My assistant and I flew to and from Singapore on AirAsia yesterday. We went in the morning, had a meeting with one customer, had a second meeting with a supplier, then flew back in the evening.
The flights were on time, the leather seats were impeccably clean and felt luxuriously good, and the flight was so short, it didn’t matter that no free snacks were served on board. But if you feel peckish, they sell nasi lemak and nasi briyani for RM8, a hotdog sandwich for RM7, roti jala with chicken curry for RM6, roti canai for RM5, mineral water or Milo for RM4, among other things. You can find the full menu on AirAsia’s flights here.
The flight was supposed to take an hour but, yesterday, it only took about 35 to 40 minutes. Perhaps we got a good tail wind yesterday. Or perhaps the pilots flew faster since their planes are lighter, thanks to AirAsia’s 15-kg baggage limit (vs the standard 20-kg allowance of most airlines), the RM5 baggage handling fee they’ve started imposing since end-April (RM3 if you book online) and the 7-kg limit on hand luggage, a very potent combination that deters most passengers from bringing too much luggage on an AirAsia flight.
We flew into and out of Changi Airport‘s Terminal 1, so it was a pleasure roaming around the airport while waiting for our return flight. Even if we didn’t roam around, the free internet terminals and free wi-fi would have been more than sufficient to keep us occupied.
My only grouse is the schedule of AirAsia’s KUL-SIN-KUL flights, which is not as flexible or as early as Malaysia Airlines (MH) or Singapore Airlines (SQ). As of this writing, the flight schedule is as below:
AK123 0950-1050 hrs
AK127 1950-2050 hrs
AK124 1120-1220 hrs
AK128 2120-2230 hrs
But with AirAsia’s return ticket (from RM400) at about half the cost of MH and SQ (from RM890), it’s still a very irresistible option.
The KL-Singapore route is said to be one of the most lucrative routes for MH and SQ, and a 34-year-old agreement kept away other airlines from flying this protected route all this while. Then came AirAsia’s Dato’ Tony Fernandes, who tenaciously fought tooth and nail to get the right to fly the same route. AirAsia finally got the nod to fly the much coveted route in October 2007. (Side note: If only AirAsia would fly the KL-Davao or KL-Cebu routes soon!)
Another alternative is Jetstar, which offers fares from RM8 one-way — before taxes and other fees, of course — but their schedule is a bit too cumbersome for me. Their KUL-SIN flight is at 1635 hrs (4.35 pm), with the return flight at 1505 hrs (3.05 pm), thereby making an overnight stay mandatory.
If you don’t like flying, or have budgetary limitations but have 5 hours to spare, then by all means, take the bus. The North-South Highway that links KL and Singapore is very well maintained, ensuring a smooth and comfortable journey. Buses that ply the KL-Singapore-KL route are very comfortable and tickets can cost anywhere between RM30 (standard economy buses) and RM80 (luxury double-decker buses, with movies, snacks, wi-fi on board) for a one-way KL-Singapore ticket. The return ticket usually costs the same, but in Singapore dollars. Tickets can be booked online or you can buy them at the Pudu bus station.
Taxis are also an option which I haven’t tried before, so I have no idea how much the fare costs. And by taxi, I don’t mean the red-and-white taxis you flag from the roadside in KL, but the ones in Pudu bus station.
Then there’s the overnight train from KL Sentral (KL Central Station) to Singapore. Click here to see some photos of the various room and sleeper berth options. Round-trip tickets cost anywhere between RM19 and RM131.80. Schedules, photos, and even online ticket sales are available at KTM Berhad’s website.
The final option is driving, which can take a bit more than 5 hours, if you factor in one or two toilet stops and at least one snack or meal along the way. If you do take this option, try not to go across the Causeway, which is in perpetual gridlock. The Second Link would be a much better alternative and can easily shave off 30 minutes to an hour off your journey.
AirAsia now flies the KUL-SIN-KUL route 7 times daily. Schedule as below:-
Depart – Arrive – Flight
0730 (KUL) – 0820 (SIN) – AK 121
1000 (KUL) – 1055 (SIN) – AK 123
1245 (KUL) – 1335 (SIN) – AK 129
1500 (KUL) – 1550 (SIN) – AK 125
1700 (KUL) – 1750 (SIN) – AK 131
1950 (KUL) – 2050 (SIN) – AK 127
2125 (KUL) – 2215 (SIN) – AK 133
Depart – Arrive – Flight
0855 (SIN) – 0945 (KUL) – AK 122
1130 (SIN) – 1225 (KUL) – AK 124
1405 (SIN) – 1455 (KUL) – AK 130
1615 (SIN) – 1705 (KUL) – AK 126
1820 (SIN) – 1910 (KUL) – AK 132
2140 (SIN) – 2240 (KUL) – AK 128
2250 (SIN) – 2350 (KUL) – AK 134