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Is It Worth It To Fly From JB Senai Airport? Breaking Down Cost, Flight Options & Accessibility

Johor Bahru Senai International Airport – Is it a cheaper alternative to SG?

It’s barely 3 months into the year, and given the relentless KPIs and deadlines to chase, it’s hardly surprising that many of us crave a short break. If you’ve already checked out all the usual suspects in Malaysia, you’ll be glad to know that JB Senai Airport offers direct flights to lesser-known destinations for some new adventures.

You can explore Alor Setar in Kedah, famed for its crystals, or Sibu in Sarawak, where you can learn more about the Iban people’s eerie headhunting past. Those looking for Malaysian diving spots can head to Tawau, while Kota Bharu is home to limestone caves.

Where is JB Senai Airport & how to get there?

JB Senai Airport is a 45-minute drive from Woodlands Checkpoint, and about a 15-minute drive from Johor Premium Outlets and AEON Mall Kulai.

Image credit: @senaiairport_jhb via Instagram

Getting to this airport is convenient even via public transport since Causeway Link has an express bus from JB Sentral to Senai Airport. Departing once every hour, the service runs from 9am-8.30pm daily and costs RM8 (~S$2.27) one way.

But if your idea of a holiday is starting on a more comfortable note, you can also take a Grab in from JB City Square or Komtar JBCC. Cross-border taxi services like SGMYTAXI also offer door-to-door pick up services from your home to Senai Airport from S$100.

What airlines fly to Senai Airport?

Most airlines that fly into and out of Senai Airport are low-cost carriers. These include the likes of AirAsia, TransNusa, and Firefly. That said, full-service airlines Malaysian Airlines and Batik Air also offer flights to KL from Senai.

Image credit: @senaiairport_jhb via Instagram

It may seem like JB Senai Airport only operates domestically but, no, it is an international airport with flights going out of Malaysia too.

Airlines Domestic destinations International destinations
Malaysia Airlines KL, Kuching
AirAsia KL, Penang, Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Langkawi, Ipoh, Alor Setar, Bintulu, Kota Bharu Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, Jakarta, Surabaya, Guangzhou
Firefly Subang, Penang
Batik Air Subang
TransNusa Jakarta

Are flights from JB Senai Airport cheaper?

Given JB’s penchant for being more affordable than Singapore, we endeavoured to see if prices for flights from Senai Airport were cheaper than those departing from Changi Airport. After finding that November was the cheapest month to fly, we compared flights from AirAsia across the week of 12th-19th November.

*Note: Prices are accurate at the time of publishing.

International flights

Destination Prices departing from Changi*  Prices departing from Senai* 
Bangkok From S$156 From S$261
Ho Chi Minh From S$161 From S$133
Guangzhou From S$258 From S$253
Jakarta From S$119 From S$91
Surabaya From S$159 From S$98

As you can see, not all flights to popular destinations near Singapore are cheaper from JB. In fact, the airfare for Bangkok is a lot more expensive, and the rest are comparable. This brings us to the conclusion that we might as well fly to these cities from Changi Airport, saving us the hassle of travelling to JB without the benefit of significant cost savings.

Domestic flights

Destination Prices departing from Changi* Prices departing from Senai* 
KL From S$105 From S$42
Ipoh From S$158 From S$100
Penang From S$103 From S$74
Langkawi From S$132 From S$104
Kuching From S$121 From S$120
Kota Kinabalu From S$134 From S$154
Miri From S$263 From S$123

In sharp contrast to international flights, domestic flights to popular destinations such as KL, Langkawi, and Penang can be bought at a fraction of the cost of those departing from Singapore.

So, if you’re looking to explore Malaysia without a car and save time with flights, then this is a viable option. Not only are the domestic flights reasonably priced, they give travellers access to lesser-known towns in the country.

Direct flights from Senai Airport to lesser-known spots in Malaysia

Besides popular destinations such as Penang and Miri, JB Senai Airport also has direct flights to quite a few far-flung spots in Malaysia.

Getting to some of these places would normally take more than 10 hours of continuous driving or more than a day via buses and trains. Others will require an aeroplane ride anyway.

1. Tawau

Dive haven with an underwater post office

Image credit: @roznee via Instagram

Those drawn to the deep blue will be glad to know that the crystal clear waters of Tawau in Sabah are a mere 2.5-hour flight away from JB. The coastal town is close to the Bruneiean border and its surrounding waters are home to creatures such as massive schools of parrotfish and barracuda swimming around colourful coral reefs.

One such reef is the Mataking 1, an old cargo ship which was purposely sunk to become an artificial reef. Besides being home to many colourful fish, the wreck site also houses an underwater postbox. But lest you assume the mailbox is for funsies, we’ll have you know that the mail here is collected twice a week, before being distributed to its intended residents.

If you’d like to be a part of this unique experience, all you have to do is buy a postcard while ashore, before sealing it in a waterproof bag and dropping it off, much like how you’d post a letter on land.

Getting there: Take a 2 hour and 35 minutes flight from JB that departs every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

2. Alor Setar

Instagrammable cafes, Fengshui Mountain & paddy field museum

The Paddy Museum has a panoramic mural of the town below.
Image credit: @adriana550714 via Instagram

Whether you’re looking for some good juju this year, or just want to soak in the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, pop by Gunung Keriang. Located 8km outside Alor Setar in Kedah, the 218m hill is well known for its natural crystals, some of which are 250 million years old.

But if scaling mountains isn’t your idea of fun, you’ll be glad to know that the Paddy Museum is also an interesting option featuring exhibits detailing the cultivation of rice in Malaysia, particularly in Kedah.

Image credit: @caffe_diem via Instagram

The city also plays host to a number of Instagrammable cafes. Those looking for a cup of joe to wash down their meal can head over to the Caffe Diem, while vegans and vegetarians alike will enjoy the wide spread available at the Art Nature Gallery Cafe.

Getting there: Take a 1 hour and 20 minutes flight from JB that departs every Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.

3. Kota Bharu

Jungle railroad, cave explorations & pristine beaches

Some have likened Senok Beach to South Korea’s Nami Island.
Image credit: @wandeewonder via Instagram

If sun, sand and sea’s your kinda vibe, consider visiting Kota Bharu in Kelantan for your next getaway. It’s home to some of the best beaches in Malaysia, such as Senok Beach, which the locals have nicknamed Malaysia’s very own Nami Island.

The picturesque Perhentian Islands are a mere 30-minute ferry ride away too, and its pristine white beaches are known turtle hatching spots.

Image credit: @nor_wink_wink via Instagram

Alternatively, intrepid explorers finding the Marsiling Tunnels easy-peasy can pop by Gua Ikan. A 3-hour train ride away via the Jungle Railway, the limestone cave dates back 150 million years, and is part of a larger cave complex running through the nearby Gunung Stong State Park. Just make sure to avoid the monsoon season.

Getting there: Take a 1 hour and 15 minutes flight from JB that departs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

4. Sibu

Nature reserves & cultural museums

Image credit: @siburivercruise via Instagram

With its nature reserves and museums, there’s plenty to do in Sibu, a Sarawakian city located on Borneo Island. Those wanting to learn more about the Iban people and their headhunting past can visit the Sibu Civic Centre Museum, while the Kuji Waterfall and Forestry Recreation Park will no doubt appeal to nature lovers.

When you’re done for the day, chase the sunset on the Rajang River Cruise, which sails down the longest river in Malaysia.

From May, Scoot will be launching a direct service from Singapore to Sibu, but for now, this is a good alternative.

Getting there: Take a 1 hour and 40 minutes flight from JB that departs every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Things to know when flying from JB Senai Airport

Check-in process

Much like Changi Airport, the check-in counters here close 45 minutes to an hour before departure. That said, given the notorious jams along the Causeway, you might want to figure out the best time to head to JB before your flight.


Upon arrival at the airport, getting to the check-in area is relatively simple, given the terminal’s small size. All you have to do is head toward the Departure Hall signage located next to the Pizza Hut, before heading straight and making a left at the Johorock gift store.

Following that, walk to the end of the hall, before making a right just before Marrybrown. Do note that your baggage has to be scanned before you’re allowed to check in.

After exiting the check-in area, head in the direction of Gong Cha. It’s hard to miss the Immigration area, given the barricades set up outside. Once you’ve cleared customs, head up the escalator towards the gate area.

Those boarding international flights can make a left after the duty-free store towards Gate G1, which services overseas destinations. Otherwise, head right towards the domestic gates.


Image adapted from: @marioreza717, @tiiaa_karuniarz via Instagram

The public area before clearing immigration has plenty of food options, ranging from sit-down restaurants like Chutneys & Chai and Old Town White Coffee to fast food like KFC and Pizza Hut. There’s also a Starbucks with outdoor seating for your pre-flight coffee fix.

Grab some nibbles at the likes of Famous Amos, Rotiboy, or Lulala. The latter stocks a wide variety of snacks making it a go-to if you’re looking for some sweets to suck on to equalise the air pressure in your ears during take-off or landing.

Image adapted from: @chowaiteen via Instagram

Those who’ve forgotten to pack travel essentials like your shades or travel pillow can head over to the myriad of retail stores here. If you’d like to snag some travel-sized toiletries, head over to Guardian, which is located opposite Pizza Hut. Otherwise, the Johorock gift shop is also a great option, given that it stocks the likes of slides, caps, and pillows.

If you can feel your tummy rumbling after you’ve crossed immigration, you’re outta luck. The only option is a lone Burger King outlet in the waiting area. Unless you’re flying on a full-service carrier, or are prepared to pay through your nose for a hot meal aboard a budget airline, it might be wiser to head down earlier and grab a bite before checking in.

Is it worth it to fly from JB Senai Airport?

Much like the Cheshire cat’s reply to Alice In Wonderland, it all depends on where you want to go. But before you lambast us for having such an anticlimactic answer to the million dollar question, we shall point out that Senai Airport’s exclusive destinations within Malaysia and cheap domestic flights prove tough to beat.

That said, if you’re heading further abroad, or simply prefer convenience, it’s hard to go wrong with good ol’ Changi, especially since more than 100 airlines serve nearly 500 cities from here.

For more JB related content:

Cover image adapted from: @senaiairport_jhb, @huienlow via Instagram