After spending a long weekend in Bali, Indonesia I took a flight back to Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines in business class, as I reviewed the product before I won’t do so again and instead focus on the airport experience.
Ngurah Rai International Airport Bali (DPS) seems to have been undergoing recent renovation, from what I gathered online it was a dump before that and as far as I experienced the renovation seems to have been a missed chance to change that.
Once I reached the drop-off lane at departures there are two slightly angled up bridges from the road to the terminal. It is some 150m walking and the escalators installed there were out of service, given that it is outside and not air conditioned it’s not really fun to push heavy luggage up this walk. Once you made it “to the top” there are some restaurants and stores followed by a passport and luggage check. You will need to show a printed flight confirmation or equivalent on your phone to be admitted, which means you need to have it before check-in. Besides the fact that this is super inconvenient and serves no purpose other than harassing people (imagine an elderly person with heavy luggage, the family couldn’t help them to check-in unless they also fly…) the security staff was also unnecessarily rough borderline violent.
Once I made it to the check-in counter I had to find out that the business class counter was blocked by a 20 person group, which appeared to be having trouble with their tickets. While it is common to have economy pax using the business class check-in when no premium passenger is present, and I have explicitly no problem with that – even if it causes a short wait sometimes, I find it incredibly unprofessional by the staff to allow a huge group blocking the counter, since it is obvious that their issues can’t be finished in a timely manner when premium passengers show up. That is exactly what happened when I came, after waiting for 15 minutes I approached the economy counters and was refused to be checked-in, another 10 minutes later I demanded to speak to the check-in manager and magically by then it was possible to check me in immediately.
There is a premium/first/status security check-point advertised, but sadly I found it to be not setup and so I had to use the normal lane which was incredibly crowded even though all counters were staffed. There was also no business class immigration, in fact there was not even one for locals or ASEAN citizens, as it is the case in literally all other airports around South East Asia. The whole process took around an hour which is the longest I have experienced around this area so far.
After finally clearing immigration and security one is made to pass the duty free walk to reach the terminal, while I don’t mind duty free shops in airports I find it very annoying to purposely obstruct ways to the terminal, so people have to pass through duty free shops and I am sad to see this practice coming to Asia. Very sad!
Once through duty free the lounges are located directly behind the shops on the upper level, which can be reached by elevator and stairs.
Malaysia Airlines is using the Premier lounge in Balis DPS, prior to my visit I had a look on the review from Lucky over at onemileatatime, which was rather positive. The lounge check-in process was quick, as I just had to hand over my invitation card to be admitted.
The lounge consists out of one long stretch room with lounge chairs and the buffet in the middle, followed by sofa seating behind that and 2 separate rooms with more chairs as well as a kids area in the far end. From the entrance to the right are the restrooms which feature one shower.
When I arrived the lounge was packed and it was hard to find a place to sit. While the crowd got lesser over the time I spent there it was never really comfortable. Also the restrooms were way too few for the amount of guests and constantly dirty. In this regard I unfortunately also had to notice that the lounge attendants do not speak English, at all. They had to call a manager who was then able to understand my request for a toilet paper refill…
While the airport including this lounge was recently renovated it unfortunately looked all very rundown and old. All the seating was disgustingly stained and nothing appeared to be maintained in a good way.
Also the WIFI was completely unusable, it wasn’t even able to connect at all in the beginning and once it worked there was no internet connection. While I was hoping in the beginning this would be due to the amount of people it later turned out that it simply wasn’t working anyway.
While there were plenty of TV screens with the news channel and some FIDS, the lounge severely lacked of power outlets and had no cellphone charging facilities (either via USB outlets or a dedicated USB station). So all the crucial digital offerings one would expect from a lounge renovated in 2016/2017 are a complete fail.
The decoration was in Balinese style and suitable. Due to the crowd I couldn’t take any more pictures of the lounge or the buffet. Food options included hot and cold spreads as well as soft- and alcoholic drinks. I did not sample anything but it looked alright, at least what was still there given the packed situation.
Concluding I would say in most airports I would rather spend time in the terminal than in this dirty, packed and lacking of facilities “lounge”, given that Ngurah Rai airport seems to have been renovated with the clear mindset of inconveniencing people while pressing some last tourist dollars before people make their way out of Bali I guess it is still better in the Premier lounge tho.