My first trip from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur involved a private car across the causeway to Johor Bahru, then an overnight train ride to KL. Now the air route had been opened up and a number of different airlines flew between the two cities, so we had quite a few choices when booking the tickets in Australia.
Malaysia Airlines was ruled out on account of cost. SilkAir probably would have been too, if their website would have allowed infant bookings to be made online. It’s pathetic that you can’t do so with this branch of Singapore Airlines considering that it’s easy to book infants on their LCC competitors.
Another offshoot of SIA, Tiger Airways, was ruled out because of their myriad of charges and conditions that gives me the impression of a true Ryanair clone (never flown Ryanair, but they ain’t the most popular on a.net). The current Airways series on TV in Australia doesn’t help their image either.
With an infant a little extra service can mean a lot.
The most frequent service belongs to AirAsia. We had enjoyed flights
That left Jetstar Asia. Their fares were competitive with, if not lower, than AirAsia’s, with the bonus of 4 kgs more checked in luggage, select-your-own seating allocations and flights between the main terminals of both Changi and KLIA. Alex’s first flights, to Japan, and most of our flights over the past few years had also been with Jetstar, and they were good experiences so we knew what to expect.
CARRIER: Jetstar Asia
SECTOR: SIN - KUL
ETD: 13:40 (local)
ETA: 14:35 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Airbus Industrie A320
Our hotel shuttle bus delivered us early to Changi’s Terminal 1, currently the least impressive of the triumvirate. It’s a pretty ride in, under the tropical trees and along roads divided by rows of colourful bougainvillea flowers.
The queues at the Jetstar check-in were almost non-existent. We were warned that our cabin baggage would be checked carefully and this turned out to be correct. For the first time that I can recall the dimensions and weight of our carry-on bags were measured by a security guard before we could proceed to immigration.
Last time I was departing from Terminal 1 I was in an exhausted and miserable state, but this time my wife and son were with me so it was a lot happier. B made straight for the free internet terminals and spent so much time on them that I thought we’d be late for boarding.
When we arrived at the gate lounge it was still pretty empty and there was enough time for Alex to fall asleep and for me to watch some airport operations. At Changi the security x-ray is done at the entrance to the gate lounge rather than straight after immigration, as is done in Sydney. Also unlike Sydney they let Alex stay in his stroller.
In addition to Singapore Airline’s huge A380 and 777’s taking off outside of our window, there were operations from Jetstar Asia’s competitors as well. All but Malaysia Airlines use the A320. I rather like the blues of the SilkAir livery, very calming and suggestive of the tropics.
Eventually it was time to board. Alex had, of course, fallen asleep. He always does that shortly before we are about to change our mode of transport so that we have to wake him up again! They collected the stroller at the gate, then we boarded through an airbridge to the front door.
The interior of the A320 was pretty standard Jetstar, although the aircraft itself felt a little older than its Australian cousins and lacked some of the attractive orange highlighting around the cabin. The black leather seats lacked earphone sockets, not that we would have used them. We were seated over the wing in seats 14E and F. B had the window and I the middle seat. Somebody sat to our left in the aisle seat. In front of us were the overwing exit rows. One of the flight attendants explained at length to the passengers seated in them their responsibilities in case of emergency. It felt a little strange to hear the different accent and delivery of the Singaporean crew over their Australian counterparts when they both wore the same uniforms.
The Australian captain announced that the first officer would be flying today and that we could experience some turbulence on the short 40 minute flight.
It was only a short taxi to the runway, then we lifted off with far more acceleration than the previous A380 flight. Up, across the Singapore coastline and into the hazy-cloudy skies.
Alex sat on my lap for the takeoff, but B transferred him to her lap about midway. He was unhappy at being woken up before boarding and required constant attention. We sang quietly to him and told him stories, let him chew on his toys.
Under silver skies of high cloud we raced north. The threatened turbulence never amounted to much and it really was a comfortable and pleasant flight. We actually overshot KL before hooking back south for the descent into KLIA. Below us were the bland palm plantations around the airport and the scars of new development.
The legroom wasn't bad - both B and I were quite comfortable.
After landing it was a fair taxi to our gate. The route took us past a couple of white and blue 747 classics, bare of livery, but with Icelandic registrations. There for the Hajj?
We docked at the quiet satellite terminal and had to catch the automatic shuttle train to the main terminal. There we got stuck behind the crew of a Qatar Airlines flight. Apart from that the large and modern terminal was pretty empty, except for the queue in front of the couple of foreign passport immigration counters that were open for business.
One of the officials spotted us, and seeing B, suggested that we go through the Malaysian passport holders counter, where the line was much shorter. B has a Malaysian passport, and as we were family that permitted all of us to go through. Same for her when we are entering Australia – all of us can use the Australian queue.
Most of our luggage emerged quickly and the stroller was waiting for us on the floor near the luggage belt. We were soon out of the airport and on to the fast KLIA Ekspres train to KL. It may be expensive for Malaysia, but it only takes 28 minutes to KL Sentral Station, unlike over an hour on the coach.
We were staying at the Le Meridien Hotel adjacent to the station, mainly due to the convenient location (an early morning departure was looming) and the swimming pool, which it shares with the Hilton. I must say that the Innovation Rooms at the Hilton were nicer than our room at the Le Meridien, but hey, it was beyond our budget!
It was Merdeka Day, Malaysia’s independence day holiday, though flags weren't displayed quite so much as in neighbouring Singapore.
The next few days were spent in the company of friends and relatives and a little shopping. We visited the pasar malam (night markets) at SS2 in Petaling Jaya – way better than the awful markets on Petaling Street. Caught a ferry to Pulau Ketam and ate crab. Alex was fed durian (yuck for me, yum for him), coconut milk and kuih.
Full details of this trip can be seen on my travel blog and photo album
The next leg is Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan and Malaysia Airlines.