Monday, August 10, 2009

Firefly vs. AirAsia

In my post dated July 29, 2009, I described my journey with Firefly, the self-styled “community airline”, from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

How does it compared to AirAsia, the other Malaysia-based budget airline?

In Klang Valley, Firefly operates out of Subang Airport. AirAsia operates out of Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). Subang Airport is closer to the city, and that gives Firefly an edge.

Both airlines suffer the same flight delay problem. However, the ATR 72-500 aircrafts used by Firefly has a capacity for just 72 passengers. Checking-in and boarding are brisk. In fact, you probably can check in 45 minutes before scheduled departure and still make it.

I hadn’t got a ruler with me, but my feeling is that Firefly’s planes have slightly larger legroom. (Can anyone commend on this?) Not to be forgotten, Firefly serves drinks and snacks free of charge!

So, can we ditch AirAsia?

Not yet. The leader in South-east Asia’s budget market still wins in several areas. Airbus A320 jet planes in the fleet of AirAsia experience less shaking in the air when compared to the Firefly’s propeller planes. They are also slightly faster.

In fact, AirAsia and Firefly serve different markets. Firefly’s ATR 72-500 is probably not suitable for civilian flight over the South China Sea. On the other hand, AirAsia’s A320, with 180 seats, are too big for smaller markets such as Ipoh and Kuantan.

In short, both AirAsia and Firefly will co-exist, and we need both of them. As a person who grew up in Perak, I thank Firefly for linking the state with the Lion City.

P/S Firefly’s ATR 72-500 cruises at 8000 feet above sea level – great for shutterbugs who want to snap photos…


  1. never fly with firefly no comment on that...
    airasia is not too bad minus frequent flight delay la :D

    wah, u stay up till very late wo

  2. Like you say, I believe both will coexist too since they cater to different market. Hmm....Firefly serve free snack and drinks..

  3. annant
    Apparently you stayed up later than me. You dropped this comment at 3.09am.

    True. But for KL-Singapore flight, I think I prefer Firefly, haha...

  4. Nice view from the plane window. It's good that travellers have a choice to fly Firefly to S'pore.

  5. I keep all the names of the companies in mind in case I find myself in this part of the world...

    I definitely like to be able to take picture in flight!

  6. I agree that the A320 may be too big for domestic flights. The airline may find itself in the red pretty soon.

    Strange that I didn't seem to notice any delays on my trip to East Malaysia last year - from KL to Sibu to Kuching and back to KL.

    Slightly off-topic here.. have you experienced a plane waiting for you to check in and board? My travel companion and I had that experience in Wellington, NZ. We enquired about the next flight back to Queenstown (South Island) and they told us in fact there was a flight about to take off. And they so kindly waited for us to quickly check in and board that plane. Everyone from check-in people to the air stewardesses were like in a concerted effort to make sure we got onboard. We were like practically running to the plane with the stewardesses beckoning us from the aircraft door. I remember the minute we sat down, the plane started to move. Strange episode but a most memorable experience no doubt.

    Have you had an LRT train wait for you? I have, but not this time. Maybe another time. LOL!

    Btw, I was told that a propeller plane is safer. I forgot the reason given.

  7. yeah, let them all budget airlines co-exist, so that there will be competition, or even threats to big airline companies, and the consumers will be more beneficial.. :)

  8. Mei Ting
    I will choose Firefly over AirAsia for this flight.

    Jet planes usually fly at over 10,000 feet. If you want to take pictures in flight, propeller planes seem to have an edge.

    Yes, full service airlines do wait for passengers. And they would page for those who are late.

    LRT train won't wait for us, but that's hardly an issue. You can always board the next train.

    AirAsia is a big company now. That's why I am glad that Firefly is giving it a run for money.

  9. I never had much flight delay experience with budget airlines (including Airasia) when I am flying from Singapore.

    Looking at your post make me feel like travelling regional again. =p

  10. Agree with SK, as long as the consumers get value-for-money service, the more air lines the better.....

  11. last time when i bought a pair of return air tix to KL, AirAsia was so much cheaper than Firefly. Return airfares cost me RM99.50 on AirAsia, while Firefly was 20x.

  12. shingo
    I think flight delay is less common for early flight. So perhaps you always travel in the morning.

    I certainly hope for competition among the airlines will bring the fare down.

    Ah... price is something I can't commend on. The pricing mechanism is too complicated.

    But my airfare to Singapore was less than RM200.

  13. KS said: LRT train won't wait for us, but that's hardly an issue. You can always board the next train.

    That's what I thought - that I could catch the next train - so I took my own sweet time coming down from upstairs taking in the greenery of the surrounding. Slowly coming down the stairs, I noticed that the train was still there. Not wanting to rush down thinking that I couldn't have made it. Still continuing to take my time coming down the stairs. Suddenly I saw the train driver's hand movement as if beckoning for me to get on. Huh?! The train couldn't be waiting for me! I thought. I then hastened my steps. Thanked the nice driver and got on. He made my day..

  14. these "air bus" really help our company to save the travel budget.

  15. i agree with u, it is best for them to co-exist for the benefits of msians.

  16. khengsiong:
    Wow, I really fly mostly in the morning. You sure are a seasoned flyer!
    *thumbs up*

  17. Happysurfer
    You had a interesting experience. Wondering if other trains would be delayed because of you...

    Haha... now even business people travel with budget airlines.

    Yeah, yeah, we need competition...

    I know how budget airlines operate. That's why I know delays mostly happened in the afternoon or evening.

  18. For me, steadier plane comes first, so always choose AirAsia! Plus their stewardesses more chun. Hahaha

  19. Neo
    AirAsia now hires steward also.
    Firefly has all-female cabin crew.

  20. Oh well, I didn't ask the train to wait. The train driver probably knew what he was doing holding up the train for a few minutes. I don't think I read any report of a delay being caused. Did you? haha..

  21. I've never fly with Firefly before, but the fact that they are in Subang and nearer makes it a much more convenient option.

  22. I will always support Firefly if I have to leave/touch down in KL. :) Subang airport is much more convenient. Don't forget the assigned seats and larger baggage limit. :)

  23. foongpc, witch
    Yes, Subang airport is the big advantage.

  24. oh i thought firefly flies to seletar. it is budget terminal. not bad!