Fireflying to SZB [4 March 2012]

Prologue

Ever since Firefly started flying to SIN in 2009, I’ve been wanting to fly their ATR72-500s. Turboprops are very rare in SIN and it will be interesting to try them out on Firefly’s short hops to Malaysia.

There was a Firefly promotion and the one way fare of 102 MYR was too irresistible. The usual fare was easily more than twice of that.

Initially I wanted to do a 2d/1n trip but got my dates wrong during the booking and ended up doing a day trip on 4 March instead.

Found a cheapo AirAsia flight from KUL LCCT (S$30 a/i) departing late from KUL; hopefully there wouldn’t be late arrival as I didn’t want to cab back home.

SIN-SZB, KUL-SIN

SIN Budget Terminal

Earlier in the week it was announced that the Budget Terminal would be demolished soon and in its place SIN T4 will be built. I had flew in and out of BT quite a few times and found it generally quite pleasant. I would have one more flight out of BT (unless I have new plans) in July; the terminal will shut down and the airlines operating out of there currently will move to T2 in September.

I arrived at BT using my normal route (Bus 27) with plenty of time to spare.

Walking towards BT

Departure

The five airlines at BT

No queue at check-in and my boarding pass was quickly printed out.

No lines

I had no idea that TR provided this service until seeing this sign.

Unsure about the service's usefulness

Grabbed some breakfast at McD; picked the cheapest meal on the menu.

Four bucks to fill an empty stomach

Alonso's following me again

After immigration and security check, I went to the bookshop and browsed through the titles there.

Signs on the air-side

When the boarding time arrived, I made my way to Gate 1.

Airport or hospital?

My plane was nowhere in sight though. I could only see the SQ planes parked at T2.

SQ birds

Tarmac

While waiting near the gate, I was approached by a lady who was doing a survey on behalf of Changi Airport. It took a few minutes and she asked for my feedback on my experience at Budget Terminal (mostly positive). Hopefully my input will make the upcoming T4 a better terminal.

At 11.45am my plane taxi-ed into the budget terminal 5 minutes ahead of its schedule.

9M-FYR

While the incoming passengers disembarked, the gate agents checked the boarding passes and got us to queue in two lines.

Took this pic in the queue

To SZB

FZ 3502

Flight: Firefly FZ 3502
Depart: Singapore SIN – 12:10
Arrive: Subang SZB – 13:20
Duration: 1h10m
Aircraft: ATR 72-500 (212)
Seat: 19 A

ATR72 is quite unique as boarding is done from the back. One of the two crew for the flight stood at the door without acknowledging me when I boarded. Not the best first impression.

I was seated in the last row which meant that I would be one of the first passengers to disembark later.

Cabin view from 19A

The cabin was more spacious than I thought; the leg room was adequate as well.

Leg room

The cabin was filled with ads from SP Setia, a property developer in Malaysia.

Setia ads

In fact the inflight magazine was sponsored by SP Setia too.

Setia Today

Its content seemed quite strange to me as the bulk of it was on Melbourne.

Safety information

Reverse

Buckle

I was impressed that boarding was done in less than 15 minutes and the plane pushed back 5 minutes ahead of time. During the taxi, the PA was playing songs from a recorded radio programme.

See you later SIN

The noise wasn’t as bad as I thought but I did wish I have a noise-canceling headset.

Taxi-ing

The ATR72-500 didn’t need the full runway to take off and we were airborne in no time.

Changi

Foreground: Tekong; Background: Ubin

Into the clouds

Being a light plane it was definitely more susceptible to turbulence.

Felt like roller-coaster

Fortunately the turbulence stopped after it reached cruising altitude.

Some lake in Johor

Malaysian towns

The crew distributed the Malaysian arrival cards and snacks when the seat belt sign went off.

I choose peanuts over cake

Choice of water, guava or apple juice

Straits of Malacca in the background

Seaside town - not sure what it is though

The plane hit SZB with a loud thud and it was probably one of the bumpiest landing that I ever experienced.

SZB

As mentioned earlier I was one of the first passengers to disembarked.

Another FZ's ATR

There were only three counters at immigration and there was a long queue for those holding Malaysian passports. In contrast there were no lines at the two desks assigned to the foreign passports and I was cleared in no time.

Subang Sky Park is a much pleasant terminal compared to KUL LCCT.

Interesting FIDS

SZB Land-side

Subang Sky Park Terminal

It took me a while to figure out where the bus stop to KL was. To get there, one should go up to level two of the terminal and cross over to the other side of the road using the overhead bridge. Then walk in the direction of the traffic until the bus stop which was situated outside the Malaysia Airlines building.

Control tower was situated opposite the bus stop

I saw the previous bus (RapidKL U81) left and waited around 20 minutes for the next one. It appeared that most of the users were foreign workers; it’s no surprise since most locals drive.

Kuala Lumpur

The traffic was quite smooth on a Sunday and I reached Kuala Lumpur in around 30 minutes. I alighted at the bus stop near Sentral KL and switched to KL Monorail for Bukit Bintang.

KL's Little India

Strangely there was a huge queue for tickets while I was at the station. Wasted 10 minutes queuing up at the machine to buy the token for my ride.

KL Monorail route

Seen from the platform

The train arrived

After a short ride, I arrived at Bukit Bintang. Got lost inside the labyrinthine of Sungei Wang and seriously thought about the fire safety status of the building.

Dumpling soup noodle at Kim Gary

Sungei Wang didn’t really appeal to me and I decided to go upmarket and walked to Berjaya Times Square.

Should have ate at Nando's instead

Berjaya Times Square

Ended up spending most of my time at Borders.

Natasha Kampusch

At around 6.45 I retraced my route back to KL Sentral for my transfer to KUL LCCT. Originally I intended to take the 7pm Skybus from KL Sentral (I even bought the ticket when booking my plane ticket) but the allure of taking KLIA Transit was too great for me.

KL Transit ticket

It was slightly more expensive at 12.50 MYR but it shaved 30 minutes off the traveling time.

The train

Close-up

The train resembled the day-time trains that I took in Europe last year. Pretty modern and clean and slightly less than half an hour after departing from KL Sentral I alighted at Salak Tinggi ERL station.

A shuttle bus was already waiting to take us to KLIA LCCT; we reached there just before 8.30pm (the scheduled time).

KUL LCCT

Ad at LCCT; perhaps I should switch to this telco?

Although my last visit was October (on my way to ORY), the place remained familiar to me. I proceeded to print out my boarding pass from one of the self-service kiosks.

Mobile check-in kiosk

These kiosks didn’t read my code and I had to use another type of machine instead.

Sinful dinner at KFC

Immigration was painless and I was air-side shortly before the printed boarding time of 9.45pm.

Plenty of action at LCCT at that hour; saw quite a few Koreans on their way back to Seoul on D7.

After milling around for a while, I suddenly recalled that I needed to verify my documents before boarding. Apparently the counter had shifted from the land-side to air-side (except for D7 flights) and I wondered if I would be denied boarding if I hadn’t remembered.

Boarding time

Our plane tonight was parked nearer to the domestic terminal which meant a long walk for us.

No special livery tonight

9M-AHT

AK 725

Flight: Air Asia AK 725
Depart: Kuala Lumpur KUL – 22:30
Arrive: Singapore SIN – 23:30
Duration: 1h0m
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Seat: 21 E

21D was occupied but 21F turned out to be empty; I seemed to be quite lucky as I experienced the same thing on my last AirAsia flight (KUL-ORY!).

I have to say awesome cover

3sixty was a good read as usual.

Menu

AMEX ad

One thing that struck me was the flight was staffed by an all-Singaporean crew. I didn’t realize that AirAsia has Singapore-based crew and pilots until this flight. It made sense though as the plane would overnight at Changi and flew back to KUL as AK 732 early next morning.

After take-off my pre-booked sandwich was delivered. Didn’t remember why I chose it but I still finished it.

Assorted sandwich

We landed 15 minutes ahead of time but being in the middle of the plane meant that I couldn’t get out of it as fast as I would like. It wasn’t end of the world though as I could still connect to public transport home. Just like my trip to Dhaka, I was at my door within an hour of exiting the plane despite having to wait quite a while for the public buses.

Epilogue

I was glad that I flew with Firefly as it recently announced that there would be an increase in its fuel surcharge. It was nice to be served snacks and drinks on-board but I wasn’t sure they were worth the premium. Thought that Firefly could learn a thing or two from AirAsia on generating ancillary income.

ATR72 is a nice little plane but I didn’t really have the stomach for bumpy ride. I also didn’t expect SZB to have such a modern terminal which was definitely a pleasant surprise. Its proximity to KL is a huge plus and I could imagine travelers will prefer to travel out of there instead of KUL LCCT.

AirAsia is efficient as usual; I can’t complain about the ride which got me home for less than S$30. Luckily for me, despite being on the last flight of the day, it was on time and thus saved me a potential expensive cab fare home.

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