SQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1825 posts, RR: 5 Posted (13 years 9 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 5985 times:
The following trip report is posted on behalf of a.net member "wannabe" Ryan, who unexplicably has been unable to register as an a.net member the past 2 months. Can anyone clarify whether a.net has stopped accepting members? If so, why?
Anyway, here's Ryan's long, detailed report. Makes a thoroughly interesting read! Enjoy...
MH 649, SIN-KUL, 737-400 (9M-MQJ), Y Class
MH 782, KUL-BKK, 777-200 (9M-MRM), Y Class
Check in at Changi Airport T2 was a breeze. There were many counters open today so I easily found one that was free. I had my baggage tagged all the way to Bangkok. Queries about an upgrade were quickly put out like a smoldering cigarette by the check in agent who replied rather curtly that F Class cabin was full, without a smile or eye contact. Looks like rude MH ground staff was not only confined to KUL, but at Changi as well!
As the aircraft was flying in from Kuching, it had yet to arrive when I settled down at the viewing gallery at the departure hall. I had a full view of my empty departure aerobridge, E30. It was 1230H and the apron was full of SQ tails with several 747-400 Megatops departing for that mid morning flight to Europe. The dark skies soon opened up and it started to rain ferociously. I observe three SQ 777-200, a GA DC-10 and a BR 747-400 Combi thunder down rwy 02R all in the heavy downpour. Out of nowhere, from beyond the E concourse taxied a MH 737-400 registered 9M-MQJ, that just arrived from Kuching as MH 649. This would be the aircraft that I would be flying in.
I watched the aircraft pull up at gate E30. As it was the closest gate on E concourse to the main terminal, the 737-400 suddenly looked massive as I took in every single detail of the fuselage less that 200m away. MQJ looked weather beaten, its façade betrayed by tarnished paintwork. Dirty patches stained the tail and made the blue / red kite look like it was flying through stormy skies, probably a metaphoric reference to the airline’s current financial situation.
Boarding was quick for the small sized 737-400. Two young female stewardesses greeted me in the Y section of the cabin. Scheduled departure time was 1320H and we pushed back on time. I was assigned seat 21F, a window seat at the aft end of the aircraft. Safety demonstration was done manually. Meanwhile, rain poured down relentlessly outside making small little “pecking” sounds on my window. After the flight crew tested the control surfaces (I love this part after pushback), the engines started up and we continued to taxi towards rwy 02R. Jet blast blew rain and water on the ground violently away from the aircraft.
The engine spooled up tremendously as we lined up on the runway for take off. Beads of water threaded horizontally away from my window as the 737-400 gathered speed down the runway and lifted into the murky skies. We encountered some light turbulence climbing and flew a northerly course over Pulau Tekong and Johor.
Drinks service started as soon as the aircraft was stabilized on a gentle cruise climb. Since it was only a 45-min hop, no food was served. Coffee, tea or OJ were the choices on MH Y Class SIN-KUL vv. sector. Which was fine by me because before you could get comfy in your seat, the aircraft would start its descend into KUL already. We bumped down onto Kuala Lumpur International Airport (ICAO: KUL, or affectionately referred to as KLIA) rather hard and taxied towards the satellite terminal for disembarkation. It was a quiet time of the day for KUL (they never seem to be busy even during the supposedly 'peak periods'), because we seem to be the only aircraft taxiing. In-flight service was rather mediocre today because I have had better service in MH Y Class on previous SIN-KUL sectors.
The spacious and airy satellite terminal beckoned and I proceeded to the 2nd level rest area that has good views of the tarmac and aircraft on landing approaches. I saw two CI A300-600 side by side, one departing for HKG-TPE and the other one for KHH. A KL 747-400 taxied to its gate just in front of me and I clearly saw the pilots on the cockpit shutting down the aircraft afterwards. In a distance, several gates away to the right of the KL 747-400 stood the aircraft that I was departing on. 9M-MRM, a 777-200, operated MH 782 and scheduled departure time was 1515H
So quiet was that afternoon I only saw two other MH aircraft landing (an A330 and a 737-400). KLIA is a massive and ultra-modern airport which, in my opinion, is seriously under utilized. No less than four airlines (SU, QF, BA, AN etc.) has pulled out of KLIA citing falling passenger demands, which must have been a blow to the airport authorities. Even the locals complain about the distance of the airport from the city (80km). The old international airport Subang (SZB), a joke of an airport for a major city like KL, is so much closer. But it was embarrassingly built with only one runway and mini run down terminal buildings. It’s a wonder how did KL survive with SZB for such a long time! Currently, MH still flies out of SZB on some domestic routes together with the other domestic carrier, Air Asia. This arrangement will cease in mid 2002 when SZB becomes the property of RMAF. Hopefully by then, a train service from the city to the airport should be operational. I hope to see KLIA develop further in the coming years in terms of traffic volume because it’s such a waste to see a good airport go to waste....
MH 782 KUL-BKK
Boarding of MH 782 commenced at 1450H. I noticed that the flight was roughly 80% full with empty rows still visible to the aft cabin when we were airborne. I was assigned seat 15K, that is the second row in the forward Y Class cabin. This was my first time in the Y Class cabin of a MH 777-200. The seats were no different from their 747-400. Adequately comfy for a long haul flight. It came complete with a reasonable pitch (supposedly 34” ), moveable headrest and footrest (provided you had a seat in from of you for the footrest to be mounted). Unfortunately, my window seat had the IFE system box installed under the seat in front of me, which considerable reduced my legroom. Since the flight time from KUL-BKK was only 1hr 45min, I did not get too uncomfortable. The safety video was shown as we taxied for take off but the volume was turned on too low for anyone to hear anything.
After a powerful take off, we took a northerly course towards Pahang and the Gulf of Thailand. Throughout the flight, the main cabin screens were turned on with a variety program of sorts, but no headsets were given out. Were we supposed to be entertained by reading the lips of the TV presenters? Light refreshment was a choice of seafood pizza or soy sauce chicken with rice. I chose the latter which was very tasty, but the rice was a little soggy. The meal came with a tangy radish salad and a piece of cake, plus an empty bowl to fill up the tray.
The remainder of the flight was rather uneventful. In-flight service was sufficiently satisfactory for Y Class. The female stewardess serving my aisle was cheerful when dishing out the meal trays and drinks. She even suggested that I take the soy chicken as she thought it tasted better than the seafood pizza. There was nothing much to do after the meal but watch the coast of Thailand edge closer outside my window.
The aircraft descended slightly after coasting in and I almost immediately caught sight of Bangkok. The gigantic city was spread over a large area to my right and Chao Praya River was clearly visible through the smog. Announcements of our arrival came over the PA system as Bangkok passed beneath us, which I thought could have happened earlier. But I figured since the cabin crew had no headsets to collect, they were in no hurry to prepare the cabin for landing. Pre-recorded announcements in Thai were blasted through the speakers a little too loudly causing them make a humming sound, that was a great contrast to the whisperings of the safety video back in KUL. Hmm… get it together MH!
After continuing on a northerly heading for a few more minutes, we banked sharply to the right to take an opposite southerly route towards Bangkok International Airport in Don Muang. Flaps were deployed noisily. I realised that was a trait on some 777s because I heard the same thing on a TG 777-200 some time back. A loud whirring sound would fill the cabin whenever the flaps are being extended. However, there is none of this noise in the newly delivered SQ 777-200ER.
As we sailed downwards and flared on touchdown, I can only describe BKK at that time of the day with only one word – BUSY! I saw QF and BA 747-400s, CX 777-200 and –300, CI 747-400 and A340, SK A340, VN A320, PB F28, SQ 747-400 and 777-200... and a huge cluster of TG tails with different aircraft types scattered throughout the airport’s international and domestic terminals. TG 747-400, 777-200/300, 737-400, A300, A330, MD-11, ATRs, you name it, they were all over the place! Parked at remote stands or at terminals, taxiing, landing and taking off… I did not envy the air traffic controllers.
Immigration was a nightmare as usual. BKK looks old and run down, maybe because I arrived at Terminal 1, which was not renovated like Terminal 2. The baggage took forever to arrive, which was annoying. In fact, the airport was so busy that the gigantic volume of arriving passengers used up all the airport limousines. The limousines on the way back to the airport from the city were stuck in jams. Thus, I waited for an hour to get my transport. As my limousine drove away from the airport, I saw 9M-MRM lift into the skies for her return flight back to KUL. I realised I have spent almost 2 hours at the airport!
Mas777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (13 years 9 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 5841 times:
I note the comment about KUL - "falling passenger demands" and airlines withdrawing. In fact BA posted better passenger figures than ever before shortly to their withdrawal. A primary reason for BA withdrawing was due to the fixed exchange rate of the Ringgit and I guess this to be the case with many other airlines.
Qatar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (13 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5828 times:
Great trip report, very well written and detailed the way it should be.
I think there is plenty of demand to KUL because of the airlines that have withdrawn. Qatar Airways loads on the DOH-KUL flights in December 2001 had an average of 65% loads. In early January the loads were averaged at about 85% and increased to 90% and by February all the flights had 100% loads. Qatar Airways says that the strong demands to KUL will demand at least 1x daily flights on the A330-200 in the summer from the current 3x weekly. I think KUL is a money maker for QR. The reasons are simple:
-Loads on KUL flights are excellent
-The ticket prices are more expensive per mile when compared to European routes.
-QR like many airlines receive sweetener deals for example no landing charges, QR admits the sweetner deal was the main reason they started to fly to KUL.
Zizou From Australia, joined Oct 2000, 1536 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (13 years 9 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 5820 times:
Great trip report. I too find the new airport at Kuala Lumpur to be really good, but there is so few airlines there. I was there for 2 hours only, and I saw 5 airlines (UL, GF, MH, IC, TG) while in Singapore I saw too mant to count. But hopefully, some airlines will start to fly back in to KL, and then everyone can see what a great airport Sepang really is.
Mas777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (13 years 9 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 5773 times:
Qatar - I don't see your point...(we seem to agree!)
BA and other carriers were in a very different situation in 1997/98 - The Malaysian ringgit devalued and although flights were still leaving full (as was the case with BA) - the majority of passengers (and more importantly exporters with their cargo) had paid in MYR which was artificially overvalued by the fixed rates imposed.
BA has already been considering returning and many feel that their departure from Malaysia was overtly cautious to their detriment today. Unfortunately, they reduced their staff to a skeleton team and lost most of their contracts when they pulled out from the KUL run. This has made it difficult for them to justify returning now (especially with their own current economic downturn following Sept.11th) - which is why they have now resorted to code-share with Cathay Pacific daily via HKG. Lastly - as you correctly pointed out - there have been many other niche carriers like Emirates and Qatar who have stepped us flights to KUL to cope with the demand from Europe and the Eastern US.
OdiE From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1641 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (13 years 9 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5764 times:
Mas777: So does this means that KUL will not see BA for a very long time to come? I thought they had closed down their office in Kuala Lumpur as well, along with Qantas. Now that Australian Airlines are planning to fly into KUL, any chance of BA returning to KUL with onward connection Australia with AuA? Is BA's lounge in KUL still vacant or is it being occupied by some other airline. If they were planning on a comeback, they could weel use the Cathay lounge and make a Oneworld Airline Lounge. It's really sad to see BA leave KUL, after all, they were one of the longest serving airline in Malaysia!