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Wednesday 20 December 2023

Airline Change: MYAirlines to Air Asia Flight (Penang to Kuala Lumpur)

 Welcome to my trip report on Air Asia! 

This is Air Asia's flagship aircraft, the A321NEO (Photo: Dirk Grothe)


MYAirlines had been in my mind ever since they started operation. It's not everyday you have a new airline and from a hindsight, I should flown with this airline at the start of its operation but whatever it is the end of the airline's operation happened and from the public's point of view, it was shocking. I knew they were struggling financially but didn't realise the seriousness of the issue when I heard that the airline staff were not paid for a few months. 

My first choice was to fly on Batik Air Malaysia but no matter how many times I tried to book with the airline, the payment couldn't go through. This reminds me of my situation with a few South American airlines and for those who have been following me, you know how it went. After a while, I gave up, I decided to book with Air Asia instead. What I don't like about booking with Air Asia is the need to register in order to do the booking. Of course there are benefits of creating an account such as earning points from flights, hotels, transport and other bonuses and discount from partners of the airline. However for someone who flies on different airlines, this account doesn't benefit me much. 

The last time I flew with Air Asia was more than 10 years ago so it's nice to be able to check out how the airline is doing and also have an updated trip report of this airline. From an aviation enthusiasts point of view, the exciting part about flying with this airline is if you are lucky, you might be able to fly on the airline's aircraft featuring a special livery and this airline has a lot of aircraft with various stunning livery. In addition, the airline also operates the A320 and A321NEO family and for domestic flights, you have to be extremely lucky to be able to fly on one as they are usually deployed on regional routes especially on high demand routes. The flight I booked, AK6125 has the A320NEO appearing just once in November, so what's are the odds there? Very low chance.

Anyway without further ado, let's begin this trip report! 

About MYAirline  

MYAirline was set up in Subang Jaya, Selengor, based in KLIA2, the low-cost carrier in KUL Airport. This airline was founded in 2021 and began commercial flights from 1st December 2022 and flew to a few destinations within the country. It also introduced international flights to Bangkok, however the good times didn't last long for the airline. The A320 operator hit financial difficulty and suspended operation rather abruptly in October 2023. The founder of the airlines were arrested due to anti-money laundering and other criminal offences and that left the airline in limbo. The lessors of the A320 fleet came and reprocessed most of the fleet and according to numerous reports, the airline employees have not been paid for a few months and passengers including myself are still waiting for our refund. 

All is not lost for now as the airline is currently in talks with potential investors to restart operation, let's hope to see the return of the airline with a new management. 

Booking with MYairline was an easy affair. 

The airline offered mobile app version and I was pleasantly surprised that the Ipad screen size of the app was available. 

I ordered the in-flight meals to check out how good it is. 

The interface of the app was user-friendly and most important the price was wallet-friendly so I was overall satisfied with my booking experience.

This is one of MYairlines's A320 aircraft during good times at KLIA.  (Photo: Tek) 

At this moment, one of the 4 aircraft previously flew with MYAirline joined Air Asia on lease from the lessor, AirCastle Ltd. You can see the previous operator's livery. Notice the difference between the standard Air Asia livery (above) and the hybrid livery (below). 

Just like Viva Air, I was not fated to fly with this airline. 

This is Viva Air Colombia, photographed at Medellin Airport. 

Air Asia (Replacement Airline for PEN-KUL flight)

Booking using Air Asia's mobile app (airasia: Flights & Hotel Deals)

Once I create my account, I was able to browse through the app. What caught my attention is the airline's app offer flights of its rivals such as Jetstar Asia, Garuda, Citilink, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and even Scoot, however Malaysia Airlines' flights are not included and no surprise there.

Browsing through the app to check the flights was an easy affair. 

Air Asia is well known for it's popular in-flight meals so I decided to go ahead and try one of the most popular ones. 

I chose the Value pack which includes the meal. 

After some thoughts, I decided on these meals. Soft drink is available for selection but I chose a bottled water to wash down the interesting meal. 

This is what you get for purchasing the value package. Compare with MYAirlines, the airfare is about S$30 more for 2 passengers. 

Some photos my time at Penang 

My stay at St Giles @ Wembley 

The hotel interior looks old but it was clean. If you are lucky, you can get a high floor which offers good view of the city. 

The hotel offers infinity pool. 

One of the tall buildings in this city. 

The food and beverages I had in Penang

This is one of Penang's popular dishes, the Assam Penang Laksa (A must try). 

This is Penang's Char Kuey Teow (Stir-fried flat rice noodles) 

This is charcoal coconut ice cream decorated with the Gummy Eye 

This is a typical chinese style bruised chicken. 

This is pepper beef with fried rice with the popular rice cracker. 

I had the roti prata with eggs at the hotel's buffet. Roti Prata is an Indian flatbread and normally is served with curry and you can add ingredients such as egg, meat, cheese or other flavours to it.  

On the day of departure 

Air Asia is one of the few airlines that allow you to check in one week before the date of departure. So with the check in procedures done and did another round of check that everything was in order, it was time to fly to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Additional checks is recommended especially flying on Low Cost carriers is to prevent getting yourself stuck at the check-in counter due to non payment of luggage or any other reasons. 

After the scenic Grab ride from our hotel to the airport, we checked in at the counter and after some enquires from the staff, we were good to go. 

The terminal is small in size but there are a few shops and cafes to check out. 

Air Asia is the dominant airline at this airport. 

As I had a couple of baggages to check in, I had to use the baggage drop counter. 

Once that was done, it was time to made our way to the airside. 

Security check was a breeze and soon we were at the air side. 

Checking my flight status, our flight was going ahead as planned. 

I feel that unless you have lounge access, an hour is the most you need to check out the shops and cafe at this airport's airside. 

This is Firefly's Boeing 737-800. 

This 737 was bound for Langkawi, just a short 20 minutes flight from here. 

The parent airline of Firefly, Malaysia Airlines. The Negaruku livery is now part of the standard livery of Malaysia airlines. 

There was quite a number of flights departing the same time as mine. 

There is charging area for your mobile devices. 

Overall it was a pleasant terminal. 

This is where my flight was departing from. 

9M-AHL was flying in from Singapore. 

As it landed on time, I wasn't expecting any delays. 

Here it is, 9M-AHL. 

Boarding process was according to zone as I was sitting in the middle section of the aircraft, we were allocated to zone 3 (the last zone). The other zones were cleared to head towards to our aircraft, however, I noticed that there were passengers from zone 1 and 2 standing along the corridor waiting and our zone was not called. We spent about 20 minutes waiting and no announcements were made. After another 10 minutes passed, we were having questions about our flight status as our departure time came and go. After seeing the passengers from the other zones returning to our gate, I knew something was wrong. Since we were not given any update on our flight, I went to X (Twitter) and asked the airline, fortunately announcement was made and told us about our aircraft having technical issues and the new departure time would take place 2 hours after our original flight time.

At around 1500, about an hour and a half after our schedule departure, we were finally allowed to board the aircraft and I wasn't surprised when we were pointed to another direction, towards a different aircraft. As for our original aircraft, it was to operate the later flight to Kuala Lumpur, the flight that my replacement aircraft was scheduled to operate. I checked the status of my original aircraft, 9M-AHL, the later flight that it was scheduled to depart was delayed, I guess the issue must have been quite serious to be grounded for quite a number of hours. 

Our replacement aircraft, 9M-AQF

As you can see the flight schedule, that was the original schedule, but because of 9M-AHL's delay, the schedule was swop. 

As compensation, the airline gave each passenger a packet of Cheezels and a bottle of water. 

It's nice to board the aircraft from outside. 

'We are all Champions' special livery! 

I could have board from the front but since I wanted to snap more photos of the aircraft and cabin photos from the rear, I boarded from the rear instead. 

My ride: 9M-AQF (Photo: C.H Kao)

Airbus A320-216 (CEO) Leased from Fly Leasing
We are all champions - 10 years running (Special livery)
Transferred to Air Asia  (From Indonesia Air Asia) in Feb 2011
Configuration: Y 180
Engines: 2 X CFM56-5B6/3 
4582th Airbus A320 built 
Built in Toulouse (TLS)
Current age: 12+ Years old (2023)

Flight route: PEN-KUL 

Miles: 201 

My seat: 18A (Photo: seatmap.com) 

Date of departure: 6th December 2023 
Airline: Air Asia 
Flight: AK6125 
Route: PEN-KUL 
Aircraft: Airbus A320 CEO 
Registration: 9M-AHL changed to 9M-AQF 
Seat: 18A 
Gate: 1A 
Load: 100%
Schedule departure: 1330 (Flight delay to 1530) 
Boarding: 1513 
Push back: 1534 
Take off: 1542
Flight Duration:  1 hr 5 mins 
Actual Flight Time: 43 mins 
Schedule arrival: 1435 (Delayed arrival: 1635) 
Actual arrival: 1623
Departure runway: 04 
Arrival runway: 33

My in-flight experience 

After boarding the aircraft, we settled down quickly and the crew apologised to us for the delay. I am glad no one kicked a big fuss about it. Overall I think the airline has done well but the ground staff could have done better by updating us as soon as possible. 

After take off, we were greeted by the beautiful view of the surroundings and later on our in-flight meals were served. The service was pleasant and it was what you expect flying on Asian low cost carriers. As for the seat comfort, I find it be slightly better than Scoot's A321NEO but for the legroom space, it is about the same. 

As the flight time was short, we had to finish our food quickly as the crew came around collecting our thrash. The flight on route was smooth including the landing in Kuala Lumpur. Despite the late arrival at KUL, I enjoyed this flight. I won't blame the airline for the delay as aircraft and weather issue are beyond their control.  

Economy Class Seats 

This is a typical low cost carrier seating configuration of 180 seats on the Airbus A320CEO. The seating configuration of 3-3 comes with around 28-29 inches of legroom space and recline up to 3 inches for the regular seats. While for the emergency rows, (row 12 and 14), they have a legroom space of 35 inches and cannot be reclined. As for the seat width, it is 17 inches and every seat can recline up to 3 inches except row Just like the Scoot's A321NEO aircraft, there is no power socket for both USB and AC. However, online streaming and WiFi are available. 

The last time I flew with this airline, these same seats were used. I think the airline will stick to these seats on the older A320 until they are withdrawn from the fleet. 

These seats do not have usb and power socket.

Even though these seats are from the previous generation, they are comfortable.

The rear of the aircraft

Legroom space is at 29 inches except for the emergency rows, seat 12 and 14. 

The view of the front 

More photos of the seat 

You can access the airline's website via the scan code as soon as they turned on the wifi for streaming.

Air Asia logo on the back of every seat. 

Legroom space was tight but bearable for this short hop. 

The condition of the armrest shows the seat has seen better days. 

What's inside the seat pocket? 

In-flight magazine 

Disposal Bag 

In-Flight Entertainment (Online streaming) 

There is just music, videos and articles to check out. It would be nice if some movies are added to this list as the duration of some regional flights are more than 3 hours. 

Overall, I find the streaming system to be adequate on the routes it is flying to. 

In-Flight meals 

This is the Roasted Chicken with Black Pepper Sauce, comes with complimentary beverage (bottle of water).

This is Bukhara Chicken Biryani, comes with complimentary beverage (bottle of water).

For in-flight meal quality, I would give this a rating of 4/5. 

Window shot photos 

After 2 hours of delay, we were finally on our way. 

That (It's Super App livery) aircraft was grounded for a few hours due to technical issue. 

The weather at Penang was quite nice. 

The taxi to the runway took around 5 minutes. 

Off we go! Thank you Penang! 

The lovely view of the mountains in the background reminds me of Medellin of Colombia. 

Some weather along the way but we managed to avoid them. December is quite common for bad weather as it is considered the monsoon period. 

At this point the spoilers of the aircraft was deployed during our descent. This is to slow our aircraft down and we have to maintain the speed of less than 250 knots when flying below 10,000 feet. 

During our descent, we had a good view of Port Dickson and fortunately for us the weather wasn't too bad. 

At this point, we were lined up for our final approach into KUL runway 33.

Descending was smooth and we touched down on runway 33. 

Somehow the view of this passenger's overhead bridge reminds me of Denver Airport.

Welcome to Kuala Lumpur KLIA 2! 

Thanks for the ride, 9M-AQF! 

There was a crowd of passengers waiting at the gate to board my aircraft and they didn't look too happy, at least the ones I saw with folded arms. 

It's been around 8 years since the last time I stepped in this terminal.

This is the land side where the travellers can do some last minute shopping before going to wherever they need to go. 

My flight summary 

My rating 

Airline's website/mobile app: 3.5/5
Airport Experience at PEN: 2.5/5 
In-Flight Service: 3/5 
In-Flight Experience: 3/5 
Cleanliness of the cabin: 5/5 
In-Flight Entertainment (Online Streaming): 4/5
In-Flight Meal: 4/5 
Punctuality: 0/5 
Cabin interior: 3/5 
Seat comfort: 3/5 
Overall rating: 31/50
Percentage: 62%


Air Asia is one of the biggest low cost carriers in Asia and with a strong fleet of more than 160 aircraft, I am not surprised how successful the airline is, dominating a lot of markets in both domestic and international routes.  

The airline has evolved and improved since the last time I flew, with onboard streaming/wifi as the main difference between now and 10 years ago. I find the service on board to be quite pleasant and while the aircraft's in-flight seat may be old, but like they say, old can be gold. The in-flight meals were quite nice but I would prefer enjoying them on longer routes to be honest, the need to finish off the food quickly due to the short flight time is not ideal but I decided to go ahead to book them is to try them out as I do not know when would be the next time I fly with this airline. 

These seats may be comfortable but the dreadful legroom space may be the key reason on my decision choosing to fly more comfortably in Economy class with premium airlines especially on longer sectors. However if you prefer to fly on budget airlines, Air Asia is definitely in my list of recommendation and I hope the next time I fly with this airline, I get to try out the airline's newer aircraft, the A320NEO and A321NEO. Air Asia does fly on long haul routes and that would be known as the Air Asia X. I am quite reluctant to fly with that airline is because of the crampy 3-3-3 seating configuration on the Airbus A330 fleet but I might do that in due course.  

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this review. 

For my previous trip report (SIN-PEN with Scoot's A321NEO), click here

Stay tuned for my flight home trip report with Firefly from Subang to Singapore Seletar Airport on the airline's ATR-72! 

Have a great day! 

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