As a kid, I used to hold Malaysia Airlines in high esteem and would feel proud whenever I get to fly on MAS. But those flights were limited only to short haul flights on their old regional workhorse, the 737-400 (back then, flying was really expensive!). My first redeye flight on MAS was on a 777-200ER to Melbourne in 2002. It was quite exciting going on a 777 back then, although the 2-5-2 arrangements in Economy wasn’t exactly my favorite (but hey, getting to travel on a plane back then was already a luxury). My first and only long haul flight with MAS was in 2007 to London and my experience on that flight was far from satisfactory. By then, MAS was a shadow of its former self and was nowhere near their glorious past. It took me another 6 years before I gave MAS a try again. The trip was on MH73 from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur on one of their brand new A380-800 followed by MH 609 back to Singapore on a 737-800.
Malaysia Airlines A380 is probably the only other A380 I have taken besides Singapore Airlines’. I was quite lucky to be able to try out MH 73 on A380 as this route was previously plied by the old 777-200ER (2 of which were tragically lost in 2014) and now by a 737-800. Malaysia Airlines had 6 of these super jumbos flying to Hong Kong, Paris and London. Sadly, MAS is phasing out these birds due to financial difficulties.
When I flew this in December 2013, MAS was just recently accepted into One World Alliance. Hence, MAS passengers had access to One World lounges in Hong Kong International Airport and what better than using Cathay Pacific’s lounge. MAS do not operate any Golden Lounge in Hong Kong; passengers are given access into Plaza Premium Lounge instead. With One World membership, these lounges are accessible in Hong Kong International Airport:
- Cathay Pacific Lounges (The Pier, The Wing, The Bridge and The Cabin)
- Qantas Business Class Lounge
- British Airway Business Class Lounge
We had been to Plaza Premium Lounge before by virtue of Priority Pass access in the past. It wasn’t a bad lounge for non-premium passengers. It was quite comfortable, with adequate selection of food and beverage (with a cooked-to-order noodle station). However, the lounge can get quite crowded and noisy.
We tried 2 lounges of Cathay Pacific (although I cannot recall which lounge I entered but I think one of it was The Wing). As Cathay Pacific had many lounges, each lounge was relatively empty with ample seating space. Food was pretty good with many choices of hot food. The lounge also had a cook-to-order noodle bar (with more choices than that in Plaza Premium Lounge). There were plenty of beverage choices, hot, cold and alcoholic (pardon me for the lack of details as this flight was more than 2 years ago).
*pictures consist of both The Pier and The Wing lounges
Date: 6 December 2013
Plane: Airbus A380-800 (unsure of built)
Photo taken: Nikon D5100
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
Malaysia Airlines A380 is configured similarly as Singapore Airlines’ with First Class occupying the front portion of the lower deck while Business Class occupies the upper deck (front 2/3rd of the cabin). Instead of 1-2-1, Malaysia Airlines uses a 2-2-2 configuration. The front cabin is smaller hence is preferable (as it only has 3 rows of seats). The business class seats had a very generous 74” pitch (as opposed to 55” on Singapore Airlines) but a narrower 22” width (vs. 30” on Singapore Airlines). However, the seat does not fell narrow at all. I could rest my arms comfortably on both sides of the armrest. The seat can be reclined down to a full 180 degree. The bed did not feel to comfortable when reclined totally flat (definitely not as comfortable as the classic pod I had on Air Canada on my recent trip). I felt rather sunken in. A slight increase in recline (or extra pillows) did the trick for me. Each seat came equipped with a 17” AVOD TV. The drawback of having a generous pitch is that the TV seemed small from the seat. Each seat came with a shoe storage space while those sitting at the window had an extra side storage space. The business class cabin had overhead bins above the window seats (Seats A and K) as well (a feature lacking in Singapore Airlines’ A380 Business Class).
After boarding, we were shown to our seats and not long after, pre-departure beverages were served. We had choices of juice but no alcohol was available on ground. Something unique to MAS was their pink guava juice. The crew did the aircraft safety demonstration during taxiing instead of having the safety demonstration on TV.
Shortly after take off, we were offered more beverages and some nuts. Not long after, preparation was made for lunch. The meal started off with the satay as canapés. Satay has been a feature unique to both MH and SQ. The satay I had on the flight was a little too dry. However, the peanut sauce was good. After satay, we had the appetizer followed by the main meal. Malaysia Airlines has Chef on Call option (similar to Book The Cook) which one can book the meal at least 24 hours before departure. Choices were more limited than that of Singapore Airlines’. I booked a Salmon and Halibut dish but my order was screwed up and I ended up with two Salmon. They were quite apologetic about it and they offered me an extra main dish on top of the salmon as compensation. I politely declined the offer as I was quite full from my eating in the lounge earlier. The meal ended with a dessert and cheese. During the flight, we were offered alcoholic beverages (and I had my champagne) that were not available on ground earlier.
The MH A380 has 2 forward lavatories and these 2 are the most spacious in the entire plane (SQ has only 1 forward lavatory). During the flight, the plane’s AVOD had problems and it had to be reset a few times. The in-flight entertainment of MAS is definitely not as extensive as that of Krisworld. Snacks and drinks were offered throughout the flight.
One aspect of the flight I enjoyed was the warmth and hospitality shown by the Malaysia Airlines crew. The crew I had on that flight was on par with what I had on Singapore Airlines (probably even better than what I had on my recent flights to and from USA on SQ First and Suites class).
Soon, we were arriving into Kuala Lumpur and we landed safely after an uneventful flight. We were scheduled on MH 609 to Singapore on a 737-800. Unfortunately the Golden Lounge in the Satellite building (International departure) was closed for renovation. We ended up using the regional lounge instead, which was extremely crowded as it was catering for passengers traveling on regional and long haul flights. Many flights were delayed that night (including my flight). The lounge was quite spacious but as there were too many people, we had a hard time looking for a place to seat. Eventually, we managed to find one. The food choices weren’t great and the quality was ok. Hot and cold beverages were available and so was alcohol. There was a massage corner but the prices were on the steep side. As the flight was delayed, I decided to take a shower. The shower room was a little dim and my shower room had a problem with the drainage as water was pooling on the floor.
Plane: Boeing 737-800 (unsure of built)
Photo taken: none
Duration: 50 minutes
Finally, it was our turn to fly and by then it was almost midnight (our flight was delayed by almost 2 hours). We flew back to Singapore on a 737-800. The business class cabin is configured in a 2-2 configuration using recliner seats offering 42” pitch and 21” width (much better than what I had on Delta and Air Canada Domestic First/Business class seats). Despite a short flight, we were still offered pre-departure drinks, a warm snack during flight and more drinks.
Compared to Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines’ Business Class lags behind in terms of hardware and catering. The service on MH73 that day however was on par with what I had on Singapore Airlines. It is sad indeed that Malaysia Airlines has now been reduced to a regional airlines status. At its peak, MAS flew to many European cities, Los Angeles, New York and even Beunos Aires!