Review of Malindo Air flight Kuala Lumpur Senai in Economy

Airline Malindo Air
Flight OD2401
Class Economy
Seat 31A
Aircraft Boeing 737-900ER
Flight time 00:50
Take-off 18 Feb 17, 17:50
Arrival at 18 Feb 17, 18:40
OD   #75 out of 139 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 35 reviews
Eric V P
By SILVER 1380
Published on 24th February 2017
Report #6: OD2401 - Probably the cheapest mainline non-LCC flight in Malaysia

This trip report will be my report on flying Malindo Air economy class from Kuala Lumpur KUL to Senai (Johor Bahru) JHB, a short-haul domestic route within peninsular Malaysia.

Background


It has been quite a while since when I wanted to go to Kuala Lumpur, especially since my last trip was about 10 years ago. Combined with my interest on trying Malaysia's intercity rail services beyond the Causeway, I had the following itinerary:

Singapore - Johor Bahru: Public bus
Johor Bahru - Kuala Lumpur: Local train and intercity train (overnight, via Gemas by regional train and intercity higher speed train with 4 1/2 hours transit)
Kuala Lumpur - KUL: Airport bus
KUL - JHB: Plane
JHB - Johor Bahru: Airport bus
Johor Bahru - Singapore: Public bus

With the trip costing me less than the admission fee to Universal Studios Singapore (even including plane and train tickets), it was quite an easy decision to choose. For this flight by OD, I was charged only RM 51 (US$11.5) including airport fees and 30 kg baggage allowance by using an online travel agency, but even the full retail price at RM 60 (US$13.5) is already quite reasonable since it would be challenging to find any cheaper plane ticket elsewhere. In addition, OD has also moved back to KLIA proper after it operated at KLIA2 for a while.

Travelling to and in Kuala Lumpur


Bonus : Click here display


Trip to KUL and check-in


I went to the airport by using the coach service from KL Sentral (the main metro interchange as well as the terminus for several bus services). While the bus may look a bit shabby, at only RM 10 (US$2.3) it surely beats the express airport train service with its exorbitant price of RM 55 (US$12.4). Unlike trips made by airport trains, trips by buses are ineligible for city check-in. Some of the photos were blurred since I tend to walk a bit fast.
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Just like at SIN, the buses did not end at the main drop-off area. Instead, buses are terminating at a building shared with one of the airport's carparks and connected with the terminal by an enclosed linkway. Considering the walking distance, it is less convenient for passengers but allows significantly more bus services since terminal size is no longer a constraint (on the contrary, public buses from Singapore SIN are mostly looping at the airport and private scheduled buses are close to non-existent).
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The bridge passes through the arrival pick-up area.
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It took me only 4 minutes from entering the check-in queue to getting my boarding pass. Despite the large checked luggage allowance for this trip, I decided not to use them since I only had a backpack with me. One thing I really appreciate is that despite being Lion's subsidiary, they still provided a thick boarding pass instead of the thin boarding pass used by Lion group in Indonesia (yes, that includes Batik as well). If you notice the fare code as well, even though it's X class (the lowest booking class in Lion group) unlike others we don't usually call it promo fare due to its prevalence.
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The check-in area itself looked pretty acceptable, and while not as luxurious as Singapore SIN it still looked decent enough, and the lack of crowd at the neighbouring Malaysia's premium check-in row also helps quite a bit. Worth a few additional Ringgits over KLIA2? I can still say so.
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MH's premium check-in rows featuring secluded seating area.
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A view of OD's check-in counters
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On the check-in desk, newspapers were provided, which was Malay Mail. I'm not sure how popular it is in Malaysia, but surely upping their offering to WSJ/FT would make them much more upscale. Some people believe in the adage of not judging a reading material by its cover, but since first impression matters I couldn't help but to correlate it with The New Paper (a free newspaper published in Singapore).
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Afterwards, I took the opportunity to sample the offering at the food court at KUL, especially to check if there are decent meals at downtown price available and because I still had a long trip to go (including a possibly gruesome trip across the Causeway).
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Unfortunately, the meal there couldn't be described as cheap with me spending in total slightly more than RM 10 (US$2.3) for a portion of fried rice with salted fish and iced teh tarik. To add to the insult, they do not provide metal cutlery, instead forcing me to eat with their plastic spoon and fork. With me usually caring even about the substantive feel of the cutlery (KL's cutlery in J won hands down among all airlines I've flown with, let alone with this), I don't think this would be the best cutlery in a food court on landside.
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With not much to do elsewhere, I decided to wander around the check-in area. The drop-off area looked a bit dark on the photo, but actually it was around the same brightness inside.
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MH requires all economy class passengers departing from KUL to do self check-in with the previously full service check-in counters changed to bag drop counters, although it was not the case the time I flew with them later on.
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MH's long-haul staggered business class promotion above the international departures immigration counters - with some reputation on their 777 planes and the severe overcapacity caused by their A380, moving to A330 would sound much more ideal. On the immigration itself, at least it's nowhere as crowded as the one at Sultan Iskandar checkpoint. Not passing the sometimes hellish Sultan Iskandar checkpoint worth some more Ringgits? Not for this time, and definitely a no had you asked me between SIN - KUL and JHB - KUL: SIN's airport fee alone is S$34 (US$24).
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Some funny cartoons and WhatsApp reporting service information on the toilet cubicle at KUL - what do you think?
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On my way to domestic departure, located at the far left end of the departure area.
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An unused playground
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KUL transit area and departure


KUL domestic departure area at main terminal is only used by MH and OD (on some flight since it also operates at SZB), with AK utilizes KLIA2. As a result, the security process was rather fast.

Passengers for intra-Malaysia routes are not that much of a captive market segment for luxury goods, so the luxury stores seem to be out of place.
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Remaining domestic flights for the day from KUL. There are not too many flights operating that the domestic transit area can be cut into half and it will still be perfectly fine.
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I don't think my budget would allow me to visit the lounge at this time, so, well, I'll see you again soon.
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Where are gates C/G/H? They are are meant for international passengers. Unfortunately, that means I did not get to visit their satellite terminal or make trips on their APM.
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A view of another gate.
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As I had some deliverable to manage, I then worked at the waiting area. My flight utilizes an open waiting area instead of the segregated rooms. The waiting area, while carpeted (read: less noise), is seriously in need of power plugs as I needed to end my work as soon as I was close to being out of battery.
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This is the plane that was about to carry me on this short shuttle route.
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I subsequently asked the gate agent for the load for the day. The agent then informed me that the flight would carry only 92 pax in economy and 4 in business, which may be the secret behind the RM 60 (US$13.5) ticket.

Soon, the flight was ready for boarding. The boarding process was fine, especially with the low load. As I walked along the jet bridge, I understood that the flight would be on a 737-900ER, but for some reasons I felt the door behind the wing didn't look too prominent.
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On board


Flight: OD2401
Plane: 9M-LNL
STD/ATD: 21.30/21.34
STA/ATA: 23.59/00.02 +1
Load factor: 33% C (4/12), 55% Y (92/168)
Seat type: Standard economy class (window seat)
Details: https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/od2401/#c7f7956

While the plane purportedly provides Wi-Fi and mobile connection, it was not available for the whole flight.
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As soon as I boarded, the flight attendant welcomed me on board. I then passed through the business class cabin, equipped with only recliner seats.
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Moving backward, the economy class didn't look too upscale with its leather seat and colour scheme. I opted (and got assigned) to seat 10A, which has no window (beware!)
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The seat itself at 32" beats MH's 30" on short-haul route, however the lack of AC power supply on OD's seats may make OD's seat equivalent with MH.
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OD's entertainment screen was rather acceptable, but since the IFE would be only available after takeoff and turned off again on approach, I didn't get to explore it much. USB plug was available, but as usual it is inferior to a proper AC power supply, especially when it comes to handling larger phones.
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What's on the seat pocket? In-flight magazine and in-flight shopping catalogue were present.
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Safety card and airsickness bag was available as well, although since there is an airsickness bag writing on it they may as well print their logo on the bag.
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Some views on taxi and climb. MI's 9V-SBH sighted on its way back to SIN as our plane was on takeoff roll at 32R.
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A view after takeoff from KUL
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After the fasten seat belt was turn off, I proceeded with a brief lavatory visit. The lavatory was not the cleanest, especially with water on the lavatory floor and washing basin.
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The flight attendants was preparing the refreshment service of the day, which was Marigold orange drink (not orange juice). The drink was not too much to my liking with little orange content and slightly too sweet taste. The offering, while also normal on flights from KUL to SIN (even on SQ), was quite paltry compared with GA offering a snack box with 2 snacks and packed drink on the equally short SUB - DPS.
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Wi-Fi was supposedly available on board, but seemed not to be offered due to the flight length.
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The low load factor was evident since I was able to move from my seat at 10A to 31A to take some photos. The crew seemed to be a bit rushed due to the flight time. Keep up the load factor (and the low price)! On a side note: this plane has their emergency exit behind the wing deactivated, but it was not a problem since it has less than 189 passenger seats (the maximum certified passenger amount for 737-800 which uses only main exits and two pairs of overwing emergency exits).
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Some photos of peninsular Malaysia taken after I moved to 31A. While traveling from KUL/SZB to JHB, try to get the A seats for a better view of peninsular Malaysia.


We soon approached JHB, which means the cruise phase can be said as not too long.
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A view during the first final approach to JHB
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The plane, unfortunately, turned around on 18.31 after noticing that the runway at JHB was still not vacant.
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The plane successfully landed on that 2nd attempt, and we taxied to parking stand 2 at JHB. AK's A320 in special livery was parked beside us.
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Arrival at JHB and post-arrival trip


JHB was a relatively small airport, which even means there is no separate walkway for arriving passengers.
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As I did not have any checked luggage, I proceeded straight to exit. The exit that was open was the international arrival exit, apparently to keep only one exit open all the time, although the luggage claim carousel used the one for domestic arrival.
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I then proceeded quickly to the airport bus ticket counter. The public side of JHB consist of several shops and dining options, which I passed at this time. Compared to its size, however, their retail offering was quite decent.
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The bus service to JB Sentral (the local bus and train interchange, connected with Sultan Iskandar checkpoint) would cost me RM 8 (US$1.8) for 45 minutes non-stop ride. However, the bus service would only operate hourly, so plan your arrival very carefully.
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The bus itself was only a normal city bus with a small luggage storage area, but was barely occupied.
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Continuing my trip to Singapore proved to be gruesome, especially due to the traffic jam at the Causeway and the arduous walk in Sultan Iskandar checkpoint. However, the trip within Singapore was as usual rather efficient. I did not take any photo here due to me running out of battery (must be due to lack of AC power supply on board, I presume?)
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Verdict

Malindo Air

3.9/10
Cabin6.0
Cabin crew4.0
Entertainment/wifi3.0
Meal/catering2.5

Kuala Lumpur - KUL

4.4/10
Efficiency6.0
Access3.5
Services3.0
Cleanliness5.0

Senai - JHB

3.9/10
Efficiency5.0
Access2.5
Services4.0
Cleanliness4.0

Conclusion

The thought of flying at less than US$15 not on a promotional ticket would be deemed as crazy elsewhere (even in Indonesia), let alone not on an LCC, but they've proven that it's possible. As a hybrid LCC, OD has definitely upped the game in intra-Malaysia and regional routes from Malaysia, competing with the more established MH with competitive price even against AK and equivalent (or slightly better) product. Considering the product offering, it would still be challenging to compete with SQ/GA (I'll need to see on longer routes to truly confirm it), but with OD carving the South Asian market on their regional routes it has already formed a unique selling point for themselves as a regional airline.

The ratings is definitely on the lower side since their offering is not the best, especially considering that OD still has a lot to learn from their regional competitors.

Some thing done well for the trip:
+ Low price (even lower than AK when booked last minute - must be Lion's pricing strategy)
+ Main KUL terminal usage (should be way better than KLIA2)
+ Acceptable check-in waiting and processing time
+ Large checked luggage allowance (30 kg but only daily flight available from KUL, from SZB by ATR would be only 15 kg)
+ Proper boarding pass stock paper (compared with Lion Air or even Batik back in Indonesia)
+ Acceptable centralised security at KUL
+ Relatively young plane
+ Acceptable seat pitch (among the better for KUL - JHB/SIN route)
+ USB port provision (enough for domestic flights, but may be not the case for their longer international routes)
+ Low load factor
+ Easy to navigate JHB airport

Things that can be improved:
- Lack of decent, reasonably priced KUL airport transfer from downtown
- Lack of self check-in machines in KUL (JT as its parent doesn't have one either back in Indonesia, not even in CGK)
- Expensive meal in KUL public area (so expensive it mirrors the price in Singapore)
- Unsuitable retail options in KUL domestic transit area (luxury stores for a domestic terminal?)
- Mediocre newspaper offering (maybe something just slightly more affordable than WSJ?)
- Insufficient power plugs in waiting area at KUL
- Lack of adjustable headrest
- Lavatory cleanliness
- Dining options on board
- Crews seem to be slightly rushed
- IFE availability (only from takeoff to approach, i.e. not gate to gate)
- JHB airport transfer frequency to downtown

Information on the route Kuala Lumpur (KUL) Senai (JHB)

8 Comments

  • Comment 387361 by
    JW19 119 Comments

    Nice review but a little lengthy. Good insight for reporters of other nations to know Malaysia better. However it does prove that fly this route is very troublesome to get to Singapore, more so during a festive period like Chinese New Year and Eid Al Fitr( Hari Raya for Singapore speak). My personal preference would be to do a MH return at SGD110 for the promo price. Crossing Johor Bahru CIQ or Tuas Checkpoint could take up to 5 hours for busses which I have personally experienced before and by then on a flight I would have arrived Beijing from KL. Keep up the reports.

    • Comment 387367 by
      Eric V P SILVER AUTHOR 123 Comments

      I'm afraid my reports tend to be a bit on the lengthier side as I am working on providing as much details as possible (even on this 50 mins flight), but do you mind suggesting where can I make this report more concise?

      It is indeed troublesome for some even considering the fare difference (however, I won't even dare to go to Kuala Lumpur had I not understood the routing from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur (and back) due to my budget). S$110 roundtrip is not that cheap considering that I only paid less than S$20 one way from Johor Bahru, but the convenience factor and the rather steep airport fee at Singapore SIN may very well contribute to that total price. I can say that it heavily depends on the purpose of the trip and the travelers' preference, and since I was more interested on the trip itself rather than the convenience or comfort, this was a better option than the cookie-cutter trip from Singapore SIN (I mostly go to and from Singapore SIN, though, so feel free to check the other reports!)

      5 hours is indeed long, so how come it could be that bad? While on school holiday the checkpoint "experience" can be tiring (imagine enduring that twice (Singapore - Johor Bahru and back) on afternoon while you have an evening flight from Singapore SIN on the same day), 5 hours one-way seem to be a bit longer than what I would have thought.

      Thank you for reading my report! Hope you found it interesting.

      • Comment 387720 by
        JW19 119 Comments

        Thoroughly enjoyed your reports so far, perhaps the more concise bits could be by focusing more on the flight experience part and sending the bus route to the bonus or spoiler column below the report.

        Totally understand the reason for choosing this sector due to price. If time permits I would like to give it a try too. Just found it interesting that you were willing shell out a fair amount for KL business I would have thought that you would prioritize convenience.

        Traffic condition was faced during the Eid al Fitr or Hari Raya period where the busses like this operated by SBS Transit/SMRT/Causeway Link gets stuck between cars trying to get in through woodlands checkpoint. 5 hours I was held there.

        • Comment 387935 by
          Eric V P SILVER AUTHOR 123 Comments

          I'm afraid I put it in chronological format, even if that means being a bit heavy on non-flight stuffs at the front (though I must say the bonus here is quite much longer than on my other reports).

          How if I tell you that both offer good value for money? KLM's business class on Singapore - Bali route has been fairly cheap compared to other airlines or even other routes in Singapore - Indonesia market. Add fully lie-flat seat (apparently the hallmark of proper business class) as well as Delft Blue and the rather good price turned to be a steal even when the timing wasn't that convenient (do you think arriving at Bali at evening and back to Singapore on midnight after the public train service has ended is convenient?) Malindo, on the other hand, managed to provide "full" service on the domestic service at a rock-bottom price, comparable to taking the public train and only 50 - 75% more than taking bus from TBS (Kuala Lumpur's long distance intercity bus terminal) while offering a much more dignified experience. I believe value for money is more important than the cost itself, so at their price points I find both of them are not too bad. Do you think the value for money on both routes are good as well?

          Tip: Do you want to try KLM's long-haul business class on a budget? Kuala Lumpur KUL - Jakarta CGK is even cheaper than Singapore SIN - Denpasar DPS but also comes with Delft Blue and fully lie-flat seats.

          Tired of waiting for traffic jam? Just walk across the Causeway. A bit extreme, but I saw it sometimes happen during peak periods. Otherwise, some private buses bound for Singapore would be more than willing to accept your RM 2 (US$0.45) to travel across the Causeway and if you're lucky enough you may get one of the empty seat as well.

  • Comment 387379 by
    Pilpintu SILVER 689 Comments

    Hi! Great report! ^^

    Malindo Air would be one of my favorite airlines if I could fly with them. Unfortunately I live in a place where latam is the main airline and their catering sucks, although they have been making some improvements as of late.

    LOL. I wouldn't say your reports are lengthy. Read one of my reports and you will discover a whole new meaning for "lengthy"!!! XD

    Tip: Your report is divided into sections. You highlighted the title for each section using the "information" tool. There is a new tool for highlighting titles now. It's a button with a big T. If you use that tool for highlighting your titles, an index is automatically created at the beginning of the report, and each entry in the index gets linked to the corresponding title, which makes it easier to navigate around long reports. Have you tried that tool? You only have to make sure that [title] and [/title] are correctly placed at the beginning and end of the same line.

    Thanks for sharing! ^^

    • Comment 387567 by
      Eric V P SILVER AUTHOR 123 Comments

      Nah, Malindo is still not the best compared with, for example, Garuda or Singapore (which I believe are some of the top ones in SE Asia). However, Malindo as Lion's subsidiary offer quite competitive prices even compared with AirAsia (think of it: a hybrid LCC can be cheaper than a pure LCC?), so there's not that much to blame at that price point.

      I saw your last one and indeed as you said it's a bit on the longer side.

      I saw that on your report as well, though as I would love to invite people to see the whole story I can reconsider it for my future reports. Anyway, thank you!

  • Comment 388441 by
    jaytot 30 Comments

    Thanks for sharing your experience on alternative route going to KL, ill will try it next time i go to KL.

    Malindo only serves beverages? not even comes with a cookie?

    • Comment 388481 by
      Eric V P SILVER AUTHOR 123 Comments

      Unfortunately yes, but consider these two things:
      - Malaysia only served apple juice on the same route (1), unlike in Indonesia where flying on a full-service airline basically means a snack box even on the shorter flights in economy class (ex.: Surabaya SUB - Denpasar DPS)
      - On the more premium Kuala Lumpur KUL - Singapore SIN route Malaysia offered vanilla ice cream and apple juice (2) and even Singapore only offered wrapped sandwich and a choice of drinks on their business class (3)

      (1) http://charlesryan77w.blogspot.sg/2013/11/joyride-on-malaysias-boeing-737-800-and.html
      (2) http://flight-report.com/en/report/17415/Malaysia-Airlines-MH613-Kuala-Lumpur-KUL-Singapore-SIN
      (3) http://flight-report.com/en/report/13999/Singapore_Airlines_SQ118_Singapore_SIN_Kuala_Lumpur_KUL

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