MYAirline is the newest entrant to Malaysia’s heavily price sensitive air travel market. First commencing operations in December 2022, the low cost airline is in its 9th month of operation and currently serving 9 destinations within Malaysia, and its sole international destination is Bangkok, Thailand with flights into both of the city’s airports.
I had the chance to fly MYAirline on a recent trip to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. My experience with them on the outbound sector from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching was a pleasant one, and I was looking forward to how they would perform on the return flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Update: MYAirline has suspended operations effective 12 October 2023. There is currently no indication if or when operations will be resumed.
Booking my tickets
I booked my tickets on MYAirline’s website. The site’s design is clean, modern, and quite easy to navigate. The red-white colour scheme does bring rival AirAsia to mind, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had accidentally clicked on the AirAsia home page instead.
As MYAirline is a low cost carrier, this cheap basic fare excludes meals, seat reservations, check in baggage allowance and other frills. Passengers have the option of purchasing these separately via the Manage Booking option. You do get a pretty standard allowance of 2 pieces of cabin baggage – dimensions not exceeding 56cm x 36cm x 23cm with a combined weight limit of 7kg.
The base fare for this return sector to KUL cost me RM 269.00, initially with no frills purchased. I later pre-booked a meal for RM 17.50 and reserved a seat for RM 12.00, with the final fare for this sector being RM 298.50. Taking that into account, the total cost of my return ticket came to RM 441.49.
MYAirline online check-in
Online check-in for MYAirline flights open 72 hours prior to the flight. I opted not to use the online check-in feature for this flight as I didn’t have access to a printer in Kuching to print out my boarding pass.
Things got a bit odd when I tried to purchase my meal and seat reservation through the Manage Booking tab. I managed to purchase my meal without any issue, but the system kept refusing my attempts to pay for my seat reservation. I eventually contacted MYAirline’s customer support via the chat function on the website, and the agent manually reserved my choice of seat for me with payment to be completed at the airport check in desk.
Departure experience from Kuching International Airport
KCH is Sarawak’s primary gateway to the world, with flights to Kuala Lumpur being of particular importance. The terminal first opened in 1983 with a distinctive Minangkabau roof design similar to Penang International Airport, but the terminal was reconstructed between 2000 to 2006 and reopened with a very KLIA-esque architecture. This brings it in line with a number of other airports in Malaysian Borneo, namely Bintulu, Miri, and Labuan.
Check in counters for domestic flights open 2 hours before departure. My hand luggage was screened as if it was check-in baggage before I was allowed to join the short queue at MYAirline’s Counter C. I didn’t have to wait long before I was standing at a counter handing over my ID and booking details. The check in agent confirmed that my seat was reserved with the payment pending. I then enquired if I could pay by card, as the agent on the online chat had assured me that I could pay either by cash or card. This was denied by the check in agent, who informed me that only cash payments were accepted. So be it.
With my boarding pass in hand, I then headed for exit immigration and departure security checks. This is usual procedure for travel in and out of Malaysian Borneo, as both Sabah and Sarawak have immigration autonomy within the federation.
Note: All passengers departing Labuan, Sabah and Sarawak for destinations outside the respective states have to clear exit immigration. Non-Malaysians are required to present their passports, while Malaysians can present either their NRIC or Passports. If you presented your NRIC on arrival and was given an arrival slip, make sure you hand over the slip with your NRIC to the immigration officer on exit. If you entered with your passport, simply handover your passport to the officer, and they will then stamp your exit clearance.
Our flight was departing from Gate 6 not too far from departure security. KCH’s KLIA-esque redesign gave the terminal a heavy use of wood-esque textures on the ceiling and floor to ceiling glass walls. The end result is an airy and pleasant space, but as there are no segregated gate waiting spaces in the main part of the pier, things can get messy when multiple flights board at once and the queue spills over into the common space.
Boarding flight Z9 8104
Operating our flight today was 9M-DAF, a 7 year old Airbus A320-200 first delivered to AirAsia in 2009. I had written previously about MYAirline’s quick turnaround times, and this was no different. 9M-DAF had just arrived in KCH as Z9 8103 from KUL when we were at departure security, and not some 15 minutes later priority boarding for the return flight Z9 8104 had commenced while arriving passengers were still disembarking.
Thanks to my reserved seat in row 29, I was one of the first few to be called for (non-priority) boarding.
I settled into my window seat as the rest of the passengers trooped in. Judging by the crowd, it was going to be a full flight back to KUL. Boarding proceeded smoothly, and we pushed back for an on time departure back to KUL via runway 25. It was a great sunny day for flying and we were treated to great views of Mount Santubong, and Mount Singai and Mount Serapi in the outskirts of Kuching as we banked westwards for a routing out over the South China Sea.
Cabin & Onboard Amenities
MYAirline’s A320s carry 180 passengers in a typical 3-3 layout. Being a low cost carrier, there is only Economy Class onboard.
MYAirline Economy class seats
MYAirline uses Geven superEco seats onboard its aircraft in a red-gray colour scheme. These slimline seats come with 29 inches of pitch and a pre-recline angle of 109.4 degrees, meaning you can’t recline the seat manually. It’s not uncomfortable, but you do notice the fixed angle when you try to stretch.
How do MYAirline’s seats compare with AirAsia’s? According to their own website, AirAsia’s regular seats and Hot Seats feature 28 inches and 29 inches of pitch respectively. This gives MYAirline a slight leg up over AirAsia’s seats, but do bear in mind that AirAsia’s seats can be reclined and a good number of their aircraft still feature the older leather seats with thicker padding.
The seats themselves also have pretty thin padding which is adequate for domestic runs and shorter regional hops. It’s not a very plush seat back, but the plus side is you get decent legroom and knee room where padding would have been. For best results, put your backpacks in the overhead lockers instead of under the seat in front of you.
The seat back pocket contains a safety card, an inflight menu for purchase, a generic air sickness bag, and an advertisement for Flavettes Vitamin C tablets. Yes, they actually do sell the tablets onboard.
For the eagle eyed: MYAirline’s safety cards heavily resemble AirAsia’s, only with modified colours.
I must say the seat back tables are quite small. This is quite noticeable when you start putting cups of tea or coffee on them, but even more when you put meal servings on them. I pre-booked a meal on this flight and the tray table was barely big enough to lay out all of the cutlery and food items together. The cutouts for drink cans and cups are also oddly spaced as both are blocked by the meal tray, which could result in a messy accident. The tray table itself also seemed to be slightly slanted as my meal was very keen to slide towards me.
Inflight meals are available for purchase both before and during the flight. Passenger meals are pre-booked via the “Manage Booking” tab on the website up to 24 hours before departure. The menu can be viewed on MYAirline’s website, and is currently limited to 5 dishes that are quite similar to what AirAsia serves.
Buying your meal onboard will set you back RM 17.00, while pre-booking them online gives you the meal and a bottle of water with prices starting from RM 15.90 and, depending on your selection, gives you more for your money.
I pre-booked a Chicken Rice meal for lunch, which came with a small bottle of water. The presentation of the meal is your standard budget carrier meal presentation, and while the meal was generally pleasant it wasn’t a spectacular one.
Unfortunately this is the part where I get a bit pedantic as I am quite serious about my Chicken Rice. What MYAirline’s Chicken Rice gets right is that the rice has hints of ginger – so far so good. But while the Chicken Rice served by MYAirline is clearly inspired by the Chinese style roasted chicken (Siew Kai) version, the chicken itself tasted like it came from a supermarket rotisserie. Now this isn’t a bad thing, of course, but then I discovered that the provided portion of chilli was a normal pack of garlic chilli sauce instead. The Chicken Rice chilli is a specific blend of chilli and other specific ingredients, so applying regular garlic chilli sauce drastically changes the flavour outcome.
Having tried rival AirAsia’s Uncle Chin’s Chicken Rice, I have to say AirAsia does Chicken Rice better.
Arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport – Terminal 2
Our aircraft flew a rather interesting approach, flying south of the airfield, a right turn to fly up the Straits of Malacca, and then 2 more right turns to line up with KUL’s runway 15.
In a bit of a pre-landing excitement, our aircraft flew through a quick wall of rain before a firm touch down at the sunny airfield. The domestic pier is on the east side of Terminal 2, so our taxi took us another 10 minutes.
We then got to witness MYAirline’s fast turnaround in action, with the cabin crew cleaning the cabin as each row emptied of passengers. I was the last to leave the aircraft, and they had already started boarding the passengers for the aircraft’s next flight. Talk about a tight schedule.
With no bags to collect, we were out of airside in 10 minutes, but a further walk through the gateway@klia2 mall took us another 15 minutes before we were out of the terminal proper.
This was another smooth flight on MYAirline, and there wasn’t much to give away that it was actually a brand new airline.