There’s something about “inaugural flight” that always makes me excited. Whether it is a new airline or a new plane type or a new destination, it is always sexy to be on an inaugural flight. I honestly do not know whether is it because of the chance to be the first batch of passengers to something new or is it because of the attention on that particular flight or could it be because of the water cannon salute that is always fun to experience?
Whatever the reason is, I’m all game for an inaugural flight especially involving an airline I’m happy to recommend to anyone – Malindo Air. Loyal readers of AzuanZahdi.com might be able to recall that I’ve provided quite a fair bit of coverage on this hybrid airline in the past. I was one of the first passengers to try and write about their service when they first started in 2013 (click here to read), I was also the first few to try their ATR service from Subang (click here to read) and I was on the first Malindo Air flight that landed in klia2 (click here to read). Oh I’ve also shared my travel stories on MalindoMag (6 so far!)
So when I got invited to be part of the inaugural flight to Malindo’s 23rd destination, I just got to join the trip. This airline is growing so fast for the last 3 years; I feel that it is about time for me to provide an updated complete review on how it is like flying on-board a Malindo Air’s flight.
With a departure time of 7:15am, getting to KLIA very early is crucial. As early as 5am, there were already a lot of activities at Malindo Air’s check in area.
Check in was quick and easy and having someone friendly attending you at this hour is definitely a bonus.
At this point a passenger would already notice one major advantage of Malindo. Free 30kg (max: 2 piece) of checked baggage allowance so no worries on being overweight as far as your luggage is concern and less people carrying bags into the cabin which is a blessing for a narrow-body jetliner.
Gate H8. Malindo is now operating from KLIA Main Terminal building. Passengers have to pay higher airport charges but definitely enjoy better facilities and less walking to reach the gates.
At the gate, I was told that it is going to be a full flight which is pretty rare for an inaugural flight. A good sign for the airline.
9M-LNG Boeing 737-900ER was given the honour to be the first Malindo Air flight to land in Taipei.
I was lucky to bump into a familiar face at the Gate – an Aircademy’s ex-student who is now with the airline. He was kind enough to allow me to board first to take a few photos/videos of the empty cabin before seats being filled up. Thank you Sir!
Wear and tear of the seats starts to show up 3 and a half years after this plane being put on service. However these economy class seats are still one of the best in comparison with other Malaysian-based narrow-body jets thanks to the 32” seat pitch.
Small pillow and blanket for everyone for this medium-haul sector.
As the passengers start to settle down, I was able to have a quick chat with the crew and told them that I will be taking some photos for my “assignment” of covering this inaugural flight. They were cool about it which is important in making sure I can roam around in the cabin without disrupting their service. I guess this pass helps a lot 🙂
All set to go.
Take off was slightly behind schedule due to traffic in KLIA. Due to that we had more sun and good opportunity for a nice photo.
Once we are above the clouds, passengers start to enjoy the free in-flight entertainment – another interesting plus point for Malindo. Limited choices when it comes to the latest movies and TV series but not too bad considering it is FREE and not a long haul flight.
And now the earphones are given free!
Even if you are not the type of person that enjoys in-flight entertainment, the flight info screen is something useful for everyone.
As the passengers were busy with Interstellar, 2 Broke Girls and How I Met Your Mother, the crew at the galley were busy preparing to serve the “appetizer” for breakfast. Crackers and water.
Followed by the actual breakfast, choice of Omelette or Fried Beehoon. Free of charge!
Yes, even the drinks are free.
Halfway through the flight, we got the chance to try out the in-flight wifi services. It is a chargeable service (free 1 hour for Business Class passengers). Despite moving at the speed of more than 850 km/h, the connection was stable and fast enough for me to use WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media apps. Perfect for sending a “mandatory brag post” on Instagram with predictable captions like “Hello from 35,000 feet” 😛
An observation that I think worth mentioning – the crew on-board this flight were always on their feet. Even after meal service has been completed, they can be seen going around with water and cups to make sure passengers are well hydrated. That’s 4 hours of excellent service and I got to know that they actually return to KL on the same return flight making it a long day for them yet it is still top notch hospitality. Well done.
After more than 4 hours of leaving KLIA, we are ready for arrival.
A well-executed touchdown by the tech crew greeted with a round of applause from the crew.
But the biggest applause came as we taxied into the gate greeted by the customary water cannon salute welcoming Malindo to Taipei for the first time.
The celebration doesn’t stop there. After thanking the wonderful crew of OD632 (10th Sept 2016), together with the media, I was ushered to the official ceremony celebrating the Inaugural flight.
An interesting flashmob!
The formality of a launch.
I love listening to Mr Chandra Rama Murthy – the Chief Executive Officer of Malindo Air talking about how the airline aim at not only connecting travellers between the 2 destinations but also to further utilise the growing network of Malindo Air making KLIA a much more livelier hub. For example, passengers from Perth would now be able to fly to Taipei on a single Malindo Air ticket with a transit stop in KLIA.
As the destination list expands, I would imagine that we could see a much healthier transit passengers and positive loads on Malindo Air’s flights moving forward. This would not be a surprise as many passengers are now smarter and goes for value for money when it comes to air travel. By providing a balance of frills and affordable fares, this hybrid concept of Malindo is definitely here to stay.
My verdict on the inaugural flight? Positive. I particularly love the spacious seating and free inflight meals but what makes a difference is the friendly crew on board the flight.
Here’s a short video that I managed to put together from the inaugural flight.
Thank you Malindo Air for the invitation and a great inaugural flight. Blue skies ahead.
Next: The #FunTaipei series begin.