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Driving VS Flying: Which Is Safer For Domestic Travel In Malaysia?


Cheng Sim •  Jun 29, 2020


Whether you're planning a solo trip or family vacay in Malaysia, you might be wondering if it's safer to drive or fly during the pandemic. Besides weighing down the cost of both travel options, there are other factors to consider such as time, hygiene and flexibility. To help you decide, let's discuss and decide which option is best and safer for your next trip.
1. Costs
  • Pros: Driving is cheaper because you don't have to pay extra for luggage, seating preference, in-flight meals, a Grab ride to the airport, and more.
  • If you're travelling with your family, you can bring up to 4-6 passengers in your car, depending on your vehicle type.
  • If you're travelling in a group, you can split the cost between your friends.
  • You'll also spend mainly on petrol, toll fare and food.
2. Time
  • Pros: Driving allows you to decide how early or late you want to leave from your departure point.
  • You don't need to arrive early to catch your flight, which can be tiring if you have an early morning or a red-eye flight.
  • Cons: Driving is time-consuming and that includes the breaks you need to take in between.
  • From Kuala Lumpur to Penang, it's a 3.5-hour drive, but it only takes 55 minutes by flight
  • Let's not forget that Malaysia is notorious for its peak-hour traffic, especially during the weekends and public holidays
3. Hygiene
  • Pros: You're in control of the cleanliness of your vehicle, from disinfecting your car to wiping down the key touchpoints
  • You can choose your road trip partner and check if they're in good health to travel with you
  • Cons: You can still be infected by germs and viruses during your toilet breaks, while pumping gas at the petrol station or having a meal at the rest stops
  • When travelling in a group, you can't be absolutely sure that your road trip partners practice social distancing or good hand hygiene when they're out and about
  • Since there are cases of asymptomatic transmission, you won't be able to tell with absolute certainty if you or your partners are infected with COVID-19
  • #HHWT Tip: Check out these hygiene tips to safe during your road trip!
Note: This photo was taken before the pandemic and we recommend wearing a face mask when you're dining out4. Food and other facilities
  • Pros: Since there are many rest stops along the highway, known as R&R (Rest and Relaxation) in Malaysia, rest assured that there's always something to eat.
  • Each R&R also has a surau, an indoor playground, washrooms, and a seating area.
  • Cons: Social distancing might be hard to practice when the R&R is crowded.
  • You need to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene when you're dining at R&R.
  • When performing prayers in the surau, bring your own prayer garment and mat for hygiene purposes.
5. Flexibility
  • Pros: You decide where to go, what time to depart, and where to stop for lunch
  • Since you have full reign, you can depart early to avoid the peak-hour traffic or save money by packing your own food
  • You can also squeeze in an additional city during your trip. Like this 4D3N Ipoh and Penang road trip itinerary!
1. Costs
  • Cons: Flight tickets are expensive now
  • The airlines in Malaysia are doing all they can to recover the losses from the pandemic
  • You need to pay extra for luggage, seating preference, in-flight meals, a Grab ride to the airport, and more.
  • When you arrive at the destination, you'll also pay more for car rental or Grab rides around town
2. Time
  • Pros: You'll arrive at your destination faster than a road trip can
  • From Penang to Johor Bahru, it's only a one-hour flight. If you're planning to drive, it'll take 7 hours.
  • Cons: You need to arrive at the airport four hours before your departure time due to temperature checks
  • Imagine arriving at the airport at 3 AM to catch your flight at 7 AM
Note: This photo was taken before the pandemic and we recommend wearing a face mask during your flight3. Hygiene
  • Pros: Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia are stepping up their hygiene efforts to ensure that passengers can travel safely during the pandemic.
  • All modern airlines have cable filtration system equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that trap 99.97% of dust particles and microscopic particles such as bacteria and viruses in the air.
  • Malaysia Airlines ensures that the cabins are cleaned and disinfected using aircraft-manufacturer approved disinfectant
  • AirAsia ensures that their aircraft undergo a 2-hour disinfection process using cleaning agents approved by the Public Health Authority and the aircraft manufacturer
  • Cons: Unless you pay extra for your preferred seat or travel with your family, you can't choose your seatmates if you're travelling solo
  • If you're extra cautious about flying, you might need to take an extra step to disinfect the tray tables, seat pockets, armrest and other key touchpoints
  • Social distancing is tricky in an enclosed space, especially when airlines in Malaysia are now allowed to operate at full capacity, starting 11 June 2020
  • #HHWT Tip: Check out these hygiene tips to stay safe during your flight!
4. Food and other facilities
  • Pros: In-flight meals are still available, so you don't have to worry when mealtime comes
  • Malaysia Airlines will serve personal meal boxes and packaged drinks. Single-use cutleries and towels will still be provided.
  • AirAsia requires passengers to book their meals at least 24 hours before departure and all meals will be packed based on strict hygiene standards.
  • Cons: To limit contact between passengers and flight crew, most airlines have suspended their in-flight meal service and encouraged passengers to book their meals in advance.
  • In-flight meals are expensive and the food options are limited
5. Flexibility
  • Pros: You can travel conveniently, especially from the Peninsular to Sabah and Sarawak (and vice versa)
  • The airlines in Malaysia offer flexible date change and credit refunds in the event of flight cancellation
  • Cons: Flight schedules are fixed and the available timing is dependent on flight frequency.
Final verdict
  • Driving is more economical and safer than flying during the pandemic
  • However, as we look forward to cheaper airfare in the coming months, flying remains a good option as it cuts our travel time in half and increases our opportunities to travel to Sabah and Sarawak
If you're deciding whether to drive or fly during the pandemic, we hope you've found an option that is suitable for your current travel needs. For more articles on road trips, check out these recommended reads below!