The previous legs are posted at:
Baby Flies The A380 Pt 3: MH KUL-KUA 734 (pics)
Baby Flies The A380 Pt 2: 3K SIN-KUL A320 (pics)
Baby Flies The A380 Pt 1: QF SYD-SIN A380 (pics)
It was a Sunday when the time came to leave Kuantan. We drove to the airport and parked the car in the carpark. Most of the airport was closed. The size of the terminal and the number of shops is surprising considering that there are at most flights in and four out in a day.
Three of those are Malaysia Airlines between Kuantan and KL. The other, not daily, is on FireFly to Singapore. It was on the latter that we woul be flying. FireFly is the “low cost community” offshoot of MAS with a fleet of ATR72-500’s. I found their prices a little expensive, but our options were rather limited.
The check-in desk could only be reached by first passing our luggage to be checked in through a big x-ray scanner. After picking up our dreadful little printout boarding passes we then returned to the open walled landside section of the airport. There was an ATM, a cafe selling Malaysian foods and a small local produce shop open, but that was it.
Eventually the gate to the boarding lounge opened and we passed our carry-on bags through the x-ray machine. A couple of desks were setup for immigration, but the officials were more interested in playing with Alex than processing our passports!
The departure lounge was fairly empty, but had good views of the tarmac. We were not the only passengers with an infant, an Indian family in front of us had two children, along with their Indonesian maid. I guess I was surprised that they bothered bringing the children at all.
SECTOR: KUA - SIN
ETD: 13:25 (local)
ETA: 14:25 (local)
The orange and white FireFly ATR72-500 taxied up, stopping a short distance in front of the lounge. We waited while the arriving passengers disembarked and the luggage was processed. Then families with children were requested to board first.
We pushed Alex in the stroller all the way to the base of the rear stairs, whereupon we folded it up. The Indian family had gone ahead of us with their big multipart stroller system and we watched them carry the sections up to the cabin, so we did the same. However, when we got to the top the flight attendant told me that we should have left it down the bottom to be packed. Well sorry, but nobody was down there to tell us! I thought I was being helpful, but I got the feeling that the Indian mother had been making trouble for the attendant. I offered to take it down again, but she just put it away in the rear storage area.
The cabin of the aircraft looked very fresh and clean, with black leather seats that seemed more spacious than the Dash 8. I had the window seat under the wing in 10A, while B had the adjacent aisle seat. The aircraft appeared only about half full. The Singaporean accents behind me now stood out quite starkly from the Malaysian accents.
Once everyone was seated, the doors were closed, and the two flight attendants gave their safety demonstration during the short taxi to the runway. The aircraft was aligned with the runway and we lifted off, just like that.
The green fields of the airport, the quiet airforce base, the four lane highway that had brought us to the airport, then kampongs old and new. Then we turned to fly parallel to the coast, which we followed halfway to Singapore.
I was concerned about turbulence on this flight after the first couple of entries about FireFly in Skytrax both mentioning how poorly the ATR72’s handled. However, apart from a few tiny judders it really was a smooth flight.
Once we reached cruising altitude the captain opened up the PA and welcomed us to the flight. Many of the passengers redistributed themselves noisily around the cabin, searching for the best vantage spots.
To our right was dark green jungle, to the left the blue ocean, above a blue grey sky. Without the puffy white cumulonimbus clouds it felt very different to my old turboprop flights in Central Queensland.
The drone of the engines, not too bad, seemed to send Alex to sleep. He was very well behaved on this flight. The crew served us apple juice in paper cups and small strawberry swirl muffins. The muffins weren’t particularly fresh, but neither were they really necessary so I have no complaints.
Out of the window I watched us fly over islands off Malaysia’s East Coast. I could make out resorts on some of them.
After half an hour of flight we turned right and cut across the inland of the Malaysian peninsula. Scars of quarries and roads cut yellow-red patches out of the green landscape. Fish farms could be seen in the middle of the river below as we began our descent. A resort, then reclamation works in the Singapore Strait that divides the island from the peninsula.
We descended directly to Changi’s runway and landed without any fuss, taxiing to the budget terminal. Around us were Tiger Airways A319s and A320s.
The flight with FireFly had been surprisingly enjoyable and smooth. I’m not certain I’d want to spend 3 hours in the aircraft in rougher weather, but at one hour in calm skies it was very pleasant. The crew recovered from their earlier curtness and were friendly during the flight, even the Malaysian pilots were communicative. The interior of the aircraft couldn’t have been cleaner as well, with a brand new feeling.
We exited from the rear of the ATR72-500 on to the tarmac, collecting our stroller at the bottom. As we walked towards the terminal building a security guard admonished me for taking photographs, so I put the camera away until we were inside.
Changi’s budget terminal was so much nicer than KL’s. While it may also be a big shed, it’s a colourful shed and was pretty quiet. We didn’t bother checking out the duty free shop or any cafe, just passed through immigration, collected our checked in luggage, then went outside to the shuttle bus to Terminal 2.
Fortunately, we scored seats in the bus, storing our luggage beneath it. A couple of Europeans who arrived late to the bus seemed miffed that they couldn’t store their luggage below and instead had to lug their overlarge cases inside.
The basement and arrivals area of Terminal 2 was pretty quiet. We just had enough time to change Alex’s nappy before catching the free shuttle bus back to the Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel where we were spending the final two nights in Singapore.
View from our hotel room at the Roxy
Dinner at Chilli Padi
ION shopping centre
Full details of this trip can be seen on my travel blog and photo album
The final leg of the trip comes next with a return to Sydney on the Qantas A380.