Malaysia Airlines could be one of the airlines that got me in to flying about 10 years ago. I would regularly fly them between Australia and Europe in Golden Club Class (Business Class) on the 777-200 aircraft that they still use today. Lots of special memories- the best flight attendants, personalised service, endless drinks, Golden Lounge at KLIA, amazing satay and the list goes on.
When I flew with MH on my birthday in August 2002, I received this card (one for each sector):
It was a nice touch, and just shows the amazing service onboard MH back then. So many awards were received at this time for great service.
I flew them a few years back in Y and was less than impressed, but that’s Y class. I am looking now to see what has changed in 10 years, and to come to a conclusion for this MH Vs SQ report.
PREDICTION Written before the flight to be fair
I have read lots about MH being in trouble over the years, and that standards have slipped. This is shown by Skytrax making their five star rating ‘under review’. For hard product- I can’t see the standard-issue Recaros beating the SQ A380 Business Class seat, the 737-800 seats seem similar to SQ on my shorter hop. For soft product- It’s going to take a lot of work to top the flights I had with SQ on the way here, but if anyone can do it, it would be MH as they are the ‘world’s best cabin crew, and MH is Malaysian Hospitality’. You can’t get excited about Recaro seats, so all they have to really market is the soft product.
From here it’s hard to see them beating SQ, but I hope I am wrong, and that I have two amazing flights with them. Without further ado, let’s go flying...
DAY OF DEPARTURE
After relaxing in Thailand, it had been over three full days without flying. It was time to feed the addiction. I checked out of the hotel, and there was a scary moment when they looked shocked when I asked if my car to the airport was waiting. A bit of checking through the files, telephone calls with heated tones (although the Thai language does sound quite heated in a lot of cases to a foreigner) and apologising and I was told my car was waiting. I went downstairs and it wasn’t- I was told to wait with time ticking by. The concierge said, “no traffic jams today so you will still be at the airport by 12pm.” I haven’t spent much time in Bangkok but wasn’t optimistic. This also happened on the inbound trip to the hotel if you can remember, so next time fly Emirates for the chauffeur service...
The car arrived and with only a few traffic jams to navigate (minimised by some shortcuts) we were soon kerbside at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. I arrived at 12:05pm, flying out at 14:15 so no problems.
The two entries for Malaysia Airlines were closed for renovation, but when I headed in the other door I was right in front of the check-in counter with a very short line for Golden Club Class pax, and not too bad for those in Y. So much so that the traditional ropes weren’t in use and it was just a case of line up in front of the counter of your choice.
Golden Club Class check-in
I waited for one guy in front of me, then was welcomed. There is always an awkward few seconds with eTickets I find where you wait for them to confirm that you are actually on the flight (worst nightmare would be sorry, you were meant to flying yesterday, or worse who are you???)
Signs correct at BKK
The flight was codeshared today with Bangkok Airways (flew with them down to Samui last year- fantastic) and Thai Airways.
I don’t know anything about the check-in process, but why so much typing? I would have thought it would be type in name, enter weight of bags, print boarding pass done. The check-in agent was friendly enough with minimal chatter, and gave me a boarding pass, lounge invite, directions to the lounge on a separate card, premium lane invite, bag tag and the list goes on.
Part of the paper trail, lounge invite is just my boarding pass printed on a Thai piece of paper and MH boarding pass is lacking in colour.
Time check: 12:12pm, just 7 minutes since entering the terminal building. How quickly could I get through immigration and get to the lounge?
I proceeded to the priority lane and there was nobody waiting. Unfortunately it takes a fair while for me to get my laptop out of the bag, get all the electronic devices together, empty my pockets and remove my belt. Luckily my shoes could stay on and I passed through without going off. It then took the same time at the other end to pack everything into my bag. The immigration officers were pretty laid back- is it just me or are they nicer in the premium lane? They were happily joking and chatting with one another, and there was again no line. They joked with me and asked about my travel plans, before waiving me through.
I then walked past the long line of Y class passengers, with the whole immigration process taking just 6 minutes. In my opinion, 13 minutes from being landside to getting airside is pretty good.
Decoration once airside
FIDS encountering some slight technical problems
I arrived at the Royal Orchid Lounge just 20 minutes after getting out of the car. The Royal Orchid Lounge was it for today’s flight. I am no expert of airline alliances, but am surprised that MH would be using Star Alliance. The lounge welcome was friendly, and the lounge was a stock standard offering for Thai which isn’t the best when you consider that this is its home base. I was counting down to the Golden Lounge at KLIA to be honest.
Drinks were good
The bar- didn’t touch the alcohol
The best part- a lounge that actually has an external window. One that I could sit beside and take in the action between drinks. The most notable sight was A6-EDU, an Emirates A380 getting ready for a flight to Hong Kong as EK 384.
The food offering was nothing on Changi, but I still enjoyed the sandwiches, dumplings, pasta and pizza.
Remembering my Changi experience and not wanting to miss a moment of the action of the flight, I left at 1:35pm, 10 minutes before boarding at 1:45pm for the 2:15pm flight. I was walking slowly past the Emirates A380, which was set to leave at 1:45pm. An agent standing at the top of the stairs for the gate searching for last minute pax power walked towards me, “Are you flying to Hong Kong?” The tone was desperate, I said no, Kuala Lumpur (although I wouldn’t pass the chance of flying on the Emirates A380 to a new destination rather than heading home). “Oh, sorry.” I later had a look- the aircraft left about 20 minutes late.
I found my gate, E6.
My documents were checked and I was invited to sit down. I was surprised to learn that our aircraft wasn’t there- this was minutes away from boarding?
Suddenly, there it was, 9M-MXA, the new 737-800 with Boeing Sky Interior.
Minutes later passengers were deplaning and it was surrounded with refuelling, re-catering and baggage staff.
Side note- what is that around the nose- looks like either corrosion (which I know it wouldn’t be), dead bugs or a bad paint job?
I had my doubts about the turnaround, but they made it happen.
The gate area
Passengers needing special assistance were approached individually and told to board, then a boarding announcement came over the PA inviting business class customers and respected members of Enrich or Star Alliance. This was about 8 people, myself included.
Heading for the jetway- no lines
Down the jetway, excitement building for yet another flight at 2:02pm.
Date: 10th April 2012
Flight: MH 789
Route: BKK (VTSB) – KUL (WMKK)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-8H6
First flight was 06/10/2010, delivered to Malaysia Airlines on 29/10/2010. Age 1.5 years (youngest aircraft of the trip thus far). Features new MH shorthaul hard product and Boeing Sky Interior.
Scheduled / Actual Departure (gate): 2:15pm / 2:14pm UTC + 7
Scheduled / Actual Arrival (gate): 5:25pm / 5:18pm UTC + 8
Flight Time (gate to gate): 2h04m
Video of the new aircraft which actually shows 9M-MXA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHOtc9kNxg8
On boarding, the flight attendants weren’t quite as proactive as SQ. There was an inflight supervisor without a name tag and Silpheny, a female F/A. There wasn’t much chatter as they glanced at my boarding pass and directed me down the aisle with hand gestures. To be fair to them, you don’t really need to be shown to seat 2F on a 737-800. No name greeting.
Into the J cabin and whoever previously designed the MAS interiors (powerful chilli red and explosive bright colours in Y) must have been fired, because the seating was very tasteful with blue leather in J and red leather in Y. Stylish, new and looking good. One of the biggest criticisms of MAS in the past has probably been using the tired old 734s for years, so well done to them.
My seat (taken at KUL)
I preselected my window seat online, and it was a good choice. The seat was very similar to what I had on SQ 970, but the leather made it better. The legroom wasn’t quite as good but still adequate for this flight. As a taller person I’m pretty happy if my knees don’t touch the seat in front.
The legroom shot
The Y passengers started boarding without delay
The touch screen in front of me was a decent size and I put on the moving map, which wasn’t a map.
It turns out that the map only works in the air.
At 2:12pm the doors were closed- it was very efficient and we were running right on time.
Drink orders were taken, and we were given a menu of the offering for today. There was also a cold towel service with really cold towels that were well scented.
The safety demonstration was performed the manual way, which is pretty simple for the 737. We were suddenly moving backwards quite quickly and ready for action. The aircraft taxied like a car- not slowing down or stopping for the turns which felt like they were trying to stay on schedule, or maybe it’s just how it feels when you get off an A380 and B777.
The drinks came around, and I wonder how they would have gone in a full cabin of 16 passengers as there was a lot to do before takeoff. The meal selection was made, then to my dismay they took the menus back. I attempted to conceal the menu in the seat pocket but they reached over into my seat pocket to get it back from me...cost cutting is a nasty thing. Anyway, the menu offered a cashew salad to start, then a choice of fish, chicken or vegetarian for the main meal. Not sure on the dessert. I went with the chicken as it was chef recommended.
Something else I saw in the menu during my 3 minute glance was the beverage list which trumpeted ’18 year old single-malt Glenlivet Scotch Whiskey’ with other types of cheaper, blended scotch. SQ didn’t have 18 year old scotch onboard, so when the post-takeoff drink order came around I asked for Glenlivet. Blank stare. I broke the silence with “Scotch on the rocks” which got acknowledgement. It probably wound up being the cheaper scotch, but if you’re going to have fine alcohol onboard that really sets you apart, at least know about it.
The Boeing Sky Interior is interesting, we couldn’t fully appreciate it in J due to the life rafts in the ceiling.
The galley upfront had two screens, one was dedicated to the Boeing Sky Interior and had a Boeing screensaver (with some futuristic-looking 737s). This was for lighting. The other screen was for everything else, like playing the pre-recorded cabin announcements, boarding music and video. The only other noticeable thing was the overhead lockers had the 787 style.
Inflight supervisor working on the screen- Boeing Sky Interior screen just visible below
My orange juice came and was taken back once finished, and I looked outside to see that we were coming up to 19L. The flight attendant was still taking the last orders for the meal just as we entered the runway, and quickly sat down with the engines spooling up. As I said, this is in a cabin of 8 passengers, how would they have gone with 16?
We departed from 19L, and after the A380 the 737 felt like a rocket launching into the air. We were already heading south towards Kuala Lumpur, and at 10,000 feet the fasten seatbelt signs were switched off.
Immigration cards were given out with a priority card.
The moving map burst into life as soon as we left the runway, and it was the new, high-tech type.
By 2:40pm we were over the coast
The couple in front reclined their seats, quickly turning around and apologising for invading my personal space and promised to put the seats up for meal. I said it wasn’t an issue. Even though the seatback was close there was still enough room and the IFE screen could be adjusted to be viewable.
Post-takeoff drink- scotch on the rocks
Our tables were set for the meal, and it was just a one tray affair which is fair enough given that the 737 galley can’t be that spacious.
Removing the foil...
The cashew salad had about three cashews in it, but was still OK, the main meal was nice except that the potatoes were just a tad undercooked. The menu called this a ‘light meal’ which was an understatement. I just wonder what was being served back in Y- would it be the full snackbox or perhaps the simple bread roll offering?
The inflight supervisor came around with the full bread basket, and without engaging in dialogue gestured at the selection. I went for the garlic bread and got two pieces. Very well done by MH.
The dessert was a traditional Asian pudding- no menu means I’m not sure what. I am not a big fan of Asian desserts but this isn’t MH’s fault. However, it was served on a banana leaf which was a nice touch.
The meal was cleared away about an hour in to the flight. Out the window I saw an island that looked a lot like Koh Samui, or one of the surrounding islands.
The first officer came over the P/A to give some information, but this was already presented on the excellent moving map.
Even when surfing the inflight entertainment interactive section, a small tickertape was going by with key details like ETA. The only thing was that the map wasn’t interactive, but the bigger problem was that there was no headphones for this flight. Why go to the trouble of providing such a good entertainment system but without headphones?
Also, there were lots of messages like this:
And the back
After the meal some passengers were offered drinks, others (including me) were not. Perhaps with the scotch I had already exceeded my quota of allowed drinks?
A Y class passenger came bursting through the great divide to use the forward bathroom- this wasn’t allowed and he was promptly turned back.
With no headphones I was happy to look out the window and read the Temptations inflight shopping catalogue. I was nearly tempted with some of the aircraft models, but I exercised restraint.
At about 3:45pm, one final hot towel service was conducted.
At 3:52pm, we were at the top of descent, and the engines slowed down. A nice pre-recorded announcement was played that went along the lines ‘death for drug traffickers in Malaysia’. We flew past KLIA on the eastern side and then flew the ILS for Runway 32L (I could see KLIA as we intercepted the localiser as it was a clear day and KLIA stands out). This meant a nice smooth approach with a gradual drop in height. We landed on 32L and then vacated on C4.
Once we had slowed to taxi speed on the runway we didn’t stop and went like a car again...love the 737.
We taxied to Gate B4 at the main terminal and pulled in ahead of schedule.
Entering the apron for the main terminal building
Docked next to an older 737-800
We pulled up, came to a complete stop and the seatbelt sign went off. We got our bags, and the aerobridge soon connected. MH closes the curtains between classes as soon as we stopped. There was a line building back in Y.
My seat and the ones next to it
I thanked the crew for a great flight, and then proceeded down the jetway. All was quiet at KLIA with only four flights arriving at the same time.
737-400 next to us from inside the terminal
It was 5:27pm local time, and the clock was ticking to see just how efficient KLIA could be. We were almost the closest gate to immigration, and armed with my passport and priority card I proceeded downstairs. They have dedicated lanes for First and Business Class with the carpets rolled out in welcome. I was through passport control in a matter of seconds after getting my fingerprints read.
By the time I got to baggage carousel A, my Golden Club Class tagged bag was already waiting.
Just 7 minutes since getting off the aircraft, and I was ready to go. I went to the green channel, and there were no staff interested in the people walking through.
My next flight was tomorrow at 10:05am, so I had some time to kill. Luckily I had booked the Pan Pacific Hotel at the airport and followed the signs. I read that there was a golf buggy service, so kept following the signs expecting to find a waiting golf buggy at the next turn. Suddenly I had arrived- the walk was quite short. I proceeded straight to the executive floor for check-in and got a room with a view of Runway 32R.
Pan Pacific Hotel
View of the apron
Foot massage anyone?
IMPRESSIONS OF MH 789
Check-in: Straightforward, short line, no stress
Departure: Immigration officers very friendly, from kerbside to lounge in under 15 minutes was impressive.
Lounge: Good views of the apron, food and beverage offering was basic but it was a reasonable place to wait for a flight. Expected more from Thai at their home base.
Onboard: Nice new plane, Boeing Sky Interior excellent. Staff reasonably friendly but couldn’t go past the team on SQ 970. Seats similar to SQ 970. Touchscreen IFE was great but provide headphones please.
Food and Beverages: Good for a ‘light snack’, but SQ wins this sector, possibly due to having the full 777 galley to work with. Don’t take menus away.
Arrival: Bag waiting at the carousel. KLIA one of my favourite airports. Very efficient, passed through in 7 minutes.
MH provided an efficient and comfortable flight that left and arrived on time. The new 737 was enjoyable to fly in. If an MH flight appeared at the right price, I would fly with them again without hesitation.
AND THE WINNER IS...
This is my opinion only based on what I experienced on SQ 970 and MH 789 on the days I flew with them. Further flights with each carrier may change my view. Others may form different opinions based on the experience.
SQ 970 wins the shorthaul sector over MH 789, even if I give MH a slight handicap due to only having a 737 rather than a 777. The SQ crew were better, the catering was better, the IFE was better (only because headphones were supplied). If the flight had been on a retrofitted SQ 777 and then an old MH 734, the margin may have been bigger.
themit9 From Australia, joined Apr 2012, 80 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 10955 times:
THE NEXT DAY
The iPhone alarm fired at 5:52am, eight minutes before my scheduled wake-up call. I always set as many alarms as possible to avoid system failure.
The sleep quality wasn’t the best mainly due to the aircon. The lowest temperature for the thermostat was 20 (most are 18 or 16), but even then I would be surprised if the room was really 20 degrees. When I turned on the lights the power to the room also tripped which meant I had to locate the switchboard and turn it back on.
There was a knock on the door just after 6 with my coffee- a nice touch. I then headed back to the Pacific Club for a quick breakfast. I then checked out and was escorted to a golf buggy for the trip to the terminal building.
Riding the golf cart
Once I arrived it was just a matter of finding J class check-in which was upstairs. It was a special area contained in opaque glass. You enter, and a gatekeeper firmly asks if you are in Business (just in case you missed all the signs). I said yes and was given a ticket with a number and told to sit down on one of the comfortable sofas. Fridges were nearby with drinks.
Waiting for check-in
30 seconds later there was a ping, and my number came up on the screen. I went to the counter shown. It was a completely different design to normal check-in counters- it was at normal table level with a laptop built in to the desk. A porter is at every desk to lift your bag onto the conveyor belt- to think I had been stupidly lifting 13 kilos myself all these years.
I was asked if a window seat was OK. I said yes, and then found that my preselected seat was ignored completely. Never mind, I was only one row back and most J class seats are made equal. But in Y class or with windowless window seats more of a fuss could have been made. Also, what about those who actually paid for the privilege of advanced seat selection?
Boarding pass was issued, and I was told that no lounge invite was needed- just my boarding pass. Finally some common sense.
The business class check-in area
I then proceeded down to immigration. My details were checked to make sure I really was flying today. KLIA again rolls out the orange and yellow carpet for premium passengers, and I cruised straight through.
Premium lane in the distance, photos often aren’t allowed in these areas so I thought I should keep my distance.
There was no separate security area for J class but there were no lines so this was fine.
Model aircraft with MH and Air Asia X together
It was 20 minutes since I got off the golf buggy- not quite as quick as Bangkok.
I had to head to the satellite terminal for the lounge and my flight.
Aerotrain- not to be confused with the Changi Skytrain
Within 5 minutes I was at the Satellite Terminal.
All the memories came back, and things really hadn’t changed in10 years. Naturally in had a destination other than MEL on my mind...
I had spent hours here in yesteryear, and the Golden Lounge probably wins out of all the lounges experienced on this trip.
There were big windows for viewing
The lounge area with food and beverage offering
One of the best parts about the lounge is that you can order noodles and they bring it to your seat. There are a number of dishes to choose from.
Beef noodles and ice tea
I was next to a TV tuned to MTV playing some of the latest tunes. I thought this was good, but not sure if all travellers would appreciate this. In the SQ lounges everything is muted and they pipe soft jazz through the complex.
9am rolled around, and I had had some duty free shopping to do. I don’t get into the hype of duty free, but I had to get items for others. I went past Gate C12 on the way and saw that we were indeed going to be on the new MH A333. I spent a bit more time than expected shopping and a boarding call came over for my flight. I had some sorting to do in my bag to get ready for the strict security, including placing liquids in a clear plastic bag.
I arrived at the gate to a long line. No separation for premium customers here. Luckily they opened another channel and I jumped at the opportunity. I had to take out my laptop, iPad and liquids, then empty the contents of my pockets. I have to get more organised about this.
I then went through the metal detector and beeped. Off came my belt. Beep again. Off came my shoes. No beeps which was a relief. Just as I passed through and repacked my bag and got dressed again a boarding call was made for all remaining passengers. I joined the line, and noticed that there was only one aerobridge attached to aircraft. Was there an operational reason, or was this a clever ploy to get people to walk through the new business class?
My ride to MEL, 9M-MTD.
First real line of the trip
Date: 11th April 2012
Flight: MH 129
Route: KUL (WMKK) – MEL (YMML)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-323X
First flight was 23/05/2011, delivered to Malaysia Airlines on 24/06/2011. Age 0.9 years (youngest aircraft of the trip thus far). Features new MH longhaul product. My first time on the A330.
Scheduled / Actual Departure (gate): 10:05am / 10:12am UTC + 8
Scheduled / Actual Arrival (gate): 8:10pm / 8:05pm UTC + 10
Flight Time (gate to gate): 7h53m
Passengers were being greeted at the door, and directed to their seats. “Welcome onboard sir, 47K is this way...” and so on. Once they saw my boarding pass, it was a greeting by name. I was then directed to 4A. I wasn’t shown the way as on SQ, but this was OK. There was a brief moment of confusion because MH doesn’t have a row 3 for some reason. A male steward was standing at my seat, and helped me stow my bag in the overhead locker.
I didn’t get a good photo of the seating, so here is one from airliners.net:
I had said that I wasn’t excited about generic Recaro seating, and to be honest the wow-factor of SQ’s massive seat wasn’t there. But, instead, there was a feel of practicality and comfort. The seat was very comfortable to sit in. The footrest was long enough for a person of my height to enjoy which was a refreshing change. Some have commented that the seats are too hard, but I thought the padding was just fine (maybe the seats have to be broken in?). The IFE screen was big enough, but a little too low.
The seat has quick access controls.
Under the armrest, there were more precise controls
The quick access controls were a little hit and miss. Pushing a button would often get the seat to do something else, or putting the seat into a flat bed didn’t work without first reclining the seat and so on. Sometimes adjustment was required to get decent results.
I put the seat into ‘bed mode’ and it was angled lie flat but still comfortable. It was wide enough and long enough. The armrest could be lowered for extra width which was good. While SQ’s seat was wider and had more ‘wow’ this seat just worked, was comfortable and I wouldn’t say no if I was offered these for my lounge room.
Y class passengers were still walking through the cabin, commenting on the quality of the seating. Some were even optimistic in believing these seats were theirs for the flight. I have spent lots of time in Y and felt sympathetic to what they have to put up with for the next 8 hours.
The view from my seat- aerobridge B- not in use today
It was a light load today
A steward came around with a tray of welcome drinks. Before he could work through the list of drinks on the tray, I said guava juice. “Excellent choice Sir”
Thanks to the Malaysian Hospitality in the Pacific Club during the previous evening at happy hour, I was happy to stick to juice.
Newspapers came around
The last of the Y pax came in, and the J cabin was about 30% full. The safety video screened without any warning, and again, I am not a fan of this video.
The main protagonist is a stewardess voiced by Asha Gill. The dubbing isn’t great and is often out of sync. The antagonists for the film were a range of characters being told off for not being compliant, such as a passenger leaving a bag in the aisle (“excuse me sir, can you place your bag in the overhead locker or securely under the seat in front of you so that you or others don’t trip over it”) and the like. More unrealistic than most safety videos which made it tacky. Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1-j3HR2PRY
We taxied out to Runway 32R, and waited for an MH 734 and CX 777. Then it was our turn and we lifted off the ground. We made a left turn and flew back over KLIA before tracking for the first waypoint on our route to MEL.
At 10,000 feet the fasten seatbelt sign was turned off and the crew got into action. No pre-takeoff drink order was taken which I thought was surprising.
Literature pocket. The seat also had a smaller pocket which was useful for wallets, passports and sunglasses (or regular glasses in my case).
Coast of Malaysia
The all-important legroom shot.
I could extend my legs fully while having the IFE screen and seat pocket close enough to reach which makes this seat a winner.
A trolley came around with amenity kits and noise-cancelling headphones. Look out SQ. Slippers were also offered, which I accepted.
My amenity kit and headset
A stylish bag full of Clarins products
Meanwhile the cloud was thickening
Mood lighting after takeoff
IFE controller is the same as on the 737
I plugged in the headphones and put on Seal’s new album. The music was crisp and clear and the engines could no longer be heard. The quality of the audio and video was probably a fraction better than SQ. Between the comfortable seat, stunning exterior views and smooth music, I had found what flying is all about.
There seemed to be a problem with the menus, and they were promptly removed and we were given another. The second menu was more appealing to me than the first so I was happy.
So many choices, but I decided to go with the Nasi Lemak, something I had heard a lot about.
“Have you had it before Mr...” asked leading flight stewardess Maria.
“No but I have heard great reviews about it”
“It’s very spicy, but it will be good”
I was hesitant as I don’t respond well to spicy food, but decided to wait and have plenty of water on hand.
My large table was set
First course with fresh fruit was great
The cabin during the meal
The bread basket came around with a great selection- I had the croissant. A tray of preserves came around in small jars which was nice. I picked marmalade.
This was cleared and replaced with the main meal. “Your typical Malaysian breakfast sir,” said the flight steward.
This was the best meal I have had on a plane in 10 years, if not ever. The prawns were tasty, the nuts gave the meal excellent texture and the coconut rice was amazing. I really enjoyed SQ’s catering, but this meal took sky dining to a whole new level of excellence. At this moment, it became apparent that we had a fight on our hands between SQ and MH- one I was happy to be in the middle of in this comfortable business class seat at 37,000 feet.
Maria came around during meal- “I hope it’s not too spicy for you Mr...”
“No it’s perfect thank-you- I thought it might be crying at this point”
“I’ll give you some more water just in case”
This really felt like genuine Malaysian Hospitality. The script was thrown out and it was warm and caring service. You could see why MH has won so many awards for great crews.
My plate was removed but there was a violet shudder, the seatbelt sign came on and the inflight supervisor came over the P/A, asking the cabin staff to return to their seats. My plate was put back on the table, then the carts retreated to the galley and we held on. When things settled down my plate was removed, and I made it clear that this was the best inflight food in 10 years onboard. I was immediately offered another plate, and while it was tempting the line had to be drawn somewhere so I declined. If only they had take-home packs. I was also told that tea and coffee couldn’t be served during rough weather. Drinking coffee in an aircraft is hard enough with minor turbulence, so I wasn’t concerned.
It was time to finish off with some dessert. Cake, mango sauce and ice cream.
Finally the fasten seatbelt sign clicked off and I had a coffee in a full-size mug.
Outside we were making good progress over the Java Sea.
Captain Raymond Wong came over the P/A to apologise for the 7 minute delay leaving KL due to other traffic. In my opinion the 7 minute delay could have been allowed to slide. A bumpy flight was promised, and the usual raft of informative info was given. Despite leaving late, due to tailwinds we would arrive in MEL early. I had a look and we were doing about 950km/h as ground speed which was good.
I got up and went to the bathroom
When I left the bathroom I was told that water had been placed on my table.
Even the water doesn’t let you forget what MH stands for.
I tried out the bed at settled in to watch ‘The Descendants’.
This film was edited to within an inch of its life. It appears Malaysians are conservative when it comes to film and literature. It was humorous to hear the characters saying things like “Oh Hit”, “I will go out there a muck you” and “that guy’s such an ick”. The characters would be told off with “watch your language” without swearing at all.
The sun was going down- not outside but in the cabin. It was 12:25pm,about 2 hours in to the flight.
It soon became apparent that the lights couldn’t really go on or off, a preset sunrise or sunset sequence was necessary.
I put on a great feature about the Boeing 787, which included some great facts about Boeing that I didn’t know about.
Over the Indian Ocean it was lights out
These night flights during the day don’t help with the jetlag. I worked hard when planning this trip to avoid night flights, and didn’t appreciate getting one in the middle of the day.
The flight attendants came past often, and I got some more guava juice. It was time to stretch the legs, which wasn’t necessary due to the good seat pitch.
Wooden-style floors in the galley
I passed through the great divide to check out the Y class offering, and I am not going to lie, things weren’t pretty. It was a full flight except for seats designated for crew rest. As soon as I got through the curtain, two infants in a bassinet were competing against each other for loud screaming- and there was no clear winner.
The flight attendants were handing out ice cream which was a nice touch. I guess Y class always looks shocking after being in J for most of the flight, but I don’t think I have ever felt more glad to be able to escape to the peaceful surrounds of J. On the way back I decided to use the bathroom again, which was tied up, as was the forward one. I waited looking around the galley. Flight attendant Maria came up and broke the ice by asking what my previous flight had been (she could obviously tell I wasn’t from Malaysia). We launched into a long conversation about a range of topics like the new A330-300, the new 737, what I thought of my flights on SQ relative to MH, Australian culture, Australian sport, how I managed to fly business class being so young and the list goes on. I was feeling won over by the genuine interest in my travels and opinions. It felt to me that, while SQ worked well off a script, the MH cabin staff were real people and some of the best out there. I have never had a bad flight with them (except in Y but that’s another matter) and they hadn’t lost their touch after 10 years. I told them that I was most looking forward to the satay and still had great memories. I was promised a large helping. Maria said that despite the light load the aircraft was fully catered for.
The flight was getting towards the later stages, and it was time to fill out the arrival documents. The Australian immigration cards are the longest to fill out and ask a raft of interesting questions.
Two hours out
Another walk to the forward galley where the dinner service was being prepped
The ‘Business’ feature wall with silver lettering looked great, but is this business class or Golden Club Class (the best name given to business class by an airline in my opinion)?
The A330 was a great aircraft to fly in and well decorated.
Back at my seat we had a sunrise happening from the darkness (or was it a sunset?)
I personally liked the mood lighting, although a fade into white would be better than just having all the lights come on after a while.
Tables were being set on the other side of the aircraft
Drink orders were taken, and what could I have except more guava juice? “I told my colleague that you would be having that”- they knew me too well.
Peanuts, walnuts and other nuts
There were no choices for this meal, but here is the menu anyway
The starter was the lobster medallion- all that could be said was wow.
Then, the moment I had been waiting for- the famous MH satay
Maria came over and said “make sure you given extra to Mr...”
I was blown away by the personal service.
The west-bound sunset was long, but east-bound the sun was setting very quickly
Maria came around and asked what I thought of the satay. I told her that it hadn’t changed in 10 years. It was a special moment bringing back lots of memories about some of the great days of travel in the early 2000s. Responding to my positive review, a large plate of satay was brought over and a large bowl of sauce. “This is the real way to enjoy satay- and I’ll get you more guava juice”.
I didn’t count the number of sticks consumed in this sitting, but the taste was amazing and MH still owns the dish. “We still use the same supplier as 10 years ago” said Maria.
To finish, the cheesecake was excellent- the right temperature and very tasty.
This wonderful flight was coming to an end
Our headsets were collected, then a video was shown about all things Melbourne.
Unfortunately, there was some slight skewing in favour of those organisations who paid money in the production of the video. As a Melbournian I can honestly say that some of the places shown to be hotspots were places that no real Melbournian would go to. To avoid defamation I won’t say which.
Great Ocean Road
Captain Raymond Wong apologised for all the bumps in the flight, hoped that we had enjoyed the flight, and announced our descent.
Headsets were collected and we were heading towards earth. Two children were brought up from Y and sat in the front row of J. I assume this was to get them off the aircraft first.
Maria came over one last time- "Thanks for flying with us today Mr.... and I hope to see you again some time". I was blown away by the service.
The approach was a straight-in to Runway 16, and we flew over the areas where I have watched aircraft approaching from the ground. The approach to Runway 16 is much faster than doing the Arbey 6 arrival into Runway 34.
All too soon, we touched down, and this amazing trip came to an end with over 15,000km covered both in the air and on the ground.
On arrival, I thanked the crew for a great flight. I got a ticket for the passport autogates, made a quick purchase at duty free and then proceeded to passport control. The autogates weren’t in use, and the process was over in a few seconds.
I then proceeded to baggage claim, and my bag was one of the first to come off. My premium card let me cut the line at quarantine, and I was sent straight to the exit without going through an inspection. Thanks Melbourne Airport.
Just some of the souvenirs from MH
IMPRESSIONS OF MH 129
Check-in: Nice check-in area at KLIA makes check-in even better. Best check-in experience ever.
Departure: Security a little stressful- makes MEL look very laid back. However, I love KLIA and can’t wait to go back.
Lounge: Great views, great staff, great food and beverage. It doesn’t get much better.
Onboard: First time on the A330 and I was impressed. Excellent seating that really does the job. Touch-screen IFE a real winner and probably better than KrisWorld. Staff very friendly and genuine. Full-size amenity kit.
Food and Beverages: Took airline catering to a new level. Nasi Lemak, the best satay in the sky (if not the world), lobster and guava juice.
Arrival: MEL makes it easy for Australians to come home with autogates, a small and simple layout and great Australian service. Customs can be rude to others though.
MH showed me that not much has changed in 10 years. Drinks runs are no longer as frequent, and a couple of things have scaled back but overall everything remained intact and they are still a great way to fly with Malaysian Hospitality- a slogan that matches the experience on this flight. I believe a flight on their 777-200 or 747 product would have also been good.
AND THE WINNER IS... This is my opinion only based on what I experienced on SQ 228 and MH 129 on the days I flew with them. Further flights with each carrier may change my view. Others may form different opinions based on the experience.
This answer isn’t going to be popular, but the winner is too close to call for the long-haul category.
If I award the flight to MH, I am forgetting the amazing A380 experience with SQ, frequent drinks runs, amazing cheese and fruit board and great cabin staff.
If I award the flight to SQ, I am forgetting the personalised service on the A330 by the excellent MH crew, and the catering that took my experience to a new level. The satay and Nasi Lemak. The slightly better AVOD and the list goes on.
What is required is more flights with each carrier, something I really look forward to doing because I would happily fly with either MH or SQ depending on scheduling, price, aircraft and other factors.
Thanks for reading both parts of my trip report, constructive feedback would be great. I have no further plans to fly, but I hope to report about another flight soon because the aviation bug has bitten.
chrisrad From Australia, joined Dec 2000, 1006 posts, RR: 9 Reply 2, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 10720 times:
Great trip report, you share my sentiments about MH exactly. I also personally believe the catering and cabin crew are better than SQ, and I have flown both many times to compare. SQ kills MH in the hard product, but every time I step back aboard a MH flight I feel so welcome and comfortable. I am a bit disappointed they went with such a generic seat for J class. They could have gone for a full lie-flat seat, e.g. similar to TK.
Welcome aboard Malaysia Airlines! Winner of Best Cabin Staff 2001,2002,2003,2004,2007,2009,2012
themit9 From Australia, joined Apr 2012, 80 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (1 year 1 month 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 9116 times:
Quoting chrisrad (Reply 2): Great trip report, you share my sentiments about MH exactly. I also personally believe the catering and cabin crew are better than SQ, and I have flown both many times to compare. SQ kills MH in the hard product, but every time I step back aboard a MH flight I feel so welcome and comfortable. I am a bit disappointed they went with such a generic seat for J class. They could have gone for a full lie-flat seat, e.g. similar to TK.
Thanks for your reply. These days to be competitive, you need a full-flat bed...it's hard to see the lie-flat concept lasting much longer. However, the seats are very comfortable and practical to sit in and I have heard that the incline isn't as bad as some. Didn't know much about TK but I have just looked at their details and it looks great.
thegivenone From Austria, joined Jan 2008, 141 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (1 year 1 month 8 hours ago) and read 7740 times:
Awesome, awesome report and thanks for sharing.
Your conclusions sound absolutely reasonable and are perhaps not that surprising. It is nice to hear, however, that MH has not lost their special touch. With continued refurbishment of their hard product, I do hope that they will retain their 5-star status and that I will get to fly them some time soon.
Your conclusions sound absolutely reasonable and are perhaps not that surprising. It is nice to hear, however, that MH has not lost their special touch. With continued refurbishment of their hard product, I do hope that they will retain their 5-star status and that I will get to fly them some time soon.
Thanks for your feedback on the report. I can't see them retaining their five star status at the moment with the bulk of the fleet being tired 744s and 772s, where the economy section hasn't been updated since the aircraft started flying. However if they can get their fleet upgrade moving and have aircraft like the 738 and 333 that I was on, I'm sure they can find their way back. I am currently crunching the numbers on my next trip, and in J class, MH really seems to offer the best value for a low price, so you'll probably see an MH report from me again soon.
I'm confused about why TG chose the locations they did for lounges. The main F and C lounges have no view, but the spa nearby does?1
Quoting themit9 (Thread starter): whoever previously designed the MAS interiors (powerful chilli red and explosive bright colours in Y) must have been fired, because the seating was very tasteful with blue leather in J and red leather in Y.
Those colours before were awful
Quoting themit9 (Thread starter): The meal selection was made, then to my dismay they took the menus back. I attempted to conceal the menu in the seat pocket but they reached over into my seat pocket to get it back from me...cost cutting is a nasty thing
Normally they collect them towards the end of the flight - shame you couldn't keep them
Quoting themit9 (Thread starter): Why go to the trouble of providing such a good entertainment system but without headphones?
Strange they didn't have any in C. I got some in Y flying GA on a 40 min flight recently
Quoting themit9 (Thread starter): Once I arrived it was just a matter of finding J class check-in which was upstairs. It was a special area contained in opaque glass. You enter, and a gatekeeper firmly asks if you are in Business (just in case you missed all the signs). I said yes and was given a ticket with a number and told to sit down on one of the comfortable sofas. Fridges were nearby with drinks.
Looks very nice
Quoting themit9 (Thread starter): In the SQ lounges everything is muted and they pipe soft jazz through the complex.
They had sound on in the T3 SIN lounge a few weeks ago. Very annoying
Quoting themit9 (Thread starter):
I put the seat into %u2018bed mode%u2019 and it was angled lie flat but still comfortable
Angled seat on a new longhual aircraft? Doesn't sound good. Even LH are going full flat
Quoting themit9 (Thread starter): This film was edited to within an inch of its life. It appears Malaysians are conservative when it comes to film and literature. It was humorous to hear the characters saying things like “Oh Hit”, “I will go out there a muck you” and “that guy’s such an ick”. The characters would be told off with “watch your language” without swearing at all.
Ha, funny, but rather annoying at the same time. IIRC Malaysian films are either U (Universal) or 18, along with something like "political"/"sex"/"violence" so you know what kind of horrors the films might behold. There's nothing in between!
themit9 From Australia, joined Apr 2012, 80 posts, RR: 0 Reply 10, posted (1 year 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 5657 times:
Quoting groobster (Reply 8): What a great trip report, I thoroughly enjoyed reading both parts. I've not flown MH for a number of years, but I visit KL this summer so maybe there's a chance!
Hi Groobster, thanks for again reading and posting your thoughts. MH seem to offer some of the best value around, especially in J, so I hope you get a chance to fly with them.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 9): Very nice report - good to see that MH is keeping up with the neighbours!
Hi Gabrielchew, thanks for sticking with the report up to Part 2. MH is competitive on a lot of fronts with it's neighbours, although reading here that may not be the case back in Y. A major shortcoming is of course the hard product, and I believe SQ's soft product is more reliable because they work well from a script that is followed to the letter every time.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 9): Normally they collect them towards the end of the flight - shame you couldn't keep them
It was quite humorous how they kept under lock and key- not on the long haul sector, but on the short haul. The crew got them from one of the crew only overhead lockers during pushback, quickly gave them out, took our orders and put them back in the locker. On MH 129 they were at our seats, but these were the wrong menu, and it had to be replaced.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 9): Strange they didn't have any in C. I got some in Y flying GA on a 40 min flight recently
When I compare SQ 920 and MH 789, MH 789 was 2 minutes longer gate-to-gate but no headsets were provided. As I said, the AVOD is pretty cutting-edge for a 737, and if you're going to go to the effort of having AVOD, at least have headsets. On the 333 with MH 129, it turned out that the AVOD (same system as on the 738) was slightly better than SQ's for audio clarity and responsiveness.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 9): They had sound on in the T3 SIN lounge a few weeks ago. Very annoying
It's not the sort of music I associate with today's business traveler.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 9): Angled seat on a new longhual aircraft? Doesn't sound good. Even LH are going full flat
The seating was comfortable and much better than TG's product, which is the same as MH's product on the 772 and 744. But, this is a brand-new aircraft, give it a year or two and these seats will be outdated by a long way. I can't see the lie-flat seats surviving much longer.