TransNusa is Now a Full-Service Carrier?!

On February 21, 2024, Indonesian low-cost carrier TransNusa apparently announced its transition into a full-service carrier. CH-Aviation quotes TransNusa CEO Dato Bernard Francis saying, “Since the takeover, TransNusa has been aggressively implementing plans that set the airline apart from other low-cost carriers through the comfort and flexibility offered as a premium service carrier”. He added that TransNusa has, “also ensured that all our flights will be departing and arriving at only major international airports”. 

TransNusa’s ARJ21-900 at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali on a proving flight

I mean yes but also no.

You might remember that I was an early champion of TransNusa, having had very great impressions of their Airbus A320neo product and inflight service. As I remember vividly, that ex-Saudi Gulf aircraft features one of the best seats and legroom you’d find on a domestic Indonesian flight – easily elevating the airline as an excellent carrier. While that product certainly lends credibility to the airline’s claim, their sole A320neo was disposed to Uzbekistan Airways in 2023. I subsequently reviewed their backbone Airbus A320-200 product last year. It was far from impressive…

TransNusa’s former Airbus A320neo Economy Class
TransNusa’s former Airbus A320neo legroom

At its current state, I have no idea how TransNusa can reasonably call itself a “premium-service carrier”. I mean sure, the airline’s Airbus A320-200 product is competitive with Lufthansa’s short-haul operations, but this is Asia we’re talking about. As such, the airline’s very uncomfortable slimline Recaro BL3520 Economy seats just don’t cut it as anything above a low-cost carrier.

TransNusa’s Airbus A320-200 Economy Class
TransNusa’s Airbus A320-200 legroom

I don’t have much hope for future aircraft deliveries either. For one, I was quite dismayed to see that their brand-new Comac ARJ21s feature similarly no-firlls slimline seats. These jets are tightly equipped with 95 seats, which is five more than virtually all other carriers operating the jet.

TransNusa’s ARJ21 Cabin (picture: Chinese state media)
TransNusa’s ARJ21 Cabin (picture: Chinese state media)

“Premium-Service Carrier”

Despite my disagreeing views, I’d note that the airline has shied away from directly labelling itself as a Full-Service Carrier, instead embracing the moniker “premium-service carrier”. This may be due to Indonesian laws defining a full-service carrier as an airline serving inflight meals and refreshments, offering inflight entertainment, and 20 kg baggage allowance. So far, TransNusa checks none of those boxes.

TransNusa’s Airbus A320-200

Sure, the airline has free checked bags but that only goes up to 15 kg on international flights. I’ll add that their domestic flights have a standard baggage allowance of 20 kg, but that’s thanks to Indonesian government regulations. The airline also serves hot meals (and great ones too), but again, you need to pay for them and any light refreshments.

Woku Fish Meal on TransNusa (paid)

I mean Indonesia’s infamous low-cost carrier, Lion Air and its even lower-cost subsidiary, Super Air Jet is closer to fulfilling those requirements. While the latter has an identical cabin product to TransNusa, both boast a free 20 kg checked baggage allowance. The two even have inflight entertainment streaming! I mean yes it’s not great, but still… 

To Close

TransNusa has now announced that it is a “premium-service carrier”, without illustrating with concrete examples how it has set itself apart from other low-cost carriers. Given its no-frills product, I can’t help but disagree with the airline’s statements. Perhaps I’m being too harsh and perhaps the airline has significantly improved its product since my last flight with them. We’ll see…

2 responses to “TransNusa is Now a Full-Service Carrier?!”

  1. Budi hartanto

    Last time I flying transnusa to kl they give pillow in the seat. This is new presentation.

    1. Hi Budi, thanks for reading. That is very interesting, I’ll check that out. Thanks for letting me know.

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