A Journey to Java

This is the introduction of our Indonesia trip report, in which I will fly over to Indonesia for holiday to visit the island of Java, and have a quick peek in Rome and Singapore during stopovers on the way there and back.

Trying to reach platinum status

After reaching Flying Blue gold status last year after the epic Air France error fare, followed by a couple of short haul flights on Sky Team airlines in spring, I started to realise that I was suddenly halfway to platinum status.

Not that I care too much about platinum in itself as the extra benefits aren’t much to write home about when compared to Flying Blue’s gold status. It however did got me thinking that if I would reach platinum, it would be like an extra lifeline.

If I wouldn’t requalify for platinum the year after, I’d have a soft landing back to gold and thus still keep the important benefits (such as lounge access) for at least two years more. Failing to requalify as a gold member means you drop back to silver status and would lose the most important benefits.

Saudi Arabian Airlines

It was at that point that I saw again a great post on Flyertalk writing about some great Saudi Arabian Airlines business class fares from Italy. With Saudia being a Sky Team member, flying to Indonesia would easily earn me enough miles to get me from gold to platinum status with Flying Blue.

Coupled with the fact that I didn’t yet have any real holiday booked in summer and never visited Indonesia before, it was an easy decision to travel to Java. For just 350 EUR I was booked in business class from Rome to Jakarta via Riyadh.

Booking the return

As I was unsure what to do with the return (and how many days I could get off from work for my trip) I only booked a one-way ticket to Indonesia, postponing the decision how to return for a couple of weeks.

In the end I probably waited for too long with my decision. If I would have immediately booked a return ticket on Saudia straight away, I would have everything settled for just 700 EUR return in business class – an excellent deal. Unfortunately, one-way tickets back from Asia to Europe on Saudia were expensive and thus not a real option.

While contemplating my plans I also missed another great business class sale on Oman Air on tickets from Jakarta back to Europe. When I finally was ready to book my tickets, also this deal was gone. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose out on such flight deals!

Getting creative

In the end I had to get a bit creative for my flight home. I just could not find a decently priced one-way fare out of Indonesia back to Europe. When looking for flights out of other Asian countries I managed to find a decently priced 280 EUR Manila-Taipei-Rome ticket on China Airlines in economy class. With China Airlines being a Sky Team airline as well, the additional miles earned would be a nice extra benefit.

Of course, that meant I still needed to find a way from Indonesia to the Philippines! Luckily, I still had enough frequent flyer miles in my Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus account which would suit my needs.

One of the sweet spots of the Miles+Bonus programme is their gigantic Far East region, which stretches all the way from Japan and China down to Indonesia. At just 21,000 Aegean miles, one-way business class flights in this region are an absolute steal (at least at the time of travelling – after a recent devaluation you now require more miles to redeem the same ticket).

Booking the tickets

I ended up booking a ticket on Singapore Airlines from Surabaya to Manila via Singapore for 21,000 Aeagean miles plus a mere 16 EUR in taxes. And what is not to like about trying out Singapore Airlines’ new regional business class product on the Boeing 787 and eating your first ever lobster thermidor in the sky?

Having never flown Singapore Airlines before, I was immensely excited as the airline is known for being one of the best airline companies in the world.

As I decided to visit Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya on the island of Java, I also had to cover transport between these cities as well. I opted for a flight between Jakarta and Yogyakarta and a train between Yogyakarta and Surabaya.

For the Indonesian domestic flight I went for national airline Garuda, as other airlines in Indonesia have questionable safety records. With economy class costing 80 EUR and business class being just 40 EUR more, I opted for the latter.

After booking a cheap Wizz Air flight from Bucharest to Rome (40 EUR) and a slightly more expensive flight on TAROM (80 EUR) to travel back from Rome to Bucharest to get me home, I was all set to go.

This is how all flights look like on a map:

java flight map
The flights (9 in total) which I will take on this trip. ©Great Circle Mapper

Highlights

In this Java (Indonesia) trip report you can expect the following highlights:

– Saudia’s surprisingly good business class product
– Three great historical hotels on Java: the Hermitage (Jakarta), the Phoenix Hotel (Yogyakarta) and the Majapahit (Surabaya)
– The magical Borobudur and Prambanan temples
– Singapore Airlines’ superb regional business class product on the Boeing 787

borobudur sunrise temple java indonesia trip report
Borobudur, Indonesia. ©Paliparan
java indonesia rice field
A rice field on the Indonesian island of Java with the Merapi Volcano visible in the background. ©Paliparan
prambanan temple indonesia java trip report
Prambanan, a 9th Century Hindu temple on the island of Java. ©Paliparan
singapore airlines business class lobster thermidor
Eating a lobster thermidor in business class on Singapore Airlines. ©Paliparan

Trip report index

This trip report consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Wizz Air Bucharest to Rome Ciampino (Airbus A321)
2. Half a Day in Rome: A Walk Around the Eternal City
3. Review: Casa Alitalia Lounge ‘Piazza di Spagna’ Rome Fiumicino Airport
4. Review: Saudia Business Class Rome to Riyadh (Airbus A320)
5. Review: Saudia Alfursan Business Lounge Riyadh Airport
6. Review: Saudia Business Class Riyadh to Jakarta (Boeing 777-300)
7. Review: The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia
8. A Day in Jakarta: Exploring Indonesia’s Bustling Capital City
9. Review: Garuda Indonesia Domestic Business Lounge Jakarta Airport
10. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Jakarta to Yogyakarta (Boeing 737-800)
11. Review: The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta – Mgallery By Sofitel
12. A Magical Sunrise Visit to Borobudur Temple
13. A Visit to the Great Hindu Temple Complex of Prambanan
14. Review: Yogyakarta to Surabaya (Indonesia) by Train
15. Review: Majapahit Hotel, Surabaya, Indonesia
16. A Day in Surabaya: Exploring Indonesia’s Second Biggest City
17. Review: Concordia Premier Lounge Surabaya Airport
18: Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class Surabaya to Singapore (Airbus A330-300)
19. A Short Singapore Stopover: Into the City or Stay at the Airport?
20. Review: SilverKris Lounge Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2
21. Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class Singapore to Manila (Boeing 787-10)
22. Review: PAGSS Business Lounge Manila Airport Terminal 1
23. Review: China Airlines Economy Class Manila to Taipei (Airbus A330-300)
24. Review: China Airlines Business Lounge Taipei Airport Terminal 1
25. Review: China Airlines Economy Class Taipei to Rome (Airbus A350)
26. Review: TAROM Economy Class Rome to Bucharest (Boeing 737-700)

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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