass since they could look into the system to check whether we actually traveled. They also warned me it would take 3 months for the registration. (!)

At the end of the day, since it is one of Hercules tasks to get the passport, LionAir only provides 20kgs and overweight luggage that you have to pay while we do not pay anything with Garuda, which check in counters are btw immediately 50m distance from the airport hotel in CGK.

 

And about jetlag, each is different : stopping in JKT does help us indeed with jetlag, it makes a big difference cleaning up with a warm shower and getting 4 hours sleep. We are not sleepers on Indonesian carriers especially on seats with very poor recline, lots of kids crying or guys coughing around.

What we also like best with Garuda is that the pitch and the recline is much better than LionAir and since they are slightly mor eexpensive than LionAir their flights are also less crowded usually.


Edited by Luko, 31 May 2013 - 08:21 AM.

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#15 jcclink

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 08:11 PM

Have you considered flying EVA Vancouver/Taipei/Jakarta.  (May not be available every day of week.)   Overnight in Jakarta Airport Transit Hotel  (Flight arrives early afternoon.).  Fly to Ambon late night or following morning.  Domestic flights in Jakarta go out of different terminal than international (unless its Garuda).  Garuda check-in is just down stairs from transit hotel.  I fly EVA annually to Indonesia & have always had great service.

 

Not sure if you can use your points on EVA.


Edited by jcclink, 31 May 2013 - 08:15 PM.

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#16 scubamarli

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:43 AM

Eva only flies three days a week from Vancouver, but they are joining Star Alliance as of June 18th, so I am waiting to see if there are flights that will work. I flew Eva to Manila in March, and was pleasantly surprised, save for the lack of points for the flights getting me there. Points accrued only for the return. Thanks for the info re: Garuda's check in.

 

Cheers,

Marli


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#17 Drew

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 10:58 AM

I have had no problem with Lion Passport.  I signed up for it in JKT and have had no problems since.  

Going anyway else, I would probably fly Garuda also.  But the prices for Ambon is double for no real difference., I can pay for a lot of overweight luggage and still have left over.  Of course, not having to switch terminals by staying with Garuda is also nice. Pick your poison. :)

For those flying around Indo, just fly business class if it's available on the route, especially if you carry your camera/housing as hand luggage.  There's more overhead space for your gear, no need to squish it under the seat or have it stowed somewhere in the back.  It's really a few hundred dollars more (well a lot more for Garuda) for the extra convenience, comfort and safety of your equipment.

I won't comment too much on the Lion Air office since I've gotten just as bad service from SIA ( and other big international airlines) office in their home countries.  

It's Indonesia and not every field office has the latest systems for full access.  In many Indo airports, they still hand write boarding passes and use monochrome CRT monitors for basic system access.  Not an excuse but the reality of the situation.


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#18 Luko

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 01:23 PM

It's Indonesia and not every field office has the latest systems for full access.

In that downtown Manado office (which is a LionAir hub btw), they had the system it was perfectly working, the chicken IQed girl showed us our past reservation, she agreed that we flew but she still needed to pin the boarding passes to her file.  

The resort we stayed at confirmed LionAir offices were completely useless if ever you had to ask them anything. Plus I don't understand it takes 3 months to register to a loyalty program, something that anywhere in the world the airlines almost beg you to do. Sorry but I jus don't understand what they're doing with that Passport...

 

I suppose with JKT you mean you signed up in downtown Jakarta, not CGK airport because they told us at CGK airport they won't take the passport registration.


Edited by Luko, 01 June 2013 - 01:25 PM.

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Vanuatu incl.SS Pres.Coolidge wreck.

#19 scubamarli

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 02:04 PM

Well, I have had no success booking on Lion Air. It simply will not accept my credit card; as many others have experienced. I am guessing that I will have to book it through an agent or through Maluku divers. Totally frustrating experience. Sriwijaya doesn't fly mid-week, and Garuda wouldn't even post availability.

 

Cheers,

Marli


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#20 MikeVeitch

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 04:51 PM

You need an Indonesian Credit Card to book online with Lion Air.  You are much better off to use someone such as Maluku Divers to do it for you


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