A couple of months back, I received an email for Malindo's 2-for-1 Business Class promotion via a credit card that I was using and being curious, I logged into Malindo's website to price a pair of tickets to Ipoh, which is a recently launch route for Malindo from Singapore. Going through the pricing, I stared in disbelief as the final price of the airfare in Business Class per pax was only S$10 more than the cheapest economy ticket then (sub hundred, to give you an idea how low the fare was)! Apparently there was some bug in the website as the fare doubled a day after. Without hesitation, a pair of tickets was booked for a weekend trip to Ipoh, a major town in Perak which I had not visited before. The return was booked on Tigerair at a rather low fare as well as Tiger offers the latest departure timing on a Sunday. Currently, there are 3 airlines offering up to 4x daily flights on the SIN-IPH route (Firefly 2x daily on ATR72, Malindo 1x daily on B738 and Tigerair 4x weekly on A320(. This is a huge influx of capacity, and with the rather low yields during the off-peak seasons, it is no wonder Malindo appears to be cancelling the flight from April. However, Tiger seems to be increasing its flights to daily at the same time. This would be a trip report on a rarely reviewed airline to a rarely reported town.
Fast forward to the recent weekend, I arrived at Changi Terminal 3 slightly more than an hour prior to departure. The Lionair group has check-in counters at Row 1 right at the far end of the terminal. A lane and counter was dedicated for Business Class passengers and we were checked in almost immediately as queues were non-existant.
Boarding pass was issued on Malindo Air stock. The Lionair Group really differentiates its various subsidiaries even though they are all of the same parent company.
Not expecting any lounge access, I was pleasantly surprised when handed a lounge invitation to the SATS Premier Lounge!
As I had visited the exact same lounge just a month prior, attached would be just some photos of the lounge offering. We stayed not too long in the lounge and I just grabbed some dimsum and juice.
Departure was from Gate A11 this morning. The aircraft had arrived from KUL and was operating KUL-SIN-IPH-SIN-KUL. Must be rather tiring for the crew to be operating 4 sectors.
23 January 2016 Malindo Air OD 820 Singapore (SIN) - Ipoh (IPH) B737-800 9M-LNS Business Class Flight Time: 49m
Our baby boeing.
Boarding was just announced as we reached the gate, and hence we boarded immediately.
I can spot my seat!
Welcomed by the crew dressed in traditional kebaya uniform and took my seat at 1A.
Malindo has a 12-seat Business Class cabin on their B738 aircraft. Even though being a hybrid airline, Malindo has fitted its Business Class with comfortable leather recliner seats with 42 seat pitch. The seats are the exact same model as fitted on Silkair's new B738, but Malindo has included IFE screens in the armrests as well. A pillow was preset on each seat. Today, there would only be 4 pax in Business Class, and 129 pax in Economy (overheard the flight despatcher). Power sockets and USB port (on the IFE screen) are available as well. Cabin was spanking clean and seats still looked brand new.
Seated in Row 1, the legroom was definitely more than generous!
At the gate.
Inflight magazine and BOB menu were in the seat pocket. However in Business Class, BOB was not necessary as food and beverages were included. But in Economy, only snacks were served and any other meals were on pre-order/BOB only.
After boarding was almost completed, a selection of orange or apple juice was offered, served in proper glasses. I had an apple juice.
Newspapers were offered.
Doors were closed right on schedule and we pushed back.
Safety video was shown on the overhead monitors. For the rest of the flight, the flight map was shown on the monitor.
Taxi to runway and spotted NZ's B789!
Holding short of Rwy02L for Etihad B789 and AirAsia A320 to land.
And then it was our turn. Departing from Rwy02L for the very short flight to Ipoh.
Video of the takeoff.
Decided to explore the IFE system. System is touchscreen based. No headsets were offered on this short flight though.
Only TV shows, games and flight info were available on this flight. On longer flights, movies would be available as well.
Quick visit to the lavatory. Clean but basic.
Refreshment was served shortly after departure. Initially, I was only expecting at most a cold sandwich to be served on this short flight, but was surprised when the whole Business Class works was offered. First, a tray linen was laid on the tray table, and a refreshment tray of a warm muffin and blueberry yoghurt was served. Quality cutlery was used as well, just like any other premium Business product out there. Beverage orders were taken prior to departure and my coffee and orange juice were served together with the refreshment.
Watching silent Just for Laughs.
We were soon flying over Kuala Lumpur. Spot KLIA.
Spot Subang now.
Airshow. We have started our descent into Ipoh.
Descending into Ipoh. Weather was very good today.
Video of descent.
On finals and touchdown on a bumpy Rwy04.
See the landing into Ipoh below.
A few cars with families were at the fence admiring our huge aircraft (in Ipoh terms) landing and taxiing in.
Parked at the stand.
Last look at the very comfortable Business Class seat before disembarking.
Being a small regional airport with at most 6 or less arrivals a day, there are no aerobridges in Ipoh. It was down the stairs and a short walk to the very small terminal building.
Firefly's ATR72, which departed Changi 20min earlier than us, arrived later instead.
As we were one of the first to reach the tiny immigration hall, which had 4 immigration counters opened, there was no wait at all and within a couple of minutes, I was through immigration and customs. Beat that, Changi, haha. However, I wonder how they will cope if 2 full load of flights were to arrive at the same time.
Arrivals and departures of the day. 4 flights each, with 3 to Singapore.
Small terminal building.
A mere 8 min cab ride away, and we were right smack in the center of town at the hotel. Stayed at the rather new WEIL Hotel, which is beside one of the major shopping centers, Ipoh Parade. During the ride to the hotel, also sighted Pullman Hotel under construction opposite the shopping mall, plus few smaller ones. Ipoh is surely gearing up for more tourist arrivals.
Sweeping views of Ipoh town from hotel rooftop.
Time to start my 28hrs Ipoh exploration trip! Ipoh Old Town, where all the good food are, is just a short walk away from the hotel.
One of Ipoh's most famous dish, steamed chicken and beansprouts. This was from Ong Kee.
Famous soya bean milk stall just down the street.
Old school pastry shop, famous for its kaya puffs.
Pomelos, which Ipoh is also famous for.
Dinner at Ipoh Tuck Kee restaurant, famous for its rice noodles Hor fun dishes.
Supper at Tong Sui Street, translated as sugar water street. Aptly named as there are many dessert stalls apart from the normal hawker fare.
Savoury chee cheong fun.
Egg in herbal sweet soup and a chng tng dessert.
SATS Premier Lounge
Singapore - SIN
Ipoh - IPH
It was a very pleasant Business Class experience on Malindo. Service, though not too polished, was fine, seats and cabin were comfortable and catering was sufficient. Plus the lounge access was an unexpected bonus. Considering the fare paid, the 49min flight experience was definitely more than value-for-money!
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