I had this question quite often from close relatives who would like to go to Malaysia for the first time. Most of them think about Air Asia when it comes to cheap price, which is something I don’t (really) agree.
During 1,5 years of master study there, I went back and forth from both Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur 10 times. The very first thing I did once I had the fix schedule of all lectures was searching for the cheapest flight back home. All tabs in my laptop were about all airlines websites. Did I buy it straightly?
Of course, NOT!
I brought those fare comparison to my dream first. Even for days. I rechecked them every day for few times because the fares changed depends the time you checked it. For a stingy student like me, it was sensitive. Being hesitate whether to buy now or later. Imagining it wherever I went. Then, cursed myself when I saw the second time the price was higher. Such a true masochist.
After so many times doing like that, I really found that some airlines were truly cheaper than Air Asia. In fact, Air Asia became my very last choice among other airlines. The ticket price only was maybe cheap, but, once you continued your booking, other cost kept piling up and at the end of your booking, voila! That will be very far from cheap.
So, here’s my preference from the most to the least :
1. Lion Air
SURPRISE!! When domestically Lion Air is known to be the master of delay, I didn’t find it for several times I fIew with them. I found Lion Air had a flight to Kuala Lumpur ( or Jakarta) accidentally. It had been a hard battle inside my mind when two airlines which I regularly used gave me an expensive total fares for my pocket. Even after several days, it didn’t change much.
I just read a tweet several days ago saying ‘Price is the only tool that is able to make people realize they have another choice or they have to find one’. It is very true. Those airlines fares which I think too expensive made me search for other options. Then, instead of one, I found two other options. Lion air is one of them.
The best thing about Lion Air, it shows you directly the total price and with that price comes 20 kg of baggage allowance. No need to pay additional cost. It was very agreeable for me. Even more, they were truly good value for your money. I often got as cheap as IDR 350.000 one way from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur. It costs the same like you fly to some cities in Java.
The second best thing about Lion Air is they depart from KLIA, not LCCT. It has the price of Low Cost airline, but they depart from high cost airline airport.
Recently, as far as I know, LCCT does no longer exist. They replaced it with KLIA 2.
Third and the last, few times flying with them, I never once experienced any delays. It was very punctual and more, the aircraft was big and clean. Guess it was new.
So, for all those three reasons, Lion Air is on my top of list.
2. Malaysian Airlines
This one is one of the regular that I often use. Before knowing how much cheap the fare between two cities, I used to think MAS was very cheap. When we first went there with my mum and sister, I found IDR 750.000 was a very good deal. Only after that I found out, it became the most expensive fare I paid among all my trips.
But, surprisingly, if you are persistent enough to regulary check their website, you can find a very shocking price like I once had. I once got the ticket price from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur at IDR 75.000. YEP, three zeros only. Not even reach 10 USD. As for the total fares, it became IDR 239.000. See, it was a very very good deal.
Of course, MAS departs from KLIA and it has a lot of check in counters. The aircraft might not as big as Lion as far as I remembered, the leg room was quite narrow too. One thing is an advantage from MAS, they have lots of schedules in a day. My mum once was late for check in for 7 am departure and she couldn’t fly with her originally booked flight. Then, the check in staff simply changed it to the next flight schedule at 9 am. No additional charge, no grumpy face scolding us for being late. A very good service. Overall, it’s good.
3. Air Asia
Here’s the cheap airline which often turns out to be not cheap at all. Even start from the ticket price only, it wasn’t that cheap. You have to pay more for baggage according how many kilos that suitable for your belongings. After that, you pay for your seat, which is something that I think it’s a bit ridiculous. Do they expect us to stand up during the flight?
The aircraft is far from spacious, the seat is not really comfortable, and they depart from LCCT. Unlike KLIA, LCCT was an airport who looks like a bus terminal. Not my preference. Well, overall, it was just fair.
4. Tiger Airways
I found this when I found Lion Air. It was pretty similar with Air Asia. You pay for your baggage and seat. The price was slightly cheaper. I only tried this once or twice maybe. I didn’t feel too comfortable with this although there was no problem at all during the flight. It also departed from LCCT.
Actually, there were other two airlines at that time, Garuda Indonesia and KLM. But, both were out of my league. Hence, I left them.
So, if anyone ever ask me which one to choose, you surely know the answer.