Several years ago I saw a Discovery Channel series on the Komodo dragon, the largest lizards in the world.  Komodo dragons can grow to nine to 10′ max and rarely weigh more than 180 pounds.  Their natural habitat is a cluster of five islands in the Lesser Sunda chain in southeastern Indonesia.  After arriving in Bali I booked a one-day tour to Komodo National Park that included round trip air travel.

Other posts about this trip to Bali:

Korean Air 747-8i Upper Deck Business (Prestige) Class – Atlanta, GA (ATL) to Seoul/Incheon, Republic of Korea (ICN)

Korean Air A330-300 Business (Prestige) Class – Seoul/Incheon, Republic of Korea (ICN) to Denpasar, Indonesia (DPS)

The Stones Hotel, Legian, Bali – A Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel

Komodo National Park, Rinca Island, Indonesia – Trip Report

Trip Report NAM Air 737-500 Economy Class – Labuan Bajo, Indonesia to Denpasar, Indonesia to Denpasar, Indonesia (Bali)

Priority Pass Lounge Review – Premier Lounge International Terminal, Denpasar, Indonesia (Bali)

My Worst Ever Travel Mistake –  Qantas 737-800 Denpasar, Indonesia (Bali) to Sydney, Australia 

Wings Air (IW) Flight 1888 – Denpasar, Indonesia to Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

Equipment:  ATR 72-500

Distance:  323 statute miles

Class of Service:  Economy

Seat:  8F

Scheduled Flight time:  1 hour and 15 minutes

The flight was on Wings Air, an airline I’d never heard of.  Wings Air is a subsidiary of Lion Air, Indonesia’s largest privately owned airline and the second largest low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia behind Air Asia.  Lion Air was founded in 1999.  In 2016, Lion Air was banned from flying to the EU because of safety concerns.  The ban was lifted last year when Lion AIr was awarded a positive safety rating from the International Civil Aviation Organization.

I don’t know the price for the airfare because the tour booked my ticket.  It is easy to find round trip tickets for under $200.

I picked up my boarding pass in the morning when I checked in at Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS).

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Lion Air check in at DPS.  There was no line when I checked in at 07:15 for the 08:00 flight.

Gate 3 was the designated boarding gate.  The flight actually boarded from Gate 4.20190414_104617

Actually “boarded from” is a misnomer.  There was no jet bridge.  ATR 72s aren’t built for them.  After the gate, we waited in a stairwell for about 15 minutes before being allowed to walk to the plane.

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Wings Air ATR 72-500 at DPS

Walking to and from the aircraft is stylish.  It’s no fun being in a flow of people getting  injected into a plane and then sucked back out by jet bridge.  Although the plane was parked pretty far out on the ramp, it was refreshing to stroll up and climb aboard. 20190302_163952 (1)

ATR 72s are used for regional and commuter flights.  Lion Air and subsidiaries operate more ATR 72s than any other airline.  All of Wings Air’s planes are ATR 72s – 20 500s and 45 600s.

The major differences between the 500 and 600 versions are cockpit instrumentation and the 600’s PW127M engine that has a 5% takeoff power boost function that the 500 lacks.  For passengers, the primary difference is the 600 has larger overhead bins.

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Wings ATR 72-500 cabin.

I needed no overhead space on this trip as I carried only a backpack.  There are 72 seats – hence the name ATR 72.  All seats are economy and are arranged 2-2.  My seat 8F was a window seat mid-cabin on the starboard side.

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Seats 8E and 8F

I estimate the seat pitch at about 31 inches.  That is enough legroom for short flights.  On this flight, I was sitting next to an unoccupied seat.  Being able to spread out makes any seat much more comfortable.  But ATR flights are usually short and fun like the Bangkok Airways flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos.

Unfortunately, with the densification campaign on U.S. airlines, 31-inch pitch is becoming standard even on cross-country and international flights on narrowbody aircraft.

Takeoff was at 08:03 on Runway 27.

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Departing Ngurah Rai International

High-wing aircraft like the ATR 72 provide great downward visibility.  This flight was fairly boring because clouds obscured everything for much of the trip and there was absolutely no service.  Onboard announcements were in English and Indonesian (I assume).

Mid-flight, I visited the bathroom at the rear of the cabin mainly just to have something to do.

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The bathroom is tiny like on many regional jets, but at 6’2″ I could at least stand up straight.
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Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands.  Bali and Denpasar are at the far left.  Labuan Bajo, on the northwest corner of the Island of Flores, is near Komodo Island in the center.  Labuan Bajo (pop 2,000) is too small to be identified on this map.  Wikipedia map.

On approach to Labuan Bajo, there were a few breaks in the overcast.20190414_105723

Flight 1888 landed at Komodo Airport at 09:21.

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Wings ATR 72 at Labuan Bajo

It was a short walk to the new terminal.  Like me, many stopped for photos on the way.

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Komodo AIrport Terminal

In 2016, this airport went through a major upgrade.  It can now handle 1.5 million passengers annually.  That is 10 times greater than capacity previously.

It is still a small airport.  Because this was a domestic flight and I had no luggage, it took no more than five minutes to walk from plane to curbside to meet my contact for the Komodo Dragon tour.

Overall Impression

This was a good flight for the price.  It departed on time and arrived just a few minutes late.  While I did not pay directly, I’m sure the flight was less than $100.  Aviation is  important in this part of the world.  There are countless thousands of populated islands here.  Air transport is the best means of transportation and communication to link them together.  Basic, inexpensive flights are a must.  Wings Air helps to satisfy that need.

 

 

 

 

 

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