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MH Is Mostly Hype: SYD-KUL-LHR, AMS-KUL-SYD In Y  
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 18987 times:



Eleven years ago Malaysia Airways had shattered my pleasure in overseas flights with two horrible legs between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur. The air was stuffy, I got airsick both ways, the then new concept of personal IFE didn't function too well.

It wasn't until my wonderful honeymoon to Paris with Qantas that my faith in flying long distances was restored. Ten years on and we had an opportunity to celebrate our 10th anniversary thanks to some exceedingly cheap fares to Europe with MH. Had they changed for the better in the intervening decade?

Things had certainly changed with us. Not only were we now seasoned international travellers, so was our almost three year old son Alex. This would be his sixth overseas trip since birth and indeed he would be celebrating his third birthday in Paris.

The MH experience was initially a frustrating one, in combination with Expedia. I was unable to get an open jawed itinerary with stopovers in Kuala Lumpur through the MH website, so I booked it via Expedia.

Expedia's website kept mucking up the display of our itinerary, but a phone call (to an Australian and *not* an Asian call centre with no clue) and email later and things looked fixed. They also requested seats for us.

I carefully structured our trip to make flying with Alex easier. An overnight stop in KL followed by a day flight to London, when an active child is less likely to disturb other passengers, plus we arrived at a decent time to check into a hotel. I also ensured that all legs were on 747s as they have a 3-4-3 configuration, which meant we could sit together and I got a window seat. MH's 777s have a 2-5-2 configuration.

Suddenly we got flight change information that the KUL-LHR leg had been changed to a 777. And MH kept changing our seat requests!

Eventually it changed back to a 747 and Expedia's online seat request tool began working and I picked our seats. I'm not sure that was a good idea or if MH messed up because...

We celebrated our actual anniversary with a stay at the Novotel Brighton Beach, a hotel which seems to be losing the magic of the past decade. On the plus side our room had great views of Botany Bay, the city and... the airport!

Closeup of the city and airport from our balcony

Runway is to the left

Asiana 772 about to land... caught this on our second trip to Europe in 2004

Emirates A380 prepares to take off

Take-off

Centrepoint/Sydney/AMP Tower and the A380

Qantas 744 F1 livery

I like to stay in a hotel before departure. It means no last minute packing and panic before you head out to the airport.

After watching a bit of Alan Joyce being grilled by the Senate we took a wander to a playground and then let Alex run on the beach. There’s nothing like the feeling of sand between your toes before your feet are stuck in shoes for a long flight.

Best thing about travel - no mention of Australian politicians for the next fortnight - or so I thought

Swimming area - bit too cold

We checked in at Sydney Airport, having been unable to check in online due to a lack of a printer. The Toll Dnata agent seemed confident that we were seated as requested and we didn't check the boarding passes.

A small scrum is forming in the background

While we were queueing for check-in a phalanx of security guards rushed past protecting a couple of very short bug-eye sunglassed women while media representatives fell back. Turns out it was the Kardashian sisters. OMG! OMG! Oh I don’t care!

10 years vs 72 days. :P

The queues for check in, immigration and security were all long and we had a lot less time airside than we had hoped. I quite like the redeveloped airside, but we had little time to loiter. Our aircraft was at gate 51, in the southern section of the terminal. As we were about to cross over between the two sections Alex spotted a big play area. We doubled back.

It was a strategically located McDonalds. B was hungry, I was not and we wanted to get as much physical energy out of Alex as possible, so we let him play while B quickly snacked.


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As we rode the moving walkway between towards the gate the Malaysian Airways 747-400 revealed herself in all her glory. I love the 747 and, much as find the MAS livery uninspiring, its workman-like qualities give the 747 the feel of an old ship taking passengers on a journey to the unknown.

Etihad separates a couple of sworn enemies

Closeup

Penang, a name I would get to know very well

The departure lounge was crowded. No preference was given to families with young children. As we lined up to board the aircraft we looked at our boarding passes and discovered that B was seated separate from Alex and I!

Flagging down one of the Toll Dnata staff checking us in, they told us to wait at the boarding counter, then paged the passenger at the aisle seat next to Alex and I. When they eventually found him he agreed to swap with B (and who wouldn’t if you had somebody else’s young kid next to you?).

The Toll Dnata staff were very friendly and proactive helping to correct an error on our part. Thanks to them!

4/NOV/2011
CARRIER: Malaysia Airlines
FLIGHT: MH122
SECTOR: SYD - KUL
CLASS: Economy
ETD: 15:40 (local)
ETA: 20:50 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 747-400
REGISTRATION: 9M-MPL

First impressions of the interior were not great. Don’t get me wrong, I like the old style yellow-beige cabin that reminds me of that holiday a decade ago and many others. But the faded pale blue, purple and salmon pink seatcovers were just ugly. I much prefer the colourful jellybean style of MAS’ domestic service.

Beige!

More about these later

The pinko section

At least the legroom was reasonable. An entertainment box sat under the middle seat, but Alex’s legs were too short for that to matter!

Obligatory leg shot

The cabin doors closed and the television screens displayed a safety video featuring a smarmy sounding attendant demonstrating safety to children.

Maybe MH will improve once they get some of these babies

Going Places magazine

No activity packs for Alex. It was okay as we had packed drawing and sticker books for him.

A blanket and pillow was provided at each seat. I found the pillows awful. The feathers inside were constantly poking out and scratching my skin, as were the sharp edges of the plastic mesh covers.

Oh, the seatback entertainment! Might as well get it off my chest right now. I thought that the Thai Airways system was bad. These were worse. At least Thai had a semi-functional AVOD, but MAS’ was unintuitive and with the remotes wedge in at the side of the seat, they often got knocked inadvertently. The 9-inch screens looked like the same models as 11 years ago. The picture quality was absolutely awful with lots of static and horizontal lines - and this wasn’t isolated to a single screen, either.

Qantas 747s might also have 9-inch seatback screens, but their quality is miles ahead of Malaysia’s, which certainly can’t compete with a Qantas A380 or Cathay plane, to name two airlines that I have flown with in recent times.

It’s a pity because the movie line-up was reasonable and they had at least one semi-decent soundtrack on audio (TRON: Legacy). But the screen quality was so poor that you had to ask yourself if you really wanted to watch them. Maybe training people up for the pirated movies of the pasar malams?  

In the end the best inflight entertainment is always the view out of the window.

Take-off with the Novotel Brighton Beach in the distance

A take-off was to the south, then we turned parallel with the coastline before swinging around and up to the northwest.

Along Botany Bay

Over Kurnell with the Captain Cook bridge in the background

Kurnell peninsula

Turning in towards the Royal National Park


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Back over land

Over Sydney’s southwest with Botany Bay and the airport visible in the background


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Sandstone ridges to the west of the Blue Mountains

Green lands below

I wasn’t feeling the magic of departure yet, that excitement of flying west on an adventure.
Alex was soon asleep between B and I. She was reading the inflight magazine “Going Places” in which I couldn’t see much of note, except for the fleet pages.


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I don’t mind MAS’ new livery, still not fantastic though. Prefer the other two on the page. Sad that the FireFly jets are going.

Pity that don’t write the fleet numbers next to them. I think there is only one 744P in the fleet

The crew walked through with peanuts and drinks. Outside the landscape was changing from verdant green, to drier browns to red.


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Over outback NSW

The square paddocks are gone

Inland river system - it’s been a wet year


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The pilot turned on the seatbelt lights every time we flew through high cloud, though the turbulence only became uncomfortable once during the flight. Naturally, every meal service was accompanied by turbulence, as it seems to be on so many flights.


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On a Qantas flight the seatbelt lights on mean that the crew return to their seats. On Malaysia Airlines it just means that no hot beverages will be served, but nothing much else changes.

I hadn’t bothered selecting any special toddler meal for Alex when booking the tickets. In times past he’s preferred the adult meals anyway. He was served prior to the main meal service.


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Lamb stew - the bit I tasted was okay

While Alex ate we flew through high cloud and over a partly filled Lake Eyre and accompanying salt lakes.


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I selected a chicken biryani, which was okay, without being great. Pesto salad was fine, but what was really nice was the mangos and cream Weiss bar for dessert.

My meal

Yummmmmm...


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Through gaps in the cloud a fascinating landscape of red wrinkled land, parallel sand dunes appeared. It felt like we were flying over Mars, the landscape was so tinted and alien. This is why I love flying over inland Australia and it doesn’t get better than flying in the late afternoon light.


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Red planet

Dunes - any sandworms made of condoms David Lynch?


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Looks like a crater

This picture has faults


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The landscape continued to surprise.


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Red blotches across the landscape like a red birthmark

Scratched humps
It must be so fascinating to be a geologist and fly over this land. Here where the Earth is exposed from its covering of plant and man. And we aren’t even out of South Australia yet.

We initially switched on Wall-E on the IFE for Alex. He recently saw part of it on television and had been demanding it ever since. I don’t think that the poor quality aircraft screen satisfied him too well. So out came the spare cheap Android phone and his collection of ABC and BBC children’s shows.

I found the seats to be rather uncomfortable. I would periodically feel as if the passenger behind me was sticking their foot into the back of the seat. A quick press of the recline button would temporarily relieve the pressure, but it would later return. Not sure if it was a passenger action or some lumbar support function.

More high cloud and turbulence as we neared the border to Western Australia. Visibility dropped considerably all the way to the coast.


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All good things must come to an end eventually and so we came to the end of the desert and the edge of Australia.



Now the scenery outside of the window was sea or cloud turning pink in the setting Sun it was time to pursue interests inside of the aircraft.


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We had drawing, story and sticker books for Alex, but these didn’t keep his interest for too long. Other than watching his television shows he played physical games with us such as his “electromagnet” where he pretends to pick our hands or noses up with his hand (inspired by an electromagnet crane on Chuggington). He also had his own imagination games with a toy aeroplane/vehicle set I’d bought him in the airport.

Most of all what seemed to interest him was the toilet. In my last trip report I described how Alex had developed a phobia about aircraft toilets and peed his pants on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney. With a bit of patience I was able to help him overcome that fear of “the sucking sound” and convince him to go. Then there was no stopping him. At least we no longer had to fear him wetting his trousers anymore!

Watching a movie, or even television, is a rare treat for me these days and despite the awful screens I tried to watch some shows. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” had potential, but Alex demanded too much attention for me to concentrate. B meanwhile watched a few movies.

With an hour before descent we were served a light meal. I was expecting some sort of supper, was hoping for this legendary MAS satay that I’d heard about, but no, a small cardboard box was dumped on our tables with only the question “chicken or vegetarian?” almost unintelligibly asked.

What’s in the box?

I opened the box to find something akin to a sausage roll. It was cold. All three of ours were cold.

We queried the flight attendants, no easy task when they don’t answer call buttons.

“Sorry, yes they should be hot.”

They only had one hot chicken roll left, the other two were vegetarian. The chicken was okay I guess, but the vegetarian filling was almost inedible. For the airline of a nation whose best attribute is its food the standard of this meal was unacceptable.


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A drink of Malaysia Airline’s signature drink pink guava juice was also served.

Alex fell asleep again as it was after his normal bedtime. I attempted to watch a television program - the choices weren’t very good - eventually settling on “Around the rail world”, nominally a program about exploring Malaysia by rail, but actually just featuring a half Borneo native ex-hairdresser called Henry Golding mugging to the camera with very little time spent on trains at all.

This was cut short once we began our descent by a video of another smarmy Malaysian expatriate Asha Gill saying something about arrival in Kuala Lumpur. The cabin sound system is still pretty bad and I couldn’t bear watching her anyway.

The final audiovisual travesty was the “Malaysia Truly Asia” tourism promo. Both B and I agreed that it was dire, with a truly awful song that would make karaoke sound good. Even worse than what Tourism Australia puts out.

Here’s a tourism slogan: “Malaysia - it’s yummy!”

By now it was time to begin the final part of our descent into Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Town lights were visible between the dark of the palm plantations, but this wasn’t quite the exciting night descent over Bangkok of ten years ago. Then again, we weren’t about to land in a big puddle, which is what Don Muang airport was right then.

Ready for landing - on someone’s head


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Waiting at the gate

As we disembarked Alex woke up full of excitement about x-ray machines, lifts and trains as we caught the automated shuttle from the satellite terminal to the main building.

Immigration was simple as Alex and I could enter with B through the Malaysian lane. Our bags were checked through to London, so we made our way straight to were the golf carts waited to collect travellers for the Pan Pacific Hotel.

B had wanted to catch a train into Kuala Lumpur proper, then go straight out and find hawker food to eat, but I pointed out that by the time we got there it would be quite late and Alex needed sleep. With a 10.40am departure the next day there wouldn’t be much time in KL anyway. And we’d either have to stay at KL Sentral (expensive Hilton or cheaper Le Meridien) which has little in the way of food, or find a taxi elsewhere.

Far easier to stay at the airport and put up with whatever limited choices of food there. KLIA’s airside transit hotel had some pretty dire reviews, so we shelled out for the more expensive Pan Pacific, which is landside.

We didn’t regret it. Very comfortable rooms and the central waterfall pools and rainforest were very pleasant in the morning. Just what you’d want in between flights.


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No time to enjoy it straight away. First we had to return via golf cart to f the airport, whereupon lay Food Garden, a local food court run mainly by non-Chinese. The stalls were closing down for the night, but we still got some noodle and rice dishes. Alex was very tired and complained loudly upon eating something hot.

Then it was back to the hotel room for rest.


Applying insanity to normality
46 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19251 times:

Alex was still running on Sydney time an woke me up at 5am. I kept him occupied playing with some of the (safe) contents of the complimentary makeup kit - cotton buds and makeup pads developed their own personalities. Meanwhile, B slept.

After checking out of the hotel we returned to Food Garden for a breakfast of yong tau foo and assam laksa washed down with Milo ais. As we had already got our boarding passes in Sydney we were free to go straight through immigration and security. Meanwhile, all Alex cared about was pressing every lift button.

Food garden

Happy Diwali!
There are a couple of toy shops airside, and I was tempted to buy Alex some blocks to keep him occupied in the aircraft and hotels. He was too busy pressing buttons on baby toys and refused to cooperate as he was tired.

Toys and chocolates in the main terminal

We caught the automated train to the satellite terminal.

Back window view of the main terminal

Not Penang

Arriving at the satellite terminal


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Central rainforest walk

Walking to the gate

The skies above both Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and KLIA cast an evocative grey/gold light on the aircraft that serve their terminals.

Not our aircraft

After passing through the gate x-ray machines we were greeted by a familiar sight: 9M-MPL, or Penang as she is called. What was it doing hanging around in the night?

Penang again

5/NOV/2011
CARRIER: Malaysia Airlines
FLIGHT: MH4
SECTOR: KUL-LHR
CLASS: Economy
ETD: 10:40 (local)
ETA: 16:15 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 747-400
REGISTRATION: 9M-MPL


This time families with young children (us) were allowed to board first and we took our seats in the next row ahead of the previous day’s flight.


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Alex fell asleep as we taxied out. B read one of the newspapers that were available at boarding. I looked out the window.


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Friended now lah

Do these actually fly? No evidence on this trip

It was a parade of A330s

A banking aircraft


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Then it was up and over the palm plantations and into the clouds. Kuala Lumpur wasn’t at its most attractive from above, but the brown waterways that divide the city were visible.


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Much of the view was blocked by the wing


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The Malaysian coastline was visible occasionally through the clouds, then we passed out across the blue and often cloud obscured Andaman sea.


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Lunch was served, a choice between snapper or the same chicken biryani as yesterday. I chose the former, which wasn’t bad. A turkey salad, bread roll and chocolate slice in caramel completed the plate (wasn’t so good).


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Flying over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands


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Magnum Minis were served - Made in China with melamine goodness

Mmmm... chocolate!


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About to cross into India

Indian coastline

Now we were over India. I was curious about the landscape below, not having flown over India during daylight before. To me it appeared dry, possibly stricken by drought, as the rivers and dams looked like they could hold much more.

Not much flow in the river


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More dry looking rivers

Many small plots of land

Alex was occupying himself watching videos on the spare Android phone. Note that he has special Moshi branded volume limited headphones which make us a bit more confident that he’s not making himself deaf.


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Power station?


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From Madhya Pradesh we flew onwards to Rajasthan where the landscape drifted into desert.


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At some stage we crossed the border into Pakistan, the landscape remained desert until we hit the Indus river. Suddenly black rectangles of cultivation appeared out of the desert around this cradle of ancient subcontinental civilisation.

Around the Indus


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Then we were back to desert again.

My favourite part of the journey, indeed of all of our four flights on this trip, was when we crossed over Pakistan’s North West Territories into Afghanistan and across the Hindu Kush. Back in June 2009 I had flown over here at night and even then the snowcapped mountains were impressive in the moonlight. Now I could see the fractured terrain in full. This is a land that I will probably never see from the ground. The isolation of the people that live there was clear from above. Tiny villages separated from each other by many kilometres of dusty tracks if they were lucky, or paths invisible to the eye over rugged and mountainous terrain. Here I was flying over the whole country in an hour when it might take the locals days to reach the next village.

There are many more photos in the [url=https://picasaweb.google.com/113820820129828295469/KLToLondon#]album[/img] beyond the large selection below.

Pakistan


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Town

Our route

Farmlands in the valley

Eroded hills

Textures


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Towns often consisted of walled compounds that look of the earth around them

I feel like this is a NASA photo of another planet

Paved road or pipeline, I’m not sure

Farmland in the wastelands


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First signs of snow

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The only green is in the valleys

The height of the mountains is readily apparent despite our altitude

And now for a different shade of brown

The geology is different. In these dry lands the amazing geology is magnificently exposed

Another colour boundary

A snowy peak peeks

Mineral deposits


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Like a banner across the landscape

And the land changes once more

The mountains are gone

Paved airstrip

Township in the sands

A border between landscapes. Between countries too?

While B and Alex slept we were handed snack packs containing a peanuts, a raisin biscuit, KitKat bar, cheese and sesame crackers.

Snacks

More snow

Crinkled, but somewhat bland after the topography that preceded the land below


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The land descends, we don’t

We were definitely now flying across Turkmenistan, home to one of the driest deserts in the world and a president by the name of Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

A river twists its way through the sand coloured landscape

Water brings life

Agriculture. Note the modern looking townships after the mudbrick compounds of other parts of Afghanistan


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Sand desert

Interspersed with this

Hanhowuz reservoir

Cultivated land

Tejen and Bol’shevik, Turkmenistan

Our location

Back over the desert

The desert landscape of Turkmenistan was pockmarked by salt lacks and craters giving it a pockmarked, dark side of the Moon impression.


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River through the desert


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By now Alex had awakened and I quietly fed him some of the snacks as we flew over Kazakhstan (no bright green mankinis seen from that altitude). We played some physical games with him on my lap and he took some photos with my camera. The shadows in the late afternoon light defined the clouds and landscape. It’s a beautiful time to fly.



Our course had use crossing over the coastline of the Caspian Sea south of Fort Shevchenko. The bright blue water was a nice contrast to the unrelenting desert lands of the past few hours.

The Caspian Sea below

The port of Bautino


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The Caspian was largely obscured by cloud, which cleared by the time we reached the opposite coastline, around the mouth of Europe’s largest river, the Volga. We were now over Russia. The scene below looked like pond scum magnified many times.


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The many rivulets of the Volga delta

Looks like a salinity problem

Back to desert conditions down below

More cloud, then agricultural land. It feels like we’ve entered Europe at last.

Tsimlyansk Reservoir on the Don river


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As the countryside became greener my interest began to wane. It was now a man made landscape, hiding the geology beneath. Perhaps I may never visit a ‘stan in my lifetime and indeed some of the places I saw from above may lie untouched by a human foot. But continental Europe has felt many feet.

In contrast to the desert lands the air was now hazy, the colours dim.

The black contrail of another aircraft


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Alex, who had slept again, was served first, then B and I. They had a beef and mushroom dish, I had a chicken curry that was actually quite nice. Salad and a chocolate/rasberry slice rounded out the plate. Naturally the seatbelt lights came on during the serving and it was actually quite bumpy.

The beef dish

Chicken curry

The sky was filled with contrails, emerging black out of the engines, but leaving white tracks across the busy European skies.

Our contrail contribution

Railway tracks in the sky


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Cloudy skies

The complex patterns of fields and towns

Alex awoke with about two hours left in the flight and demanded to get out of the aircraft and go to a hotel room. I can’t say that I blamed him. This final bit felt very long.

We left continental Europe over Rotterdam. The English Channel was covered by cloud.

Bye bye Europe - see you again soon!

We are not alone...


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We’ve been very lucky with our flights into London, usually rewards by good views of the city. This time we were lucky to get the odd glance through the cloud as we descended and twisted through the grey-gold skies, themselves quite beautiful.


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A view at last! But not one out of a tourist brochure

We are all ready to land...

Almost there...

When...


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The engines roar into life and we suddenly ascended again.


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WTF! The captain came over the PA to announce that another aircraft had not cleared the runway in time.

So we had to go through the long and twisty descent all over again, which, after a very long flight, was not a welcome development, but did afford some more views of the evening sky.

The cabin bathed in a golden light


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This time the landing was completed successfully.

Made it at last

I would rather have flown...

The other red tail

American and Ethiopian

Our blue and red tail was the odd one out of the red and green schemes

It had been a very long flight and not the most comfortable in the aircraft. The only thing that made it for me was the stunning desert scenery outside.

Heathrow’s Terminal 4 was in a pretty sad state with exposed ceilings and the general ambience of a construction site. There were long queues at immigration, a broken baggage system and a long wait for the Heathrow Connect train. All in all a pretty sad reintroduction to the UK.


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Thanks to trackwork the tube line was out from Heathrow, so we caught the Heathrow Connect train, the slower and cheaper option than the Heathrow Express. By the end I was wishing that we had paid the extra.

The trackwork and short stay determined our hotel location as well: the Novotel in Paddington. Nice hotel, if a little away from the station. As we walked there we heard the Guy Fawkes fireworks being set off. Kind of ironic after flying over Pakistan and Afghanistan that we should arrive in London to the celebration of a failed terrorist attack.



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19136 times:

During the next two weeks we spent a day in London, took the Eurostar to Brussels, then caught a local train to amazing Ghent, where we stayed a night. Managed to leave my wife’s purse and camera bag on the train to Amsterdam (fortunately they were handed in safe and untouched to Belgian Railways lost luggage), from where we caught an overnight train to Prague. I loved the deluxe cabin and was so glad we travelled by train over aircraft, but B got motion sick when she climbed up to the top bunk.

Only one night, two days, in Prague, exploring the old town and castle, then another overnight train to Zurich. Thanks to an inability to collect a prepurchased TGV ticket at their station we stayed longer than expected, but enjoyed the 11/11/11 celebrations.

Paris, the city of our original honeymoon, was our longest stop, and there we celebrated Alex’s birthday. Thanks to the need to collect the lost bag and some cancelled and delayed trains we missed out on spending any reasonable time in Amsterdam, but we did have a walk around Brussels instead. A freezing night walking around the shrinking red light district in Amsterdam (the drug pushers leaving us alone with a kid on my shoulders), then the next day it was time to leave Europe.

A small selection of photos is below. More details and links to the full photo sets can be seen at allrite@.

Egyptian sarcophagi at the must see British Museum

Big Ben at night

Ghent skyline from Het Gravensteen

Sunrise over the Elbe

Prague castle and looking towards the old town

Not traditional Swiss dress, Zurich

View from our apartment window in Paris

My wife and son in front of the Eiffel Tower at night

Paris from atop the Eiffel

A sky full of contrails

Obligatory Mannekin Pis photo from Brussels

Red light district, Amsterdam



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19138 times:

All too quickly it was time to depart Europe. To allow for a couple of days rest and resetting our body clocks we had booked a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur.

The A-Train hotel was almost directly across from Amsterdam Centraal station, but it was a freezing walk in the morning air. Thankfully our train to Schiphol wasn’t as delayed like the previous night’s.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam Centraal

I really like Schiphol Airport. It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly what’s so great, but for me it’s related to the ambiance of the terminal and the wide open spaces of the runway area. The shopping selection is quite good as well.

Entrance into the terminal from the railway station

I had checked in online that morning, so all we had to do was drop off our bags. Unfortunately, I neglected to remove that daypack attached to my big backpack, so Alex’s books and activity packs we sent to the aircraft’s hold, along with his night nappies. Fearing a repeat of his accident during a recent domestic flight we set out to buy a new bag of nappies (diapers). Turns out he never needed them anyway.

A shop for A.nuts


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You can have your photo taken in the cockpit (charge)

Alex found a lost yellow balloon


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After the nappies, our next mission was to claim back our tax on a pair of glasses that had been purchased in Paris. A bit of paperwork began the process, then we crossed through immigration, where we then had to find a branch of ABN Amro to receive the funds. Should have been simple, but their systems were down and only one desk at the opposite side of terminal 3 could process it. So a bit of a hike across the airport while B took Alex to the bathroom. At least there were spotting opportunities involved.

Airside


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An increasingly rare MD-11 through the Xmas lights

Alex had to give up his yellow balloon at the gate security point, and he said a sweet goodbye to it. While he went through the metal detector B and I had to pass through the newer L3 rotating scanners, the first I have seen.

16/NOV/2011
CARRIER: Malaysia Airlines
FLIGHT: MH17
SECTOR: AMS-KUL
CLASS: Economy
ETD: 12:00 (local)
ETA: 06:45+1 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 747-400
REGISTRATION: 9M-MPL

We were greeted by the too familiar sight of Penang again. Last we’d seen it was in Heathrow, what was it doing following us around?

Our friend 9M-MPL

A nose we knows

Young families were asked to board early. Our seats we back at row 52, opposite the galley. An attendant told us that we could move further forward after take-off as the aircraft was only half full. At least there was a clear view out of the window and thanks to the zoom on my camera I could spy the meal cards in the galley.

Advanced selection of what I will be eating


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Alex was given a Care Bears T - Z alphabet popup book by a flight attendant, which held his attention for all of five minutes. In comparison with the activity packs provided by other airlines it was a rather pointless gift.

Care Bear Stare

Fortunately, it was of little immediate consequence as Alex quickly fell asleep.


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I have personally experienced the size of Schiphol, having taken the scenic route after landing on a 2004 flight. This time the taxi to runway was quite short.

Bye Cathay!

Amazing for an Australian how many countries in and around Europe are short-haul flights away

Another MD-11

Lining up for the runway

3 MD-11’s in a row. You only see them as freight aircraft in Aus

Starting our run

There were brilliant views of the Netherlands as we ascended into the sky, the sunlight glistening of the canals. It was the best take-off of all our flights on this trip.

Up we go!

Is that a Dutch mountain range below?  


.


.

Could there be a greater contrast with the landscape of Afghanistan? So flat, green and wet!


.

Ships and barges plying a canal

Interesting town designs


.

We soared high above the blanket of cloud over Germany. There was a sense of serenity outside and within the aircraft. We were truly in another world disconnected from the one below.


.

Our lunch/dinner was served and hungrily appreciated. Thanks to the spied meal cards I knew to choose the chicken korma over the beef and mushrooms that the other two ate. They were accompanied by a shrimp salad and raspberry slice, bun, cheese and crackers and Twix chocolate bar. The mains and dessert were probably the best of the flights so far.

Alex was served first

Beef and mushrooms

Chicken korma


.

The Sun set while we were flying over the Ukraine. There were glimpses of what looked to be snow covered fields below us.


.


.


.


.


.

As we go East, they to the West

A red glow suffused through the cabin

A fire in the sky


.

The Sun has set


.

As darkness fell B moved to the centre rows and slept. Alex was asleep next to me, taking up the other two seats. I too was very tired, but something disturbed me as I drifted off, breaking my sleep rhythm. Not that I would have slept for long anyway.

On the dreadful little screen in front of me I watched “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, which was compelling viewing, but worse for the typically heavy handed Malaysian editing of gory scenes. Followed it up with a little of the original “Planet of the Apes” with Charlton Heston smoking a cigar in space. Now why don’t the Malaysians crack down on something that is much worse for their society than blood? Something to do with the flow of money, maybe?  

Talk about noxious substances, I had grown sick of MH’s constant adverts for a David Foster (“Hitman is coming”) concert prior even to boarding the aircraft thanks to their Twitter feed. They continued to show before each program, despite the concert being over.

For those that don’t know (and I didn’t) David Foster is a Canadian songwriter/composer who wrote a number of 80’s and 90’s tunes that you would probably recognise but never admit to enjoying now. But to overpromote a concert featuring Michael Bolton in its lineup does your image no help.

Mr Hitman

Passing through Central Asia there were some brilliantly lit amber and white cities in Turkmenstan, then almost nothing as we flew over Afghanistan. As the black fields of the Indus had broken up the desert during the day flight, so did the lights around it at night. Then nothing again until India.

Sometime during the night we were handed snack packs of peanuts, sesame crackers, Bega cheddar cheese (travelling back towards its origin in Australia) and Toblerone chocolate bars. There were also drink runs with water or juice.


.

With a few hours to go Alex woke up and devoured the peanuts. He woke happy and stayed in a cheerful mood for the remainder of the flight.

Two hours before our scheduled landing the lights were switched on and we were served a choice of mushroom omelette or spicy nasi lemak (coconut and pandan flavoured rice). I chose the latter and finally I felt like I was eating some real Malaysian food!

There were also sides of a croissant (bit stale), yoghurt, fruit salad (much appreciated) and juice.


.

Nasi lemak, sambal, egg and green beans, a traditional Malaysian breakfast snack often served in a banana leaf

This time we managed to ignore the dreadful “Malaysia Truly Asia” tourist guff on the screens.

The first hints of dawn were just creeping up on the horizon as we descended into Kuala Lumpur International Airport.


.

Our touchdown was so soft that B didn’t realise that we had landed. Soon afterwards the windows fogged up with condensation.


.


.

Quiet terminal

Quickly out through immigration and baggage collection, Alex was overjoyed to be able to catch the “train lifts” down to the KLIA Express to Kuala Lumpur city proper. It’s a smooth a pleasant way to get to the city, though a bit pricier than many other options.


.

Contrails when we left Amsterdam, contrails when we arrived in KL


.

Putrajaya, the nation’s architecturally impressive but otherwise dead capital

Simpang airport with the KL skyline behind

We caught a taxi from Stesen Sentral to the Parkroyal hotel in Bukit Bintang for a few days of rest and eating before returning to Australia. As usual didn’t get much rest, did a lot of eating and caught up with the family of one of B’s childhood friends for a day.

Alex loved the Malaysian food, even coping with the spice. I think he was getting a little tired of being cooped up though and ran riot through the shopping centres. Unfortunately, Kuala Lumpur was not particularly child friendly, though he did get his third ride of the trip on a carousel.

It was the wet season and there were some massive tropical downpours - nice if you are in your hotel room, not if you are trying to get around the city.

Anyway, here are a few photos of our time in KL.

Minarets in front of the Petronas Twin Towers

View of Bukit Bintang from our hotel window

Storm clouds

Kasturi walk, near the Central Markets

We were stuck here opposite Petaling Street for an hour sheltering from the rain

Pasar malam (night market) at Cheras

Outcrop outside of KL



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 19110 times:

After a day out with B’s friends and their daughter Isabelle (who Alex nicknamed “Jingle Bells” - this was prior to Christmas remember!) it was time to return bid our 10th anniversary holiday farewell and fly home to Australia.

As we collected our bags at the hotel we were convinced to catch the taxi the whole way there rather than brave traffic jams to Stesen Sentral for the train ride. After about an hour driving through the beautiful light of overcast tropical evening skies we were deposited out the front of the terminal with plenty of time to spare.

Departures

Control tower


.

On checking in we discovered that again B had been placed on the row behind Alex and I. Unlike the Toll Dnata staff in Sydney the Malaysian Airlines check in lady was utterly disinterested in assisting us. We resolved to ask the passenger directly.

Our dinner was a third meal at the Food Garden, though I regret now not trying some of the more upmarket places past immigration. As always before a flight I felt like eating something light, which generally doesn’t describe Malaysian foods.

We caught the shuttle train to the satellite terminal. B had just realised that her brother had celebrated his big 40 while we were overseas and needed to purchase him a suitable gift. Our fruitless searches of the terminal revealed the inadequacy of shopping at KLIA. It was further complicated by Alex’s seemingly boundless energy. He wanted to run and run everywhere. And he wanted to catch lifts. Every lift he saw and there are plenty in the satellite terminal.


.

While an exhausted B sat down and waited I chased Alex around the terminal. At least if he burned up his energy there the flight should be easier on all.

19/NOV/2011
CARRIER: Malaysia Airlines
FLIGHT: MH123
SECTOR: KUL-SYD
CLASS: Economy
ETD: 22:40 (local)
ETA: 09:35+1 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 747-400
REGISTRATION: 9M-MPL

It was a relief to finally board the aircraft, with young families going in first. Surprise, surprise it was 9M-MPL “Penang” again.

A familiar tail to be told

Thankfully the passenger slated to be next to us agreed to swap with B. The flight was quite full on this run.

Another taxi ride for the day

Soon after take-off we all fell asleep, though B and I awoke when the late dinner was served. Same old choices of western style snapper or the ubiquitous chicken biryani. I chose the snapper.

Snapper

B returned to sleep, but I couldn’t, so again I watched a video. I was pleasantly surprised how little “Horrible Bosses” seemed to be edited.

There was little to be seen out of the window, a couple of cities, fishing lights and just blackness until the Australian coast at Broome. I was glad that this was “only” a seven hour flight.

In many ways this was the most unpleasant flight of the holiday, despite it being the shortest. The Sun rose into a sky of high cloud, which was rough from South Australia all the way until our descent into Sydney. Only the odd glimpse of a salt lake or mountain through beneath the cloud layer served to break the monotony.

Grey skies

Alex stirred, then two hours before landing the cabin lights were switched on and the chicken pastries in a box made an unwelcome return as our meagre breakfast offering. At least they were served hot this time.

It’s not breakfast, it’s an insult


.


.

Hills

Flying over NSW

One of the attendants came through and gave Alex another copy of the Care Bears T-Z popup book. Again, what’s the point and what’s the point of doing it now?

The big wing of the 747

Our descent into Sydney was from the south and once we emerged from the cloud there were some fantastic views of the Sutherland Shire where we live. It was a bit of a surprise after so many mornings of seeing the MH 747 fly overhead across North Ryde on the other side of Sydney.


.


.


.

Turning towards the coast

Nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights

Heathcote - we are across the Royal National Park

A tight turn towards the north


.

Crossing Kurnell

Almost there, third runway in the background

Landed!

I want to go there again next

You are not so welcome

We had to wait for a procession of other aircraft to depart before we could park in our bay.

Emirates A380


.

Then we disembarked, passed through immigration and customs quickly enough after picking up B’s brother a present from duty free and caught a taxi home. The next day it was back to work with no leave left.

Alex again confirmed what a fantastic traveller he is. I daresay he travelled better than B, despite the huge distances involved. He got a lot out of each country and still talks about his trip. Furthermore, he keeps asking to fly again!

I think that you can easily discern from this trip report that I was not impressed with Malaysia Airlines. I do not understand how they can be considered a five star airline - I would give them three and a half at most.

Due to the number of times that I’ve flown with them Qantas is my baseline for flight reviews (and no, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to fly a ME airline and my only two flights on SQ were back in 1995/96). I’ve very rarely had a bad flight with Qantas and my Europe flights with them in 2009 made me fall in love with flying all over again. So to hear of Qantas seeking closer ties with the soon-to-be-Oneworld Malaysia is a scary thought.

True, I can only go on a single aircraft - Penang - but that’s through no fault of mine.

The interior desperately needs a refresh and the entertainment system is embarrassingly out of date. To see MH constantly spruik their new movies on Twitter is laughable. Their flight attendants lacked the efficiency of robotic Cathay and usually ignored call bells. Furthermore, they seemed to show very little interest in the young travellers, of which there were quite a few on our flights.

I don’t expect the attendants to dote over Alex, though plenty have when we have flown. But a bit of friendliness towards them and their parents can really help and I speak from experience. I didn’t see them showing any towards to the parents nursing babies in their arms on those long flights.

Qantas attendants have always made me feel a lot better about travelling with Alex, while the gold star definitely goes to Thai who made the flight to Bangkok a lot of fun with their warmth and smiles. The Malaysian crew could learn a lot from Thai Airways about how to welcome travellers to your country from the moment you step on board.

Food is another element of that. For a nation whose best attribute is probably its food, the meals served on MH were a disappointment, with the exception of that on the AMS-KUL leg. There were no menus to excite the mind and little representation of the national dishes (I’m pretty sure chicken biryani is not up there at the top of Malaysian cuisine). The “sausage rolls” in a box were shocking. The only positive was that main meals were better than Cathay’s, but then I find Cathay’s food almost inedible.

I might fly MH again if the price was right and it flew where I wanted to go. But I wouldn’t look forward to it in the same way I do for so many

During my stay in Malaysia I was reminded by the numerous billboards of the role that slogans, obscure awards and marketing plays in its society and government. Unfortunately merely hyping something does not make it true, no matter how loudly you shout it out.

MH is Malaysian Hospitality goes their slogan. But no, I have experienced wonderful Malaysian hospitality and it was nothing like those flights. To me, MH is Mostly Hype.

To read more about the trip and with links to the full photo sets please see allrite.at.



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlinesignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 3018 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 18905 times:

Hi Allrite,

nice to see this report online - I read your blog about the European sections a while back  
Alex certainly is growing up, good that he sleeps too though but all that energy to burn! Like you said, why would an F/A hand him a book with only a short amount of the flight remaining? Still it's more than AF offered us last week. KL offered a small activity pack with a passport sized activity, puzzle and colouring book, a "flight logbook" of the same size, and a few colouring pencils.

A pity the MH flights weren't up to scratch. Could it be down to the tired old aircraft? I also find the attitude of staff makes a huge difference. Apart from the boxed rolls, the meals look quite good, if a little repetitive.

Thanks again for the excellent report!

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offlineCXB77L From Australia, joined Feb 2009, 2679 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 18529 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CHAT OPERATOR

Thank you for a wonderful trip report. What I loved about this trip reports are the many pictures of the scenery below as you were flying past. This is also one of my favourite pastimes on long haul flights - I could spend hours looking out the window!

I find it incredible that you got the same aircraft four times. It's as if it was the only 744 MH had ...  Smile For some a.nutters, getting on the same plane twice is a curse ... but four times? What are the odds of that!

Thanks again for an enjoyable read!  

[Edited 2012-01-05 00:06:09]


Boeing 777 fanboy
User currently offlinechrisrad From Australia, joined Dec 2000, 1071 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 18381 times:

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
With an hour before descent we were served a light meal. I was expecting some sort of supper, was hoping for this legendary MAS satay that I’d heard about, but no, a small cardboard box was dumped on our tables with only the question “chicken or vegetarian?” almost unintelligibly asked.

Why would you expect Satay in Y class? It is served in J and F class as the signature dish

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
The Malaysian crew could learn a lot from Thai Airways about how to welcome travellers to your country from the moment you step on board.

Sorry but I have been a regular flier of MH for the last 12 years and have never had an issue with the crew. My best flights have always been with MH, I have had a few flights with QF recently and they were quite frankly awful, catering was terrible, crew were rude and arrogant.
Similarly I did flights with SQ - SIN-LAX, EWR-SIN on the A345 and the crew were no where near as warm and genuine as MH.
I just don't know what people expect sometimes when paying dirt cheap economy airfares, business class seats with 24inch AVOD IFE with 3000 movies available, and 5 course meals.

It would be interesting to see their new Y cabin on the A330 they are flying to MEL now, leg room has gone down unfortunately.



Welcome aboard Malaysia Airlines! Winner of Best Cabin Staff 2001,2002,2003,2004,2007,2009,2012
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3341 posts, RR: 12
Reply 8, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 18044 times:

Nice report - shame MH has lost their sparkle. I remember flying on one of SQ's last 744 a few years ago from HKG-SIN, and just trying to watch that btiny screen gave me such a headache. Connecting to the A380 was light night and day.

And how very annoying to get "Penang" on all four legs!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 17901 times:

I hope people are seeing the photos okay. I'm finding that they are not loading consistently from Picasa. Sorry!

Quoting signol (Reply 5):
Like you said, why would an F/A hand him a book with only a short amount of the flight remaining? Still it's more than AF offered us last week. KL offered a small activity pack with a passport sized activity, puzzle and colouring book, a "flight logbook" of the same size, and a few colouring pencils.

Now I've done this TR I can read your latest! I was surprised by the activity pack Alex got on his last domestic trip with Qantas, but KL sounds better. I don't expect activity packs from airlines, but in this day and age of cost savings the transport of a hardcover book with almost zero entertainment value makes no sense to me.

Quoting signol (Reply 5):
part from the boxed rolls, the meals look quite good, if a little repetitive.

The main meals were reasonable in size and okay in flavour, but I've had better. I hold Malaysian food in such reverence that I expect better from them.

Quoting CXB77L (Reply 6):
Thank you for a wonderful trip report. What I loved about this trip reports are the many pictures of the scenery below as you were flying past.

There's even more in the galleries. I get calluses from holding the camera on flights!  
Quoting chrisrad (Reply 7):
Why would you expect Satay in Y class? It is served in J and F class as the signature dish

Because everyone should have satay! My record is 18 sticks and that's after a big meal.   I'm not marking MH down for no satay. I was just hopeful, that's all. MH face a lot of competition in all classes and food is such a highlight of Malaysia that MH should use it to their advantage.

Quoting chrisrad (Reply 7):
Sorry but I have been a regular flier of MH for the last 12 years and have never had an issue with the crew. My best flights have always been with MH, I have had a few flights with QF recently and they were quite frankly awful, catering was terrible, crew were rude and arrogant.
Similarly I did flights with SQ - SIN-LAX, EWR-SIN on the A345 and the crew were no where near as warm and genuine as MH.
I just don't know what people expect sometimes when paying dirt cheap economy airfares, business class seats with 24inch AVOD IFE with 3000 movies available, and 5 course meals.

I've had one genuine business class experience in my life and countless long haul economy flights, so I'm familiar with the general nature of the product. It's the differences between the airlines that interest me.

If MH marketed themselves as a LCC then I would have had no complaints about the flight. I fly Jetstar a lot. But MH boast about being a five star carrier and people here have told me how wonderful they are (and how awful Qantas are). I didn't experience that and I can honestly say my MH flight experiences lacked the magic of so many of my other recent flights. My wife agrees. You don't. Fair enough! There are intangible elements to the experience.

I tend to ask very little of flight attendants. I suspect that if passengers are the sort that expects them to be "Yes sir. Of course sir. Three bags full sir" then they might appreciate the MH attendants more than Qantas (though CX seem better for that behaviour). I found the way they ignored call buttons for many passengers very bad form. I prefer the initiative and warmth I've experienced from Qantas attendants, even if they are often slower to respond and sometimes reproachful.

I haven't flown anything other than 747s and a lone 734 on MH, so I can't comment about their other aircraft, but hopefully the A380 will trigger a comprehensive interior refresh for their older fleet.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 8):
And how very annoying to get "Penang" on all four legs!

I wonder if I flew it back in 2000 as well! Didn't care about regos in those days.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 8):
I remember flying on one of SQ's last 744 a few years ago from HKG-SIN, and just trying to watch that btiny screen gave me such a headache. Connecting to the A380 was light night and day.

I was surprised how tolerable a smaller Qantas 747 screen was after flying the night before in their first A380. The Qantas 747 screen is my reference for comparison in this review and a previous TG review. I think it's a bit unfair to compare them with the latest generation A380 screens (and the more recently refreshed CX 747s).



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineryan h From Australia, joined Aug 2001, 1571 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 17882 times:

Interesting report.

Seems Malaysia Airlines needs to improve a bit.

When I read the report, could not see any pics.



South Australian Spotter
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 17799 times:

Quoting ryan h (Reply 10):
When I read the report, could not see any pics.

Grrr, looks like Picasa may have sneakily added a bandwidth limit for photos, despite me paying for extra. And the photos were the main thing about this report!

If you go to allrite@ then the home page currently shows links to the photo albums of the trip under the middle "Photos" column.

Or just return to read it later

[Edited 2012-01-05 03:13:35]


Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1240 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 17782 times:

I thought that Bruges was the place to go. Anyway Ghent looks nice.

Compared to US airlines Malaysian looks great. Good legroom and atleast your starter did not consist of just "lettuce" and a cookie for a desert.

I actually like the colours of the seats. It's different.


User currently offlineemalad From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 450 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 17763 times:

A brilliant trip report, which I loved reading. Made me remember my first ever long haul flight on MH back in 2003 when I flew LHR-KUL-SYD and I think I flew on 9M-MPL on one of those flights. In 2005 I flew LHR-KUL-ADL and am desperate to fly to Australia again, although I think I may be trying out another carrier.

User currently offlineSOBHI51 From Saudi Arabia, joined Jun 2003, 3518 posts, RR: 17
Reply 14, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 17530 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

I have a problem with the pictures, none of them is showing   


I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 17507 times:

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 12):
I thought that Bruges was the place to go. Anyway Ghent looks nice.

My friends tell me that Bruges is too touristy and not so nice. I had to show my wife Ghent after being so impressed when I visited it alone in 2009, not that I was complaining. Still didn't have the opportunity to visit the museums and galleries.

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 12):
I actually like the colours of the seats. It's different.

I prefer the brighter domestic jellybean colours of MH (though opinions differ on this board!) or the Thai Airways interiors.

Quoting emalad (Reply 13):
A brilliant trip report, which I loved reading.

Thank you!

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 14):
I have a problem with the pictures, none of them is showing  

Sorry! Next time I should add fewer pictures or spread them over a few threads. Now I have to delay my next trip report or it'll just get worse.



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 16, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 17254 times:

You complained too much on so many petty things about MH. Sorry but I won't trust your TRs again. I have flown MH on 128 sectors and I think you mislead readers with your judgmental whinings. Boo!

User currently offlineCXB77L From Australia, joined Feb 2009, 2679 posts, RR: 5
Reply 17, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 17157 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CHAT OPERATOR

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 16):
You complained too much on so many petty things about MH. Sorry but I won't trust your TRs again. I have flown MH on 128 sectors and I think you mislead readers with your judgmental whinings. Boo!

I think you're taking this too personally. Every airline has its faults, there is no airline that is perfect. You may have flown MH on 128 sectors, but both crew performance and food is something that is variable and could change from flight to flight. The author of this trip report apparently found crew performance to be somewhat lacking. How is that a 'judgmental whining'? How is it misleading? He detailed the reasons why he was not entirely satisfied with the airline. It is hardly 'judgmental', but merely a report on his experiences.



Boeing 777 fanboy
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1327 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 16620 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

I have to agree with most here that having flown MH, that their crews are the best out there. Perhaps, now with the competition from Air Asia X and perhaps a flow of passengers towards that carrier, things don't look too good for MH.

I'm a die-hard fan of MH and still confess them as my first love, having flown mutliple sectors with them, however documenting just these sectors, which in my opinion was the best ones with them. However I do respect your views on MH, as each one is entitled to their own.

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/178320.

For me MH will always represent "Malaysian Hospitality". Most find the new colours and the new seating colours horrendous compared to the past colours, but then you like them, so again it's your own views.

On the contrary when compared with Qantas on a long haul sector like LAX-SYD-LAX, I found the crews to be far from friendly, very mediocre and truly lacking in what Qantas claims to be as the "Spirit of Australia". Perhaps the LAX-SYD-LAX route is more like a greyhound bus service between the US and Canada, so many runs in a day, it doesn't really matter what the level of service is on them. Have strong loads, will fly!! It was my first time on Qantas and I have to say I was terribly disappointed. I may just fly with them again to Australia, just to get on board their A380, and for no other reason.

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/161332,
http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/161384

In comparison, MH crews displayed true service from the heart, geniune friendliness and a real desire to serve, and that too even in Y class. You usually find such dedicated service reserved for those behind the closed curtain up front in J and F on other carriers. For me that is what makes or breaks a flight, and with MH the level of service was consistent on all sectors, not just the lucrative US routes.

I found it amusing that you should have wanted Satay in Y Class, when that is an exclusive item served only in J and F. I'm sure you have seen many trip reports here highlighting this item up front, so it really should not have come as a surprise to you!

The trip report's amazing scenery and the delightful little pics of Alex (as he grows into a world traveller) was the best parts of this detailed write up. Quite enjoyed seeing the changing landscape of Australia. I would have considered it a bonus to fly on that same Boeing 744 for all four sectors  . I do look forward to your future reports and especially to see Alex grow with each one!


User currently offlineemalad From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 450 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 16417 times:

Just looked at my flightdiary and have flown on the following MH aircraft:

9M-MPO LHR-KUL
9M-MPH KUL-SYD
9M-MPJ SYD-KUL
9M-MPO KUL-LHR

9M-MPH LHR-KUL
9M-MRG KUL-ADL
9M-MRA ADL-KUL
9M-MPL KUL-LHR

Like I said earlier, I enjoyed the service and meals and alcohol on MH and they have been my only long haul flights. On the 777 flight from KUL-ADL i was in the middle seat of the aircraft and the unlimited lager before the meal and the Drambuie offered to me and my colleagues after the meal got me through the flight, even made me dribble on the shoulder of the person next to me (no need to worry though, as we were at University together)      


User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8578 posts, RR: 54
Reply 20, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 16074 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Nice report and pictures, thanks for sharing.

Good read, especially since I'll be flying MH Y later this year.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
As we lined up to board the aircraft we looked at our boarding passes and discovered that B was seated separate from Alex and I!

Flagging down one of the Toll Dnata staff checking us in, they told us to wait at the boarding counter, then paged the passenger at the aisle seat next to Alex and I. When they eventually found him he agreed to swap with B (and who wouldn’t if you had somebody else’s young kid next to you?).

- Indeed, I bet he was glad to change seats!

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
I selected a chicken biryani, which was okay, without being great. Pesto salad was fine, but what was really nice was the mangos and cream Weiss bar for dessert.

- Looks pretty decent.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
The chicken was okay I guess, but the vegetarian filling was almost inedible. For the airline of a nation whose best attribute is its food the standard of this meal was unacceptable.

- That's a rough meal to offer, most unimpressed!

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
REGISTRATION: 9M-MPL

- Not again!

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Surprise, surprise it was 9M-MPL “Penang” again.

- OMG, how unlucky can you get!?

Overall, MH don't look anything special at all, in fact far below where I actually envisaged they would be, shame.

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4277 posts, RR: 51
Reply 21, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 15830 times:

Hi,

nice to read about MH, and their 744's. Including the AMS-KUL flight. I recently took them to Asia (report to follow), and was very satisfied on them. I cannot completely agree with your findings;

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
But the faded pale blue, purple and salmon pink seatcovers were just ugly.

But still in a good condition.

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
At least the legroom was reasonable.

Well, you can't get more legroom elsewhere. MH offers 34" on these aircraft, best of it's class and very find for these trips

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
At least Thai had a semi-functional AVOD, but MAS’ was unintuitive and with the remotes wedge in at the side of the seat, they often got knocked inadvertently. The 9-inch screens looked like the same models as 11 years ago

The system used by MH is very common, and the 9" screens are usual as well in Y. The control in the armrest is a usual location to store it. You're not flying on a state of the art A380 so this could've been expected of course.

In general, I think that the MH crews are very good and friendly, willing to assist and in for a joke as well. Although they can be reserved, as with most Asian crews. I've found the meals of good quantities, and quite tasty. But that can be a personal thing of course. To expect the satays, that's too much. Book a different class next time  
Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
I found the seats to be rather uncomfortable. I would periodically feel as if the passenger behind me was sticking their foot into the back of the seat. A quick press of the recline button would temporarily relieve the pressure, but it would later return. Not sure if it was a passenger action or some lumbar support function.

There is a kind of 'back pressure system' in the seats, you can inflate or de-pressure the seatback. Plus a pillow (or more if you like). I think that the seat offers more comfort then many other airlines in Y.

All together, I enjoyed the read, and you've a good amount of pics of the flights. Well done!

Quoting allrite (Reply 3):
Thankfully our train to Schiphol wasn’t as delayed like the previous night’s.

4 to 6 trains per hour between Amsterdam and the airport, so you never have to wait long, unless the tracks are blocked by signal failure etc. Then a re-routing via the South is always possible and will take 15 minutes longer on average.

Regards
Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 22, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 15684 times:

Hi

Nice report, thanks for sharing!
Quite funny you got 'Penang' 4 times on your journey
Loved the pics you have tooken underway, looks to be nice
while MH seems not to have all the bells like SQ, TG, .... they still seem to have a good product!


Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1943 posts, RR: 8
Reply 23, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 15648 times:

Thanks for a very good report and I have flown MH, but fortunately in first and business. Flying with a child is always difficult and I am glad Alex handles it well. About flying "Penang," I also have the tendency on flying the same plane - even though there are multiple legs, but I guess we all pick the routing unconsciously according to aircraft rotations.

34 inches of legroom is very generous these days, but the cabin indeed looks rather tired. I presume these 747s will eventually be replaced by the soon-to-arrive A380s, and 777s. I hope A380s will improve the cabin situation and bring some new energy to the airlines. I am actually surprised that MH has not changed to AVOD yet. The entertainment system is definitely not in line with the new breed of PTV... sorry that comment does not work... MH PTV is not typical Y class entertainment anymore. If you fly United often, that is nice because UA 744s don't even have PTVs, but for even some US airlines, AVOD seems to be the norm. For Asian carriers, MH definitely is behind in the entertainment game. I have to add that most airlines usually feature their top products on their flagship routes, such as London Heathrow.

Food wise - the meals actually are fairly generous on the London flights, but I am surprised that "sandwiches" are not offered as mid-flight snacks. CX has cup noodles, and other "warmed" food or snack items. Most Asian passengers prefer warmed foods. But at least the pre-arrival meal look the same as the first meal service. However, the Australian flights look rather bad - the warmed snack rolls are not acceptable at all - SQ serves a light meal but at least a warm casserole dish of pasta or Asian rice/noodle dish. That is the minimal. There should also have a sweet component - either a cookie or pre-packaged pastry. Continental breakfast is alright too - it is not that expensive to serve a simple box of fruit salad, yogurt, and pastry. Those are simple inexpensive food.

I really like the OP's "too much hype" comment, which is a mistake especially in the over-hyped media tricks that the current advertisement industry likes to use. The "over the top" expectation will not help if the airline can't deliver the product. Virgin Atlantic is always my prime example because expectation is set really high, but it ultimately fails because I am actually not impressed with the service. The cabin and Clubhouse are nice, but the service lacks warmth and the food just sucks in upper class. I hope some airlines will take down a notch and be realistic about your advertisement.

Anyway, I hope everyone will calm down and just respect other's opinions. We all have our favorite airlines and it is sad to hear that some of our fellow passengers don't enjoy the same legendary service. However MH is a big airline with lots of staff with different personality. So some people will experience disappointments. Nonetheless it is obvious that MH is under lots of pressure from Air Asia and Air Asia X, and we always forget that the Australia to UK route is a very heated market with literally tons of airlines fighting over the share of passengers. Emirates and Ethiad really puts more pressure on some Asian airlines, such as TG and MH. Price pressure unfortunately means less service items. With a seemingly closer relationship between MH and Air Asia, it will be interested to see how MH will transform in the next decade. I hope it will focus more on providing a real premium service and just let Air Asia X take the budget travelers. That might mean a smaller scale of operation, but it might be the only way for survival. LCCs starts from SIN and KUL, and it is interesting to see how major airlines are affected by LCCs.

MH is a decent airline and I hope the arrival of A380s will bring some new energy and finally more updated cabins for all three cabin classes.

Thanks again for the report! All the best with your family and can't wait to read where Alex is heading next! I love your Jetstar reports!

Carfield


User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2196 posts, RR: 5
Reply 24, posted (2 years 10 months 4 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 15523 times:

Thanks for your comments guys, be they good and bad.

Replies somewhat out of order to preserve narrative flow. Sorry!

Quoting Carfield (Reply 23):
Thanks again for the report! All the best with your family and can't wait to read where Alex is heading next! I love your Jetstar reports!

Domestic down to Melbourne next, but I probably won't bother with a report for that. Then I'm angling for my annual trip to Japan (probably with Jetstar again)!  
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 18):
found it amusing that you should have wanted Satay in Y Class, when that is an exclusive item served only in J and F. I'm sure you have seen many trip reports here highlighting this item up front, so it really should not have come as a surprise to you!

I actually haven't read too many reports lately and come to think of it my expectation was based more upon a restaurant in Sydney that boasted that their chef cooked Malaysian Airlines satay! As I said, no points deducted from MH for not serving satay in Y (one can only dream), only for serving that horrid pastry that was barely worthy of an Australian takeaway (a Chiko roll would have been better!   )

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 21):
The system used by MH is very common, and the 9" screens are usual as well in Y. The control in the armrest is a usual location to store it. You're not flying on a state of the art A380 so this could've been expected of course.

Off the top of my head I think that both Qantas 747s and A330s and Thai use 9" screens in Y. That isn't a problem. The issue for MH is that the screens that they use look like they haven't been updated since our 2000 flights, despite the underlying system being changed to AVOD. Their resolution and colour display is dreadful, worse than Thai (which also wasn't fantastic with a limited colour palette, but at least watchable). The controls are also unintuitive (my neophyte flyer mother also complained). I've done plenty of flights without personal IFE - the best IFE being the window - but the issue for MH is that if IFE was a differentiator then they would lose big points for it - their competitors (other than AirAsiaX) are way better.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 16):
You complained too much on so many petty things about MH. Sorry but I won't trust your TRs again. I have flown MH on 128 sectors and I think you mislead readers with your judgmental whinings.
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 18):

I have to agree with most here that having flown MH, that their crews are the best out there.
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 18):
On the contrary when compared with Qantas on a long haul sector like LAX-SYD-LAX, I found the crews to be far from friendly, very mediocre and truly lacking in what Qantas claims to be as the "Spirit of Australia".

Die-hard support of MH is one of the reasons that I have criticised MH so heavily in this report. And if you boast loudly of being a five star airline then you had better deliver! Here I was expecting a really fantastic experience and I didn't get it. If my expectations were "a decent, but not great, airline that will get you from A to B with a modicum of fuss" then my expectations would have been met.

I've had a few bad Qantas crews on the Tokyo - Sydney run back prior to 2006, crews that made me ashamed to be Australian with their treatment of foreign passengers. Other routes seemed better. When I flew them internationally again in 2009 and since (on SIN, HKG, PVG and LHR runs) I could not fault their professional behaviour, same domestically. I've been treated to big smiles and enthusiastic service. Even when they questioned if I should be flying with a sick kid I was impressed at the way they handled it. So if I haven't observed this poor behaviour that others complain about then how can I criticise them?

In my mind I wasn't really comparing the MH crews and experience just to Qantas. Asian and Australian attitudes are different. So I also thought about my recent CX and TG flights, especially the my A346 TG flight SYD-BKK this year. On that flight the crew were full of smiles and couldn't do enough for customers. We were served a curry that was the equal to any we've eaten in a restaurant and I felt like they were showcasing their cuisine. From the moment we boarded we felt like we were being welcomed to Thailand and into their culture. In the end Thai's poor IFE didn't matter because I felt like I was experiencing Thai Hospitality in every other way.

I never felt like that on MH. It felt like they did their job and nothing more. The food, while mostly decent, was not treated with the pride that it deserved. Not what I expect of someone promoting their "Hospitality".

There was also the comparison between the Toll Dnata staff in Sydney going out of their way to proactively sort out the seating issue while in MH's home base of KL the check in staff couldn't be bothered to help at all or even show a modicum of sympathy.

And if you want a non-Anglo perspective, my (Chinese) Malaysian wife felt the same way. She was not impressed and despite being a great lover of Malaysian food often chose the western options because, with a couple of delicious exceptions, it seemed more appetising than the Malaysian options.

I felt a bit that MH was a like the "Truly Asia" campaign and the government 1Malaysia billboards prevalent across KL: full of posturing, but light on substance, failing to capture the true virtues of that amazing country.

I don't hate MH. I want MH to succeed. But I think they need to be more humble and consider their position and their competition because with some relatively simple changes MH could be so much more.



Applying insanity to normality
25 joffie : What happened to the pictures. I dont really want to right click on each one and force it to open a new window. Anyone else have this?
26 allrite : Picasa have a bandwidth limit for non-Google sites that show their photos. I put so many photos in this report it that it probably doesn't take too m
27 chrisrad : I think the issue is, as with most trip reports is that, after one trip with MH you seem set they are mostly hype, however for those of us who have fl
28 byronicle6 : Thanks for the report, Its always good to have different perspectives of airlines on here I was looking at flying with MH but might wait till the 388'
29 Post contains images allrite : I wish that I could report on J! It would be interesting to read a TR contrasting the experiences in J and Y on MH. Note that I did have four differe
30 allrite : I wouldn't suggest that people don't fly with them unless you rate good quality personal IFE as a priority (in which case I wouldn't recommend Thai e
31 chrisrad : MH participate in Optiontown upgrades, you might like to try an upgrade on a few sectors if you fly them again.
32 palmjet : Hi allrite I really enjoyed your report. Thanks for posting. Hope you guys had a great time in Europe for your holidays. Looks like Alex enjoyed himse
33 Qantasclub : Hi allrite Excellent, EXCELLENT report. I love your TRs; reminds me of our long hauls with our 2 young kids (3 and 5). My 5 year old son can just abou
34 Post contains images allrite : We did and he did! Alex talks so much about travel. ABC are currently showing reruns of the Christophel Eccelston Dr Who episodes and it's fun to wat
35 JL418 : Hi Allrite, great read! Looks you've had a jolly good time in Europe, well done. I particularly loved, in your TR, the way you conveyed the emotions a
36 Post contains images nipoel123 : Now this is what I call a detailed report, lots and lots of good pictures. I'm glad you enjoyed Schiphol. Were you, by any chance, there on Nov 26? In
37 JetBlueGuy2006 : Great Report once again your little one seems to be as comfortable on planes and trains than in a car. He looks like he loves it. Neither do most of u
38 shamrock604 : I really, really enjoyed that read! Probably your best report yet. Also, the photos, which brought back memories of my own flight on MH004 KUL-LHR, al
39 lukeyboy95 : That report was perfect, just perfect. The correct measure of observation, analysis, humour, intelligence, non-aviation and a good flow. Bloody large
40 chrisrad : I can say the same about SQ, too rigid and robotic. Which I might add many others have commented on as well. Or as the thread starters writes about C
41 FlyboyOz : Wow that's an interesting report. I wanted to see your trip report as you mentioned about MH and I have got a ticket to europe with MH this year (will
42 Post contains images allrite : Thanks for your comments. To be fair to the Lonely Planet I once read one of their guides of the 'Stans and it made me want to visit (except for the
43 LondonCity : Fascinating report with masses of detail. You did the right thing. The LHR Express does not serve T4 (it only runs from T5 to T1/3 then to Paddington
44 allrite : We did have to catch a connecting train anyway for both the Express and Connect. The main advantage of the Express would have been its frequency, rat
45 Post contains images Checo77 : Great TR!!! Thanks for the details and the nice pics!!! And congrats on Alex, what a great kid ! A few kids know how to behave on a plane! A possible
46 Post contains images allrite : It's basically a choice between a Western dish and Malaysian one. I'm sure chicken biryani will be the latter option going by my experience. It's oka
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