Last updated: November 1, 2018 at 1:02 am
Cheap flights to Penang? You have come to the right place, as this Penang Airport Guide will tell you all you need to know on cheap air routes from Penang.
After Kuala Lumpur ’s KLIA, KLIA2 and Johor Bharu’s Senai, Penang Airport gets most of West Malaysia’s inbound traffic. It’s somehow a regional hub because it doesn’t get much international traffic from, for example, Europe, the USA or Australia. Indeed, there are no direct flights to Penang from London , or Manchester to Penang. One must stop-over in Kuala Lumpur.
But as of late, the situation has improved since Qatar Airways introduced a direct flight from Penang to Doha. From there, it’s easier to connect to Europe and other international destinations from Penang.
To avoid confusion, this post wants to highlight some of the cheapest flights from Penang Airport, reviewing available routes and giving suggestions to get the best deals and plan your trip.
Where is Penang Airport?
Penang Airport is in Bayan Lepas in the south-eastern corner of Penang. It is about 20km from George Town, and connected by the main coastal highway. It takes about 30 minutes by car and 45 minutes by bus to go from Penang Airport to George Town. Don’t underestimate Penang’s horrible traffic: in rush hour (7am-9am and 6pm-8pm) the after-work gridlock makes getting to Penang Airport a nightmare. Make sure you leave at least 3 hours before your flight, 4 if it’s an international flight.
Penang Airport Guide: Where you can Fly
Besides national MAS Airlines, Penang airport is a northwestern hub of low-cost giants AirAsia, Malindo, JetStar and FireFlyz (a low-cost subsidiary of MAS). Regular companies like Cathay Pacific and Qatar also use Penang Airport, which has some interesting regional connections to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Myanmar, and Singapore.
For other Asian countries and Australia, one has to fly — or travel by train/bus — to one of Kuala Lumpur’s two main International Airports, KLIA and KLIA2. Which brings us to explain:
Flights to Penang Airport from KL
These days, flying to capital Kuala Lumpur often comes cheaper than taking one of the new ETS Trains from Butterworth — Penang’s transport hub, right across the first bridge, in Seberang Perai.
Consider that Kuala Lumpur’s two airports have most of AirAsia international flights, but are also a good hour away from KL Sentral where the ETS train stops. It’s much faster to look for flights to/from Penang and Subang. Low-cost carriers Malindo and FireFlyz are the two companies with the bigger number of flights between Penang and Subang airports, closer to Kuala Lumpur city center.
Subang, a satellite city at the eastern edge of Kuala Lumpur’s metro area, has the capital’s second airport, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah — popularly called Subang airport. It is connected to KL Sentral by frequent taxi services or by bus.
Rapid KL Bus U81 stops nearby Subang airport’s arrival gates: walk outside, take a right and proceed until you see the bus stand on your right. In regular traffic conditions, it should take you about 25/40 minutes to reach downtown KL.
You should always take Grab in Penang and Malaysia, but if you really want to take taxis, use the pre-paid coupons sold inside the airport to avoid being overcharged.
Useful Direct International Flights from Penang Airport
One doesn’t necessarily have to go to Kuala Lumpur, as there are several direct flights from Penang Airport to some useful international destinations. Mostly in Southeast Asia, but also farther away, thanks to the introduction of Qatar Airways direct flight from Penang to Doha.
Direct Connections from Penang Airport to other cities in Malaysia
Besides Kuala Lumpur, Penang Airport is well connected to other major cities in both Peninsular and East Malaysia.
AirAsia offers direct flights to Johor Bahru, right across the causeway from Singapore, Langkawi island, and Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia. When booked in advance, these flights are among the cheapest you can find — crossing the South China Sea to Kuching for RM99 or less is quite a steal.
Kota Bharu and Melaka are served by FireFlyz and Malindo Air, cutting travel time from a 6/7 hours drive to about an hour.
Few Tips to Navigate Penang Airport
Penang Airport is on two levels: departures are on the first floor and arrivals at the ground floor. Once landing, and after having passed immigration procedures when arriving from a foreign country, you will follow the other passengers into the only arrival/departure gates to clear immigration formalities and then proceed downstairs via a set of moving escalators. If you don’t need to collect any baggage, you will walk out of arrivals through the customs’ green lane — no need to worry unless you are carrying any prohibited items.
The check-in desks are on the top floor, to the right side of the departure hall. If on one hand the desks of MAS, Malindo, Scoot and JetStar are never too busy, it’s wise to arrive well in advance for any AirAsia flights. The company serves many routes from Penang Airport, and there are often long queues when one needs to check in luggage.
If you have no luggage to drop and have already checked-in online — you can do that up to a few hours before your departure — you can just walk to the center of the departure hall if flying abroad, or to the left to catch domestic flights. Show your boarding pass and off you go.
If you haven’t checked in before arriving, Penang airport is one of the few in Malaysia where you can find machines that can print your boarding pass. This works best for AirAsia flights. Bring your reservation number, or visit the AirAsia website, go to the check-in section, and ask for the code you need to scan at these machines and get your boarding passes.
Penang Airport Food and Shopping
To be honest, Penang Airport doesn’t have a lot of eating options, and most are, as usual, at the inflated prices of airports all around the world. On the departure hall at Level 2, there are Mc Donalds and KFC outlets, and on the right side of the hall, you can find Old Town Cafe. There are also outlets of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks Cafe. But the cheapest restaurants are in the arrival hall: there is a nasi kandar spot, and a couple other small restaurants.
There is also a cigar lounge on Level 2, but most of the shopping outlets are after the police check or immigration desks, right before the Penang Airport gates.
Cheapest Ways to Get from Penang Airport to George Town
Penang Airport is among the best connected Malaysian airports, and getting to and from by public transportation is a breeze. From George Town, buses 401 and 401E depart from the main city bus station near the KOMTAR tower complex. They cost RM2.70 and reach the airport in about 45 minutes. Time your connections wisely, leaving at least 3 hours before your flight’s departure.
From Penang Airport, just walk outside the arrival gates, cross the car lane and walk to the left side where a path takes you to the bus stand. Make sure that the bus you are taking is headed towards Sungai Nibong – George Town, as there are other buses coming from the city which stop at Penang Airport, but continue south to Balik Pulau.
Rapid Penang Bus services are a great way to reach the city on the cheap — just consider they run from about 6 am to 11 pm.
By Private Car
Outside working hours, your best bet to travel from Penang Airport to George Town is by using Grab Car. We have explained why Grab is better than taxis in Penang, but we will state it again: it offers the most comfortable, quick and cheap rides between George Town and Penang airport. Try to avoid taking taxis if at all possible, unless you purchase a fixed price coupon from the booth right outside Penang International Airport’s arrivals — careful, as otherwise, you may risk being overcharged.
Have a good flight to or from Penang Airport!
Disclaimer: Flight routes and schedules to/from Penang Airport are constantly subjected to change. We are doing our best to keep this page as updated as possible, but forgive us if any of the information above has become obsolete since the publication of this post.
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