JC International Airlines is a private airline operating domestically within Cambodia and to select regional destinations. What better way for an #avgeek to start the new year than experiencing a new airline on its inaugural flight!
Airline: JC International Airlines
Route: Singapore to Phnom Penh
Departure from Singapore Changi Airport: 12.55pm / 1.13pm^
Arrival in Phnom Penh International Airport: 1.55pm / 1:54pm^
Flight Time: 2 hours / 1 hour and 41 minutes^
Operating Aircraft: Airbus 320-214
(^ denotes actual timings)
Arriving in Changi Airport Terminal 4 - the infant of the four terminals (in terms of size and length of operations), I made my way to Row 1 where check-in for flight QV676 would take place.
Interestingly, while most airlines operating at Terminal 4 have opted for the passenger self check-in system, JC International Airlines have chosen the conventional agent-assisted check-in. There, I saw random people (Changi Airport management staff) standing around watching the check-in process - probably to oversee a smooth first-day operation for JC International Airlines.
When I arrived, there were two counters open, and no queue stands to indicate any queues. Since both counters were occupied, I chose the counter which I thought would move the fastest. This is when I had a really sour experience with the Changi Airport team (who were there overseeing the check-in process for JC International Airlines).
The check-in process was painfully slow, perhaps, because of the unfamiliarity with the check-in system of a new airline. Even though there was just one travelling party in front of me, it was taking a long time to check them in even though they didn't have check-in bags. Then, a third counter was opened, I thought they might wave me over but the staff (and two others standing behind her) kept their heads low and fixated at the computer screen, ignoring me, as they seemed to be challenged by the check-in system, so I continued to wait patiently at my chosen counter.
Then the most ridiculous thing happened: a young Caucasian lady arrived for check-in and she was quickly ushered to the third counter for check-in - despite all this time, I had been standing in line and waiting for my turn for check-in! Do I not look like a person? I couldn't believe this prejudiced customer service treatment was happening in this first-world country which takes pride in multiculturalism and racial harmony! I tried to console myself in maybe it was a Business Class counter and she was travelling in Business but no, as reality bites me: JC International Airlines was operating an all-Economy Class flight.
I think to say I was infuriated by the perceived racial bias was an understatement. I had just been blatantly slapped on the face with a third-world treatment by the so-called world's best airport.
Angry as I was, when I eventually did my check-in (at another counter when it was free), I kept my cool since the agent at the counter wasn't the offending party, and let the matter rest... ...until now.
I then made my way to the airside, and spent some time spotting aircraft with the amazing unobstructed views of the runway (previously inaccessible from the first three terminals).
Terminal 4 is very pleasant, with cosy seating everywhere and a variety of dining and shopping amenities for passengers with time (and Singaporean dollars) to spare. I can see how hours can run quickly by here.
The aircraft arrived from Phnom Penh as flight QD675 and it would be a turnaround flight for the crew.
Boarding was done by rows (Rows 21-30 followed by 1-20), and was swift, given the light load on this flight. A goodie bag was given to every passenger (and just in case you are wondering, not only the Western passengers this time).
The goodie bag comprised a travel amenity kit and a USB drive. It was going to be the only gesture to mark this inaugural flight.
Passengers were welcomed onboard by the cabin crew with a traditional sampeah greeting and warm smiles.
Making my way to my seat, I noticed how newish the aircraft cabin looked with slimline black leather seats and a bright and clean cabin interior. The slimline leather seats proved to be comfortable and offered good legroom.
A leaflet with Mandarin translations for filling up the immigration and customs forms was provided along with the safety instructions card at the seat back.
On this flight, announcements were made in Khmer and English, with selected announcements in Khmer.
Wet wipes were offered once boarding was completed.
A safety demonstration was performed by the cabin crew before the take off.
We then took off on this inaugural flight to Phnom Penh.
I didn't know if JC International Airlines offered complimentary meals (the check-in agents didn't know either) but apparently they did, with a meal cart rolling out a short while after the seatbelt sign was turned off.
There was only one choice of meal, and only drinking water was offered with the meal. Though simple, service onboard was a lot better than back at Changi Airport, with sincere smiles and the lack of prejudicial treatment, with the kind steward wishing "Enjoy your lunch" as he handed the meal tray to me. The cabin crew displayed a professional and service-oriented attitude.
More water was offered after the meal trays were served.
The sole choice for lunch looked like a very spicy chicken dish. However, biting into the tender pieces of chicken revealed a mild aromatic lemongrass flavour. I really liked the Khmer flavours in this dish.
It was delicious!
The main dish was served with a bun and butter.
Meal trays were then collected. During the meal tray collection, we hit some rough air and the seatbelt sign was turned on, with an automated announcement played in English and Mandarin (strangely though, not in Khmer).
On this inaugural flight, like myself, my fellow excited passengers were taking photographs and selfies. Eventually, everyone settled down to have a quiet moment for the rest of the flight.
It was a very comfortable and quiet flight, with the light load.
The lavatory was equipped with moisturizing hand soap (strawberry flavour).
Immigration and customs forms were then handed out.
Time flew quickly on this short flight, and it was time for landing. I enjoyed a beautiful view of Cambodia's generally flat landscape during the landing, and thus, concluding this inaugural flight experience with JC International Airlines.
It had been a very pleasant flight journey with JC International Airlines even if it was a quiet and toned-down inaugural flight. Though my check-in experience was tarnished by the bad judgement of the Changi Airport staff (at no fault of JC International Airlines), I was happy at the professional attitude of the cabin crew onboard. JC International Airlines offers a simplified full-service airline concept: with complimentary 20kg baggage allowance, a hot meal and water served. I will be happy to fly with JC International Airlines again.
Thank you for reading this JC International Airlines flight experience on FlightTravels.
For the full flight video of my QV676 flight, please see below: