Flying China Airlines on this 5th freedom flight from Surabaya to Singapore has been on my bucket-list for the longest time now (China Airlines has been operating this flight CI752 / CI751 for many years, as an extension of one of its double daily flights from Taipei.
Operator: China Airlines
Route: Surabaya to Singapore
Operating aircraft: A330-302
Departure from Surabaya: 6.05am / 6.25am*
Arrival in Singapore: 9.25am / 9.14am*
Flight time: 2h20 / 1h49*
(*denotes actual timings)
The bad part about this flight is the extremely early departure at 6.05am, which meant an unearthly wake-up alarm at 3am. I was staying at Swiss-Belinn Airport Surabaya, which is comfortable and a quick 10min ride from the airport, however, as their complimentary shuttle only starts from 5am to 1am. I can't help but worry about finding transport to the airport.
My fears were unfounded and I managed to get transport through the Grab app for RP26,000 + an additional RP6000 for parking.
At China Airlines check-in, there's plenty of available check-in agents and counters, so there was not a queue when we arrived at 4am. When we left about 15 mins later, a short queue had started to form though.
At that time, shops and cafes inside the terminal are already open, selling last minute souvenirs, hot coffee and snacks.
I like how you get a clear view (though the glass is somewhat reflective) of the operating aircraft from the airside - how #avgeek friendly!
Here's the Airbus A330-302 aircraft with registration B-18351 taking a rest before operating this flight CI752 Surabaya to Singapore to Taipei. It had arrived last night as CI751 from Taipei via Singapore.
China Airlines operates this roundtrip Surabaya-Singapore sector with 5th freedom rights, hence travellers may fly on China Airlines solely between Surabaya and Singapore without having to connect to Taipei.
Next door is Cathay Pacific Airways A330-343E (registration: B-LBC) which will operate CX780 to Hong Kong at 8am.
At 5am, the crew arrived and boarded for their flight duty all the way through to Taipei.
Passengers were boarded at 5.25am, with boarding based on the colour-coded cards they were handed prior to entry to the gate holding area.
Passengers with small children and with wheelchairs were boarded followed by the Business Class passengers and status passengers.
Seated at the rear end of Economy Class, I was given a pink card and was the first group in the main Economy Class groups to board.
The cabin crew were welcoming during the boarding - even greeting me "Selamat pagi" - Indonesian for Good Morning. It was a great first impression!
The cabin crew also proactively assist passengers with the boarding, showing them to their seats and helping them with the baggage.
Making my way to the seat, it was already furnished with a blanket and a pillow.
Entertainment earsets are also provided.
On each seat, there is also a handy vanity mirror - we all want to look glamourous after the flight, don't we?
It was announced flight time to Singapore was 1 hour and 55 minutes, followed by the safety video (in Taiwanese Mandarin and English).
I like how the camera view is made available during the pushback all the way to take off.
China Airlines Fantasy Sky entertainment on this A330-300 aircraft has a quite smallish screen, but surprisingly is touchscreen!
There are two camera views offered (forward-facing and downwards-facing).
Unfortunately, halfway during the flight, the system seemed to trip and the touchscreen function was somehow disabled, hence I reverted back to the well, handy entertainment handset at the side of the armrest.
The cabin crew commenced meal service very shortly after the seatbelt sign was turned off.
There is only a single choice (a hot meal nonetheless) on this flight sector: fish rendang, served with steamed rice and julienned stir-fried vegetables.
This Indonesian-style dish was served with a bun, fresh cut fruit and a cup of water.
There's even a sachet of Chilli sauce (a must for Indonesians) to accompany the meal.
I thought it was not bad but my seat neighbour didn't touch his meal.
After serving the meals, the cabin crew followed with hot beverage service, offering hot coffee and tea.
At this point, I must highlight that the service provided on the flight was really excellent. The China Airlines cabin crew are very polite and enthusiastic as they serve the passengers their meals and drinks. They even thank the passengers as they place the meal trays on the tray table. The cabin crew were very professional and did not seem at all affected by the very early hour that they have to work and the long work day they have ahead of them. Truly am appreciative for their Taiwanese hospitality.
The cabin lights were dimmed for a short while after the meal service - I noticed many of the passengers were resting, given their day started very early.
Forward Economy Class cabin view
Aft Economy Class cabin view
The lavatory was stocked with Olivia Farmacia branded amenities, such as Liquid Soap, Moisturizer and Fragrance Mist.
After a quick cabin preparation and safety check for landing by the cabin crew, the aircraft descended into Singapore Changi Airport, where we parked at Terminal 3.
Passengers continuing on to Taipei had to disembark with their belongings, and undergo security clearance before reboarding the aircraft at 9.45am.
I really enjoyed this China Airlines flight experience, given the excellent hospitality by the cabin crew. Though the meal or entertainment provided aren't quite anything to shout about, I appreciate the good service onboard, and flying on this widebody A330 aircraft, with complimentary 30kg luggage between Surabaya and Singapore. Perhaps the only gripe is the unearthly departure hour, which basically meant sacrificing sleep the previous night. That said, to be so taken care of by the cabin crew on this China Airlines flight beats flying low-cost.
Finally ticking this flight off my bucket list, I am glad I did so.
Watch my full CI752 flight experience here: