Saturday, 23 July 2016

Flying Malindo Air (Batik Air Malaysia) from Saigon to Singapore via Kuala Lumpur

Welcome to my Trip Report on Batik Air Malaysia! 


*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers from Airliners.net

Batik Air Malaysia


Hybrid livery (Batik Air's livery with Malindo titles)


Will replace 


The Lion Air Group - owner of Malindo decided to re-brand Malindo to Batik Air Malaysia, why? I don't have the answer but probably to reduce cost (less one company). This makes sense since both Malindo Air and Batik Air have identical cabin products. 

Introduction

I had to decide between Malindo or Singapore Airlines to fly back home. Flying with Singapore Airlines was an attractive option because I hope to fly on a different Airbus A330 and also the flight timing was better. For Malindo, I like flying with the airline for its new Boeing 737 BSI interior fitted with individual Personal TV, and also get to fly on a new routing: SGN-KUL then another flight from KUL to Singapore. For me, the more flights, the better. So what made me decide for Malindo in the end? Well, the pricing. Malindo offered U.S$64 while Singapore Airlines offered U.S$117, no-brainer right? So once that was decided, I did the booking. The airline's website has changed since the last time I flew with this airline. This would be my 6th flight with Malindo, are there any difference between this and my previous flights with this carrier? Do read on to find out. 

Airline's website


The cheap one-way ticket fare caught my attention


When I saw only 1 seat was left, I quickly made my booking. You never know when you get this offer again. 



My favourite part, that is to make my seat selection but I didn't chose my seat during the booking as I didn't want to pay for the seats. For this price, it is certainly not worth it. 


Mobile check-in


It was fast and easy and you don't have to pay for selecting the seats when doing the check-in. Check in starts 48 hours before departure. 





Boeing 737-900ER for the first sector, I chose to sit near the front of the aircraft


How do you tell the difference between the Boeing 737-800 and -900ER seat map?

If row 26 is blocked out (emergency row), that means it's the Boeing 737-900ER. 


This is the Boeing 737-800 seat map (Kuala Lumpur to Singapore sector) 


Once that was done, I could relax and enjoy the last 2 days in Ho Chi Minh. 


Here are some photos during my time at Ho Chi Minh City

Enjoying myself at one of the top cafes


Breakfast at my favourite cafe near the hotel


The famous church - Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica
-


A typical Vietnamese Street 


Raspberry Cheesecake 


Fried Rice and Spicy soup noodles at the Street Market Food Court



Club sandwich at ID Cafe - this is really good 


The cafe's interior


Mexican Food




You have to try this when you are there! This is really good



Another favourite of mine 


Japanese food!


Muffins and Latte for breakfast 


I had the beef + chicken burger at Lotteria fastfood restaurant


Rainy day at Saigon 



Japanese noodles - quite delicious 


Fried Squid 


Beef with glutinous rice with one of popular I.D cafe drinks


I.D Tiramisu cake


The interior of Ben Thanh Market


More photos of the streets in Saigon






German sausages - it was delicious!


Cookies and Cream Bingsu (Korean Dessert)


The usual traffic jam on a weekend



For breakfast the following day, pancakes! 


Omelette 


The 10 days in Ho Chi Minh City ended too quickly for my liking, it was time to return home. Flight was at 10.25 in the morning, not very ideal but it was better than taking the 7 a.m or 8 a.m direct flight back home. 

On the day of departure 

Woke up around 7 a.m. Got my stuff ready as usual and took the taxi to the airport. My mistake, should have taken Uber because I know I won't be ripped off. This driver charged me an extra 10,000 dong which I checked out later I didn't have to pay. Whatever! Uber for me next time. Once at the airport, the counters were opened and I went to check in my luggage and collect my boarding pass. I was able to collect the boarding pass for the KUL - SIN sector, so all went smoothly. 


Did a quick check on my ride, I was pleased to see 9M-LNJ - a new addition to my flight logbook was on the way there to transport me to Kuala Lumpur. 




Departure hall - only passengers with valid itinerary are allowed to enter the check-in area 


Check-in row H for me 


Malindo Air Check-in counters


Boarding passes for both legs 


Air Side 


Souvenir shops are almost everywhere at the air side 


Sasco lounge for invited guest only 



That's what I prefer to be able to roam around before boarding. An advantage over Changi and Kuala Lumpur Airport. 


A Philippines Airlines Airbus A321 was ready for departure while Vasco ATR-72 was heading to the runway for departure 




Route: SGN-KUL

Miles: 650


My ride: 9M-LNJ



Date of departure: 4th July 2016
Airline: Malindo Air
Flight: OD564
Route: SGN-KUL
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900ER
Registration: 9M-LNJ (Transferred from Lion Air, PK-LLG)
Delivered to Malindo on 17th June 2013
Engines: 2 X CFM56-7B26E
Configuration: C12 Y168
Line number: 4495
Gate: 8 
Load: 30-40% in Y class
Departure time: 1025
Boarding: 1003
Push back: 1029
Take off: 1039
FL: 390
Flight duration: 2 hours 10 mins 
Schedule arrival: 1325
Actual arrival: 1315
Departure runway: 25L 
Arrival runway: 14L 



Same cabin (comparing to my previous flights with this airline), but here are the photos anyway. 

Business Class 

These seats put some of the full service airlines' business class on the A320/B737 to shame really. 




The first row of business class offers the best legroom space 







I have tried out this seat product before on Batik Air (Identical cabin products), you can check out my trip report of it over here.

Economy Class 

I love the economy Class, 32' inch with IFE system 





Legroom space is good enough for medium haul routes. The best thing, to have the seat beside mine vacant. This flight ended up to be quite empty. Around 30-40% full with most seats at the vacant.


IFE screen - the entertainment system was only in used after take off and was shut down before landing



You have to use your own earpiece as its not provided in Economy Class. Charging your phone is allowed at this time. 


For the bulkhead row, the monitor screen is in front which I prefer. 



See how empty the rear rows, I could have sat at this row and convert it to a mini bed.


Mood lighting is the best feature of this Boeing Sky Interior 


The cabin crew were hiding in their corner during the flight 



Few more shots of the cabin, I won't go much into details since this has been covered before. You can check out my previous trip report on this airline over here



Windowless seat, probably the worst seat on this aircraft! 



What's inside the seat pocket?

The airline used to sell hot meals, not any more, it sells just light snacks. The plan for this airline is to convert into a full service airline, competing directly with Malaysia Airlines.


Light snacks 


Duty Free magazine 


Safety Card 


In-flight experience 

IFE System 

I still prefer to have this system over Wifi. Using our own devices for online streaming can waste a bit of battery and even if you charge using the usb port, it is slower than normal charging. You can check out my online streaming experience with Philippines Airlines trip report over here.


For Malindo to offer this on regional routes and the price you pay for the ticket is worth it. 



The flight route map



Checking out the Hollywood movies 




Almost there


In-flight snack and drink

Hot dog bun and a cupcake - not bad 


A complimentary drink was offered, a first time for me with this airline


In-flight service 

Service was similar to my Vietnam Airlines experience, not so friendly set of crew waiting at their positions and a couple of them were looking elsewhere when I was making my way to the seat. For the rest of the flight, they did their job but lack of warmth and friendliness, just feel that they couldn't wait to finish their work. 

Aircraft pushed back on time and we were soon our way. Take off was powerful and was smooth for most parts of the flight. In-flight entertainment system was available but the passengers in Economy Class has to use their own earpiece. I was pleasantly surprised with the light snack and complimentary drink, it looks like the airline has already taken a step further to become a full service airline. Maybe a full meal service might be served next time on this route. 

For the rest of the flight, it was uneventful. A Vietnamese lady asked me for help about Kuala Lumpur and for the rest of the flight, I did just that and my flight ended faster than I would have like. 

Once the aircraft reached the gate, I made the way out with the crew looking elsewhere once again. Service? Nah, disappointing to say the least.

Window shot photos 

We parked beside this China Airlines Airbus A330


Taxiing past this Boeing 767-300F of Fed Ex


Our taxi to runway 25 Left was very quick since there was little traffic at that time


On the runway now, time to roll! 



The traffic at Ho Chi Minh City Airport at that time


Lift off in good weather 



Glad the weather cleared up as earlier on it was raining



Goodbye Vietnam, I be back next month




It was good weather all the way with just small bumps 







Passing through some clouds 


On descend towards KUL Airport 



Getting closer now, on final approach to runway 14 Left 


Touched down smoothly


We parked beside Malindo Air's Boeing 737-800



Once I got off the aircraft, I went to the monitor screen to check for my connecting flight's status. Malindo Air used to operate from KLIA2 and since March 2016, it has been operating out of KLIA1. 


Malindo has a few aircraft parking at the gate , but they were heading elsewhere. My aircraft was still flying from somewhere, later on I found out it was coming in from Kota Kinabalu. 



I had some time to kill so went to the Starbucks. A couple of passengers were holding up the queue, but fortunately the staff opened up another counter and my turn came not too long after.


Unlike the Starbucks back home, the wifi password can only be used on one electronic device and is listed on the receipt. The airport WiFi signal is not available at this part of the terminal.


After enjoying the cake, I went to the gate 


At this point, the aircraft had not arrived. I check out Flightradar24 and 3 of the airline's Boeing 737-800. LNQ, LCC (Batik Malaysia livery) and LNU (I think), I was hoping for LCC but LNQ turned up at my gate and not surprisingly our flight was delay due to its late arrival.


My ride coming in 


KUL-SIN sector

Miles: 184





Date of departure: 4th July 2016
Airline: Malindo Air 
Flight: OD805
Route: KUL-SIN
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Registration: 9M-LNQ
Delivered on 4th June 2015
Engines: 2 X CFM56-7B24E
Configuration: C12 Y150
Line number: 5435
Gate: H8
Seat: 26A
Load: 95% in Y class
Flying time: 1 hour
Departure time: 1530
Boarding time: 1523
Pushed back: 1600
Take off: 1615 
Schedule arrival: 1630
Actual arrival: 1710
Departure runway: 14R
Arrival runway: 20R
                                 
My ride : 9M-LNQ




Cabin shot of the airline's Boeing 737-800

One noticeable thing about this aircraft is the newer In-flight Entertainment System



 In-flight snack 



Disembarking! It was overall a good experience on the Boeing Sky Interior's 737s. Pity the in-flight service from the crew on both flights was less than impressive. 


Good legroom space 


IFE System 

Do you notice the difference between this and the old system?


I find the interface on this system to be slightly better


The airlines under Lion Group 


About Lion Air 


What's available on this IFE system? Even on this short flight, the IFE system was available for us though it didn't last long due to the duration of the flight.


Window shot photos

We sat the gate for a while, not sure the cause of the delay and the worst thing is we were not kept updated. 



Take off in good weather at Kuala Lumpur 



Clear blue skies, hardly any turbulence




Started descending and we were placed on holding pattern for a short while 


Finally we were out of it and we started our final approach into Singapore 



Touched down and Lion Air's Boeing 737 was at the adjacent gate 


Inflight experience on this flight 

The cabin crew welcome us on board, they were slightly better then the previous crew. Not fantastic but professional at least. The flight purser's announcement included an apology for the delay due to the late arrival of the aircraft but nothing was said about the ground delay. We were held up for 25 minutes on the ground even though we were ready after 15 minutes. 

Nevertheless, we pushed back and taxied to runway 14R for departure. Take off was powerful and the weather was even better over here than in Ho Chi Minh. The ride was around an hour and we were placed on holding pattern for 2 rounds before being allowed into Singapore and then final approach to Changi Airport. 

During the flight, light snack and drink was given and it was done quite hurriedly. The crew distributing them had missed out on my row but fortunately she realized it later on and we were given our share. No pressure from them to finish off our drink and snack, that's the good thing at least. Before descending, the Captain finally made his announcement and updated us on our arrival and after that the rest of the flight was routine and we landed late on runway 20 Right.

We disembarked at Terminal 3 and for us passengers, we had to go through another round of security before finally allowed to head for the immigration. 


Heading towards immigration 


My rating (for both flights)

Airline's website and mobile app: 7/10
Ho Chi Minh and KUL Airport Experience: 7/10
Check in staff (SGN): 6/10
In-flight service: 6/10
In-flight snack: 7/10
Seat comfort: 8/10
Cabin interior: 10/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Punctuality: 6/10 (KUL-SIN sector - late)
IFE System: 7/10
Overall rating: 74/100

Conclusion

I got a very good deal flying Malindo (Batik Air Indonesia) on the one way ticket to Singapore. Flight timings are quite good and if you have extra cash, you enjoy business class which is cheaper than the likes of Singapore Airlines and Vietnam Airlines. Comparing Malindo with the latter, this airline offers a better in-flight product and there is even IFE system too. In-flight service on both flights were disappointing on the overall, they are very similar to the Vietnam Airlines flights I had. So its all down to your luck what kind of crew you get. Similar to Batik Air (Indonesia), you should expect to experience a good cabin product and I don't see any reason why I should pay a lot more for business class. Even on a fully packed 737, it's still more comfortable than other airlines, for the legroom space and the comfortable seat. Overall, I give a thumb up for Malindo Air and like her sister Batik Air, they are worth the deal, even better than flying on its parent airline, Lion Air. Lion Air and Thai Lion Air are Low Cost Carriers and if you book with them, don't expect the same service. 

Malindo Air is supposed to have WiFi on their aircraft but for both flights, it wasn't available. Hope to experience it on my upcoming flight with them on the same route. 

That's all for this trip report! Hope you enjoy it.

Cheers,
Charles