Finding your way to Langkawi

BANGKOK, 5 April 2018: Malaysia’s Langkawi Island will welcome travel planners from around the world to the PATA Travel Mart this September.

Asia’s longest running travel trade mart brings together around 1,000 travel planners and suppliers for three days of networking and pre-arranged appointment sessions.

PATA shifts the mart around the Asia-Pacific region giving travel planners an opportunity to explore and check out a different host destination each year.

That’s good for Langkawi, where tourism officials are keen to raise the island’s profile and compete head-on with celebrity islands Bali and Phuket.

The mart runs from 12 to 14 September so TTR Weekly checked Langkawi-bound flight offers in five gateway cities in the region 10 through to 17 September.

The check suggests Langkawi needs more direct flights from gateway cities. We sourced fare options from Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta, New Delhi and Beijing.

Bangkok, a mega tourism gateway for travellers who intend to explore Southeast Asia, has an annual visitor count of more than 20 million visitors.  They spend time in the Thai capital before they head for beach or cultural destinations in Thailand and neighbouring countries including Malaysia.

There are no direct flights between Bangkok and Langkawi. A Google Flights search indicates Malaysia Airlines has the best offer in September at USD 212 roundtrip.

The flight departs 0600 from Bangkok and gets you on the island by 1255, the same day. Overall, flight time is five hours 55 minutes with a stop of two hours and 45 minutes in Kuala Lumpur for a change of plane.  But you are in transit with your onward boarding pass and bags checked through to Langkawi. That cuts out the need to check-in for the domestic sector in Malaysia and haul your bags to the drop counter in a busy terminal.

There is a better offer on Scoot at USD197 for a roundtrip fare, Bangkok-Langkawi, but don’t gloss over the small print on this deal. It has you twiddling your thumbs for a 16- hour, 20-minute ground stop in Singapore.

AirAsia’s flights don’t appear on the search. The group does not offer a check-through service on the Bangkok to Langkawi route so you have to book two separate flights and go through the check-in procedure and baggage drop twice on your journey in Bangkok and again in Kuala Lumpur. Not a very convenient option.

Malindo Air offers a fare of USD 232 on the Bangkok- Langkawi route departing 1150 from Don Mueang Airport with a stop and change of plane in Kuala Lumpur. Flight time is eight hours and five minutes including ground time of four hours and 45 minutes between flights. You arrive in Langkawi at 2055.Singapore
Fares from Singapore are better. AirAsia will get you to Langkawi for USD 82 return. The flight departs at 1055 and arrives at 1255. Travel time is one hour and 30 minutes on the direct flight. That is what travellers need in Bangkok a fast direct cheap flight to Langkawi.

Malaysia Airlines’ best offer is USD 120 on the route from Singapore. The flight departs 1055 and arrives in Langkawi at 1255. Flight time is three hours due to change of plane in Kuala Lumpur.

Out of Jakarta, Malaysia Airlines sells the lowest fare to Langkawi at USD 90 return for the four-hour and five-minute flight with a ground stop of one hour for a change of plane at Kuala Lumpur. The airline has two flights daily departing Jakarta  at 1110 and 1545 pegged at a fare of USD 90.

AirAsia’s best offer on the Jakarta-Langkawi route is USD 140 return. The flight departs Jakarta at 0835 and arrives on Langkawi island at 1505. Flight time is five hours and 30 minutes with a ground stop of two hours and 15 minutes in Kuala Lumpur for a change of plane.

Hong Kong
From Hong Kong, Scoot makes an appearance under ‘cheapest’, but the USD 191 return fare has a serious downside. You are going to take 19 hours and 30 minutes to get there and that includes a 14-hour and 5-minute stop in Singapore.  You arrive on Langkawi at 1720 on the following day.

Forget that horrendous experience, AsiaAsia comes to the rescue with a USD244 rountrip fare. It takes six hours and 40 minutes to complete the journey with a two-hour and 10-minute stop in Kuala Lumpur for a change of plane.

Malaysia Airlines accomplishes the same journey in six hours and 55 minutes with a two-hour, 10-minute stop in Kuala Lumpur for USD 263.

From Beijing, Malaysia Airlines offers the best deal at USD 369 return. The flight departs at 0130 and arrives on Langkawi island at 1040.

The trip end-to-end will take nine hours and 10 minutes with a one-hour and 55-minute stop in Kuala Lumpu for a change of plane.

There’s not much choice out of Beijing for through-flight bookings to Langkawi with or without stops on the way.

China Southern offers a fare of USD 373 roundtrip with a departure out of Beijing at 2130. The flight arrives in Langkawi  at 2359 on the following day.  End-to-end flight time is 26 hours and 29 minutes with an overnight stop at Guangzhou (CAN) of 19 hours and 15 minutes.

New Delhi
Travellers departing New Delhi have more choices for flights to Langkawi.

AirAsia X combines with AirAsia to offer a USD 266 roundtrip fare for a trip that will take eight hours and five minutes. The flight departs New Deli at 2310 and arrives in Langkawi at 0945 on the following morning. There is a one-hour and 35-minute stop in Kuala Lumpur for a change of plane.

Malaysia Airlines and Jet Airways combine to offer a flight to Langkawi with a USD 347 fare. The flight departs at 2300 and arrives on Langkawi at 1040 on the following morning. There is a one-hour and 35-minute ground stop in Kuala Lumpur to connect with the MH flight. The end-to-end trip takes nine hours and 10 minutes.

To round off the offers from New Delhi, Malindo Air sells a roundtrip fare for USD 380 departing at 2020 and arriving on the island at 0920 on the following morning. Flight time end-to-end is 10 hours and 30 minutes with a pit stop of three hours and 50 minutes in Kuala Lumpur to connect with the flight to Langkawi.

Not the easiest holiday island to connect with due to a lack of direct flights, but worth the trouble once you are there.

Langkawi Island deserves more attention from regional airlines. To lift its tourist appeal there should be more direct flights from all the major gateway airports in Asia.  AirAsia should offer check-through flight from Bangkok to give its loyal customers a chance to fly conveniently to Langkawi without double check-in and baggage loading.

The PATA Travel Mart offers travel planners an opportunity to explore this holiday island in more detail after the appointments are over.  However,  most travel mart buyers will see Langkawi through a window; the one on the bus and the other the ceiling to floor window of the posh convention centre. That’s the downside of travel marts; exploring the destination is shunted aside for immediate business opportunities. Buyers depart none the wiser, their experience limited to the confines of a 3m x 3m sales booth.

Langkawi certainly deserves the extra days to explore and experience its island culture rather than relying on virtual reality.

Langkawi, described as the ‘Isle of Legends’ and ‘Jewel of Kedah’, is one of the world’s great paradise island getaways. A magnet for international eco-tourism, Langkawi was designated a Global Geopark by UNESCO. It is home to numerous tourist attractions and luxury hotels, yet it also retains its ‘old Malaysia’ charm.

Langkawi is the main island in an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea situated off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Part of the Malaysian state of Kedah, it lies south of Thailand and east of Indonesian Sumatra.

PTM 2018 will take place at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC), the island’s largest convention venue.

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