In flight: Buzzing about on FireFly


I was bored in Singapore. Apparently that happens from time to time. I wasn’t going to take it lying down, however. I was determined to find something entertaining to do, and for me that usually means some sort of ridiculous travel-related event. The region is filled with LCCs and there are plenty of options for day trips. Why not have some fun with that?

I started searching for destinations that were close enough I could actually do a day trip and get out of the airport. I wanted to fly different carriers each direction if at all possible, and bonus points were on offer for routes and carriers that were less well known. Needless to say, when I found a carrier called FireFly operating from Singapore into Subang, the old Kuala Lampur airport, I was sold.

FireFly is a subsidiary of Malaysian, operating a small fleet of ATR72-500 aircraft and serving a dozen or so destinations in the region. They are based out of Subang’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport. This is the field that operated as the main airport for KL until 1998 when the current facility was opened. Since then Subang is used mostly for a single cargo operator, for a charter holiday carrier and for FireFly. It doesn’t have rapid transit to downtown like KLIA does, though the terminal is reasonably new and nice and taxis aren’t particularly expensive (~USD$20 to KL Sentral). Plus, I wanted that line.

FireFly operates out of the LCC terminal in Singapore. It is actually a pretty decent facility, with a number of shops and restaurants available both inside and outside security. I bought my ticket at the counter there and then had a quick snack waiting for check-in to open for the flight.

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Once checked in I was through immigration and security and then waiting for the flight. There is also a small garden on one side of the terminal. It happens to also be the smoking area, but there is enough space out there that you can enjoy it without being overwhelmed by the smokers if that’s your thing.

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I headed over to the gate a few minutes early, mostly because it let me wander down one hall of the terminal that was otherwise empty and there were some fun plane spotting opportunities (Jett8 74F and the Qantas A380 with a blown engine, anyone??). As I was taking photos I heard an announcement for a gate change of a different FireFly trip. Okay, not my flight so I shouldn’t be worried, right? Except that the new gate for that flight was the gate mine was supposed to be departing from. Ruh-roh.

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We swapped gates with that flight and managed to push back only about 20 minutes late, so not a huge deal, though there was certainly potential for things to go badly there. Our boarding was called and there was much queuing to prepare for the flight. As I had one of the few seats in the boarding area I chose to stay seated and board near last but most others on the flight seemed to very much enjoy the queuing process. We walked out from the terminal to the aircraft and I quickly settled in to my seat.

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Pitch was a bit tight, but hardly bone-crushing. It also helped that I had an empty seat next to me.

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The LCC terminal is close to the end of the runway so it was a short taxi over to runway 20C and we were soon off to Malaysia.

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The service in-flight was reasonable. The flight is only about an hour in the air so there isn’t a whole lot of opportunity for things to go very well nor very badly. Still, there was a complimentary snack and juice service and then we were on approach into Subang.

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As flights go I would be hard-pressed to classify this as an LCC, certainly in the traditional “no-frills, all fees” context of the term. They offer up to 20kg free checked bags, free snacks and pretty good service during the trip. The delay was minor and having service into Subang isn’t all that much worse than the remoteness of the LCC terminal at KLIA, so long as you’re starting or finishing in Kuala Lampur anyways; if you need to connect to mainline then being at KLIA is obviously better.

Overall, a completely reasonable travel experience. Nothing too crazy, either on the good or bad side of the ledger. That’s basically what I hope for when flying, so I was pretty satisfied.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

6 Comments

  1. I flew Firefly airlines three times last month in a period of 4 days, hopping through different cities in Malaysia. I absolutely loved the airline. Everything is so basic and simple. It was really quiet enjoyable.

    From SIN to KUL, I flew Jetstar airlines. They are a LCC with the main advantage being they fly out of the main terminal in SIN and into the main terminal in KUL.

  2. Also to consider next time you are in the area, AirAsia to Indonesian cities, JetStar (subsidiary of Qantas) to Australia, Citilink (subsidiary of Garuda).

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