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On a recent return trip between Subang Skypark and Penang, we flew both ways on Firefly ATR 72-500 aircraft, a handy little commuter plane which makes the one hour hop at between 13 and 15,000 ft. It’s a good way to do some sightseeing if you have a clear day as you’re low enough to recognise landmarks.

Our flight from Subang to Penang was on one of the older planes which went into service in August 2008 and while still quite comfortable, there were a few creaks and squeaks as we landed. Our return flight, also on an ATR 72-500 was more comfortable, though the only difference appeared to be that the interior of the aircraft appeared newer, although it entered service in October 2011.

The first of five ATR 72-600 aircraft joined the earlier 12 units of ATR 72-500s in Jul 2013 with the latest arriving in Mar 2015. The airline now flies a total of 17 ATR 500/600 aircraft types, with 2 more on order.

The seat

The leather seats are arranged in 18 rows of two pairs either side of the central aisle. With a width of 17″ between armrests (19′ across the front of the seat itself) you have a pretty standard sized seat. The pitch of 29″ is a little tight space-wise, although for the short journey it was acceptable.

The seats were firm and in both aircraft reviewed, they were clean and in good condition. If the seat is reclined, the passenger behind will have their space reduced further.


Legroom is a fairly tight 9″ which for an average sized person is acceptable, but if you have longer legs it might be a problem. However, with no entertainment display screen and thus no entertainment box, you should be able to stretch your feet under the seat in front.


The tray table is a non-fold table which can accommodate a laptop or a snack quite comfortably and is placed high enough that passengers have a reasonable amount of room below the table.


On flights of an hour or more, you will be offered a cold drink (juice/soya bean etc) and either a cake/muffin/pastry or a packet of nuts.

The Best Seat

All window seats have an unobstructed view as the wings are placed above the windows which means you don’t have to consider a large group of seats as unavailable if you want to see where you’re going.

As you board and exit via one rear door, there are a number of ‘preferred seats’ to the rear of the aircraft, which is obviously useful if you want to get out quickly at your destination.

Other than that, we have found that seats in Row 9 are somewhat noisier than those in other rows because of proximity to the engines. If you are a photographer, you may like to avoid the rows between 8 – 12, because you’ll get either propellers or exhaust affecting the quality of your shots.


For a short commuter hop, we very much enjoy travelling in this aircraft. The airline Firefly too, makes it work well by ensuring that passengers and baggage are loaded as soon as they are ready. As both the airports do not have a high traffic load, this means that they can take off before schedule.

** Please note: Since 1st June 2016, Firefly has reduced the included checked baggage to 15kg per passenger. This has been further reduced and is (at April 2024) 10kg per passenger. Passengers travelling on the same booking are allowed to combine their baggage allowance.

Travel by Economy Traveller was self-funded.

Lesley loves photography, budget travel and getting value for money, visiting places on and off the beaten track.

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