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Malindo Air: Flying from KL to Kota Kinabalu – A “Not Just Low Cost” Experience

There’s a new airline in town.

Malaysia’s first hybrid airline model, Malindo Air, has successfully started its flights to East Malaysia on 22nd March 2013. Leveraging on the strength of Lion Air Group, the airline operates brand new Boeing 737-900ER aircraft currently providing thrice-daily services to Kota Kinabalu and four-times-daily services to Kuching.

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Over the last couple of weeks, I received quite a number of queries on Malindo Airlines from AzuanZahdi.com readers. People are still unsure on what to expect from this new hybrid airline concept of Malindo Air. In order to answer some of these questions and simply because of the fact that I love flying, I took the effort to book myself a day-trip to Kota Kinabalu just to allow me to experience Malindo Air on its second day of operations.

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Through Malindo Air’s website I was able to get the introductory all-inclusive promo fare of RM136. Reasonable price for a day trip 🙂

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OD1002 – the first flight to Kota Kinabalu from Main Terminal Building, KLIA is scheduled to be at 0650 every day. I was at the terminal as early as 5:30am.

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Malindo Air occupies half of the counters at Row F.

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I was welcomed at the check-in counters by Miss Adriana Aman, a friendly personnel that granted me my request for an aisle seat.

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I had no checked-in luggage so the whole check-in process took only 2-minutes. I look forward for Malindo to enable its web check-in features on their website which could be a useful time-saver option for passengers without checked-in luggage especially on flights as early as OD1002.

Boarding pass.

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Malindo Air Boeing 737-900ER. This aircraft (9M-LNF) is special due to the fact that it is the 7,500th Boeing 737! A huge family of 737 workhorse.

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Boarding process was completed using the usual routine of special assistance > family with kids > rows at the back > front rows. No business class passengers for today’s flight. On a similar note, I shall include “flying business class on Malindo Air” as one of my target for 2013.

The business class seats.

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I was the last person to board the plane. Pax load was quite low with last few rows of seats remain unoccupied.

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Within minutes, boarding was completed and door was closed for push-back, a couple minutes earlier than scheduled time.

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With a tagline of “Not Just Low Cost”, Malindo is not only a Low Cost carrier but also an airline that provides superior products and service. It’s ‘hybrid airline’ concept is more than just a marketing gimmick. The products offered are reflective of this concept and it is something that I personally willing to pay extra to enjoy.

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In the economy class section, the comfortable leather seat offers a 32in pitch, which is significantly better than low-cost carriers and some aircrafts operate by full-service carriers.

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The large seatback in-flight entertainment screen is a nice touch! Don’t forget to bring your own headset – the usual single -jack type or buy onboard for RM5).

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Some screenshots of the IFE screen. Games, music jukebox, inter-seats chati and latest movies (Life of Pi) are part of this IFE system that is available in 5 languages. I was in #AVGeek mode so I decided to just tune in to the airshow channel for flight info.

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If you have your own electronic device, bring your own USB cable and you do not have to worry about running out of power.

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Breakfast was served as we reached the cruising altitude of 37,000 feet above the Royal Town of Pekan, Pahang.

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Egg-sandwich and a small pack of mineral water. Free of charge. It is a nice touch but I personally think it would be even better if passengers are given the options to purchase a more solid food as well.

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The flight was generally smooth thanks to the good weather condition throughout the journey.

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Mood lighting that matches the cabin ambience with the environment outside. A nice feature of the Boeing 737-Next Generation series.

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It is also worth mentioning that Malindo Air also provides free 15kg checked-in luggage allowance. For hand-carry it allows up to 7kg within the usual cabin-size bag requirements which can be placed at the overhead compartment or below the seat in front of you.

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2-hours into the flight.

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A friendly reminder to those enjoying the movies.

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Approaching Kota Kinabalu.

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Welcome to Kota Kinabalu International Airport. On-time arrival for OD1002 23 March 2013.

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At the gate. Malindo Air utilizes the modern facilities of Terminal 1 KKIA.

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I was the last few to leave the aircraft. All seven cabin crew were immediately occupied in preparing the cabin for the return flight. Fast turnarounds contribute towards a better aircraft utilisation rate which translates into better revenue flow.

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One for my ‘aviation stories’ album!

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Special thanks to the lovely Malindo Air crew members who not only help answered my many questions on the airlines and the 737-900ER aircraft but also for providing the world class cabin service that is at par with premium airlines’ hospitality that I have experience before this.

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Flight OD1002 gave me a good first impression. Malindo Air is definitely in my personal list of preferred airlines and given the kind of services that I experienced (main terminal, aerobridge, good seat pitch, free IFE, free snacks, new aircraft, friendly crew) I wish Malindo Air the very best of success. I hope that the seats can be filled up easily, fares remain competitive if not low and the airlines can sustain its bottom-line while maintaining the standards of service in a long run. In the end, we passengers will be the winner. 🙂

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For bookings – head over to http://www.malindoair.com/en/

p/s: With Malindo Air competitive fares to KK, we now have more reasons to travel for a holiday to Sabah! I did a short hop to Manukan Island and it was awesome! #SabahBounceBack

Malindo BKI Photos1

Coming up next: The video review of Flight OD1002! Please leave your comments below if you have any experience to share, feedback or questions 🙂

72 Comments

  1. Fadli Idris March 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Wah…. keren ada in flight entertainment, tempat duduknya juga luas. Kalau harga, murah mana dengan AirAsia or Firefly?

  2. Jardness March 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    wow.. the airplane is so EMPTY? why is that?

  3. Lorraine March 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    There’s a Hard Rock Cafe in Sabah? Now I really do have a reason to go 😀

  4. @FarizLow March 25, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Very well written! This aspires me to write like that one day.

    As for OD, the interior looked superb and love their uniforms. I do agree that the option to purchase a different meal is good to have.

  5. Awang Kassim March 25, 2013 at 7:53 am

    we are so lucky having friendly airline company in Malaysia ..No matter which one small or big or whatever.Some airline company(outside Malaysia) did not allowed us taking photograph while flying with them.I will review my trip by MASwings KCH/Balikpapan/KCH soon ,Insyallah.
    Anyway Thanks for sharing Malindo Air experience.

    • azuan March 25, 2013 at 8:24 am

      Thanks Uncle Awang. What more important is the sustainability of the airline and routes. We want them to make profit in a long run so that we can continue having alternatives. I love the easy connectivity to KCH and BKI as it allows me for a quick weekend holiday away from all the KL stress 🙂

      Look forward for your MasWings review.

    • thatsofarah March 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Wow, I just got to know there’s MasWings flight to Balikpapan from Sabah/Sarawak when I was in KK last weekend.

  6. Nila March 25, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Can we check in nicely packed frozen seafood on Malindo?

    • azuan March 25, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Nope. I’ve checked with the check in agent in BKI and she clearly mentioned that frozen seafood is not allowed. All those dried udang kering etc are ok.

  7. Shayna March 25, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Azuan – As always can rely on you for latest and full review. thank you so much. i am flying Malindo to bring the kids for a shot school holiday vacation to Kuching. They will love those tv screens.

  8. thatsofarah March 25, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Ehem, putting too high a standard for my review on Malindo Air.

    • azuan March 25, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Hahaha no pressure Farah. I’m just responding to MANY questions i got from my blog readers and hopefully help future travellers 🙂

      Look forward to read your review on Malindo.

  9. Zay March 25, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I would like to know the departure terminal for this airline is klia or klia2. Tqvm

  10. Dr Azizul March 25, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    lucky u! pretty ladies huh! hahah. anyway, i hope malindo will maintain like this even if they r successful enough. great job azuan. always my aviation idol!

  11. qemmal March 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    this is what i am looking for!
    thanks Azuan!

  12. Mal berkat March 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Plz 4wrd ur blog about OD 2 emailremoved@malindoair.com Head of Sales & u might be 1 of blogger that entitle 4 free return OFFICIAL maiden flight 2 KCH from KUL 😉

  13. lily riani March 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Definitely using your blog as a benchmark but with more layman feel (since I am no expert). Few point below(I suka tanya banyak2 ehheheheh….).

    1. Is that your keychain (azuanzahdi in red tuh)? Cool!!!
    2. KLIA signage in yellow, never notice it before… Ish! (need to take a pic there too)
    3. A pic with Malindo stewardess! I tak daaaaa….

    Great entry… all I have to say is LEG ROOM LEG ROOM LEG ROOM!

    • azuan March 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      LOL @ (i suka tanya banyak2)

      1. Yup, i never give you one meh? next time!

      2. KLIA Signage tu ada kat level 5 (departure). Lighted at night and during festive seasons will be decorated 🙂

      3. Hehehe ni atas inisiatif sendiri 😛

      Thanks so much for your kind words and look forward to be reading your post on the inaugural. 🙂

  14. Irfan Chek March 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    my first time experiencing the maiden flight on 22 Mac to KK
    1. they say im crazy, going back to KL-KK on the same day
    2. met En Raja Saadi who mention your name when i said im a blogger haha
    3. how to have access to the inaugural flight ceremony although im not a passenger to Sarawak this Friday 29/3 ?

  15. Otai Selangor March 27, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Thanks Bro! for the spirit of sharing. Salute your article content, perfectly narrated completely with prolific pictorial itinerary for those who understand the niche of publishing travelog.

    SPANISH:
    Gracias Bro! porque el espíritu de compartir. Salute su artículo contenido, perfectamente narrado completamente con el itinerario pictórico prolífico para los que entienden el nicho de la edición travelog.

  16. azam March 27, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    You have good experience with Malindo Air.

  17. Mike Harbour March 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Nice post, Azuan, and great pics…still, I was hoping the flight crew would let you photograph the cockpit; is that allowed over there? Regardless, congrats on snagging a flight on the 7,500th 737!

    Mike Harbour
    Web Editor
    Flight Journal.com

    • azuan March 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Hi Mike, it’s an honour to have someone from FlightJournal.com visiting my little blog. Thank you.

      I was actually planning to snap photo in the cockpit but I spent a bit too much time in the cabin and the ground crew were actually waiting for me to clear the plane so that they can start boarding the pax for the return flight. Not wanting to hold them back i went straight out without asking for a cockpit visit. Generally from my own experience, cockpit visits in-flight is not allowed but at the gate it is still possible subject to permission from the Capt.

  18. darya anne March 28, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    i am not sure about malindo, pretty sceptical actually. trust me, soon enough they will start charging for everything! and knowing how baaaad the reputation of lion air in indonesia, makes me cringe even more. might give it a try, though. all i know, some of AA’s rotten apples are there so.. lets just wait and see 😉

    • azuan March 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      I agree with you to some extend. It would take some time to fairly predict on how far this airline can go. I’m more on the optimistic side but i’m also a bit concern on how far can they sustain operating premium quality service at low-cost fares. Finding a balance is crucial and as a passenger i’m more than happy to pay a bit extra to enjoy the offerings if the difference in fares is not too much. But then that’s just me 🙂

  19. Lan March 28, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Macam best… Hurmmm… Boleh try bagpack ke KK…

  20. fadhli March 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    thanks for ur nice and lovely review on malindo air.cant wait for this august to try it when balik kg for hari raya. thanks again saudara azuan.=)

  21. Mariam Ahmad March 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Malindo needs to hv more promo. Same logo with Lion Air isn’t it..

  22. Syaheera March 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Going home next week.It is my first time going to KLIA.I’m excited,but a bit nervous + scared =.=

  23. Zharif Ahmad March 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Salam En Azuan. Terima kasih atas penerangan yg serba lengkap lg ringkas. Tumpang bertanya. Tidak berkaitan Malindo. That remove b4 flt keychain of urs. Buat dkt mana ya. dah lama saya cari tpt nak tempah tp tak jumpa2. : )

  24. Malindo (unofficial) March 31, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Great review and honest for new hybrid airlines….keep it

  25. RaW | Ramble and Wander March 31, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    A very good review, Azuan. Looking forward to trying this airlines soon.

  26. ujang April 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    I already book tickets to KK on 11/4/13 with my friends… hopefully we can feel the same with experience that you share…

  27. Jess April 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Great to know you have good travel experiene with Malindo Air! Would consider them next time!

  28. Sunshine Kelly April 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    best! you went to Manukan Island awww!

  29. Alberto Martin May 10, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us. As Lionair pilot (Sister airline of Malindo) I feel proud you enjoyed the trip. I hope you can hold the same opinion in the future.

  30. Tommy May 13, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Thanks for the info azuan!!. . i’m going back sabah this end of may and recently just booked my ticket. looking forward to experience malindo air!

  31. Duncan T. May 15, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for the info azuan! i’m going back sabah this end of may and can’t wait to experience malindo air!

  32. Asyrof - Blogger Tanah Arab June 4, 2013 at 3:46 am

    SubhanAllah.

    Murahnya. Hanya bawah RM200 sahaja? .. Woww! ..

    Tempat duduk still besar & selesa. Pramugari baik, boleh ambil gambar then i’ve question to Mr. Azuan, if we want to buy ticket of business seat, how much from Kuala Lumpur to Sabah or sarawak.

    Woww, seriously – this is my first time visit this blog. Ist so amaze & believe that i’ll come again here cause have more than many of amzing article. 🙂

    Woww!! haha ..

    berapa banyak Woww !! ..:)

  33. Dottie September 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks for such an informative review.

  34. izzudin October 18, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    thanks for information… really2x helpfull… hehe

  35. mrafidi October 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Mcm mana nak web check in? saya try, keluar error

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