Report #64: FY3127 - Probably the fastest way to shuttle between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur
This will be my report on flying on Firefly economy class from Singapore XSP to Kuala Lumpur SZB, an ultra short-haul international flight within SE Asia, on board their ATR72-500. This is a part of the East Malaysia and Singapore aviation tour series, which I will review in the coming weeks.
As much as SIN was once my home base, there was only so much to explore at SIN (and in fact, I have tried avoiding it in a number of occasions due to the exorbitant airport fees as well as generally higher fare than, say, when flying to/from KUL). Therefore, when XSP's new passenger terminal and therefore new commercial services were annouced I was pretty excited to try it out in conjunction with the east Malaysia trip.
This flight costed me Rp896.700 (~US$62) including a throwaway ticket after OTA discount, though I didn't get to earn any miles for this flight. Included in the ticket price was S$30 (~US$22) airport fee, which was less than the S$50 (~US$37) airport fee for ex-SIN flights.
I took the 102 bus service from Sengkang Stn, the only public bus service going to XSP (and as expected it doesn't have its own metro train station)
The bus service isn't even a direct or express one, passing through some residential areas and even small roads before making its way to XSP as well as the surrounding aerospace park.
I alighted at the bus stop near the airport.
From there the passenger terminal could be seen, which isn't large by most measures.
A walkway connects the bus stop and the terminal, which also serves the open air carpark. Typical in Singapore, carpark is self-serve so there is no parking booth involved.
After a short walk I reached the terminal building.
Its curbside is definitely on the smaller side and unlike its larger sister SIN is shared for both arrival and departure, not unlike SWQ.
Since the airport is rather compact there isn't much opportunity to provide greeneries, so a small garden is put outside so that it can be viewed across the entire public area.
The interior reminded me of SIN terminal 4/renovated terminal 1, but with a more cozy feeling.
Some lounge-like seating for greeters are put right beside the garden.
4 check-in desks were on the left side. Only 2 desks were opened, but thanks to the low load it was a speedy process.
I got my boarding pass in a couple of minutes, which was printed in FY stock.
While tax refund facility is available, no cash refund was available here since there is no desk available on the transit area.
There is only one store available in the entire airport, which also serves as the waiting place for people before going into the transit area.
Its menu is decidedly nuanced towards Malaysian with Indian influence, which suits the destination. Its offerings were also reasonably priced, so as far as that goes there's nothing to complain about.
For example, I had a glass of hot teh tarik (pulled milk tea), which costed me S$1.4 (~US$1), roughly around the same price if not less than had I had one in a mall.
After I had my cup of tea, I went to the transit area where I was subject to ticket check, immigration, and security check in a succession.
All three of them were queue-free, so I cleared all of them in only 4 minutes.
The entire transit area consisted of a waiting room, which was beautifully arranged. If anything, this almost resembles an airport lounge, so that's considered very good in my books.
They even have some books to read, which further supports the welcoming feel.
While SIN's drinking water stands can also be found here ….
So do the difficult-to-reach charging stands, and to make it worse only UK-style plugs are supported. On the plus side, the waiting area is small enough and there's nowhere for people to go so I felt safe leaving my phone to charge while sitting somewhere else.
I visited the lavatory, which was spotless.
This airport was also (still) dominated by Malaysia-bound passengers so unlike at SIN (it's still one of my largest pet peeves when staying in Singapore) bidets were provided.
There was a smoking room since people couldn't just walk out from the airport (or at least get to some semi-open space like in SIN).
The smaller guests were provided with a photo booth and a play area.
The two TVs do not show any news, instead they showed cartoons and an animation video of the airport's history in loop. XSP was once an air force base, then turned into a MRO hub, business and general aviation airport, as well as now a passenger airport.
Situation at the gate before boarding.
Boarding was fast and I soon made my way through, but I couldn't get a shot of the plane from the front as a ground staff asked me not to take photos from there, so I decided to take ne while walking to the plane. The plane for this afternoon was 9M-FYE, a 10 years old AT7.
Unlike other airports, XSP house a large number of hangars and buildings for its size.
As it's the norm on AT7, I boarded from the rear door.
Load factor: 31% Y (22/72)
Seat type: Standard economy class (window seat)
I wasn't welcomed by the purser as she was still making announcements to the cabin, so I went straight to the cabin.
My seat for this flight, which was styled like MH's economy class on their 738.
Legroom was pretty tight, which didn't exactly sound premium considering FY charged among the highest fares across Malaysia.
Only a foldable table and seat were present for me to use for this flight.
Contents in the seat pocket were rather ordinary.
Seatbelt was pretty normal.
Its seat recline button reminded me of the one used by 3K or JQ.
Me on the seat. While the seat was rather short and a bit hard, it was acceptable for the short hop.
The passenger service unit above had really started showing its age.
View from the window was pretty much nothing at this stage.
As the doors were closed, Ikhwan as one of the flight attendants conducted the safety demonstration while purser Suzanna read through the script.
Just to make sure I departed from the right airport.
As we started our engine, a private jet had arrived at XSP.
What better proof is it for XSP to be a business aviation airport than rows of private jets?
The private jet that had just arrived at XSP had finally reached her parking stand.
After the short taxi we were cleared for takeoff. Since XSP's runway is rather short, takeoff was done in a hurry.
The reason for that was also because after take-off we needed to climb really fast. This is also one of the reasons why on this route FY limited the passengers to only 50 instead of the usual 72.
Last views as we crossed the Johor strait.
We passed over the Pasir Gudang port, which together with the industrial area became a thorn in XSP's opening for commercial flights.
We climbed so fast that we were already around the clouds only 3 minutes after liftoff.
After the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off, both Ikhwan and Suzanna conducted the snacks and drink service, brought to each passengerby basket and tray respectively.
I had mango juice for the drink and both curry puff and salted peanuts for the snack.
Contents when opened.
As much as I was expecting a half-decent curry puff, it looked like that was not the case.
The snack service consisted of:
Snack: Pastry puff with curried potato and chicken or salted peanuts
Drink: Mango juice or water
While the peanuts were ordinary (I don't ordinarily eat peanuts so take it with heaps of salt), the curry puff was a letdown - it was soggy and the fillings were not filling. In terms of drink it's always good to have choices (take that, GA!), though the mango juice wasn't chilled when it was served despite the ice and didn't especially have the thick mango consistency, which made me think it may be mango drink after all. On overall, it was a barely passable snack service given the distance.
I then did the usual lavatory visit, which was still clean (after all, what do you expect from a one third full plane?)
A view of the cabin from behind.
Some views from above: can you find Malacca from the above?
KUL terminal 2 as seen from above.
During the descent an insecticide was sprayed around the cabin.
Plantations and some patches of buildings accompanied me throughout the descend into SZB.
As we approached SZB, the view slowly changed into more residential areas.
We landed 17 minutes before the STD and reached our gate 14 minutes before STD, which was very good.
After I took my backpack it was time for me to leave the plane.
Thank you, -FYE, you will not be missed.
Just like my previous flight into SZB, I was directed to walk through the noisy covered walkway.
I reached into the door marked international arrival, which brought me into the next section.
Despite the small size, SZB boasted a duty-free shop just before immigration.
As you may have expected, SZB's immigration and luggage claim facility isn't the largest of all. During immigration I was asked for my purpose to visit Malaysia, to which I answered to transit and afterwards was let through.
In fact, like in JHB international and domestic passengers were mixed and only separated at the customs checkpoint.
It took me roughly 7 minutes from plane to public area while clearing customs and immigration, which was pretty fast by most standards
The bus from SZB to KUL would only leave at 2 PM, so I figured out that I may as well go to KUL via KL Sentral and try SZB's airport train.
The walkway was pretty poorly marked that I was lost in the second floor for a while.
The station wasn't really inside or even adjacent to the airport terminal, so I needed to cross the main road using the bridge.
From there it could be either a walk through the hot carpark, ….
Or around it using a sheltered walkway, which I picked
Whoever made this station should be severely punished - the point of an airport rail link is for convenience, not sport. It took me 5 minutes from leaving the terminal building to reaching the train station, which thanks to Malaysia's heat wasn't the easiest walk either.
Give it a try - fine, but only this time.
Ticket to KL Sentral costed me a whopping RM11 (~US$2.8) - I may as well take Grab if the schedule doesn't match and earn my rewards and cashback.
The platform required one escalator ride up, which revealed the sad state of the train I was about to ride.
The legroom wasn't as punishing as what I had on FY, but the seats were plain terrible.
If even KLIA Ekspres don't feature power plugs, why should this train do, and therefore it doesn't have one. The advertised free Wi-Fi was also unavailable on board.
At least it departed on time, and 30 minutes later I was back at KL Sentral for my bus to KUL.
Managed by the same people behind Changi Airport, apart from the difficult public transport access, XSP is an excellent airport for short-haul flights. It's not something I would want to go for a layover, but when it comes to passing through quickly and lounging for a while before a flight, few can beat this airport. In terms of the flight, apart from the on time performance FY turned out to be quite disappointing with the old fleet and low quality snack service.
On overall, I would do this flight again if I am pressed for time, but not specifically to fly on FY.