The island of Redang in northeast Malaysia has become a great getaway destination for residents of Singapore, with Berjaya Air flying there daily from Changi. My wife and I decided to visit for a mini-honeymoon this past weekend and as there isn't a lot of info on Redang's airport here (RDN), I thought I'd post a short trip report.
We bought the tickets about 3 months before using Berjaya's own website. The return flight was S$325 (US$260), and included one checked bag.
Saturday, 29th June
We took a cab to Changi and arrived at Terminal 2 just after noon. The Berjaya check-in counter was at row 10, with a single agent taking care of a couple in front of us. When we checked in, we had to fill out the resort name and our return date on a sheet of paper and we saw that we were only the 4th group to check in (and the last as it turned out). We received seats 16A and 16C and with an hour to spare before boarding, we went to the aviation gallery. There wasn't much activity on the apron, with a single Tiger bird at gate F30, so we did a bit of shopping and then went to gate F55 about 10 minutes before the 13:10 boarding time (the flight time had been moved 15 minutes earlier from its scheduled 13:55). F55 is one of the gates which is used to bus passengers to planes that don't use a jet bridge, so when boarding commenced, we were put on a bus that took us over to stand 209. There waited 9M-TAG, a 72-seat ATR72.
Next to it was one of Firefly's colourful ATRs, 9M-FYJ, getting ready for a return flight to SZB.
We boarded by the back door and took our seats. With only 8 passengers total, people sat where they wished, although we remained in our assigned seats.
It didn't take long to get everyone seated and for the two flight attendants to give the safety briefing, but then the captain told us we would have to wait to depart due to traffic conditions. We got underway at 13:50 and taxied out to runway 20C. An EVA Air 777 took off in front of us and then we turned onto the runway. After a minute, the plane accelerated and we were suddenly airborne at 14:00. It was a bit of a surprise that we left the ground so quickly as I'm used to flying bigger jets with longer take-off requirements. The plane made a long looping turn as we ascended and headed northeast to Pulau Redang, tracking the east coast of Malaysia for a while before moving over the South China Sea.
There was a light snack (mini hot dog, a bag of peanuts, and a bottle of water) served once we reached cruising altitude at 19,000 feet. Less than an hour later, we began our descent into RDN. The airport, which was opened in 2003, lies at the south end of the island, making for a beautiful approach over water. You land on runway 02 (there is only a single runway) and taxi to the tiny terminal building.
As this is an international flight, there is an immigration official, whose sole purpose today was to stamp 8 passports. Interestingly, Redang only has two incoming flights a day, one from SZB and this one from SIN, so the staff there have very little work.
Luggage is brought out on a cart and handed to the waiting passengers. My bag came off last as usual.
An incredibly bored customs official is there but he does little other than to scan through the passport. After that, your resort guide will pick you up and take you to a jetty just behind the airport, where you will board a boat to take you to the resort. At the jetty, I heard the roar of the engines as the plane took off behind us. I managed to get a shot as it disappeared above the clouds.
From there, it was a short boat ride to the resort, where we spent a few days engaged in quiet contemplation.
We stayed 3 nights, which is about right as you are essentially trapped at the resort and the food does get repetitive. We stayed at a dive resort, which offered two snorkelling trips each day, as well as scuba diving for those with licenses or who wished to learn. One of the highlights is the marine park, which is on a small island just south of the airport. We happened to be snorkelling there the following afternoon when the same flight landed and the following flight took off. I could read 9M-TAG on the underwing as it flew straight overhead, so it appears that this plane plies the same route every day.
Tuesday, 2nd July
On Tuesday morning, suitably relaxed, we took the resort's boat back to the jetty and our guide drove us the 5 minutes to the terminal for the return flight. Check-in baggage is scanned in front of you and a sticker affixed. There is a single check-in agent who tags your bags and hands you the boarding pass in a very efficient fashion.
This flight was slightly more popular, with 17 passengers making the trip to Singapore. We were given seats 7D and 7F and proceeded through security and into the open-air waiting room, which has exactly 72 seats, the same number as on the plane. There are several ceiling fans as well as one large standing fan to keep you cool while you wait. You can stand at the gate and see down the runway, which a few passengers did in anticipation of the arriving flight.
The flight from SZB arrived right on time as passengers lined up to watch it land. It taxied to a stop and shortly thereafter disgorged the lucky few who would be spending their next few days on this lovely island.
We waited until just before noon before we were escorted to the plane. Again, with so few passengers and no large items of carry-on baggage, it took less than 5 minutes to get everybody ready. Shortly thereafter the plane turned around and we zoomed along runway 20, taking off over the marine park right at 12:05.
The return flight saw us along the coast most of the way, with clear skies affording a nice view. The snack service was similar (a small pastry this time instead of the mini hot dog). As we descended there was a small amount of turbulence as Singapore was under cloudy skies, and we touched down 5 minutes early on 20R, which meant a relatively long taxi back to stand 208. From there, the bus took us directly to the arrival hall, where we sped through the automated immigration and collected our bags without waiting. After 3 glorious days, we were back home.
It was a welcome change to fly in such a small plane with few fellow passengers. Berjaya's service is perfectly fine, the flight is so short that the flight attendants don't have much to do so they spend their time chatting at the back of the plane. RDN is the smallest airport I have ever seen, and those that work there must have devised some interesting ways to pass the time while waiting for those two flights to arrive. Well worth visiting if you are in Singapore and looking for a destination off the beaten path.
[Edited 2013-07-05 07:45:09]