Flying Without Wings at Skypark Terminal, Subang (#TSDAYOUT 11th May 2013) |Being Lost On Greatness

Nuffnang

Monday, 20 May 2013

Flying Without Wings at Skypark Terminal, Subang (#TSDAYOUT 11th May 2013)

89.7% of readers admitted to having images of a particular Irish boyband which was formed in 1998 and disbanded in 2012 form in their head when reading the title for this post. (Note: Respondents were fairly represented from my household!). Before I go on, you can safely say this blog is not about the good looking men from Slingo, IrelandJ.
Nonetheless, it’s about an airport that was transformed when this band celebrated their 10th Anniversary----Terminal 3 which is widely known as SUBANG SKYPARK     Before I go on in detail on this half day event, I would like to give a BIG BIG shout out to the people at Tourism Selangor for their continuous effort is promoting the local tourism industry…This is my second outing and I can already see that they take the feedback (that we provide in the forms after every outing) very seriously and the improvement is already incorporated into this event! Well done!

Skypark Terminal at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport


“Ladies and gentlemen, this is Melvin and I am your chief flight attendant. On behalf of #Tourism Selangor and the entire crew at Subang Skypark, welcome aboard Flight B.L.O.G 747 non-stop service from the history of Subang Airport to its transition to being more than an airport.
Our flight will be filled with many interesting information and facts. We will be flying at an altitude of 3000 meters at a ground speed of 160 miles per hour.

At this time, make sure your concentration and focus are in their fullest to this post. Also, we advise you that as of this moment, please refrain from answering any phone calls or performing any activities that may cause you to sidetrack from finishing this post. Thank you.”

 Okay…just like any good writing, let me give you a short history lesson on SUBANG SKYPARK     ! (Errrmmm….need to add that history was definitely not my strongest subject in school so please bear with me ya?) J…This airport is also known as Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport and was officially opened to traffic on 30th August 1965. Prior to this, Sungai Besi airport was the main hub for air travel in Malaysia. At the time of opening, its runway (3.7 km long, 45m wide) was the longest runway in Southeast Asia! (Based on my personal experience with the SimFlightKL which I will elaborate later, I can assure you that in this case, longer is unquestionably better!! Watch the video at the end of the blog to see how the long runway saved my landing).  By the 1990s, the airport had three terminals – Terminal 1 for international flights, Terminal 2 for Singapore – KL shuttle flights by Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines and Terminal 3 for domestic flights. Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines continued to use this airport until KLIA was completed in 1998. Upon KLIA's completion, Subang International Airport's (Now known as Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport) Terminal 1 building was demolished. At the same time, Malaysia Airports agreed to redevelop Terminal 3 to create a specialist airport for turboprop and charter planes surrounded by a residential area and a business park. If you have been following closely, you must be wondering what happened to Terminal 2 ryte? Previously (after the demolition of Terminal 1), Terminal 2 was shared between the Immigration Department for issuing of passports as well as local documentation and the management of Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad. However, a part of the terminal has been vacant since November 2009 after the airport operator relocated its corporate headquarters to Sepang. In addition, Eurocopter Malaysia's current facility is also hosted on the airside of Terminal 2. As of today, Skypark is in talks with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to redevelop Terminal 2 to complement its illustrious brother, Terminal 3. The transformation for Terminal 3 started in February 2008 where it underwent renovation works that was completed in October 2009. To be more precise, the airport was officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on 28 October 2009. This is when SUBANG SKYPARK     was born! (Pheewww…hope I didn’t bore you with that!) Before moving on, let me share some old pictures of this beloved airport (Credit to Malaysianwings for the images)
The airport control tower and Terminal 1
A newspsper clipping during Subang Airport's construction
A multititude of people gathering on the opening day at Subang Airport
The look and feel of the airport before its physical transformation in 2009
The name SUBANG KUALA LUMPUR can be prominently seen here.
Taken in 1975 when Malaysia were host for the World Cup Hockey Tournament
Some construction work being done during the late 80's
The iconic spiral ramp that used to grace the old Subang Airport building.
Stars guiding the way!
Oookkaaayyy…now that we got the history out of the way, let me run you through this RM300 million baby (Yes…that’s approximately how much it cost to bring to reality the dream of an ultra-modern general and corporate aviation hub. The cost includes upgrading the terminal, creation of regional aviation center and finally the establishment of a commercial nexus). I must admit that this was my FIRST time visiting SUBANG SKYPARK     and my first impression was… “Oh my gawd…is this really an airport?” Hats off to the interior designer as it could easily pass off as a shopping mall! One aspect that caught my eye was the “stars”. The ceiling leading to the check in counter is adorned with a beautiful arrangement of tiny LED’s that creates the impression of twinkling stars .This feeling of “walking under the stars” kindled a somewhat serene and romantic feel in me! I’m sure this feeling echoed throughout the others who participated in this #TSDAYOUT as I overhead someone saying… “Sending off my boyfriend here would be so romantic! It is like a scene out of a Korean drama!” (While waving her hands gently and pointing to the “stars” as she shares her imagination with another fellow participant).
Top view of the walkway to the check-in counters
Some of the outlets at Subang Skypark
Apart from the beautifully designed building, this #TSDAYOUT is something very special. A chat with the management revealed that this was the first time an airport is organizing a “Behind the Scenes Tour” in Southeast Asia!! Yeap…for the 30 of us who were selected to join this outing, it’s like going on an inaugural flight! (But… sadly we did not manage to board any flight due to the quick turnaround of the flights). I bet none of you reading this knew we can actually tour an airport kan? I don’t blame you too because before this I never associated airports with tours too! I always thought no one is allowed to know what happens in airport for security reasons. Thanks to SUBANG SKYPARK     , now you don’t have to be a pilot or an air stewardess to appreciate the “invisible hands” that make an airport work!
The new check-in counters!
 Soooo….read on and allow me to “fly” you through Southeast Asia’s first ever airport tour courtesy of SUBANG SKYPARK     ! J.
The meet up point
We were asked to meet up near the Hot & Roll food counter inside SUBANG SKYPARK     at 8.30am. I carpooled with another blogger from Kajang (yes…yessss…I care for Mother Nature!) and we found the way mainly by following the sign boards! (That’s how easy it is to find the airport and it’s less than 30 minutes’ drive time from KL city centre!). In case you don’t have your own transport, you can always use the public transportation. The easiest would be to use a taxi service to reach the airport. Additionally, there is a taxi booth inside the terminal building, so arriving passengers can directly go to the booth and get on the taxi right away. I know that some of you will be thinking “Taxi? Aiyaa…too expensive la….got bus or not ah?” The answer to that will be a YES!! Although currently, there are no shuttle bus services to get to and from this airport, there are public buses passing through the main road just outside the Skypark terminal building. Buses heading towards Kuala Lumpur city center are on the opposite side of the road, so you have to cross the road by using the pedestrian’s bridge to get to the other side and then wait for buses at the designated stop. Fare to Kuala Lumpur is RM 3.00 one-way. The journey normally takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the traffic conditions along the way. You can either take RapidKL (No U81) from Pasar Seni LRT Station or Metrobus Nationwide (No 9) if you are boarding from Kotaraya (Both stations are in Kuala Lumpur and the busses head toward Subang Mahsing via Subang Airport).
Fellow "participants" of the outing

So now that we are IN the airport, we made our way to the #TSDAYOUT registration counter and collected our welcome “T-Shirt”. I did find the colour kinda striking and after putting on the T-Shirt I realized I look like one of the corns from the Nelson’s food counter! Hahahah! Anyway, I’m looking forward to a pastel green version of the T-Shirt. I’m sure it will look great! *Hint Hint*. After the registration, we were asked to handover our NRIC’s to Dian so that she can prepare our “VIP Passes” for the tour. Moments later, 2 lovely ladies appeared with our passes and started calling out our names to collect the tags (I must add that at first sight I thought these two were stewardess!) Only later did I find out that they are part of the management team for SUBANG SKYPARK     ! Ms Priya Gorasia is the Brand Manager (only 9 days old on the job) while Ms Ily Farhana is the Events and Communications Executive for SUBANG SKYPARK     (you read it right….she is the ONE to go to if you’re planning to organize a once-in-a-lifetime personalized airport tour for your next company trip!)
Registration in progress ..........
Now with our VIP tags on, we are ready to start the tour. To begin with, we were given a brief introduction about the airport by Mr. Francis Anthony, the Senior Vice President of Operation. He walked us through the past, present and future plans for the airport.  I remember him saying that the airport recorded around 1.5 million passengers last year! That’s an amazing figure given that currently the airport serves a limited number of destinations with only 2 airlines – Berjaya Air and Firefly. To give you a clearer picture of this immense achievement, I did a quick research and found out that the “old” Subang Airport had handled a total of 15.8 million passengers up the end of 1997 (That’s 32 years!). Here’s a little secret ….He hinted that the airport is destined for an exciting second half in 2013. According to him, Skypark is gonna be bursting with some unique activities that is sure to substantiate its claim of being truly an aviation hub like no other! For all you readers, here’s a tip: You can make sure you don’t miss out on these activities by by following SUBANG SKYPARK on Twitter (@Subang_Skypark)and also keeping a lookout on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SkyparkSubang).
My own "All Access VIP Pass"
Let’s move on. Our first stop on the tour was the check-in counter. There are 13 check-in counters in this airport. Here we were joined by Mr. Rushdee who is the Airport Manager. He explained the check-in process in detail and also patiently answered questions from the bloggers. An interesting point which fascinated me was how the airport “tells” passengers where to head to next! Once you have checked in, you will realize that there are yellow tiles that form a line along the walkway. Aside from being designed with the blind and visually impaired people in mind, this line functions as a guide for passenger heading to the departure hall. How cool is that?!

The next stop in this tour is literally “behind the scenes”. We were taken into the Firefly office where Mr. Rushdee explained how the operations of the flights are handled. By the way, do you know that Mr.Rushdee has been working in Subang Airport since he was 19 years old? How's tat for loyalty! He covered areas such working style of the employees, how flight routes and timing are managed and gave a brief description of the devices used to check where the aircrafts currently are. I will not go into details as it might be a spoiler when you take the airport tour! J
The Airport Manager in action
We then followed the yellow line to the boarding area. Here, as any person who has taken a flight before will know, we have to pass the security check. Here is also where I learnt that the “VIP pass” must be visible at all times throughout the tour! The makcik polis at the counter apprehended me and asked me to show my boarding pass before continuing to “advise” me. I can still remember her words.. “Pakai tag tu betul-betul, nanti jatuh hilang, you akan kena tangkap dan disoal siasat. Jangan nak susahkan diri…*fadeout* (Translation: Wear the tag properly. If you drop/lose it, you will be stopped and scrutinized. Don’t trouble yourself…*fadeout*). Personally, this is the first time I actually entered the boarding hall without a flight boarding pass! We were told that a flight would be arriving at 10.50am so we will be able to see how fast the turnover for a flight is (time from it lands to taking off again).


The concerned Makcik Polis :)
The flight arrived on time and we watched as the staff worked efficiently in disembarking the passengers and preparing the flight for its next takeoff. The bags were loaded onto the aircraft while the ground staffs were busy checking the boarding passes of the passenger before allowing them to leave the departure gate to the aircraft. Everything looked like it was perfectly timed! There was no delay and before we knew it, the flight was preparing for take-off on the runway. Oh ya, it is worthy of mention that the aircrafts are literally parked outside the boarding gate! The walk from the boarding gate to your seat in the flight takes less than 2 minutes!!  It just like getting out of your house and walking to your car parked across the road…So easy kan? J

I managed to steal a photo with the lovely "Orange Fireflies"


To add on, I timed myself from the check-in counter to the boarding area and it took roughly 7 minutes…Soooo….it only takes a GRAND TOTAL of  less than 10 minutes for the complete process!! Whoaaa! That will definitely leave me with ample of time to shop and dine in the many food and retail outlets at the airport while waiting for my flight! 

Dining in style at Subang Skypark
In case you are wondering, more than 10 food and retail outlets are at your disposal inside SUBANG SKYPARK     . The images above and below this paragraph shows some of the dining and shopping options for everyone at the airport. However, there is one special place in the airport reserved only for the esteemed customers of a particular brand! If you own a car or are looking to buy one, keep on reading to know how you can gain access into this exclusive area J
Shoppingin style at Subang Skypark
Let’s get back to the tour! As part of our tour, we were allowed to walk outside the boarding gate. This is where I finally get to see the orange, yellow and white livery of Firefly up close. This eye catching livery is painted on every of their ATR-72-500 twin turboprop planes (Currently Firefly has 12 planes in their fleet and are awaiting the delivery of 20 ATR-72-600’s). The ATR 72-500’s offers the lowest seat-mile cost in its category. The ATR 72-500 can fly up to 2.5 hours with a maximum range on 890Nm without re-fuelling on a full passenger load (that's 74 passengers with each having 20kg check-in luggage!). Its secondary structures are extensively made of corrosion-resistant composite material, and it uses carbon fibre for its outer wings and a composite tail, thus reducing weight further (No no and nooo…I’m not a plane expert at all…This info is taken from their website at www.fireflyz.com.my). Let me share a bit on this full-service point-to-point carrier. Firefly was launched on April 3, 2007. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysian Airline System Berhad. Operating out of the Penang and Subang hubs, Firefly currently provides connections to 19 destinations in Malaysia, Southern Thailand, Singapore and Sumatera of Indonesia, aligning itself with the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) agenda.
A photo I took using my trusty mobile phone for the "Best Photo" contest but sadly only photos using a camera is allowed :(
I’m sure that you many of you reading this blog can picture how a firefly insect looks like. Do you know why this airline decided to name itself after this winged insect which produces a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies? The name Firefly (in Mandarin 萤火 ying huo chong; in Bahasa Malaysia Kunang-Kunang; in Tamil மின்மினி பூச்சி meen meni poochi) was chosen to depict the airline’s characteristics, which are agility, brilliance, charming, and fun.
The reason behind the name
We were also taken to the private jet parking area where we managed to spot one jet basking in the sun. Speaking of private jets, I just remembered that Mr. Rushdee mentioned it is possible to book a whole Firefly plane for any special functions. According to him, it would cost approximately between RM 20, 000 and RM 50,000 to charter a whole flight depending on fuel charges and destination (now that you know the amount…..faster start saving for your wedding or birthday celebration! Please don't forget to send me an invite ya?).
Can you spot the difference? The only difference is the design on the planes. They both are the same ATR-72-500 twin turboprop planes.
Our next stop was another first in my life! How many of you have always wanted to fly a plane? (I admit I watched the movie Flight starring Denzel and wished I could at least try those stunts without the fear of dying!) Thanks to SimFlightKL, instead of just holding out your arms and running around pretending you were flying, now you can actually fly the Airbus A230 or the Boeing 737NG! How? Simple…. Just make your way to on one of two Aircraft Flight Simulators inside SUBANG SKYPARK     (just to make it clear…it DOES NOT include the stewardess ya! lolz!).
All of us inside SimFlightKL
The controls on the simulator
Us and our instructor
We were first given a brief introduction on SimFlightKL by the captains. After the introduction, it was free & easy. Participants can either laze around the simulator area or choose to try the simulator. While some of the participant decided to check out the airplane models and relax inside the “recreated” setting of a plane, my friends and I chose to try our hand at exactly what it feels like to be responsible of a giant steel bird in the sky! Just so that you know, the difference between the 2 options are that the Airbus A320 Full Cockpit simulation allows you to immerse yourself in a flight environment while the Boeing 737NG Half Cockpit simulation is a more basic flight simulator (You get a 180 degree High Definition view of the sky instead of the whole “on a pilot seat” experience). Nonetheless, both simulators give you an excellent bird's eye view of your airplane's course in the air! Our instructor also pointed out KLCC to us as we flew over Kuala Lumpur city. The best part of SimFlightKL is that “wannabe pilots” can choose to take-off and land at various airports including Changi Airport, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Frankfurt Airport, Narita International Airport and many more!
Inside the cockpit of the simulator! looks like a real plane eh?
The highlights of SimFlightKL include allowing participants to fly like a pilot (use the exact same simulation that actual pilots use); receive briefing and training from professionals in addition to learn the basic ins and outs of flying planes. Don’t forget to watch the video at the end of my blog to see me fly the plane like a boss! J

If you need more information on the simulators, feel free to browse www.simflightkl.com.
Here’s something that you didn't know (I know I didn't know this!) hahaha! Every airport has an International Air Transport Association (IATA) airport code. It is a 3-letter code designating airports around the world. Can you guess what Subang’s IATA code is? Well, if you screamed out SZB, you are absolutely correct!!! If you’re still trying to figure out why these codes exist, let me ease your pain J Airport codes arose out of the convenience that it brought pilots for location identification. I was able to understand why and  how it helped because when I tried on the simulator, I just needed to look for the airport codes to plan my landing….Simple as ABC (wow…those are 3-letters too…I wonder if they form the IATA code for any airport!) Just to add-on another interesting fact, KLIA inherited the IATA airport code KUL from Subang International Airport in 1998! Now you know! J
The Peugeot emblem joining the fun!
Our final stop for the day was none other than the World’s First Car Brand Airport Lounge- The Peugeot Lounge. As promised earlier, let me tell you how you can gain access into this exclusive lounge. There are 2 ways. The first way is to own any vehicle model from this French automotive manufacturer. Peugeot owners need only to present their boarding pass along with their Peugeot Privilege card or Peugeot car key to enjoy the complimentary facilities. Among the facilities in this chic lounge include delectable treats and beverage, WiFi and Internet services, Astro TV entertainment, Flight information display, reading materials (newspaper, magazine, etc), meeting room and a VIP room!
 The second way is to book your next flight on Firefly from SUBANG SKYPARK     with someone that owns a Peugeot! J This is because the wonderful people at Peugeot also allow guest of patrons.  As an eligible guest, you must be accompanied by the patron (obviously!) and possess a valid boarding pass for an outbound flight on the day of use. The first guest is allowed in with no charges while the 2nd guest will be charged RM50 and the 3rd guest onwards RM40 per person. Importantly, please ensure that your flight is bound to take-off before 9.00pm because the lounge is only open from 6.00am – 9.00pm daily! J
Guest book signed by the bloggers at the lounger
Participants of #TSDAYOUT were allowed to rest and relax while enjoying a scrumptious lunch provided by Bubba Gump while the organizers select the winners of the “Best Photo” contest. I surveyed the lounge while waiting the prize giving ceremony and noticed a couple of points worth mentioning. The coffee table book at the lounge was well compiled and it complemented the various Peugeot models/items displayed as decoration throughout the lounge (You can also purchase exclusive Peugeot merchandise at the Peugeot Lounge). The unisex toilet in the lounge was very cozy as well!
Around 2pm we were called to gather around the lounge for the speeches by the people whom made this day a reality and also the all important prize giving ceremony! This #TSDAYOUT-ing was made even more special when I won one of the 6 prizes for “Best Blog Entry”! (yaaaayyy…finally a recognized blogger yo!) It was my first time blogging and it definitely fueled my interest to keep on writing hence my second entry that is being shown on your computer/ laptop or mobile device screen now! J
From top left, clockwise: Mr. Francis Anthony (Head of Operations for Skypark Subang), Mr. Azman, Chief Commercial Officer (Firefly), Mr. Yasser Awan, General Manager Nasim Sdn Bhd (Peugeot), , Fazly Razally, Manager of Events, Marketing and IT (Tourism Selangor), Captain Wafi (SimFlightKL)
The winner of the "Best Photo" and "Best Blog" contest. Just realized me standing in between Mr. Francis and Mr. Yasser make us look like the Perak state flag!!
Gifts from Subang Skypark, Firefly and Peugeot
Looking back at the trip, although I felt it was well organized, I believe there is still room for improvements (nothing is perfect ryte?). When I heard it was going to be an airport tour, I imagined that it will shed light on details such as what happens to check-in baggage (the journey from the conveyor to the plane and back on the conveyor, how they are traced when lost, etc) and in-flight food (where do they come from, how/where they are stored in the plane, etc). Also I would have preferred if a short 10-15min video was shown on the past, present and future of the airport before the commencement of the tour (maybe in a special room?). This way, participants will be able to clearly visualize the tremendous change the airport has undergone (If you need help coming up with video, feel free to contact me..hahaha!). Last but not least, I was disappointed of not being able to actually enter a real aircraft. I’m positive that if the tour included an “inside the plane” session, it would have greatly enhanced the value of the tour (maybe even show the video inside a plane?). Perhaps the organizers can make use of any “retired” aircraft or those being parked in the hangar? Oh yaa…and maybe throw in a safety announcement dance by the flight attendants? *wink* Just my humble opinion J

Receiving my award for landing the plane safely! (Watch video for more information)

Us for one final photo infront of the exclusive Peugeot Lounge!
I was wondering what would be the most fitting way to end this blog entry about airports, planes and flying and the first things that popped into my mind was “aerophobia” – the fear of flying! Therefore, I would like to end with the following note to all my “aero phobic” friends J
Flying is actually one of the safer things we do probability-wise. I remember reading that the lifetime odds of dying in an air travel accident are 1-in-20,000 compared with 1-in-100 for an auto accident and 1-in-5 from heart disease (Yet again....it got me thinking that the 1-in-5 people that died from heart attack could be because they knew they plane is gonna crash!). Sooooooo.....….to support my point of flying being safe, I did some research and found out that the last time a plane crashed in Subang Airport was waaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy back on 19th February 1989! (Do your math and I’m sure you would agree more accidents would have occurred on the way to the airport within this period than on a plane!)
"Sooo…..whenever you feel like visiting a foreign country, forget your fears, save up some cash, gather your friends, pack your bags and book your flight tickets ! The chances of you forgetting to renew your passport are higher than you not reaching your destination in one piece!" Melvin Paul - 2013 
Here's an exclusive video for all my readers! Enjoyyyy!!!

The pictures that are used in this post are courtesy of Nigel Low, Bella, Dian and Lily. Thanks a bunch guys! :)

This picture aptly summarizes my blog about Subang Skypark!


10 comments:

  1. Haha nice very detailed :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Love your story-lah and Bella's photos are amazing. I like my pictures here. Hehe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yaaaayyy!!!! terima kasihhhhh!!!! ;)

      Delete
  3. Very interesting and good writing bro! Looking forward for more of your posts! =>

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks mate! Will post more soon...btw, u should try the simulator la...im sure you will enjoy "crashing" the plane! :)

      Delete
  4. Never know that the airport is such a great place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea! I also didnt know until last weekend....Do drop by and see for urself when u free la....and don't forget to try the simulators too :)

      Delete
  5. Wow.. So many detailed infos here.. Awesome! *thumbs up*
    Oh just remembered, who took our photo with the banner tu ya? (The one we look behind like the pilots tu)

    ReplyDelete
  6. bellaaa...mi photographer!! Thanks! Oh yeaaaa...I think it was Fie la..i pun tak ingat! :S That would have been a good photo to include in our blogs!

    ReplyDelete