Flight Review – AirAsia AK5416: Johor Bahru to Kuching by Airbus A320-200

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AirAsia AK5416 is a daily late-morning flight from Johor Bahru to Kuching, which is one of three daily flights between the two Malaysian cities. I opted to fly to Kuching from Johor Bahru because firstly, it’s obviously cheaper with this being a domestic flight, and secondly, for a double passport stamp which grants me entry into Sarawak from West Malaysia and Sabah.

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Heading to the check-in kiosks to reprint my boarding pass.

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Reprinting my boarding pass from the check-in kiosk.

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My boarding pass for my AirAsia AK5416 flight from Johor Bahru to Kuching.

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Heading into the departure hall.

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The departure screen indicating my gate at Gate G1.

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If you have check-in bags or flying with other airlines other than AirAsia, you need to head in to the check-in area for the traditional counters to check-in and drop off your bags.

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Heading to the security line to enter the transit area.

As this is a domestic flight in Malaysia, liquids more than 100ml are allowed to be brought on board, and there’s no need to empty your bottles. In fact, don’t, as there are no water refilling stations after security.

If you are flying international, then, well, sorry, you have to buy water from inside.

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Heading to the transit area after ascending from the escalator from security.

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Gate G1 is behind the international immigration counters. As this is a domestic flight, the immigration counters are closed, and passengers for Gate G1 can walk in freely.

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Heading behind the immigration counters for this domestic departure.

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There is no screening here too, this second security post is only activated for international flights.

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The queuing area for Gate G1.

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The waiting area of Gate G1. There is only 1 international gate at Senai Airport, which is more than sufficient.

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An unknown Antonov-124-100 at Senai Airport.

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Once boarding calls were made, the queue for boarding formed according to zone.

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Once boarding was ready, the gate screen was changed.

Upon checking my documents, I was asked additional questions by the AirAsia’s ground staff on my travel history and if I had COVID-19 symptoms since my travel document was a Singapore passport, which is considered a country affected by COVID-19 by Sarawak.

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Once satisfied with my answers, I was allowed to board.

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Heading down the steps to the apron.

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Walking on the apron to the aircraft parked a little further away from the aerobridge.

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9M-AQI in AirAsia Foundation livery will be flying me from Johor Bahru to Kuching today.

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Heading up the mobile stairs to board the aircraft.

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The interior of AirAsia’s Airbus A320-200.

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My Hot Seat for the day at Seat 5C.

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The legroom on board AirAsia’s Airbus A320-200.

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AirAsia WiFi is available on this aircraft.

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The view of the window from my aisle seat.

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As there was no one sitting in 5A and 5B, I decided to move to the window.

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Passengers continue to board from both mobile stairs at the front and rear of the aircraft.

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The view of the aircraft from my seat during boarding.

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Once everyone was on board and the doors are armed, the ground crew pushes back the mobile stairs literally.

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Pushing back from the stand.

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Taxiing to the runway.

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Departing from the terminal building.

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Passing by the Private Hangar of Sultan of Johor.

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Sultan of Johor’s Boeing 737-800 BBJ parked in the Private Hangar.

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A private helicopter and jet at the Senai Business Aviation Terminal.

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An unknown Antonov-124-100 at Senai Airport.

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Taxiing out to the runway.

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Taking Runway 16 Shortened with the right turn from the taxiway.

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Taking off from Senai Airport.

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Flying over Taman Perindustrian Senai.

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Flying over the Senai–Desaru Expressway.

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Flying over Austin.

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Breaking through the clouds over Pasir Gudang.

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Loking down at Jambatan Sungai Johor on the Senai–Desaru Expressway.

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Flying out of Peninsular Malaysia at Bandar Penawar.

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Flying over the South China Sea.

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Once the seat belt signs were turned off, the cabin crew handed out the new Health Declaration Form on Entry into Sarawak by the Sarawak Ministry of Health. This must be filled up by all passengers entering from outside Sarawak including from West Malaysia and Sabah.

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The form is rather big, with 3 pages of Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin. You just need to fill up one page based on the language that you are comfortable with.

Do note that Singapore is a declared country affected with COVID-19 cases, you must tick “Yes” for Question 12 if you are Singaporean or have visited Singapore within the past 14 days, and fill up the other following relevant questions.

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Following the Health Declaration Form on Entry into Sarawak, my pre-booked Santan meal of Nasi Lemak Goreng was served. I pre-booked this meal for only RM10.60, cheaper than having a meal at Senai Airport first.

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Trust AirAsia to reinvent a classic dish, the Nasi Lemak Goreng tasted fantastic with an obvious fried rice taste to it, but also with Santan to give it a more hearty and umami flavour. There is also a side of fried chicken, as compared with rendang chicken on the regular Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak, along with the same popular sambal at the side. Highly recommended.

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Continuing on the Santan restaurant 33,000 feet above sea level.

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The clean toilet on board.

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Entering Borneo/Kalimantan.

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Descending through the clouds.

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Crossing from Indonesia to Malaysia.

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Looking down at Sungai Stamin.

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Looking down at Sungai Limo.

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Looking at the gulf off Santubong.

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Crossing over Sungai Santubong.

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Flying out of Bako National Park to u-turn back to Kuching Airport.

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Flying over Sungai Sabang.

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Flying over the Sarawak River over Samarahan.

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Flying past Kampung Stutong Baru just before landing.

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The flight landed at 12.51pm – 19 minutes ahead of schedule.

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Taking the high-speed taxiway into the apron directly.

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Taxiing into the apron.

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Looks like the AirAsia stands are clearly split from Malaysia Airlines with the mobile stairs on standby.

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Parked at Gate 2 after a quick and direct taxi.

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Pushing the mobile stairs into place.

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Descending by the mobile stairs.

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Heading into the stairs by the aerobridge.

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A last look at 9M-AQI before heading into the stairwell.

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Heading up the stairs to the aerobridge.

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The view of 9M-AQI from the stairwell.

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Heading into the terminal.

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9M-AQH in 100th Awesome Plane livery parked with no activity at Gate 3, based on information from Flightradar24.

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The arrival and departure level at Kuching International Airport is the same.

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Following the signs to arrivals. As Sarawak has autonomy on immigration, passengers coming in from West Malaysia and Sabah must go through immigration when entering Sarawak.

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Arrivals B is for domestic flights within Sarawak, with no need for immigration clearance.

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Arrivals B is for domestic flights outside of Sarawak and other international flights, with immigration clearance. However, Malaysians flying domestic from outside Sarawak into Sarawak need only to present their MyKad for immigration, while foreigners must present their passport just like regular immigration.

As my Health Declaration Form on Entry into Sarawak was marked with a “Yes” for coming from Singapore, a country with , since Singapore is a declared country affected with COVID-19 cases, I was subjected to additional questions by an on-hand nurse, as well as a simple temperature taking. Once satisfied by my answers, I was allowed to proceed for immigration, where I handed over the Health Declaration Form to the immigration officer.

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And here’s the special immigration situation with a double entry stamp for Malaysia, which I wanted to collect in my passport for a special leap year date of 29 February 2020.

Did you ever notice when you go for your multiple trips to JB that the passport stamp only grants you entry into West Malaysia and Sabah? Sarawak has it’s own autonomy over immigration as agreed in the Malaysia Agreement or the Agreement relating to Malaysia between United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, and requires you to go through immigration even from other Malaysian states, and as such, there is an additional stamp given to grant you entry into Sarawak (and Malaysia) to top up from the usual West Malaysia and Sabah stamp which I got from Woodlands Train Checkpoint this morning, with the text “Sarawak / Malaysia”.

This also means that the Sarawak entry stamp is probably the most powerful Malaysia stamp since it grants you entry into every single State and Federal Territory in Malaysia. You will not get a double stamp if you enter Sarawak first and proceed on to other Malaysian states later in your trip, as the Sarawak stamp clearly grants you entry into “Malaysia” as a whole already. I haven’t tried a flight from Sarawak to Sabah before to test if Sabah will give me the simple top-up stamp though.

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Heading down by the staircase after immigration as the escalator was not working.

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Passing through the baggage reclaim area as I had no check-in bags. No customs checks too, as I was coming in from a domestic flight. Customs checks will be conducted for international flights outside of Malaysia.

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And I’m out of the restricted area into Kuching officially without a hitch, proving that Singaporeans aren’t banned from coming into Sarawak due to COVID-19.

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Heading out to the arrival driveway to wait for my Grab. There is no public transport to and from Kuching International Airport.

Overall, another pleasant flight with AirAsia, made even better with my free Hot Seat upon check-in as I’m now a confirmed Platinum BIG Member in their system. Guess I fly them really often if that’s the case, because I have worthless amounts of BIG points in my account which I can’t even redeem for a meal.

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