Review: TransNusa A320 Economy (CGK-DPS)

Jyaga okay (3/5)

TransNusa A320 flight information

Airline : TransNusa Aviation
Flight No : 8B5106
Departure City : Jakarta – Soekarno-Hatta (CGK)
Arrival City : Denpasar – Ngurah Rai (DPS)
Equipment : A320neo (PK-TLC)
Blocked Time : 1h50m
Seat No: 2F

Airline Background

TransNusa is an Indonesian low-cost carrier (LCC) based out of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport that operates a fleet of used A320 aircraft. The airline used to operate an island-hopper network between regional and rural airports within the country using ATR aircraft; however, that business plan was abandoned following the airline’s temporary suspension of service in 2020. It was relaunched in 2022 as a Hong Kong-backed LCC and is the first non-Chinese airline to fly COMAC aircraft.

Whilst I’ve reviewed TransNusa before, it has come to my attention that TransNusa has withdrawn its sole Airbus A320neo (PK-TLA) from service. Since I was already going to Bali, this was an excellent opportunity to review TransNusa’s regular Airbus A320-200 product. 

Booking TransNusa

I booked this TransNusa flight a week before travel. Understandably, the airfares have gone up due to the last-minute nature of my booking. In the end, I paid IDR1,023,000 (~USD67, GBP53) for my flight to Denpasar. I spent an extra IDR80,000 (~USD5, GBP4) for a front-section PRO seat and another IDR49,000 (~USD3, GBP2.5) for a meal. This puts the total cost at IDR1,152,000 (~USD75.5, GBP60).

TransNusa Check-in

For this 10.20 departure, I got to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport’s cavernous Terminal 3 at 09.10. I arrived by taxi and was dropped off at Gate 3, which is the assigned door for a bunch of international airlines. Afterwards, I walked and entered the terminal through Door 4, close to the Domestic Check-in Area.

Kerbside Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Terminal 3
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Terminal 3

TransNusa’s check-in counters are located at Island E, next to that of Pelita Air and just behind that of Garuda Indonesia. Within three minutes of waiting, I was already in front of the line, which goes to show how efficient they are. Confirming that I had booked a seat and a meal, the friendly check-in agent quickly printed me a boarding pass and tagged my check-in bag. 

TransNusa Check-in desks
Cabin baggage checker

Upon receiving my boarding pass, I proceeded straight to the security checkpoint. The line was, as usual, long and winding though moved quickly. Priority security isn’t available to anyone except for VIPs as well as Business Class and SkyTeam Elite Plus passengers on Garuda Indonesia.


After catching up with my friend, we hurriedly headed to our gate at the far end of the terminal. TransNusa flights consistently depart from these faraway gates, so do allot time to head there. Free electric cart shuttles to that section of the terminal are available from Gate 13, though they come inconsistently.

PK-TLC, the Airbus A320-200 taking us to Bali

Boarding started at 10.00 according to the printed time indicated on my boarding pass. Since we arrived at the gate at 10.10, boarding was already nearly complete by the time we got there. Curiously some special assistance passengers were boarded last, after general boarding. This is honestly the first time I’ve seen this happen. Anyway, at the door, I was greeted by the friendly cabin crew, who confirmed that I was on the correct flight.

TransNusa A320-200 Cabin

Our flight today is operated by PK-TLC, an Airbus A320-200 that was delivered to Air Berlin in 2006. TransNusa’s Airbus A320 inherits its seating from Chengdu Airlines, the past operator of the jet. As such, it is no surprise to see the cabin being decked with what appears to be an iteration of the Recaro BL3520 seat – a product popular with many low-cost airlines and the Lufthansa Group. 

TransNusa A320-200 Cabin
TransNusa A320-200 Cabin

The cabin is equipped in a 3-3 all-economy configuration featuring 174 seats. This means that TransNusa’s A320-200s feature an extra row over the configuration found on their excellent (ex?) Airbus A320neo that features only 168 seats. Regardless, this is still one row less than the A320s operated by Pelita Air or major European airlines like Lufthansa and British Airways. Hey, credit where credit is due, right? 😉

TransNusa A320-200 Cabin
TransNusa A320-200 Cabin

As the first five and emergency exit rows are sold as PRO seats, they feature a yellow cover. Every other seat inherits the blue leather seats from Chengdu Airlines.

Seats on the TransNusa A320

Expected from a cabin inherited from a Chinese low-cost carrier, the seats are completely no-frills. However, at a height of 180 cm (5′ 11), I am pleased to report that the legroom is not bad. There is a distance of 12 cm from my knee to seat back, thanks to the slimline seats installed. This, for instance, is better than that of Indonesia AirAsia, which I felt was even more of a low-cost carrier.

Seats on the TransNusa A320-200
Seats on the TransNusa A320-200
Legroom on the TransNusa A320-200
Legroom on the TransNusa A320-200

Unfortunately, like my experience on other airlines with slimline Recaro seats, this seat is similarly uncomfortable. The padding, or lack thereof, is akin to a peculiarly thick ironing board. This seat is a far cry from the incredible product on the airline’s Airbus A320neo, which really took me by surprise.

Seats on the TransNusa A320-200
Seats on the TransNusa A320-200

Furthermore, unlike Pelita Air and the Lion Air Group airlines, TransNusa does not offer inflight entertainment. Thankfully, the tray table is sturdy, making it a relatively okay surface to use as a worktable. There are also overhead air vents, which I am personally thankful for.

Tray table
Overhead air vents

Cabin observations

At 17.5 years, PK-TLC is anything but a new plane. As such, I definitely wasn’t expecting a spiffy and plush cabin like those on TransNusa’s newer ex-Saudi Gulf A320neo. Despite that, I wasn’t impressed by the condition of the cabin, which has more than its fair share of wear and tear. For one, a few seats (including my own) have broken seat recline functions, which made it hard to keep seats upright. During the flight, I also noticed an overhead panel that was not in place. Hmm…

Broken panel

Departure from Jakarta

During check-in, I was advised that our flight today would be completely full. Sure enough, by the time the boarding door was closed, the plane was completely devoid of empty seats. The main door was closed at 10.20, meaning that we would have an on-time departure. I think this is impressive because until last year TransNusa has had issues keeping its flights on time.

A Citilink A320-200 next door

After the door was closed, the purser made a clear and crisp welcome announcement in Indonesian and English, echoing the experience on my last flight. She detailed our flight time of 1 hour and 40 minutes to Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. The announcement was followed by a pushback sequence at 10.26 alongside a manual safety demonstration. After our short taxi to the runway, we took off from runway 25R at 10.35, ascending up Jakarta’s polluted skies towards Bali!

Departure from Jakarta

TransNusa Inflight Service

The inflight buy-on-board service began 10 minutes after takeoff. It appears that purchases will have to be made with cash, so do have some cash in hand if you intend to buy anything. For reference, the following is the inflight service menu available.

Various seatback pocket content
Inflight menu

Since I anticipated myself not to have breakfast yet, I pre-booked a meal to consume on board. Whilst I love TransNusa’s Woku Fish Meal, I decided to change things a bit and try the Nasi Kuning Ayam, a turmeric-based coconut milk-steamed rice served with spiced chicken. 

Nasi Kuning Ayam meal

The meal was served shortly after the flight attendants started the inflight sales service. Sadly, as what appears to be the norm on TransNusa nowadays, the hot meal is served straight on the table, lacking a tray. The meal is served with a bottle of water, alongside a small packet of chili sauce. 

Nasi Kuning Ayam meal

The Nasi Kuning Ayam meal was served piping hot, and it took me a while to open the aluminium packaging lid. For IDR49,000, this is a great value meal for a flight, although admittedly I wasn’t as big of a fan of this meal. Whilst the rice was fluffy, it was bland — quite strange for Nasi Kuning. Overall, I very much prefer the flavourful taste of the Woku Fish Meal, which is a great light meal.

Nasi Kuning Ayam meal


After the meal, I visited the toilet briefly to freshen up. Whilst the toilet is clean, unfortunately, the toilet seat appears to be broken and mended up with tape. Hmm…

TransNusa A320-200 Toilet

Arrival in Bali

About 35 minutes before arrival, the captain announced the details of our arrival. He estimated that we would be touching down at 13.10, 10 minutes before our scheduled time of arrival. Descent commenced five minutes later, followed by the preparation of the cabin for landing 15 minutes later.

View from the wing
View from the wing

After crossing the strait between Java and Bali, we approached the island from the west, getting nice views of the Kuta and Jimbaran areas as we were about to land.

View of Jimbaran from the plane
View on approach to Bali

We touched down at Ngurah Rai International Airport at 13.06 with a relatively rough landing, though by no means anything bad like my Batik Air flight to Singapore. Despite that, I was impressed that we arrived 14 minutes early, which means TransNusa has improved a lot when it comes to on-time performance. Upon landing, the purser thanked us for flying TransNusa and curiously mentioned that it is illegal to steal the under-seat life jackets(?!).

As we did our slow taxi sequence to the gate, we passed by a few interesting aeroplanes like an Antonov 2 and an ex-Merpati Nusantara Xian Ma 60. There were also a few low-cost widebodies like a Jetstar Boeing 787 and an AirAsia X A330-300. There were also three VietJet A321s, which sure surprised me.

Antonov 2 and ex-Merpati Nusantara Xian Ma 60
Jetstar Boeing 787
AirAsia X A330-300
VietJet A321s

We arrived at the stand at 13.15 and ended up parking next to a Citilink A320-200 and a Garuda Indonesia Boeing 777-300ER. The main door was opened three minutes later, and soon enough everybody was invited to disembark.

Citilink A320 and Garuda Indonesia Boeing 777-300ER

Observation on arrival

Since I didn’t get any empty cabin pictures during the boarding process, I decided to stay on board to wait for the cabin to clear up. Interestingly as I waited, I noticed a passenger bringing with her the inflight life jacket(?!). As she walked towards the exit, she was then firmly-yet-respectfully reprimanded by one of the flight attendants. Thankfully, the lady did not argue and handed the jacket back to the flight attendant.

Cabin after landing

After getting some pictures of the cabin, I thanked the friendly crew and bid farewell to the plane.

Wings Air and Lion Air in Bali
PK-TLC in Bali


To be frank, I found the flight to be professionally run and well-organised. This is honestly much better than the amateurish operations you ought to find with the Lion Group-run airlines. In addition, I was also impressed that the flight boarded and departed on time, and even arrived early. However, the rest of the experience mimicked my Pelita Air flight, in that the flight was nothing special. Perhaps I came with way too high expectations based on my last flight with TransNusa – but given the uncomfortable seats, this flight truly felt like those on any other low-cost carrier. Sadly, since the airline isn’t what it was, I won’t go out of my way to fly with them anymore.

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