I recently concluded my short Seoul getaway. I bought the tickets in September when MAS had a promotion at $1068 (incl. tax) for Business Class (which was a great price). During the October promotion, the price went down further to $1018, otherwise the normal price was about $1900-2000. 2016 is the year MAS introduced the new J seats progressively and I managed to catch the new seats just in time as the changeover for Seoul happened on 31 October.
Despite the excellent price, there were a few disadvantages of this flight. Firstly, the KUL transit. This can be mitigated either by taking an 830pm flight to KUL (leaving just slightly less than 2 hours of transit time) or one can opt for a morning flight and spend half a day in Kuala Lumpur instead. The flight time between Kuala Lumpur and Seoul is about 6.5 hours, leaving you barely any time for nap (especially with the meal service factored in). Lastly, the return flight from Seoul is 11am, hence one full day is wasted. If you are willing to compromise on these, MH J at this price is definitely a steal!
As MAS no longer operates a Golden Lounge in Changi Terminal 2, lounge service is provided by SATS Premier Lounge. For those with time, I would suggest hopping over to Terminal 1 and use either Qantas Business Lounge, or British Airways Executive Lounge. For this trip, I opted for Qantas Business Lounge.
1) MH 616 (SIN-KUL)
Date: 10 November 2016
Seats: 1C, 2A, 2C
Plane: Boeing 737-800 (9M-MSF)
I have written few times about the MAS’ 737-800 (Business and Economy class). These birds are the mainstay for ASEAN and regional flights up to HKG and TPE. There are 2 versions of these birds, first being those with in seat IFE while another has no IFE. 9M-MSF being one of the newer planes (at 3 years old) has an in seat IFE.
Pre-departure drinks were served to Business Class passengers while Economy Class passengers were boarding. Choices were limited to juices (Apple, Orange and the signature Pink Guava) as alcohols were no longer available for short haul flights. Surprisingly, the flight was full in J, all 16 seats were occupied.
Right after take-off, beverages were served and food was served despite this being a short 45 minutes flight. This time, we had satay and I would rate the satay better than SQ’s (it was juicier and tender). This is served with the usual condiments of cucumber and onion with sides of rice cake (ketupat).
The flight got a little bumpy as we approached KLIA but it was otherwise uneventful. After disembarking, we proceeded to KLIA’s Golden Lounge in the Satellite Terminal. I had done a short review on the Regional Lounge in the Main Terminal hence I decided to skip this lounge. A separate review of the Golden Lounge will be available here.
There was no priority security check at the gate for Business/First class passengers, hence we had to queue with everyone else. We got to the waiting lounge just in time for boarding. We immediately boarded the plane so that I can snap some pictures of the cabin before everyone else boards. The new J cabin comprises 27 lie-flat seats (vs 42 angled seats from the previous cabin) in a staggered 1-2-1/1-2-2 configuration. The most popular seats will be 1K, 4K and 6K (the throne seat) for its privacy and its storage space while seats 2, 5, 7 H & K will be the least popular as it does not offer direct aisle access.
2) MH66 (KUL-ICN)
Date: 10 November 2016
Seats: 6D, 6G, 6K
Plane: Airbus A330-300 (9M-MTG)
We were offered pre-departure beverage but unlike the previous flight, we had alcohol for this flight. The cabin was quite full at 25/27 occupancy rate, hence the crew were pretty stretched. Despite the load, the crew had been all smiles and had been helpful throughout.
The new seats have a width of 20” with a pitch of 60”. This can be converted into a 180 degree flat bad with a length of 75”, adequate for my height of 189cm. Theses seats are not designed symmetrically as some seats have a large side table and small storage cabinet while the other seats have a shoe cabinet. Each seat comes with a 15” touch screen TV (that has a storage net underneath the TV). The seats comes with lumbar massage function which can be fun although it wasn’t very strong. Each seat comes with a pillow, a nice thick blanket and a seat cover as padding in bed mode.
After the plane took off, refreshment service commenced. We were first offered our post take-off drink, followed by satay. The satay was as good as what we had on our previous flight but presented more aesthetically. Next, we were offered light snacks. As I was very full from my previous meals, I opted just for fruits. Although the TV was just nice in its size and placement from the seat, the entertainment selection was rather limited. The headphones (I am not sure if it was meant to have noise cancellation) barely kept out the surrounding noise. The TV’s height was just nice for the seat to be in sitting or relax mode. In bed mode, the TV is too high up (and it can’t be tilted).
After finishing my meal, I decided to have a nap. Despite being a little narrow, the seat was quite comfortable for sleeping. Those who are claustrophobic may not like the narrow space though. The pillow provided was a little too soft for my liking, hence I helped myself to a second pillow as seat 4F was empty.
About 2 hours out of Seoul, the cabin light was turned on for breakfast service. As I had selected my meals via Chef On-Call, there was no need for me to select my meals from the menu. We started with a choice of starter. I chose the smoked chicken which was OK. I paired it up with a cup of blueberry smoothie and fruits were also served. Next came the main. One of the meal was provided wrongly (I chose the lamb loin but was given the lamb shank). I changed it to the Bell Pepper omelette instead. My choice of Fillet Mignon wasn’t great – just edible. Pastries and bread were also available. My wife however felt her cod fillet was lousy.
After our meal, I quickly changed out of my pyjamas in preparation for landing. We landed in Incheon ahead of schedule but having a full load (and many other planes landing in the morning), we had a long queue at the immigration line. J class passengers were not provided with any priority queue unfortunately.
The ups of this flight:
- Good satay
- Friendly crew
- Fairly comfortable hard product
- 2 meal service
- No noise cancellation headphones (or poorly functioning noise cancellation headphone)
- No amenity kits
- No toothbrush set provided on a redeye flight
- Only 1 toilet in J cabin
3) MH 67 (ICN-KUL)
Date: 15 November 2016
Flight: MH 67
Seats: 4D, 4F, 4K
Plane: Airbus A330-300 (9M-MTG)
We end up on the same plane as what we took to ICN, 9M-MTG. Once again, I chose the D, F and K seats. Being an early flight, we had to leave hotel rather early. We arrived at the airport at about 910am and there was no queue at the Business Class counter (while the Economy Class counter had a long snaking queue). After checking in, I rushed to return my Wi-Fi router and get my refund of my T-money cards. On entering the departure gate, we had a very long queue at the security area. After going through the security, we had to rush to take the sky train to the International Terminal. I almost wanted to go straight to the gate but as I came across the entrance to KAL Business Class lounge, I decided to do a detour for some pictures (which I will review in another post). I then realised that I was in the same area as I was in 1 year ago (when I was transiting in ICN back from SFO). I will most likely be in the same spot again next June when I am transiting in ICN (again) via SQ7 back from LAX.
Upon reaching the gate, there was a long queue for the Economy Section. We bypassed the long line and went straight to the Business Class boarding section. We had a full flight this time (27/27). Seems like MH is doing pretty well with their promotional fare! I later found out from the crew that quite a number of J passengers were upgrade using the MH Upgrade system (the exact numbers however were not made known to me).
As usual, we had our pre-departure flight (with alcohol). Once we were airborne, we had more drinks and lunch was served, starting with the satay course. Once again, the satay did not disappoint me. After satay, we had choice of appetisers and I took the cream of tomato soup. It was creamy and tasty, and I would rate the soup as excellent! We had the usual bread basket. I took the mix roll (which was good with the butter spread) but the garlic bread pales in comparison to SQ’s famed garlic bread. It was tough and not crunchy at all!
I booked the mains via Chef On-Call. I had the fish which I find it rather average. My wife had a better opinion of her Jumbo Prawns (than her cod fillet) while my girl liked her beef steak! I ended the meal with a lemon tart which was rather unremarkable.
The entertainment selection as described earlier pales in comparison to what is offered on Kris World or ICE. Even the new selections were rather dated. The headphones were the same as what I had in my previous flight, which was inferior to what SQ has (probably on par with what I had on KLM). Both my wife and I had to change our headphones a few times as the headphones were faulty.
Although only 1 meal service was available, there was the ‘Dine Anytime’ options where I tried the Egg Noodle and Tomato Ciabatta. Both were good; the egg noodle was prepared with a generous amount of condiments and served with my favourite red chilli. The ciabatta had plenty of meat inside. We were also given Haagen Dazs ice cream and Pringles on demand. Although toothbrush set was absent on our redeye flight, it strangely appeared on this daytime flight.
We landed on time in KLIA and we had about 2.5 hours of transit where we had our dinner in the Golden Lounge. We then moved on to the Main Terminal for our flight back to Singapore.
4) MH 607 (KUL – SIN)
Date: 15 November 2016
Seats: 1C, 2A, 2C
Plane: Boeing 737-800 (9M-MLJ)
Despite being just 2 years older, 9M-MLJ looked much older than 9M-MSF. It was equipped with rather ancient looking recliner J seats without any leg rest and no personal IFE. The leg space for 1A/1C however was tremendous! The flight was pretty empty as only 8/16 seats were occupied.
Just like the previous flight, snacks were served and once again satay was provided. We landed on schedule in Changi Airport Terminal 2 after a short and uneventful flight.
MAS has switched all their 772ERs to the newer and more fuel efficient A333. They have a pretty good (not exceptional) hard product on the 333s. With promotional fares, MAS is definitely worth considering given that the J price is only marginally more expensive than that of SQ’s Y pricing.