“A breath of fresh air for the local airline industry. Once every few years it is nice to have a new player in the scene”.
That is exactly how I responded when a friend asked me my opinion about the new kid on the block – Malindo Air. I personally believe that a new airline is most of the time good news for the consumers. It often translates into a healthy competition that in the end provides better options for the consumers in terms of schedule, price, route and of course comfort level.
Malindo Air, a JV between National Aerospace and Defence Industries (NADI) of Malaysia and Lion Air Group of Indonesia, started its flights back in March with flights from KLIA to East Malaysia. I had the opportunity to experience a Malindo Air flight on the second day of their operation and blogged about it (click here to read).
Three months later, Malindo Air continues to sustain their momentum by starting their ATR72 turboprop service from Subang SkyPark initially serving popular routes of Penang, Kota Bharu and Johor Bharu.
This is something new, something exciting.
Without wasting any time, I found myself booked on a Malindo Air ATR72 flight to Penang on it first week of operations with two objectives in hand.
1) to blog about Malindo Air’s ATR72 service on AzuanZahdi.com and
2) to have a quick weekend getaway in Penang.
Ticket for 3.
RM160 per pax.
It is not the cheapest for this route but for a booking made merely a week in advance + the school holiday weekend factor; it is definitely still good “value for money”.
Check in was done at counter 4 in Subang SkyPark. It should be a quick routine process for the ground crew but it took us about 5 minutes of queuing time + 5 minutes of waiting at the counter for us to get our boarding passes.
No issues with my wife’s 7kg bag as Malindo Air allows free check in baggage allowance of up to 20kg.
The super thin boarding pass. A common trend for airlines these days especially low-cost carriers.
Boarding announcement was made about 15 minutes before scheduled time of departure. Priority boarding was given for senior citizens and those needing special assistance before the rest of the 51 passengers of flight OD1150 were allowed to board by rows.
Beautiful morning light as we walked towards Malindo’s first and currently the only ATR72-600 plane.
“Welcome..”. Short and sweet greetings by the lead stewardess.
At one glance, Malindo’s ATR72-600 is very much similar to other ATR aircrafts. Of course being a new aircraft, it has that “new” feel and smell.
A total of 72 seats in a 2-2 single class configuration.
After settling down at my 18D seat, a quick headcount was made and promptly after that the cabin door was closed and armed for departure. An on-time departure for this flight.
Take-off was smooth thanks to the good Saturday morning weather. I love this “blue colour” ala mood lighting during take-off and landing.
Immediately after the seat-belt signs were switched off, the two crew went into action starting the in-flight service. I started my “mini mission” as well to have a closer look at the cabin features.
The first few rows of the cabin.
The first row is also the emergency exit row and features extra legroom.
Message from AzuanZahdi.com: If you don’t think you can help the crew to operate the door during an unlikely event of an emergency, do not seat here. #serious #communityMessage
Seat pitch of 29”. Not too bad for a short hop. The unique thing that I noticed is the “slim” seats. These seats are slim (but comfortable) allowing better legroom and are not as heavy as normal seats.
I can still extend my legs comfortably although it is not as spacious as Malindo’s Boeing 737-900.
Overhead compartment. I was told that it’s larger but I find it as almost the same size as the ATR72-500 which is significantly smaller than those in jet planes. So if you are travelling on ATR aircrafts, it is best to check in your luggage.
The design of the compartment is nice but when the compartment door is open it blocks the seat number sticker.
The seat pocket. Inside the pocket – a laminated safety card and an air-sickness bag.
Weather was fine throughout the 1-hour flight. Approximately above Ipoh, the captain made an in-flight announcement confirming that the flight is arriving on-time.
Similar to its jet operations in KLIA, the two stewardesses of each ATR flights sport the same elegant-looking kebaya uniform.
Passengers were offered the choice of coffee/tea/water + a cupcake.
Yes, you read it right. Hot drinks! Very useful for morning flights. A happy pax!
As the aircraft began its descend into Penang, the cabin was prepared for landing.
Approaching RWY04 followed by a smooth landing.
Ahead of scheduled time!
A good first experience. A good way to start my weekend getaway. Well done Malindo Air.
I will be sharing a video of the flight sometime later this week. In the meantime please do not hesitate to ask me anything about the flight by commenting below.
Will I use Malindo Air ATR again? Yes if the price and timing are right. The good thing about having competition is that I can easily jump from one airline to another. However, a word of advice, Malindo for the time being runs only one aircraft from Subang. Despite it being a new aircraft, the external factors such as bad weather, traffic congestions and technical issues can disrupt normal daily schedule. Until they have more ATR72 in their fleet, I would advise anyone to factor in possibility of a delay especially if you are travelling in the evening.
Note: On 9th June 2013, our return flight PEN-SZB was delayed by 3.5 hours due to technical issues as the aircraft was doing the earlier sectors. The airline through its Facebook page apologized a day later. Refreshment was served to all passengers while waiting for the flight. Delays are very annoying especially if it is for more than an hour but as an aviation geek, I believe there is nothing more important than safety and security. During delays, flow of information to the pax is crucial and it is best for the passengers to be informed by the ground crew all the time on the status of the delay. A lesson learnt for all parties I am sure.
I wish Malindo Air blue skies ahead and look forward to be flying on Malindo Air again soon!