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Highlights of AirAsia flight AK5271 Senai > Kuala Lumpur August 16, 2010

Posted by hafizbam in Flight Review, Overseas Travels.
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AirAsia logo

Airline: AirAsia (AK)
Date: Tuesday, 05 May 2009
Route: Senai Sultan Ismail (JHB) > Kuala Lumpur International (KUL)
Aircraft: A320-200
Registration: 9M-AHS
Seat: 21D
Departure Gate: 4

Scheduled Departure Time: 0925 LT
Actual Departure Time: 1005 LT
Scheduled Arrival Time: 1010 LT
Actual Arrival Time: 1050 LT
Flight Duration: 0H 45Min

As my friends and I wanted to experience a different way of getting to Kuala Lumpur, we opted to fly into the Malaysian capital instead of taking the traditional coach. Even though there are many options available to us from Changi Airport (Singapore Airlines/Silkair/Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia and AirAsia all fly this busy route), we opted to try something different and much cheaper – by flying out of Senai Airport in Johor Bahru instead and landing in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Booking

Naturally, we opted for AirAsia which was then offering seats for only RM9! That worked out to only a maximum of S$25 including taxes, which was quite a steal. Booking our tickets online was simple and systematic and was completed with no hiccups. This included having the option to select seats, pre-order meals as well as buying tickets for the bus ride out of KLIA’s Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). The downside from flying with AirAsia out of Senai though is the limited number of flights per day – only one morning and one afternoon flight. Getting there from Singapore is also a hassle for those with luggages, but it was not a problem with us as we only had a backpack each.

Getting to the airport

Clearing the immigration and customs at Woodlands and Sultan Iskandar checkpoints was a breeze since it was an early Tuesday morning. We then took SBS Transit 170 direct to Larkin bus terminal where we transferred to GML Line’s G1 service to Senai Airport. While there are other options to get to the airport, including the Senai Airport Express bus by Causeway Link from the Kotaraya Terminal City Lounge, we opted for GML for a more local experience. Initially, we feared not reaching the airport on time due to traffic jams encountered enroute but to our relief, the journey was not as long as expected, taking only an hour end-to-end.

GML Line A1

The GML Line A1 bus at Senai Airport

Interior of GML bus

The bus interior was rather well-maintained for an old bus.

Senai Sultan Ismail International Airport

Sultan Ismail International Airport, or commonly referred to as just Senai Airport, has a straightforward rectangular layout with adequate directional signs which are easy to understand. As we still had time before check-in counters open, we decided to have breakfast at Marrybrown. For a rather small airport, there are quite a number of shops to pass your time away. There’s even ongoing construction works for an upcoming airport shopping mall – part of the grand Iskandar masterplan to transform southern Johor into a successful economic hub worthy of rivalling Singapore. There are separate queues for domestic and international flights, though there’s hardly any scheduled international flights calling at the airport ever since Malaysia Airlines embarked on a strict cost-cutting programme.

Senai Airport

Shops lining up the entire length of the terminal building.

There are not as many shops in the departure transit hall, but the whole length of the terminal building provided for an excellent unobstructed location for aircraft spotting and photography. The only problem was that there’s hardly any aircraft there!

While waiting for boarding to commence, it was announced that our flight will be delayed by 40 minutes. As we had taken into account any possibility of a flight delay, we were not adversely affected by the longer waiting time. Afterall, we chose to fly on a low cost carrier and wasn’t expecting much, so it was good enough the flight was not cancelled!

The aircraft finally pulled into the gate and boarding using an aerobridge commenced swiftly after passengers from the previous flight have disembarked, illustrating the extremely quick turnaround time for the aircraft. I was suprised we didn’t have to board the plane using the stairs as expected from the budget airline.

The aircraft

The aircraft taxiing to the boarding gate after a short hop from the capital.

The aircraft

The baby Airbus about to unload its passengers from Kuala Lumpur.

Sultan Ismail International Airport

Sultan Ismail International Airport

The flight

As the plane taxiied to the runway, the flight attendants carried out a manual safety demonstration accompanied by excellent English. Not bad. Takeoff was smooth and the cabin crew began selling food and drinks shortly after. Those who had pre-booked their meals online were served first, but I was actually surprised that they actually bothered to as it has been indicated on the website that the flight is not even an hour long! Surely they can just wait a little longer for the cheaper meals they can get at the airport? I’ve heard of praises for AirAsia’s catering so probably that’s the reason. In any case, the flight was too short to justify a hot meal so that shall go into my to-do list the next time I fly with them.

But what I wanted to witness most was how the flight attendants carry out the usual routine for such a short flight. And boy, did they not disappoint. Everything was done quickly but professionally and always with a smile. They didn’t appear to be rushing despite the time constraints. I guess they must have mastered this all too familiar routine!

View of cabin from seat 21D

View of cabin from seat 21D

Note the empty advertisement slots.

Close-up of the AirAsia logo engraving at the back of every seat.

Seat pocket contents

The inflight magazine, supermarket receipt-like boarding pass and inflight F&B & duty free merchandise catalogue.

Once the food sales were done, the stewardesses immediately walked down the aisle a second time for the duty-free merchandise, ranging from the usual perfumes to AirAsia’s exclusives such as aircraft models. This was followed by the collection of trash by a flight attendant walking down the aisle with the typical black trash bag in hand. And before once that was done, we had to prepare for landing. This has got to be my shortest flight ever!

View

Good morning Malaysia

Landing was smooth but the aircraft had to taxi for quite a while to get to the LCCT, passing by the airport’s cargo centre enroute.

Passing by KLIA's cargo centre and a Malaysia Airlines Cargo Boeing 747.

Entering the land of AirAsia

KLIA Low Cost Carrier Terminal

We finally disembarked – in true low cost style by climbing down the stairs onto the tarmac and then walking over to the terminal building. Strictly no aerobridges here. It would be quite a scene if it happens to be raining heavily (even though umbrellas are provided)!

View of cabin during disembarkation.

I simply like how they painted the engines!

One of the many AirAsia birds parked all over the place!

The LCCT building itself is way bigger than Singapore’s Budget Terminal which pales badly in comparison. Singapore’s Tiger Airways flying from Changi also utilise the LCCT. Shops and restaurants in the public area are plentiful, ranging from the common McDonald’s and Marrybrown fast-food restaurants to even watch boutiques! And the crowds are a testament to the success of the LCCT in revolutionising air travel in Malaysia.

Tune Hotel

The LCCT even has its own budget Tune Hotel!

As we had booked tickets through AirAsia’s website for the Skybus shuttle bus connecting us from the LCCT to the main KL Sentral transport hub, we proceeded to the “bus terminal” at one end of the terminal building where the bus was waiting for its next departure. The journey took us about an hour or so but comfort was minimal as the airconditioning seemed to have broken down.

Skybus shuttle

The shuttle bus service to KL Sentral by Skybus

Conclusion

Overall, my experience on this short flight with AirAsia is a positive one. The staff were friendly and despite having to rush through their normal routine within the short span of time in the air, still managed to put up a smile all the way. Since it was such a short flight, nobody really took issue with the legroom so I shall leave that for a longer flight. This is definitely a good and cheaper alternative for those who do not mind travelling to Senai Airport. Besides Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia flies to other points in Malaysia such as Penang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu from Senai. I would certainly not mind trying one of their longer flights in future!

Surprises across the causeway August 5, 2009

Posted by hafizbam in Something New.
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I took a short trip over to Taman Bukit Indah in Johor Bahru last month using the CW3 bus service by Handal Indah’s Causeway Link from Jurong East Interchange. It took me roughly an hour end-to-end, inclusive of the immigration clearances at the respective checkpoints. The absence of speed limiters did help a lot! 😀

Handal Indah's Causeway Link Taman Bukit Indah Terminal as seen from the AEON Bukit Indah shopping mall.

Handal Indah's Causeway Link Taman Bukit Indah Terminal as seen from the AEON Bukit Indah shopping mall.

So anyway, I made interesting discoveries over at the other terminating point for CW3, ie Taman Bukit Indah Terminal and the first is…

Handal Indah's very own Causeway Link Cafe at its Taman Bukit Indah Terminal!

Handal Indah's very own Causeway Link Cafe at its Taman Bukit Indah Terminal!

Apparently the office (whether it’s the main one, or just a bus terminal control station I’m not too sure) for Handal Indah is located within this building which has been painted into its own corporate colours of yellow and blue. And they even have their own cafe! Pity it was closed during the time I was there though.

And yet another surprise…

Signage indicating waiting area for CW3 and future CW4 buses to Singapore's Jurong East bus interchange.

Signage indicating waiting area for CW3 and future CW4 buses to Singapore's Jurong East bus interchange.

Further solid evidence that its proposed fourth bus service into Singapore – the CW4 – is actually just awaiting introduction! (Refer to my earlier post on the new CW4.)

However anticipated this service may be, do not pin too much hope that it would come around anytime soon. Past experiences have shown that approvals from the relevant authorities from both sides of the causeway for such cross-border bus services have always been slow to come.