Had to go to Kuala Lumpur (KL) for a few days last week. Instead of flying I decided to take the bus for the first time. Since there are many choices available I thought I’d better do due diligence by checking reviews online. Not surprisingly most bus companies have had their fair share of bad reviews. Then I remembered reading about Aeroline some time ago, um in fact a long long time ago, that prides itself as a bus service that is as close to flying to KL as you can get. This premium service costs more – SGD50 compared to some as low as SGD25. But there is a pleasant surprise. More on that later.
Before committing I googled and found a few travel blogs and forums giving them the thumbs up. So the decision is made – ‘fly’ Aeroline it is 🙂
Launched in 2004, Aeroline positioned itself as a First Class coach service using “Fly from the city!”as their tagline. Just like the popular B747 jumbo jet of that era, it is a double-deck transporter. On the upper deck the 30-seater coach boasts reclining chairs, ‘inflight’ entertainment, ‘inflight’ meals and even a ‘flight’ attendant. Other amenities include power socket at every seat row, a lounge in the lower deck, and a toilet.
Booking Aeroline Online
I made my booking online. The website looks dated. It probably hasn’t been updated since launch more than a decade ago and is more suited for viewing on a 800 x 600 resolution screen 🙁
I reckon it was designed for those who are familiar with KL or those who use their website regularly.
Booking requires a signup. The next step brought me to a dropdown menu listing SIN-BU, SIN-KUL, and SIN-SWY. Prior to this I had booked One World Hotel located next to 1Utama Shopping Mall which is one of Aeroline’s destinations.
Since I was planning to go to KL, I instinctively selected SIN-KUL from the dropdown menu which is what I would do if I were booking a flight ticket. Fortunately I found out later after receiving the confirmation that I had made the wrong selection. I should have selected SIN-BU instead, which stands for Bandar Utama. So I called support and they helped me change the route to SIN-BU.
For the uninitiated like me here are what the route selections stand for:
- SIN-BU is SIN to Bandar Utama (where 1Utama Shopping Mall is located).
- SIN-KUL is SIN to Corus Hotel (Jalan Ampang) near KL City Centre (KLCC)
- SIN-SWY is SIN to Sunway Pyramid (Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya)
The bus departs Singapore from Harbourfront Centre (Address: #02-52, 1 Maritime Square). Go to the office on the 2nd floor 30 mins before departure to change the reservation PIN to a physical ticket. There are different departure times for the 3 routes.
Another surprise came during checkout. Payment is in MYR and let’s just say the exchange rate the website uses is extremely favourable. Which doesn’t happen too often I must say.
Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (Bandar Utama)
The bus from Singapore to Bandar Utama (regn no WUU 8885) arrived at 8.45 am. “Boarding” was fast and departed on time at 9am. It was a Sunday. Bus was less than half full. And being Sunday immigration on both sides were a breeze. Even then the journey took almost 6 hours. We arrived at 1Utama at 2.50pm. The ‘flight’ was smooth and the ‘pilot’ kept to allowable speed limits.
Service and Facilities
The huge double decker bus (WUU 8885) has probably seen better days. It was old. I was seated at row 8. Leather seats and arm-rests showed advanced signs of aging. This could be one of their older buses. Row 8 is probably just above the engine bay so I could feel quite a bit of engine vibration and sound.
There are quite many channels of on-demand movies ranging from Western, Kids, Asian and even Korean titles; and music of various genres. Enough to keep you entertained for the few hours on board. Headsets are provided and the sound is quite decent. I brought my own earphones which I’m more comfortable with. There is a power point near the legrest for charging the phone.
One meal is provided. I made a request during booking to have a vegetarian meal. It was served Bento style with a hot drink. Bottled water is also provided. The meal and coffee wasn’t great but I wasn’t expecting much either. Better to have something to eat and drink than starve for 6 hours.
On the return trip the bus (Regn: WWV 8895) is newer and visibly cleaner. I chose the front row (Seat 1) which has less engine vibration thus quieter and a little more legroom. However it can be too bright. Front shades are provided but do not cover the entire windscreen. Not ideal if you want to catch a nap along the way. Meal was a Subway sandwich.
On the whole it was a pleasant ‘flight’ albeit with aging ‘planes’. Like an airline, the counter staff, ‘flight’ attendant and driver wore smart uniforms. They were courteous and spoke good English. Announcements on the PA system informing passengers about customs regulations were clear and concise. Good service overall.