Recently, I flew to Subang (KL) instead of the usual flight to KLIA (KL International Airport).
I used the Firefly airlines, which is a subsidiary of Malaysian Airlines. Firefly uses the propeller driven Dornier aircraft which has 76 seats, and takes off from the Changi International Airport in Singapore. The only difference at Changi is that you have to ride on a bus to the tarmac as the Firefly aircraft is small and the gates cannot be used for direct connection to the aircraft.
The major advantages of using the Firefly are two fold: one is the door-to-door time taken – time that it takes you from your home/hotel to your home/hotel on the other side – if you use Firefly, it takes less than 3 hours, whereas using the bigger jet aircraft to KLIA takes not less than 4.5 hours, door-to-door. In my recent experience, I reached the airport just 60 minutes before the take-off time, the flight took exactly 60 minutes on the air, and it took me just 20 minutes to reach the hotel. So the total time taken was less than 2.5 hours. Using KLIA, sometimes I have taken 5 hours. The second advantage is simply the location of the airport – in the case of the smaller Firefly aircraft, it lands in Subang, whereas in the case of the larger jet aircraft, you land at KLIA. The difference in travel time on the road in the midst of heavy traffic could be significant. It takes more than 75 minutes from KLIA to reach a hotel in Petaling Jaya, and may be more to reach a hotel in downtown Bukit Bintang in KL city during the peak-hour traffic. In KL even the expressways are clogged though one pays toll at many locations.
The other minor advantage is that on the Firefly, you tend to doze off due to the nice humming sound of the propellers which are whirring outside – they are actually noisy as many would say. But it does help to relax !
The disadvantage of Firefly is that you cannot carry heavy hand luggage as the baggage hold on top of the seats is rather small. You will be forced to check-in if you have anything more than 7 KGs (like in the bigger aircraft), and odd-sized bags though less in weight cannot go into the small baggage hold.
In terms of time savings, and also in terms of cost savings (yes, less than what it would cost on a jet flight), I guess Firefly is a good bet. However, I did not see crowd, and there were always some empty seats.
Overall, it was a good experience. Please take note that in case the propeller aircraft has any engine problems, it can just glide down to the earth !!!
Cheers, and enjoy the ride,
7th December 2014