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I have heard so much about the new airline Malindo Air flying from West to East Malaysia. A number of friends and a couple of relatives tell me the planes are new, leg room is ample, air stewardesses are great and there is an entertainment console as well to while away your time.

The best thing they say it is not only cheaper than the other budget airline that is Air Asia but it also flies from KLIA Main Terminal to Kota Kinabalu Terminal One and passengers get to use the aerobridges unlike its competitor.

It makes me smile broadly when I hear these stories. I remember the arrogant boss of Air Asia, Tony Fernandes swearing that MAB (Malaysia Airports Ltd) will have to drag him from Terminal Two ( low cost ) to Terminal One in Kota Kinabalu because he would not move voluntarily as there is an additional 85 sen charge per passengers for using aerobridge at the latter. Profit is everything to  the “best”  budget airline CEO!

To Tony, everyone can fly but fly by his own standard and dictation.

I expect more passengers will migrate to Malindo because the ticket price is the same or slightly lower than Air Asia’s. And no current hidden prices and all those tricks that Tony has been playing on the poor passengers (notice the pun).

I want to try this new airline. I decided to check out its return economy class first. My assistant got me the ticket online and I was rather surprised that it cost peanuts, 10% of business class ticket on MAS (Malaysia Airlines)! And its Business class is only at 20%. I also get to choose the seat number. Apparently if you happen to get the promotion price, it is only RM20 to Kota Kinabalu! All these competition is baffling but good for the consumers.

My very first experience with Malindo Air last week  was good, the plane was brand new, seats are comfortable and  leg room better than Air Asia’s. And the flight attendants did not look like the strutting “peacocks” in Air Asia.

Some improvements are needed though like the embarking passengers at Kota Kinabalu were not queuing up properly causing kind of a scrambled rush to the counter. There appeared to be no order if only a staff could just tell the people to line up I am sure after a while they all will be disciplined. The other unpleasant time that I had was on the way back in the evening when I felt the cabin temperature was rather warm about one hour before arrival at KLIA. Were they attempting to conserve energy?

My first flight was in general fine except for the above encounters. I might fly again with Malindo Air next time on its business class which I noticed only has three rows of two seats each.

Malindo Air stewardesses  - "more culturally Asians"

Malindo Air stewardesses – “more culturally Asians” and more professional  (net image)

I also find the stewardesses are much more “cultured” than those in Air Asia. I remember on my first and last flight with Air Asia, the stewardesses were talking among themselves non-stop right in front of passengers after serving the meals and I certainly don’t fancy those big and ugly trash bags they lugged around to collect the plastic, paper items and food leftovers from the passengers.

On the way back to KL, I also bought ” Chicken  briani rice” at RM12 and it tasted good. For those who don’t want to buy anything, they are given a “kaya” bun with bottled drinking  water for free. I don’t remember getting anything free in stingy Tony’s Air Asia.

The service is generally hassle-free and I get that feeling that had they been full-service, Malindo Air  would be as good as MAS. By the way don’t forget to bring your own earphones if you want to listen to the entertainment, otherwise you can buy it at RM15 per set and it’s reusable on your later flights. It’s a budget airline after all.

On the whole people, Malindo Air is a worthy airline for all of you to try and at the current rates of the tickets, I could choose to R and R at Rasa Ria Shangri-La Resort , forty minutes drive from KK at least fortnightly and get reacquainted with old  friends.

While MAS is fine but for the high cost of the tickets, their service is deteriorating, an alternative for shorter routes and non-snobbish travel is therefore welcome. In addition, MAS golden lounge facilities have also gone down badly, from its poor toilet maintenance to the limited food selections compared to in the past. Not worth the high ticket cost.

However Air Asia is history for me and after years of hearing about its CEO’s antics and its tricky service, I feel people should really patronise the better of the two budget airlines and by the way, Tony Fernandes, eat your heart out!

** Below is an  an anonymous comment about Air Asia  from  the journo Rocky Bru blog:

Quote, ” AirAsia has benefitted a lot from the Malaysian Government to the extent that MAS has become the sacrificial goat. AirAsia has grown to become an arrogant company, from its executive to its ticketing counter staff. They behave like robots, no human touch anymore. Well, for our ex-PM of course he gets special treatment from AirAsia top boss. The aircraft smell like toilet. Although the aircraft are mostly brand new airbus aircraft, but upon embarkation or disembarkation, a 19th century technology of rusted steel steps are being used. The greedy company doesn’t want to share business with MAHB. Just check MAS or Malindo website over the internet, one get a much more cheaper ticket than AirAsia, not to mention all the other hidden cost (food, check in fee, etc). Its time for the passengers using AirAsia should wake up and use a different airline.” Unquote

So I am not alone in disliking Air Asia especially its “temberang” CEO who puts the STAR newspaper in his pocket!

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