Flight Review: AirAsia AK6173 from Alor Setar (Sultan Abdul Halim Airport) to Johor Bahru (Senai International Airport) by Airbus A320-200

AirAsia AK6173 is a new flight launched on 1 October 2018 based from Johor Bahru and is the 10th domestic destination from Senai International Airport. The Alor Setar – JB flight is also the longest domestic flight within Peninsular Malaysia, connecting the northern state of Kedah to the southernmost state of Johor in 1 hour, a significant time saving as compared to the defunct overnight Ekspres Peninsular train.

I got a Grab from Anak Bukit Railway Station where I got off the KTM Komuter Northern Sector from Padang Besar to Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport which costed just RM5 and took only 4 minutes.

Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport is rather compact with a straightforward drop-off point on the departures level.

The departure driveway of Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport.

Heading into the terminal building of Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport.

A rather straightforward layout, with check-in on the right side and boarding on the left side.

I headed to get my boarding pass first.

Check-in for my AirAsia AK6173 flight at Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport was the same as all other AirAsia check-in counters around the region, via the Airasia Self Check In Kiosk.

My boarding pass for the super fast “Ekspres Peninsular” AirAsia AK6173 flight from Alor Setar to Johor Bahru.

AirAsia AK6173 is also the only flight from Alor Setar that isn’t heading to KL.

On the left side of the terminal, there are seats to wait at before the entrance to the departure area is ready.

Heading for security screening before entering the departures area.

After the standard security screening, the path leads to a bridge to cross over to the next building for the gates.

There are just 3 gates at Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport – Gate 1 on the right, and Gates 2 and 3 on the left.

Gates 1 and 2 were actual attached gates with aerobridges, while Gate 3 leads to a set of stairs down to the apron.

Once boarding was called, I made my way to the queue. Boarding was done very fast as everyone was called together and the boarding door assigned to where your seat was allocated – both the front and rear doors were used for boarding.

As I was seated towards the front of the aircraft, I boarded the plane via the aerobridge.

Boarding my AirAsia AK6173 flight via the aerobridge.

A set of stairs was prepared at the rear door for passengers seated in the rear.

The royal terminal of Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport, attached beside the passenger building.

I guess Gate 2 would be where royalties would depart from too.

Passengers seated in the rear board the plane from the rear door via the apron.

Heading to my seat.

The legroom on board 9M-AGC, a newish Airbus A320-200 that isn’t a A320neo despite most planes in the AG series being as such.

The view from my seat 9F.

The view out of the plane from my seat.

Pushing back from Gate 2.

Heading to the runway.

Passing by the Royal Malaysian Air Force training division.

Making a u-turn to the southwest to take off from Runway 22.

Preparing for take-off from Runway 22.

From the runway, you can see how small Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport terminal building is with just 2 gates.

The overall exterior of Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport. But I have no complains about the small size since every process is so efficient when there’s no other flight passengers to compete with for boarding.

Goodbye Alor Setar. Actually I haven’t even visited the town before, hmm.

But goodbye anyway.

Goodbye Anak Bukit Railway Station, the KTM Komuter access for Alor Setar Sultan Abdul Halim Airport.

Flying past the track alignment south of Anak Bukit.

Flying over Alor Setar Tower.

Flying over Alor Setar Railway Station.

Flying past Gurun Railway Station.

Soon after, the plane went through some clouds which made for a slightly turbulent flight.

The seat belt signs also remained switched on until about the middle of the flight near KL (my gut feeling) when the plane turned right towards the Malacca Strait, possibly to avoid more turbulence over Peninsular Malaysia.

Once the seat belt signs were switched off, the meal service commenced. I ordered the Spiral Pasta with Chicken Sausage (RM10.60), with a “Max Your Meal” upgrade (RM5.30) with an additional side of Potato Salad and Chocolate Banana Muffin. As this is a domestic flight, SST has to be paid on the meal.

My Spiral Pasta with Chicken Sausage tastes even better than the last time I had it on the flight to Hanoi. Although the cheese looks bit lacking, the pasta was a lot more saucy and creamy. A comforting in-flight meal. 12/10 would recommend. (Although AirAsia seems to have taken it off the menu already dammit.)

Flying over the Malacca Strait.

Flying back into Peninsular Malaysia.

Flying over Layang-Layang.

Approaching Senai International Airport.

Touched down at Senai International Airport at 4.40pm – 25 minutes ahead of schedule.

The Senai International Airport terminal building.

Turning to the terminal.

A quick taxi later and my plane was parked at the gate.

A Petronas truck coming into the plane for refueling.

Disembarking from the plane via the aerobridge. Passengers seated at the rear disembarked via the stairs at the rear exit.

Heading to the domestic arrivals area. The transit area of Senai International Airport is shared by both arriving and departing passengers.

Heading down to the baggage reclaim area.

Feels so strange to be back in JB so quickly from the northern states.

As I had no check-in bags, I headed straight out.

With the early arrival of my flight, I rushed off to the Causeway Link counter in the hopes of getting a ticket for the 5pm Senai Airport Shuttle Service AA1 to JB Sentral, saving me a 1-hour wait for the next bus.

Overall, AirAsia AK6173 is a fantastic game-changer for commuting the length of Peninsular Malaysia. While there are flights between JB and Penang, or even to Alor Setar via a transit in KL, nothing beats getting a direct flight to where you need to go. On top of that, coming from Padang Besar and going back home, it seems surreal that I could travel from the Thailand-Malaysia border to the Malaysia-Singapore border in such a short time.

AirAsia is definitely changing how domestic flights work where there’s demand. Hopefully, there will be more such point-to-point flights in the near future.

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