Welcome to my final trip report for 2023!
Firefly ATR-72-500 9M-FYG was my ride to Seletar (XSP) airport
I always wanted to fly either in or out of Seletar Airport and I thought this period was the best time to do so. For now, Firefly is the only airline that operates at this airport but I suspect once Scoot starts operating the ERJ-190 E2, we might see them flying out of this airport, giving Firefly some competition. The only route that flies to Seletar Airport is from Subang Airport and will we see the airline operating to Seletar from other Malaysian Airports? That depends whether they can obtain permission and licence to do so. This airport is quite small with limited space but never say never.
Anyway, the last time I flew with this airline was more than 10 years ago, from SIN (Changi) to Subang Airport), I remember the seats are different but the service is the same. Back then, the airline was operating the ATR-72-600 but because of financial difficulties, the airline decided to restructure and return the -600 aircraft back to the lessor and stick to the ATR-72-500 instead. So without further ado, let's begin this last trip report of the year!
Firefly is a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines set up in March 2007 and started commercial flights a month later. The reason why this airline was set up is to operate as a Low Cost Carrier to compete with Air Asia on some domestic routes within Malaysia and a few other cities in Asia such as Singapore, Banda Aceh and Phuket. Currently, the airline operates a fleet of turboprop and turbojet aircraft, the ATR-72-500 and Boeing 737-800. It is currently the only airline that flies to Singapore's secondary airport, Seletar Airport from Subang with the ATR-72-500. Since it is a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, it is not a surprise that it does codesharing on selected routes with the parent airline, Malaysia airlines, the reason for this is some routes are too large to operate the Boeing 737-800 and as Malaysia Airlines do not operate anything smaller than this aircraft, Firefly can operate more efficiently with the ATR-72.
For those who are members of Malaysia's Enrich frequent flyer program can earn points when flying on selected firefly routes.
Booking with Firefly
The airline offers both the tablet and phone screen size makes it convenient for booking and I was able to do so without issue.
The website’s version
I think the saver’s option is good enough especially if you have a flexible schedule.
However, checking in for flights in and out of Malaysia is not allowed for mobile check-in so one has to do so at the airport.
About Subang Airport
Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport is formerly known as Subang International Airport and is located in the Petaling District, Subang, Selengor. This airport started operation in 1965 and had operated international flights with 3 terminals until the the main airport (KUL) was opened and most flights (domestic and international) were transferred to that airport. Since the focus was on the main international airport, Subang Airport however, was allowed to continue operation but only general aviation and turbo-prop commercial flights were allowed to operate from this airport therefore Air Asia doesn't have a presence at this airport. As for Malaysia Airlines, Firefly was set up to operate the turbo-props and deploy them from this airport and also Batik Air Malaysia. Currently only terminal 3 is used for commercial flights and the last time it undergo renovation was from 2007 to 2009. However, the interior looks outdated and the facilities are very limited. There are plans for the owner of the airport to upgrade the terminal and increase the traffic into this airport, however it is facing obstacles from the authorities such as noise pollution over populated areas.
What makes this airport more attractive than KUL Airport is the location, it is closer to town and that helps to reduce the travelling time travelling to town and vice versa.
This is the current layout of the airport
My time in Kuala Lumpur
I stayed at the Amari hotel in heart of the city and it was a comfortable stay! I would return with a heart beat!
It was a comfortable double bed room.
The weather was not good that day.
This hotel also offers infinity pool.
On the day of departure
Welcome to Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport!
We took the grab to the airport and the ride took about 15 minutes. There is supposed to be a Skypark Linktrain system connecting to this airport, however the line is suspended since February 2023 due to low ridership.
Once we were there, we need to pass through security check of our luggages before being allowed to check in.
Before checking in, we walked around a bit to check out the shops.
We were surprised to see a busker performing in this quiet terminal, playing the popular English songs.
Airport Wifi is available at this airport.
Check in at the Firefly counter was a breeze. For those flying to Singapore, do not forget to submit your SG arrival card online.
The supermarket receipt style boarding pass is given once the check-in is successfully completed.
There are few models on display and the Air Force aircraft are the main attraction.
There were a few eateries at the land side. I advise you to grab your bite over here as there is nothing much at the air side.
The overview of the land side, departure hall.
There is a flight simulator on the 2nd floor.
The airport tarmac, traffic was very light at that time.
This is the gate area for domestic flights.
This is the domestic deparature hall.
Most of the flights were flying within Malaysia.
For flights out of Malaysia, you need to pass through customs and do look out for the signboard just after security check.
A duty-free shop and 7-eleven convenient store can be found at the domestic departure hall.
Soon it's time to board!
The airport looks outdated and could do with an upgrade to be more competitive with KUL Airport. However, due to the airport's location, there is demand at this airport especially on Seletar to Subang route and from what I heard, Firefly is doing quite well.
My ride: 9M-FYG
Configuration: Y 72
Engine: 2 X PW127M
Delivered to the airline in June 2009
868th ATR aircraft built
Built in Toulouse
Age: 14+ Years old (Dec 2023)
My flight route: SZB-XSP
My seat: 6F
Date of departure: 8th December 2023
Schedule departure: 1445
Push back: 1441
Take off: 1447
Schedule arrival: 1605
Actual arrival: 1543
Departure runway: 15
Arrival runway: 21
My in-flight experience
Boarding was announced early and we walked on the tarmac towards our aircraft, boarding the plane from the rear. Greeted by the not-so-friendly crew, I made my way to the seat with about 90% of the seats taken. We pushed back ahead of schedule and took off with the Captain announcement earlier that the flight would be a smooth one. I checked the weather radar and fortunately for us, the weather was good until evening time. The take off was very noisy but the noise quiet down during cruising. The crew came around to serve us snack and for the rest of the ride, it was a comfortable ride. While this set of crew were not the most friendly, at least they were professional.
About the Economy Class Seats
This aircraft features 72 seats and comes in a 2-2 seating configuration. Each seat has a legroom space of 30 inches, 18 inches wide and with the exception of the last row, the seat can recline up to 2 inches. However, there is no usb and power port and any form of entertainment system installed on Firefly's ATR-72 aircraft.
Economy Class Cabin
The leather seats are comfortable.
Overhead compartment storage is smaller than the usual Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft. So if your cabin baggage cannot fit in there, the airline staff will ask you to check them in.
The overhead panel of the cabin of the ATR-72-500.
I was thinking perhaps the orange seats instead of red would better match the airline's identity.
Boarding the aircraft was from the rear door.
This is the front view of the cabin. The door connects to the cargo section of the aircraft. So for the pilots to communicate with the cabin crew, they need to do so by the telephone.
The preferred seat cost more and it is for those passengers that prefers to board and disembark first.
This is the last row of the aircraft.
More photos of the seat
I was quite excited about this flight as it would be my first time flying into Seletar Airport and that would be my 93rd airport.
During the flight, the 2 cabin crew came around and distribute snacks for us. Each passenger received the following items shown below.
What's inside the seat pocket?
The fleet of Malaysia Airlines Group listed in the inflight magazine
Window view (Take off to Landing)
The noise level of the ATR-72 is quite high and my partner found it to be very noisy.
Once the engines were started, we were on our way. At that time, we were the only traffic and we departed not long after.
A couple of Air Asia aircraft were spotted at Subang Airport for maintenance.
The take off was very noisy!
Fortunately for us the weather was good.
Hardly any turbulence during this flight.
I was pleasantly surprised with the good weather along the way.
Don't you love flying in clear blue skies? I certainly do.
I was hoping to fly in from the southwest of Singapore but not today, we flew in to Seletar from the northeast of Malaysia.
At this point, we were flying over the sea between Malaysia and Singapore.
Despite using a different approach for landing, I was happy with this flight experience. It's not always I get to fly to XSP (Seletar Airport).
We landed on runway 21 at Seletar Airport.
Currently, Firefly is the only commercial airline flying to this airport. (Dec 2023)
A lot of GA (General Aviation) aircraft were spotted.
There was even a Peach Aviation A320 (Japanese Low Cost Carrier) spotted at a maintanence hanger.
This is our parking spot. Thanks for the ride, 9M-FYG!
My flight summary
Welcome to Singapore Seletar Airport!
About Seletar Airport
This airport is a regional airport based in the north-east part of Singapore. It used to be a military airbase for the British Royal Air Force in 1928 and was handed over to Singapore in 1971. This airport is part of the government's plan to be used as an operating aerodrome to expand the country's status as an industrial aviation hub and this area which the airport is based is known as Seletar Aerospace park. Currently, the airport serves turbo-prop and smaller-sized private and business aircraft but the bigger size jets such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 do make occasional appearance at this airport for maintainence. The sole runway is capable of handling these aircraft.
This is layout of Seletar Aerospace park (Photo: Seletarairport.com)
Photos of the airport
This is how the exterior of the airport looks like.
As we were the only arrival at that time, immigration process took within minutes to clear and I was out of the airport about 15 minutes after arrival.
Our luggages didn't take long to arrive.
We were the 2nd last flight of the day. For the last flight, the aircraft had a bit of trouble arriving due to the bad weather happened later that afternoon. The pilots were forced to do a go-around due to the inclement weather and finally landed after 1 hr 20 minutes in the air.
Once you are are out of the arrival hall, the walk to the departure hall leading to the exit is within 2 minutes.
This was it, nothing else to explore.
There are only 4 check-in counters and for the return flight, only 2 counters were opened.
At this point of time, there is only one eatery at the airport, Teh Tarik Express.
Once outside, there are directions leading to the taxi stand, car park and the bus stop. Do note, there is no MRT Station located nearby.
The departure and arrival hall share the same level.
The walk to the bus stop takes around 5 minutes.
Airline's website/mobile app: 4/5
Airport Experience at SZB: 2.5/5
In-Flight Service: 3.5/5
In-Flight Experience: 4/5
Cleanliness of the cabin: 5/5
In-Flight Entertainment: 0/5
In-Flight Snack and drink: 3.5/5
Cabin interior: 4/5
Seat Comfort: 4/5
Overall rating: 35.5/50
Firefly offers a good alternative to travel between the secondary airports of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and you need to try this once to experience how is it like. While the lack of competition may make the airfare a bit steep at certain times of the year, however, it is certainly a convenient way to avoid the crowd at the main airports and also for Malaysia side, it is faster to get to town. For the location of Seletar airport, it may be inconvenient to travel especially if you are taking the bus but at least the service 102 does connect you to 2 MRT Stations (North-east line), Buangkok and Hougang stations and from there you can take the train to central part of station and connect to other lines if you have to. Overall, I find the service with Firefly pleasant and although the airport at Subang is outdated, it was still a positive experience travelling out from the airport and get to experience Seletar Airport. Seletar Airport is very small and nothing compare to Changi Airport, it is more for convenience rather than experiencing the luxurious comfort Changi Airport offers.
For travelling out of Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, I prefer Changi Airport as it is closer to my home and more convenient to get there by bus or train. Travelling from KLIA may take longer but there is the train system linking the airport to town area making the travel convenient and comfortable.
While the capacity of Seletar airport is limited, I believe it is still a good alternative to use especially if you are in a hurry to get into town in Kuala Lumpur as soon as possible. What's the future for Seletar Airport? With the airport's limited amount of space, I feel that the airport can at the most host 2 airlines and but that probably need co-ordinating with the flight timing of arrival and departure to prevent overcrowding.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this trip report!
That concludes the end of my short trip to Malaysia.
For my SIN-PEN flight with Scoot A321NEO, click here
For my PEN-KUL flight with Air Asia A320CEO, click here
Wish you all a Merry Christmas!!
Have a good one!