A number of executive express coaches, many utilising double-decker coaches, are already plying the highly-competitive Singapore to Kuala Lumpur route. One of the pioneers of such a service is Aeroline, a Malaysian-based company that runs daily executive-class shuttles between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This will be my second such trip on Aeroline.
Aeroline is operated by the parent company, Zulco Express Sendirian Berhad, a prominent player in the interstate coach express industry in Malaysia. Besides Singapore, Aeroline also operates services to Penang in the North, as well as Petaling Jaya, Bandar Utama and Bandar Sunway in the Klang Valley. It recently introduced daily services between Mines Resort City in Selangor and Singapore.
The terminating point in downtown Kuala Lumpur is just a stone’s throw away from the capital’s prominent landmark, KLCC. Conveniently located at the 4-star Corus Hotel, it is just a 5 minutes walk from the Petronas Twin Towers. The ticketing desk can be found near the entrance to the hotel’s reception. In Singapore, the buses will call at Harbourfront Centre. It was moved to the current location from Waterfront Plaza in 2006. Tickets for adults on a one-way trip Singapore-KL costs SGD49, whereas the same ticket KL-Singapore costs RM90. Aeroline has made it more convenient for all passengers with the online ticketing service on its website.
Aeroline operates a mixed fleet of dual- and tri-axle double-decker coaches from Bee Hing Coachworks and sksBus Coachworks. They are operated on the busier routes with the single-deckers plying the thinner routes. Food and beverage are served onboard by the coach attendant. No personal TV screens are provided, but passengers will be entertained with movies shown on the 19-inch LCD screen placed at the front of the bus. Aeroline also introduced a multi-channel audio entertainment system, where passengers will be able to listen to songs played on four different channels. Known as the Aeroline Airwaves, the fifth channel on the audio system is linked to the movies being played. All coaches are configured in the ‘2+1’ seating arrangement. A typical double-decker seats as many as 30 passengers, all on the upper saloon. A lounge for 6 people is located at the lower saloon.
I bought a ticket over-the-counter in KL on the 4.30pm trip to Singapore. Aeroline operates as many as 10 daily shuttles between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I was informed by the ticketing officer that only instant noodles will be served because I had made a last minute booking. For passengers who have made an advanced booking, they will be served with hot meals, such as sandwiches or Chicken Curry Rice. I was advised to board the bus 15 minutes prior to departure.
At the boarding area, WMC8860 have already pulled up, waiting for its passengers to Singapore. WMC8860 (fleet #60) is a Scania K124IB 4×2 with a horsepower rating of 360bhp. It is a second-generation double-decker coach manufactured by sksbus Coachbuilders. There was around 15 passengers onboard the spanking clean coach, including myself. I was seated at the single seat on row 8, which I found myself to be quite uncomfortable, so I requested to change to a seat behind, on row 9. The request was promptly entertained by Haris, the cabin crew for the trip.
Each seat is equipped with a headphone jack, an electrical plug as well as a small pillow. The leather seats were manufactured by APM, a Malaysian-based company which also provides the cool interior air-conditioning system. The seats however are not integrated with a massaging function. Reading lights are also available, located above each seat.
A bottle of in-house branded mineral water was handed to each passenger at the beginning of the journey. It was followed by the issuance of headphones to all passengers. The bus made its way through the Maju Expressway, avoiding the congestion in the city centre, before heading south towards the North-South Highway. The meal was served just after the Sungai Besi Toll Plaza, some 30 minutes into the journey. Passengers may also choose tea, coffee or Milo to go with their meal. For myself, I ordered a cup of hot Milo. All these were served when the bus was stationary, which I liked since the thought of spilling anything on to my shirt is almost zero.
The traffic was very smooth since the start of the journey. This allows the captain to drive the bus at a fast but consistent speed. As soon as darkness began, the captain can be felt driving the bus at a more modest speed. Three movies were shown on the screen, The Waterboy followed by AVP: Alien vs. Predator and The Marine. I did not try out the audio entertainment system but judging by the other passengers who tried the system, it must have been good. I kept myself busy writing this report onboard the bus. The electrical socket helped keep my laptop charged throughout the journey.
The bus did not make any stops or breaks ever since it left Kuala Lumpur. However, shortly before arriving at the Sultan Abu Bakar Immigration Complex, the bus made a 15 minute break at the Gelang Patah Rest & Service Area. It was raining then and it’s interesting to note that the cabin crew ensured that every passenger was brought back to the coach with an umbrella.
After clearing both the Malaysia and Singapore immigration checkpoints, the bus made its way along the Ayer Rajah Expressway to Harbourfront Centre, where the terminating point is. I had the opportunity to take a picture with the excellent crew of the bus upon arrival at around 9.45pm, and conveyed my thanks and gratitude to them for a service well-done.
I’m awarding 4.5 stars to Aeroline for their impeccable, efficient and excellent service! They are certainly ‘A Convenient Way To Fly’.