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Tail Of Two Decks: 2 Reporters On The MH A380  
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

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“Announcing the departure of a code-share trip report from Ronerone and Airpearl, boarding now at gate C17…”

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WELCOME ABOARD A JOURNEY OF EPIC PROPORTIONS


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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity... or so the joint authors of this report - Ronerone and Airpearl - plagiarize, in the absence of anything more original to say.

But maybe it is fitting that we start the story of the first revenue-generating flight of Malaysia Airlines' first A380 by copying someone else's words. What with MAS being the eighth airline in the world to receive the super jumbo that's nearly five years in service, originality must surely be in short supply by now.

Everything that could conceivably be done with an A380 within the shrinking limits of airline economics has been tried. Install suites with double beds in first class and one would be copying Singapore Airlines, fitting showers or a plush bar mean tailing Emirates; inflight duty-free shops are the exclusive domain of Korean Air's planes, while an electronic art gallery has already been tried by Air France. Trying to invent something impressively original must be the bane of new A380 operators, especially when expectations linked with any new delivery of this largest commercial aircraft haven't yet been tempered, and yet niggling, party-spoiling accountants are telling management that the plane can only be paid off with an 11-abreast economy class.

So, excited as we are to be on this historic first flight, we think it is best to dampen our enthusiasm for now: building up hopes for a non-existent "wow" can only mean setting ourselves up for a mighty big fall (and it's really a long way down to the tarmac from the upper deck).

And all this without even considering the fact that MAS is not in the pink of financial health (to put it mildly), and probably shouldn't be taking delivery of a single A380 - let alone six. The airline ordered its A380s almost a decade ago in 2003 - some say because Singapore Airlines did. Sibling rivalry can be especially rough when you're forced into binding obligations that you regret later. So our first words of thanks (and commiserations too) must go to the long-suffering Malaysian taxpayers who are unwittingly footing the bill for this one and making tonight's inaugural flight possible.

It is they too who have seen to it that during the nine turbulent years since the planes were ordered, the airline, which has strayed perilously close to the brink more than once, stays afloat. MAS is being piloted by its fifth CEO since 2003 and the man at the helm today, though affable enough, has never managed an airline before. Had MAS been a truly private venture, this airline would be long gone by now.

That's where we are today. No doubt, this A380 inaugural is a celebration for Malaysia Airlines, but then again, Malaysia had already celebrated its first A380 just over six months ago, thanks to Emirates. So what are we celebrating exactly? We don’t think we know for sure, but we both feel a need to give our token of support today, probably because history seems to have dictated so.

Ronerone, who was completely bowled over by an amazing MAS experience on a DXB-EWR flight many years back, is admittedly keener on the airline than Airpearl, who grew up flying MAS but now, disillusioned, goes out of his way not to. We’ll of course try to be as objective as we can, but be forewarned that we’re both carrying different emotional baggage on this flight!

We both however, agree that MAS has gone through a lifetime of troubles, and where it is headed to next remains uncertain. Today’s celebration comes with great skepticism and controversy, but we are just thankful it is happening at all. When 9M-MNA, the airline's first super jumbo, was delivered a few weeks back from Toulouse, she looked devoid of all color and was singularly unimpressive, setting the stage for the lowest of expectations. Surely, we think, the only way is up from here.

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UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS: TWO VIEWS ON ONE FLIGHT

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At this stage we should explain how this report works, which is a little differently from many of the previous joint-reports we'd seen on this forum. As mentioned earlier, this write-up is brought to you by two trip reporters, currently sounding as one. But they (or rather we) are travelling quite separately – in fact we hardly see each other the entire flight – and our individual voices will manifest themselves as we progress.

Flying especially high tonight is Ronerone (Roni) who is in business class and seated on the upper deck – but he starts his journey earlier today in Ho Chi Minh City. Never one to shirk responsibility, Roni is ever ready to don his babe-magnet shirt to please his many MH fans, even if it means having his hands constantly full to overflowing.

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Meanwhile downstairs, Kuala Lumpur-based Airpearl (Kwan) is embarking from his home town and is booked in economy on the lower deck, seemingly hoping he’ll find at least a few things to nitpick on. As Kwan is often seen as unfriendly to MAS, nobody initially wanted to pose with him. It is only out of pity that two stewardesses eventually agree to flank the poor sod, with the proviso he keeps his hands to himself.

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So there you have it, your two trip reporters who are all ready to go. What you will be getting from here is an unparalleled opportunity to savor two different flight experiences, on separate decks and separate classes, on the same inaugural service. Is that value for money? We certainly think so.  Do enjoy the experience(s).


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53 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1653 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

DEPARTURE SAIGON
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Roni’s portion begins right here. In reality, the journey to Saigon was significant enough to induce premature jetlag and memory loss far in advance of the main event that was yet to unfold at the South East Asian neighbor at KLIA.

I figured it was more of a routine-inaugural that I could probably spend a few hours of nice sleep later on. But after a flying circuit that stretched across two days, it was expected that I had to ask Kwan to remind me –on several attempts – that I actually began my MAS journey from, where was it again? Oh yeah, Saigon!

I was pleasantly surprised whilst at Tan Son Nhat International Airport today. Typically South East Asian, this Vietnamese property was humble, modern, and quite proper. The entire length spanning the terminal building overlooks a beautiful view of not only the tarmac, but also within close proximity to the action on the runway.


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As a business class passenger today, MAS allocated me to the Rose C.I.P Lounge, which is one of just a few premium lounges at this airport. Also used by the likes of Turkish –why do they even fly here? – Cathay, Qatar, Emirates, and Thai, the Rose Lounge is not the most modern of confinements, but it does offer exceptionally comfortable seating, kind staff, decent food, and a stunning view of the outside activity. Whilst I was in no mood to eat, I was also unable to shower, as the lounge lacked this very facility that I was looking forward to.


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In order to keep the focus on the Malaysian A380 today, I will keep this portion to as much a minimum as possible. But I think we all can agree that when MAS is associated with a regional flight, it is only tradition that the B737 quickly comes to mind. And when MAS is associated with a trip report, I think it is only customary to begin with the legendary photo of the Malaysian 737 docked at the gate.


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9M-MLI was today’s B737-800 late evening deployment from Ho Chi Minh City. I was expecting a Sky Interior aircraft, but I found myself in an older generation interior, which I did not know existed on MAS 738s. Nevertheless, it was a comfortable setting for a 1hr 55m flight.

At my typically regional black leather seat, I was comfortable enough to relax for this quickie to Kuala Lumpur; and comfortable enough to try to get myself into a celebratory mood for the upcoming inaugural flight.

Of course, I had done several A380 inaugurals before, so I wasn't expecting much out of this one coming almost five years later. But surely, MAS wants to make some noise tonight, and I simply wanted to join the party. With or without an A380 –an aircraft that is definitely routine by now – this was simply for MAS’s sake, and MAS is one airline I hold on to quite closely.


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On board, service is exceptional, and it is always a good feeling being back on board a Malaysia Airlines flight. You get so distracted reading all the unnecessary MAS-bashing happening on forums and such, that all that’s needed is one simple flight on this airline and all will be forgotten.

And with this great service, a very tasty hot lunch is served which consisted of salad, beef with noodles, and a taro dessert. Seconds to thirds and even fourth servings of everything are a norm on Malaysia Airlines, even without your asking for it. And naturally, nothing happens without a touch of professionalism and a whole lot of homely warmth on the side!


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Once I warmed up to the hospitality on this flight, my plans to catch some sleep had faded away. Now I was getting a little excited, but perhaps not for that A380 and more because I was expecting –for good reasons – MAS at its finest. I dwelled into flashbacks of my first Asian airline in the 20th Century, and I still clearly remember that week-old MAS flight from Dubai to Beirut. It was also MAS that introduced me to my much-desired concept of Ultra Long Haul, aboard a flight from Dubai to Newark. Ultra Long hauls –in their more organic form – were still the future back then, but Malaysia Airlines did them, and they did them oh so well!

In hopes that history would repeat itself, I was back at KLIA at around 7:25pm, and a little more mentally prepared for an inaugural. According to an SMS I had received from Malaysia Airlines a few days ago, there was a celebration planned at the gate from 9pm onwards. With 1hr and 30mins to spare, it was best I used this time for a shower at the MAS Lounge.

Meanwhile, Kwan was just beginning his journey from landside at Kuala Lumpur, and I would catch up with him later on – or at least that was the plan.


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DEPARTURE KUALA LUMPUR
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I have to admit that my enthusiasm level is somewhat lower than Roni’s, but I’d also be lying if I said there isn’t a small part of me that is a little excited today. This airline is, after all, where my passion for aviation was first conceived, and then developed. My first flight, first jet, first turboprop, first widebody (DC10), then first A300, B744, A333 and B77E were all with MAS. For better or for worse, we had covered a lot of common ground together. To be able to share in one of her most important events in decades tonight is therefore a special honor.

Admittedly, things have turned south since those early days, and MAS is now not usually the airline of choice for me. Aviation firsts that make my list today are more likely to come from airlines other than MH. But still maybe, amid all the cynicism that comes with age and maturity, there’s always a place in my heart for airline # 001.


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Things have changed with MH landside at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, or maybe they haven't. At least the check-in areas have been spruced up and moved around, with an arch (Malaysians like their arches, for there's no better way to spend lots of money announcing something inconsequential) erected to showcase MAS's latest permutation of its corporate image - there are now at least three different versions of "Malaysia Airlines", to match the varying liveries across its fleet, I'd imagine. It doesn't bother me as much as it does some other aviation enthusiasts in this country, probably because nothing with MH surprises me these days, but I am truly excited to see the prominent First to Fly A380 welcome display alongside. Now that is for me!

But alas, No. A security guard posted at the entrance says riffraff don't get to walk under the nice new arch (granted, he is rather more polite than that, but the message is the same), "this is for first and business class only." But what a missed opportunity for MH I thought: having splashed out on a nice welcoming sign for the A380 and then excluding most of those flying on her inaugural tonight? (Like so many of the airline's recent antics, this one defies logic.) MAS could easily have provided dedicated check-in desks for all passengers on this flagship service (it's by far the most significant 'special event' for the carrier in decades) to create a buzz throughout the airport. Instead, at the common economy class counters on row C where I checked in later, there wasn't even one banner to suggest anything special was happening today. What a pity.


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One 'new' thing that I did notice is how MH's corporate colors have changed. I'm not sure if it's from today that everything started suddenly looking so blue - it's almost an attempt to be KLM - but it does seem that the airline decided to incorporate parts of its new A380 livery into its corporate branding, together with the latest wau logo, now back in red and blue but different from that painted on the super jumbo. Confused? Well, you should be. But at least it's different - and for some inexplicable reason, I quite like it.


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The arch guard must have been feeling generous when he granted me access to the premium enclave, for a few quick snaps, I promised. There, I could see a further cordoned-off first class section that's minimalist in design with three rather intentionally 'exposed' check-in desks. It reminds me a little of CX's first class check-in area in HKG, except MAS's appears to be leaning heavily on a 1970s sci-fi theme. The color red that used to denote First for MH seems has given way to platinum. On-duty cabin crew are visible here too. The official explanation why the airline is now rostering cabin crew as ground hosts for its premium passengers is service enhancement, but one can't help thinking that overstaffing following the longhaul route cuts may have something to do with it.


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Across the aisle are the business class check-in desks, looking a little more utilitarian than before. There's a group of media-like people milling about waiting to check in and a few MAS staff sporting A380 polo shirts, but the new look of check-in aside, tonight appears to be like any ordinary day at KLIA: there's no celebration here. I however don't manage to keep my promise to the guard of staying for only a short while; but it isn't my fault. An MH corporate communications stalwart recognizes me from our previous meetings and she persuades me to participate in an on-camera customer interview, presumably for a promotional video. Believe me, I try to be kind in my comments, but when the interviewer ends with "thank you for being so honest", I suspect he really means: "this clip isn't unusable"!


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There are 16 economy class check-in desks in operation tonight and the single queue, though long, moves quickly. Thinking that I should bring something appropriate to tonight's party, an old MH ticket folder was dug up from the archives to keep my e-ticket print-out. This folder comes from those years when MAS's taglines revolved around the golden theme; when air hostesses provided "golden service" and the inflight magazine was called Wings of Gold. They were not especially great years but on hindsight, those pre-Emirates and AirAsia days were probably as golden as they could be for the airline.


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My retro folder pleases the check-in agent who passes it round to show her colleagues. She issues my boarding pass without fuss, confirms that my DL Skymiles (one of MH's more unorthodox FFP relationships) number is entered, and wishes me a pleasant flight on the A380.

With a boarding pass for MH002 in hand, I can't help feeling just a tad nostalgic for the days as a student when flying long haul only meant taking MH002 to London. Those days are long gone - although I still travel to the UK, the last time I flew MAS on the KUL-LHR route was more than a decade ago, in 2001. I wonder if there are many others like me who have grown up with the airline only to desert her in later life.


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Meanwhile airside at this point, Roni had already arrived from Ho Chi Minh City and was enjoying…

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THE NEW PREMIUM TRANSIT EXPERIENCE


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Activity was relatively normal on this evening at KLIA. The airport was clean, quiet, and with the usual announcements that begin with that glittery musical tune. At the airside, there was no sign of any inaugural flight, apart from the colorful strobe lights surrounding the Malaysian A380 from the outside, and a few ‘celebratory’ signs inside the terminal.


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I was always fascinated with KLIA’s modern South East Asian design. It may not feature decent general views of the outside activity –especially at night - but in reality I think it is quite attractive in looks. Furthermore, the steady slow traffic is always an advantage as it means absolutely no congestion or queues at any given time in this is rather underutilized facility.

At the center stage of the satellite facility, lies the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge. Situated at perhaps the most grandeur location in the terminal, walking towards it always feels like walking up to the queen’s lair. Located one level above the main terminal, the Golden Lounge is situated in between an array of eateries and across from the KLIA Jungle Boardwalk.

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For a very short period prior to today, the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge had undergone a quick cosmetic refurbishment in preparation for the A380 inaugural. My previous stays at this lounge were extremely comfortable, but it was evident that the lounge did need a little bit of an update.

At the reception, things seemed normal, apart from the new uniform that two male agents were wearing, also debuted today for the A380 inaugural.

“Good evening Mr. Hawi, traveling to London tonight”
“Yes I am”
“Congratulations for being on our A380 inaugural flight”
“Thank you, I am here just for this event”
“Thank you for coming, and we hope you enjoy the experience”
“Please make yourself comfortable here, but soon there will be some celebrations at the gate, so please join us there later on”


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From a facilities perspective, this lounge no doubt offers all the frills. A luggage storage area, a full business center, and a Faber Castell themed children’s play area occupy the open space before the main lounge area, and of course, other facilities inside the lounge include ample seating area, a buffet spread featuring hot and cold food and drinks, a full service spa with shower facilities, and of course friendly staff all over.

The major noticeable changes in the lounge included a full replacement of the seating, and the addition of a separate dining area. While the dining area was fantastic, the new seating was also equally as nice, but also less comfortable than the previous loungey furniture. But it was a positive quick refurb that I see no need for us to MAS-bash; though admittedly, it still does not come close to the beautiful regional lounge located in the main terminal building.

One unusual ‘newbie’ was the spread of cabin crew strutting around the lounge ensuring customer comfort. I am unsure why they are here today, but as Kwan stated above, so long as there are so many MAS planes without flights to operate, the same should be applicable to cabin crew. But I take very little surprise to this, as I have seen it before somewhere else, but that’s far off the dimension of this discussion.




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After a hot shower, I found no use to remain in the lounge. I was not hungry, nor did I feel like sitting around doing nothing, so I packed up and left at about 8:30pm. I had established contact with Kwan by then, and he was already in-tune with the activities that were happening at the check-in counters, as described above. I pondered a thought to join him there, but I headed towards the gate instead.



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 2, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

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THE SEND-OFF PARTY


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At this stage, Kwan is at passport control, which is a bigger hassle than usual. None of the e-passport auto-gates are working, so queues are especially long. Once airside, the first glimpses of tonight’s big event are seen. These posters lead all the way to gate C17, located at the end of one of the arms of the satellite terminal building. This is one of three split-level gates specially fitted to cater to the A380.


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This end of the terminal is closed off to all except passengers on MH002 and the many MAS staff, security personnel and press who are here to send off the airline's first commercial A380 flight. Security is particularly tight because the deputy prime minister, among other assorted VIPs, has decided to join the send-off party too. We are both handed a goody bag here; for Y class, they contain a hardcard certificate, A380 passport holder and baggage tag, but not a model plane. For J class, they contain all of the above in addition to the model plane. Both the certificate and the model A380 were definitely appreciated.

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Passengers are also invited to pose with four beautiful Malaysia Airlines cabin Crew in front of a "First to Fly A380" backdrop and we're all given a Polaroid to remember the occasion by. Nice touch MH.

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Following on, both experiences continue to differ at this point, and they will be described in their contrasting sequence.

Roni, was inside the holding area a little earlier, where celebrations had commenced with the inviting sounds of an Aussie-Malaysian MC churning calls for ‘First To Fly A380’ to attract everyone’s attention. Once inside the holding area, it was strictly upstairs for business/first class passengers, by the upper deck aerobridge boarding area.

The premium area was nicely set up with two areas with high tables and a buffet of juices and finger foods (catered by the Pan Pacific Hotel). In between the two food stations was a large seating area –enough to house the MAS A380 premium cabins – and a large LCD screen displaying a banner of the A380 aircraft. Of course, both upstairs and downstairs were connected with escalators, elevators, and stairs to allow only directional flow of traffic, i.e. premium passengers can go up, and they can also go back down to mingle with the rest.


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Roni –being the avid MAS supporter that he is – believes that Malaysia Airlines has put on a better show on the ground than what Emirates did for their A380 inaugural. Compared to all this, not much happened on the ground at Dubai apart from a photo opportunity at the gate, whereas here, there is tons that is now starting to unfold.

Seen here, a serving of finger foods –both savory and sweet- from upstairs.

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As the activity continued upstairs, a video was played showing scenes from the MAS Joyride that took place several weeks prior, and also a brief history on MAS and its plans that made the A380 happen for them. Many criticize the airline for its seesaw decisions in relation to the super-jumbo, and many of us wonder whether this aircraft is a little too much capacity for them at the moment. But one cannot help but appreciate the airline’s humble approach tonight, and it’s genuine token of appreciation to finally be part of Le Club A380! It is really showing today, and the Malaysians want to celebrate their achievement so let them enjoy it!

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Meanwhile downstairs, gate C17 is abuzz with activity and loud music when Kwan finally arrives here past 10 p.m. Someone billed as "Malaysia's Vanessa Mae" is doing stuff with a violin – or so he assumes, because she can be heard but not seen from there.

However, upstairs Roni’s view is evidently different and definitely more up close.

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The A380 has given airlines a further opportunity to segregate the experiences of their premium passengers from that of their steerage fillers - it's the latter down here, and presumably the reason why we both had not crossed paths yet. There are a couple of screens showing what's happening upstairs, where all the entertainment seems to be happening, but there's obviously not enough of them: frankly, it just feels like noise downstairs.


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Rather than trying to concentrate on what's happening upstairs, the better idea downstairs is to hit the buffet, which is really a nice thing to do for Y class passengers. Still, Malaysian hospitality doesn't often come without food and so it probably would have been disappointing if there wasn't any. The offering of assorted cold and hot finger foods as well as soft and hot drinks is more than adequate. It's like what one would find in an average J class lounge minus the alcohol.


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There's an assortment of promotional displays scattered around, including an interesting table top featuring the new plane. The only thing that's missing is the real thing - well, it's not so much missing as mostly not visible from the gate downstairs. KUL is normally pretty good for spotting from the gate but unfortunately, the three end-gates that will be used by A380s are the worst. The partial nose of 9M-MNA is seen in the distance lit up with colored lights and that’s a unique touch adding a little life to what would otherwise be a dull nighttime departure. Unfortunately, the full spectacle is to be enjoyed mainly by press photographers and VIPs with tarmac passes.

The view of the plane from the upper level of the gate is significantly better than from downstairs. Economy class passengers will not have seen this view:

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Of course, for some passengers tonight (and likely most of 9M-MNA’s future clientele), none of these things matter: it's just another long flight ahead to endure in steerage.

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The airline's inflight sales start on the ground tonight for a 10% discount. This is available both upstairs and downstairs. Among the special items for sale are limited edition Aigner watches, and 1:400 scale Gemini Jets die cast of the A380 in the latest colors. One of those die casts was added to Kwan’s collection while Roni opted for a MAS logo’d watch.

Roni suddenly realizes that premium passengers are in fact able to go downstairs and join the steerage celebrations. We finally catch up with each other, and compare initial notes of the pre-departure experience.

"How was your flight? Weren't you supposed to arrive at 10:30pm?"
"Yea it was great, I tried to go-show on the earlier flight from …."
"Jeez where was I again??!?"
"Saigon"

Meanwhile upstairs, the event concluded with commemorative speeches by the airline’s CEO Ahmad Jauhari, and by the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister –the second highest politico in Malaysia – Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, for the final sendoff.

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Boarding soon starts with priority accorded to families with children, then by seat row number for the lower deck. However upstairs, it was a more leisurely affair where passengers had the choice to either proceed for boarding, or continue on with the party. This flight has carried a BD flight code for years but recent events could well mean a BA code-share, almost by default, especially with MH’s impending entry into Oneworld by the year-end.


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At 11:10pm Roni decides to make his way through before the speeches end in order to beat the crowd.

Walking towards the upper deck aerobridge, I am now getting closer to the Malaysian Shamu. Was it exciting? Yes indeed, it was a happy inauguration event, and there is nothing more exciting than such a celebration whilst flying!

At the door of the aircraft, I stop in front of two male cabin crew in charge of the boarding welcome. Behind them –at the other door right across – was the MAS service dominatrix who was definitely assigned to keep an ultra-close watch on proper service delivery tonight. She was friendly enough, but she had that ‘you mess with me and I will skin you alive’ look, so I instantly knew to keep my distance. But of course, the two cabin crew were a definite exception to this rule.


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“Good evening Mr. Hawi, and welcome on board”
“Please proceed right this way, and enjoy your flight”
“Terima Kasih”
“Sama-sama”

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The MH A380 Livery: More Brickbats than Bouquets
by Ronerone
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I have actually spent a great deal of time –and effort – on this topic. In my own usual way of always looking at things positively, I tried very hard to like –or appreciate rather- the progressive introduction of the new MAS livery on the A380. While I am still confused as to why Malaysia Airlines did not adopt the ‘shark fin’ design across the entire fleet, I was surprised that yet another livery was introduced for the Shamu jet.

My personal favorite will always remain to be the classic silver belly livery, but I am quite agreeable that even that design will not be much of an appeal on that big jet. And personally, I think a little more could be done to spicify things with this new livery, especially since the bright red on the kite is now a no-show.

Rumors flying about say that this new livery is a cost cutting measure, but surely those additional blue stripes across the fuselage would cost more to apply, and would probably weigh more and burn more fuel than a simple red on the tail. But on the positive side, I think I the new livery is indeed growing on me, and with cloudy/rainy backdrop, the aircraft does somehow stand out in a very unique way.
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UPSTAIRS

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On board, it was the usual hustle and bustle, but with a touch of masala. Many passengers were already settled at their seats sipping welcome drinks, whilst a few others were prancing around the cabin exploring. The majority looked like they had no clue what was going on, but it was also nice to see typical everyday couples and families in-tune with tonight’s inaugural celebration. Naturally, picture-taking is so allowed tonight, and that is always a good thing!


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My first impressions of the cabin were simple, humble, and exceptionally comfortable. A slightly hued ambience –thanks to the funky mood lighting effect- coupled with the purple shades of the seats were in good taste and provided that non-threatening comfort feeling I always find essential for a good flight. While the general expectation of what to expect on an A380 has been significantly raised thanks to the first batch of airlines that operated the aircraft, I think it would be a tad too extravagant to expect the same 5 years later, on yet another airline. Why? Perhaps because there’s really nothing more to do with an A380 interior that hasn’t yet been done.

In today’s trend, it is perhaps where we shall see the ‘everyday’ configurations adopted on A380’s, and away from the surreal factor that was once center stage several years back. So I think it is only fair to align expectations according to what is ‘in’ today.

However, at my seat at 12K, I am instantly made comfortable in my surrounding, next to my seatmate who seemed a tad uninterested in tonight’s celebration. But of course, he offered to switch seats with another friend I had met on this trip since we –and a bunch of others too- seemed far too immersed in flashing our cameras at every little detail.

A very large green blanket, and a small pillow were neatly placed on my seat, and to my side in the panel, a menu was already placed in front of the usual in-flight literature. The most interesting aspect of the seat is the large amounts of storage space available. In addition to the side compartment near window seats, each seat –apart from the bulkheads- features two additional storage compartments under the IFE screen which are perfect for storing loose items, shoes, and what not.

If anything, this new seat resembles a crossover between Royal Jordanian’s Crown Class offering on the A330, and Qatar Airways’ Business Class seat on the 777, i.e. perfect comfort!

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Meanwhile in Economy Class, a small –and rather secluded- 70 seater cabin in a typical 2-4-2 layout is also configured at the upper deck behind Business Class. This very infamous cabin was to be the infamous ‘child-free’ zone on the MAS A380, though tonight, echoes of crying babies are already heard coming from this zone even whilst still on the ground. (Following the initial news reports of its child-free zone, MAS later clarified that children can be assigned upper deck seats but only if the downstairs economy section is completely full.)

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As soon as I am settled at my seat, a beautiful cabin crew, also known as Ramizah, approaches my seat, gently offering me a welcome drink. She is already addressing me by name, and to my naked eye I did not notice any passenger manifest with her. Very impressive!

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“Mr. Hawi, welcome on board, my name is Ramizah”
“Hello”
“May I offer you something to drink before takeoff? I have Mango, Orange, and Guava juice”
“May I have a glass of Mango juice please?”
“Certainly”

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Sipping through my mango juice, I give the menu a quick flip to see what is on offer tonight. Three meal services –two mains and one on-demand- is definitely the expectation in business class for such a long flight. But of course, when Nasi Lemak is served for breakfast on a flight, I can only say YES PLEASE!

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The usual trickle of boarding passengers continued until a sudden stampede of people flooded the upper deck with a trail of photographers flashing behind, in front, and to the side of them. Looking closer revealed an entourage surrounding the CEO of MAS escorting the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister on a final go-around for the sendoff before departure. While the CEO joined us on the flight to London, the Deputy PM deplaned after the sendoff and remained in Kuala Lumpur.

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As the Deputy PM passed by my seat area, a middle-aged Malaysian lady –sat one row behind with her husband in the middle pair of seats- barged towards him desperately trying to grab his attention quite loudly.

“Going to UK for daughter’s graduation”
“Congratulation”
MY SON GRADUATED FROM CAMBRIDGE!!!!’
“You must be very proud, enjoy the flight, it is a very nice aircraft”
“YES YES, THIS IS THE PROUD OF MELESHE!!!”
“Malaysia is indeed very proud tonight”


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User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1653 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

MEANWHILE DOWNSTAIRS...
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Kwan joins the throng of economy class passengers boarding from lower deck door 2L. It's an almost full flight tonight but being seated in the back cabin has its advantages for being able to board ahead of most others. Like for Roni, the buzz of taking a brand new aircraft on its inaugural commercial flight must be finally getting to me. The brand new plane smell wafting into the aerobridge is highly intoxicating as a stewardess at the door offers a friendly welcome.

The feeling is a warm and inviting one, and first impressions are good - wood-effect floors and the earthy reddish-brown colors are entirely appropriate for Malaysia's national carrier.


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For some reason, there is a long queue heading down the port side, so I take the aisle less traveled starboard-side to my seat. Economy is made up of three largish cabins on the main deck behind first class, and another one upstairs behind the business section. This is the first of the Y seats downstairs with more than ample legroom for the exit row. It's a smart looking place, with seats arranged in blocks of three subtly different shades of red, maroon and purple. I'm glad MH went for these safer tones rather than the mad color explosion that was splattered aboard its B734s and earlier A333s. Also, MH has opted for the traditional rather the pivot overhead bins which makes practical sense I believe - they are visually less attractive but appear to accommodate more baggage.


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Below is the second Y class cabin on the lower deck, looking identical to the first one. In fact, all the economy cabins are decked out with the same fabric seats and leather headrests. Exit row 60 here is good for legroom but may be too convenient for the conveniences. Unlike upstairs, children and babies are welcome in this cabin.


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All seat backs come with a 10.6 inch wide IFE screen together with detachable controls mounted within easy reach. The look of the cabin is a clean one and I'm quickly warming up to what MAS has done to the interior of its A380 economy class. Granted, it's not any fancier than what's on offer from the other airlines but then, it's not any worse either (although in terms of legroom, Korean Air has stolen a march with its 34-inch pitch vs. MAS's 32 inches).


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I find my seat in the back cabin of the lower deck. When I first booked, I had originally been dead set on the upper deck Y cabin. But all the choice seats were already taken, leaving only a few far from ideal middle-of-four seats available to be selected. I reluctantly expanded my search downstairs, where seat 74A looked surprisingly good on paper. Thankfully, the reality was just as I imagined it to be. A window seat, one row behind the exit row making it feel cosier than the seats at the door but with the legroom of an exit row because of a missing 73A and aisle access allowing me guilt- and trouble-free roaming on this flight. Could this be the absolute best economy class seat in the house? I think so.(Btw, its starboard twin 74K has similar characteristics.) The only possible drawback is the presence of a largish galley complex next to row 73, but noise was not a particular problem for me during the night at 74A.


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Passengers are still boarding so I feel justified to dump my bags and do a bit of gallivanting before take-off. Probably because of the segregation between premium and economy classes for the inaugural party at the gate, many of those traveling Y class on the upper deck board on the lower deck and have the longest trek to their seats, via the back stairs. It's a one-off I think, otherwise, that would be a rather strange and inefficient way to organize things. Taking this opportunity, I make my way upstairs too. A galley complex and an enclosed cabin crew rest area behind locked doors are located at the top of the stairs. Apart from MH, I think the only other A380 operator to have an upper deck crew rest is CZ.


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This is a shot of the upper deck economy class cabin that I originally wanted to travel in, during boarding. It is likely to be more popular with passengers than the main cabins downstairs as the configuration alone makes it more appealing. But I feel the lower ceiling coupled with the large overhead lockers make the cabin look less roomy compared to the ones downstairs.


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The commotion caused by the VIPs described by Roni earlier had started here first as part of their tour. When top politicians feel the need to squeeze into really tiny spaces like the cabin crew rest area, it's quite extraordinary how many others (assorted other VIPs, VIPs' assistants, VIPs' security people, wannabe VIPs, wannabe VIPs' assistants, pressmen who can't stop their flash photography) suddenly feel the need to do the same. It’s almost as if they were going for some world record on the maximum number of important and semi-important persons to fit into a crew rest area. As a mere bystander who’s not even remotely important, I do not join them; but am just amazed everyone survived the ordeal.


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Of course, the draw card for me isn't the deputy prime minister but the open door to the (now empty) crew rest area when the entourage moves on to business class. I'm given the okay by a guardian of the door code to step inside for a few pictures of the sleeping quarters (12 bunks fitted with audio IFE; crew take their rest in two batches on this flight, I am told) - it looks pretty comfy and not as claustrophobic as I had originally thought. I thank my host - a flight attendant serving the upper deck who's wearing MH's new, more professional-looking uniforms for the first time today - as I leave, but his reply to a casual question about how he liked the A380 is interesting and unexpected. "I prefer the 747," he says. During the course of this flight, I am to have conversations with other crew members who are surprisingly frank about what they think of the MH of today, making me wonder if the two plane nuts writing this report are the odd ones out for being excited about its A380.


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As boarding comes to an end, there are fewer reasons to be hanging about the common areas, "can I show you to your seat Sir?", I take that as subtle hint to return downstairs where everyone else is already seated. It looks like a full flight. Captain Datuk Ahmad Zuraidi Dahalan at the helm provides some statistics for our flight: 478 passengers, 21 cabin crew, 4 pilots, making 503 souls in total, 10 tons of cargo, flight time of 12hr05, shortish for a westbound (in winter, it could take at least an hour longer), mostly smooth flight conditions. We're all set to go. This is the view ahead from my seat.


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As you can see, I enjoy a lot more personal space than my row neighbors. MH used to boast above-average pitch but the standard legroom on the airline now is industry norm. Two of my immediate neighbors in identical light blue shirts turn out to a program manager and a systems engineer from Thales - our IFE trouble-shooters tonight. Apparently, they and their colleagues will be aboard all MH A380 flights for the first two weeks or so to iron out teething problems. Even before departure, they are being called upon (by MH engineering staff who are also on this flight) to help sort out minor IFE-related issues: guess, that's why they are here. Still, the program manager tells me she's glad to finally see the result of a project she's been working on since 2005! Interestingly, MH uses the Thales system for its A380s only; the new A333s and B738s get Panasonic. IFE controls are below the armrest for exit seats but on the seatbacks for regular seats.


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Increasingly fitted as standard on long haul flights are individual power supply and a USB port, located under the seat for me. The PTV is stored here too, which makes this one of the few drawbacks of choosing 74A (and any other exit seat) for viewing the tail-mounted camera feed on take-off and landing, when the screen needs to be stowed. On this flight, the system defaults to the tail cam at these times, but I can’t find the feed during cruise. I'm glad though that MH is still keeping its overhead air-conditioning nozzles rather than following the many airlines that are doing without them.

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PARALLEL TAKEOFF


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Despite the busy inaugural activities, ground personnel were promptly sent away well before departure time. Doors are closed and we pushback silently from the gate at 11.48 pm., just very slightly behind schedule. With a short flight time, we’re set to be on ground ahead of schedule at Heathrow.

Upstairs, cabin lights were dimmed and mood lighting was in a full swing of altering colors. The mood was very chill, and the tail camera –visible on the IFE screen– was mimicking Shamu’s moves on the taxi to the runway. A nighttime view of the tail camera always reminds me of an Emirates A380 departure out of Bangkok for some reason, and tonight it was no different. But I do tend to appreciate the A380 a little more from this more grand-esque view.


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Most the passengers were already asleep, and I could even hear some snoring. But that is because the takeoff was far too quiet –which can be a good thing I suppose– and significantly smoother that it did induce a delayed reception from me that we were actually gliding across the runway.


Downstairs, there was no mood lighting, which was a slight disappointment because for some reason, I had expected it. Still, there’s something extremely satisfying in being able to sit back comfortably and worry-free in a darkened cabin looking out at the huge wingspan and knowing that a long flight beckons into the dark night. The lack of a PTV in front of me had clicked on a strange sense of déjà vu: the sort of childish excitement I hadn’t felt in years, back to the days when planes were much noisier. It wasn’t all quiet on this one though: there was some ambient noise but it seemed to come from the air-conditioning system rather than the engines. We roll onto 32R and in almost no time at all are airborne at 12.05 am. Malaysia Airlines’s first commercial A380 flight has departed.


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http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=kul-lhr,+sgn&MS=bm&MR=540&MX=720x360&PM=*&PC=%23ff0000&PW=2

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 4, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

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CRUISE

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Leveling out, the action begins upstairs and the crew is released for the service. Shortly after the seatbelt sign was switched off, I notice Ahmad Jauhari (MAS’ CEO) doing a quick walk-around in the cabin. Some probably do not realize that this guy IS MAS, while others actually stop him for a few words; myself included.


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“Good evening sir, I just wanted to congratulate you on today’s achievement”
“Malaysia Airlines is one of my favorite airlines, and I flew in here from home just join you on this flight”
“Thank you so much for your support, and I hope you’re enjoying the experience with us”

A quick chat based around MAS, aviation, and today’s fierce competitive environment reveals that this man is relatively humble and very approachable as a person. He smiles back, and engages in conversation as though you we are good friends. We briefly continue on, as he explains a little about his company’s decisions behind making the MAS A380 what it is today, and he is even in-tune with the idea that with today’s trend, the A380 should really be simple yet exceptionally comfortable. Of course, I had to sneak into the conversation where I worked, but that is only because both our companies share a common industry ‘practice’ that he –obviously- knows about, and is rather appreciative of.


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While sat back at my confinement, the inflight service commences and a trolley is rolled out for the distribution of headsets and amenity kits. The MAS amenity kit is known for the thin white case that it comes wrapped in. While I haven't ever opened any of mine before, tonight I realize that the current offer is actually a small Tumi bag. I have only seen this offered recently once before, but in First Class, so this is by far one of the more unique Business Class offerings I have come across. Well done MH!

Meanwhile Ramizah is back at my seat to take my drink order. However, before I proceed, I think I must explain that I unfortunately did not ask for a Bloody Mary tonight, because I was already feeling tired and I did not want to fall asleep and waste time. But I did ask for it sans the alcohol!

“Mr. Hawi, may I offer you something to drink?”
“A Virgin Mary please”
“Certainly, and will you be joining us for supper tonight?”
“Yes I will, and I’d like to have the chicken for my main course please”
“Certainly”

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Ah, life is indeed good upstairs, isn’t it? Or so the ever so slightly envious co-trip reporter from economy (who’s neither been offered a drink at this stage, nor made small talk with the CEO) cannot resist writing here.   Actually downstairs, Kwan is, at this time, wondering about much more basic things like if he’ll be getting a printed menu for tonight’s flight.

MAS doesn’t do menus any more in economy class, but I thought it might make an exception in view of the special occasion. But it didn’t. There is a section for the menu on the IFE but that seems to only display back copies of the inflight magazine. I guess we’ll only find out what’s for supper when it gets here…it’s starting to feel more and more like a routine flight already.


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At least my touch-screen PTV can now be deployed. The Thales IFE controls are straight forward but it’s rather strange that MH’s Select system welcome screen shows a different type of IFE controller, probably more like the one found in business class. Headsets are distributed after take-off and the cabin crew return to the galley to prepare for supper service.


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My fellow passengers, either already engrossed in their PTVs or fast asleep, are settling down to the long flight ahead. But I find it hard to do so (despite the reasonably comfortable, even if a tad firm, seat). Still on a high from the early festivities, I am hoping more will come our way, and I don’t plan to miss any of it. So maybe there’s no special paper menu, but could they surprise us with a plastic cup of champagne perhaps, like SQ did for its last B747 flight? An upgraded meal service with lobster maybe, like TG did for its 50th anniversary flight? A walkabout by the captain, like QF’s did on its first A380 flight? Another souvenir giveaway? A Malaysian cultural performance? A fashion show? A lucky draw? Inflight bingo? Anything?

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When the regulation packet of salted peanuts arrives as a prelude to “cocktails” (choice of orange juice or beer from a tray) in the first order of service, I realize that it’s time to bury all those unrealistic expectations. They’re just not going to happen. It seems that, in the economy cabin at least, the flight will be the usual MH002, operated by larger equipment. Granted, service is good but there’s not going to be any other extras tonight. So I resign myself to the comforting world of the moving maps as I await my dinner tray, and wonder if Roni is having a more fulfilling time upstairs.


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THE STORY OF SATAY

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In Business Class, Malaysian haute cuisine is in full swing as my table is dressed for supper, and seconds are offered to my drink and pack of nuts.

One thing MAS does very well –and I think we all agree to this- is the legendary onboard satay service. Whilst SQ’s similar offering is a sign of today’s economic redundancies, MAS specifically continues its generosity and offers something definitely better.

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“Mr. Hawi, would you care for some satay?”
“Yes please”
“I have chicken and beef. Recommend to have a combination of both”
“Sure, I’ll take a combination”

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I am quite hungry at time of supper, and I begin eating my meal with great enthusiasm. Both the chicken and the beef are tender and of high quality, and the accompanying peanut sauce is warm and comfy and it never ceases to amaze me how well it all blends in together. As this is a dish normally savored without any silverware, the wet cold towel neatly placed on my table serves its purpose well after I am done.

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Another trolley is then rolled out –one on each side manned by two- where meal trays are distributed and set up on each table. The cabin crew is continuously attentive to all of us, and looking across to the other aisle also revealed the same smiles and warmth. Clearly, MAS needs to put up a good show tonight, but this is also everyday MAS in my experience.

On my tray, a neat setup was in place and consisted on a bread plate, butter, starter and fruit plates, a water glass, salt/pepper, and a napkin and silverware. A selection from the breadbasket is offered as soon as the tray makes its way to my table, and water is poured in my glass before the same process is done to the next passenger.

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Today’s second course was a creamy potato salad with dried apricot, and was served with marinated prawn, mixed lettuce and mango salsa. Prawn is definitely of the seafood variety that I can do, and on MAS it came with good taste and texture. Furthermore, the potatoes were cooked well and the droplets of mango salsa added that zesty kick to what otherwise still is a great meal.

Plates took a while to be cleared, but I suppose that has to be normal on a first flight of an aircraft new to the crew. When that happened eventually, the main courses made their ways accordingly. Another nice touch I find on MAS, is that dishes and such are served by hand and not on a tray of some sort. A bit like home actually!

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Seared breast of chicken, with braised orzo pasta, and mixed capsicum with a herb tomato sauce was my main course selection. I expected something a little more traditional to be offered tonight, but I suppose this one was the next best alternative. The chicken was appropriately cooked and so was the tasty capsicum and tomato sauce. But the pasta was a little on the bland side which needed a bit of salt to kick it up a notch.

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Having done nothing but eat and sit on planes and in lounges over the past three days, I was already feeling quite full after the main course. So a light fruit offer comes quite appropriately for dessert.



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Reviewing the MAS Stars
by Ronerone
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Much like most of MAS, its Skytrax quality ranking yields with it a great deal of controversy. But luckily this time, it is not all the fault of Malaysia Airlines, but more the weirdness of Skytrax itself.

What exactly makes a Skytrax ranking? I am unsure myself, but its value isn’t as shallow as people like us think. In the airline world, it is perhaps the most prestigious house one could ever belong to, which is why I am admittedly baffled when I discovered MAS’s ranking was ‘under review’.

To me it’s simple, Malaysia Airlines is 5-star, and for all the good reasons to the naked eye. They may not offer the best of seats, or the funkiest of frills, though I never really cared for all that. But I do always warm up to the more earthy side of things, and on MAS it is purely the software that makes them stand out among all the rest. Others have described MAS as humble service purely from the heart, and I think I can agree with that. After all, I have had not-so-good flights on all my favorite airlines –Cathay included- but not yet on MAS.

So back on the ‘status review’ front, maybe it’s the decline in product over at the steerage end that’s causing a delay, as seemingly that’s where most of the complaints seem to come from. But alas, just over an hour ago as I write this, all waiting comes to an end when MAS maintains its 5-star ranking for 2012, and also snags Best Cabin Crew, and Best Signature Dish (Satay). Whew! Dodged that bullet! Nice one MAS!

But 5-star service, is simply just that, cabin crew putting on a good show when behind the scenes, the situation may not be all that exciting. Something your everyday passenger won't get to see, which is perhaps why such official pretense does not seem so organic in reality.


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Meanwhile downstairs in economy, Kwan’s supper is obviously a much less elaborate affair. Definitely no satay there but it’s still a very decent-looking tray. The meal service starts at about 1.20 am., a little more than hour after take-off, and comes with a safe choice of two main courses announced by the serving crew member as “beef and potatoes or chicken and rice”. Didn’t MH have three choices before? Anyhow, Kwan chooses the latter.



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To be honest, I am pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer. The cost-cutting that had eaten into both the quality and quantity of MH catering in recent years must have considerably dampened my expectations. So getting this tray is an unexpected positive. This meal consists of a smoked salmon salad starter, a chicken hot main course with a slightly spicy sauce, well-cooked rice and vegetables, warm roll, cheese and biscuits, a small chocolate bar, water, choice of wines and beverage – all pretty good Y stuff – that are let down a little by the obligatory mystery yellow cake. The grey-trimmed containers, tray and plastic utensils are apparently new, but they look a touch clinical to me.

Coffee and tea is served separately before the trays are collected. We are about two and a half hours out of KUL bumping along in the dark skies over the Bay of Bengal when the bright cabin lights are finally dimmed for some shut eye on the main deck.


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AUTO PILOT

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Normally, after the meal service on an inaugural flight would be the best time to get out and explore. I had it in mind to do just that, but with the cabin lights on the upper deck dimmed to a mood-lighting scenario, coupled with the lack of sleep I had over the past few days, I was already finding myself pushing my seat back into its fully flat mode for ‘just a quick snooze’.

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http://i104.photobucket.com/albums/m189/ronerone/MASA380/IMG_4632.jpg

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Malaysia Airlines boasts 74 inches of legroom and fully flat beds at 72 inches of length for each of the 66 Business Class seats on the A380. I seemed to fit in quite well within this confinement, where sleeping, sitting, and maneuvering around came without any problem.

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But ‘just a quick snooze’ ended up seven hours of sleep on a 12-hour flight. And I only was awake because of the passing sunlight through the cabin’s windows. How anti-social I thought, but I guess the celebrations today had morphed into a typical flight one could just enjoy for the service. But I do wonder what Kwan had been up to all this while downstairs …

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User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1653 posts, RR: 53
Reply 5, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

SLEEPLESS OVER JAIPUR
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During supper, I had started flipping through the AVOD IFE - there's no shortage of movies, but there isn't anything I particularly want to watch either. I settled half-heartedly on The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, mainly for its crop of veteran British actors who can be relied upon to deliver the sort of humor I might enjoy, but the film that's set in Jaipur turned out to be such a serendipitous find that I watch it right to the end. By that time, we're over northern India (and rather coincidentally, set to overfly Jaipur), and already about a third of the way to London.


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The flight is definitely in cruise mode at this stage with the darkened cabin quietly snoring. I see that my Thales neighbors are taking it in turn to be 'on duty' but apart from a few isolated minor problems earlier, it seems this is an uneventful night for them too.

Feeling dehydrated and realizing I hadn't had a drop of water to drink since dinner, I pop into the galley for a glass. That's no problem at all, but, four refills later, it also made me realize that the crew haven't done any rounds with trays of water or juice since the end of the meal service. In fact, unless one uses the call button (which I notice is answered promptly enough), there isn't any service at all until breakfast, some seven hours later. I remember the days when relatively regular water and soft drink rounds were standard on MAS, as it still is with many quality long haul airlines in economy. Their absence here, especially on such a high-profile flight, is surprising and frankly, a little disappointing.



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A visit to one of the loos at the back of the plane reveals a largely presentable facility for four hours into the flight. There is ample unbranded cologne and lotions but the toothbrush and toothpaste I'm looking for isn't available. I return to my seat, hit the recline button, adjust a pillow for my lower back, articulate the headrest and, already tired out, I quickly slip into slumber.


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As is common in economy class, sleep is fitful. Still I must have managed at least two hours straight, which isn't bad at all. When I wake, again feeling very thirsty, we're over Turkmenistan, having overflown two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, already since India. I'm curious that Roni had been so silent since we last met at the gate in KUL and so decide to wander upstairs to see if he's busy working. There's a sudden pang of guilt as I wonder if my co-trip reporter had been religiously documenting everything about this inaugural flight, while I'd been watching movies and sleeping...



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But it's all quiet and peaceful upstairs with not one obvious plane nut to be seen. (I think it's safe to assume Roni isn't taking fish-eye cabin shots right now.) A friendly supervising stewardess engages me in conversation when she sees me with a camera; and our chat inevitably heads toward the trials and tribulations of the airline she's working for. She's rather philosophical about the new plane: "maybe if I was younger, it could be more exciting. I'd been flying for a while and been on everything from the Fokkers to 777s... this is just another."

We touch on other more controversial subjects too like the revolving door at top management level and cutbacks in service, where I sense a feeling of bottled frustration and hopelessness behind the smiling facade of MAS's award-winning crews. When I suggest that as the 'premium carrier' that MAS likes to be known, the airline really needs to up its game. "Precisely," she agrees. "Premium is more than the crew. That's what we constantly tell management and we do suggest improvements all the time. But instead we're told it is us, the crew, who are ‘the premium'. But there is only so much we can do." The airline has done away with many things over the years, most recently even the wet towelettes in economy (I knew something else was missing); "how can we compete?" When she hears that I'd been on other A380s, the conversation immediately strays to Emirates and its inflight product. What did I think? Is it very much better than MAS, like others say? This is not the first, nor the last, chat that I have with MH staff tonight when the name 'Emirates' has not cropped up. And even if not everyone says so explicitly, the underlying tone is always: "how can we compete?"
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It's still darkish outside but there are glimmers of an impending dawn. I return to my seat and resume my shut-eye. When I'm next awake, we'd crossed the Caspian Sea and are flying over southern Russia, heading into Ukrainian airspace.


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I turn on my PTV just in time to catch a news flash on the Euro 2012 finals that was being played in Kiev as we sped through the night. Nice touch MAS, and especially apt now that we're over the Ukraine. There are some audible gasps of disbelief coming from the cabin darkness (probably from football 'fances' rather than English schoolteachers) but I hear no shouts of joy - few Spaniards on this flight I guess.


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SUN RISE

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Meanwhile upstairs, Roni is now stretching awake, all bright eyed and bushy tailed from his seven-hour ‘quick snooze’.

I hadn’t met Kwan yet since our brief gate encounter at KLIA, and neither had I even seen what lower deck looked like, so after a quick visit to the loo, that was the plan before breakfast.

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I was quite impressed with the size of the lavatory on the MAS A380. It was basic in its offering, but was long enough to fit several people in one go; more importantly, it was clean, and apparently cleaned after every use. Unfortunately however, there wasn’t any nice exterior view to complement the one’s typical duties here, and I only wished that more airlines would introduce windows here.

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A small social area is set up in the front of the Business Class cabin by the staircase. Apart from two baskets of apples, and nuts, a magazine rack lines the sides and the front. It isn’t much if you compare with the big boys, but perhaps MAS could provide a little more offer here. Sandwiches, chocolates, and chips should be included here as a minimum.

Downstairs at club steerage, it was traveling in its purest form. The scene flipped from a touch of bubbly enjoyment upstairs to nothing but sleeping, jet lag, and ‘I can’t wait to get home’ looks downstairs. In the midst of all this, was a certain aviator sat by a window dreaming into the stunning sun that was still rising. He was on board this flight for sure, but his mind was somewhere far off reach. Unfortunately I had no choice but to break Kwan’s escapade into the unknown, but at least we had a quick catch-up on our upstairs/downstairs contrasts.


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.While there was no sign of breakfast downstairs – though I am sure we will see it here - I returned back upstairs for the event that had just begun with a hot towel service. At my seat, Maria –whom I hadn’t seen before on the flight- was at my seat with an offer of smiles, warmth, and breakfast juices.

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“Good morning Mr. Hawi, you slept well I notice”
“Yes, for sure”
“Great. May I offer you some juices to drink? I have orange, mango, guava, and a strawberry smoothie”
“I’ll take the smoothie please”

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Sipping through my refreshing smoothie over central Europe, I thought to give the IFE a quick browse for the sake of this report, as watching any commercial entertainment was definitely the last thing on my mind.

Select, as MAS calls it, does in fact offer a wide choice of Hollywood and international varieties, in addition to an array of games and music, all under AVOD technology. With over 100 movies, 130 television programs, 400 music and spoken word CD’s, and about 70 or so games, I think in quantity one can’t complain!

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Tables were dressed, and the crew took breakfast orders; and they did not look like they have been working for the past 12 hours. Many look like zombies on other airlines, but most certainly this is a big no-no on Asian quality airlines.

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Malaysia Airlines likes to use the fancy trolley in Business Class as much as possible, which is fantastic as I hope these trolleys never disappear from today’s aisles! As such, one of their trolley themes is passing it around neatly loaded with mugs for an offer of coffee and/or tea.

I was beginning to anticipate writing this report and not taking 10 years to complete it, so I asked for coffee because I need not fall back asleep ever again. I know that even the MAS coffee/tea mug had its fair share on the MAS-bash, but is it really that tacky? Come on; give the poor little airline a break. I like my coffee strong and in large quantities, so this comes in just fine, and again, just like home!

“Mr. Hawi, what can we offer you for breakfast today?”
“What do you suggest?”
“Actually, the Nasi Lemak is a traditional dish and it seems very popular today”
“Yes that will be great”
“Certainly”

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A second –more industrial- trolley appeared for the breakfast setup. On placing the tray on my table, I was kindly offered some cereal, in which I gladly accepted.

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The usual ‘breakfasty’ set up was in full swing, and today’s first course –as typical to a Business Class breakfast- was a funky fruit plate. Fresh and cold is how I like my fruit in the morning, and this fit the profile perfectly.

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Looking behind me, the lights in Economy Class are dimmed again whilst in Business, we are still to receive our main courses. But it is understanding that the A380 comes with larger cabins, and with those larger cabins more time is required to dump all the same premium frills on the passenger. Suddenly I am reminded of the frazzle on board my inaugural EK A380 flight, but this doesn’t come close when my main course finally arrives.

Nasi Lemak – THE traditional Malaysian breakfast- comes in a variety of ways to enjoy. But basically, it is a serving of coconut rice alongside a spanking hot sambal, and a curry of some sort (sometimes beef, others, fish and/or chicken). The garnishing on the side –peanuts and dried anchovies- is what gives this insane dish so much flavor. Never ask me to eat anchovies on my Caesar salad, and over my dead body will you be able to get me to try them, sardines, or tuna out of a smelly can. But I seem to have absolutely no issue having those scrawny little creatures with their horrific stare right into my eyes, sprinkle a tiny tad on my Nasi Lemak. In fact, this dish is one of my ultimate favorites and it certainly did not disappoint on MAS.

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Downstairs too, breakfast is being served, and Nasi Lemak is also one of two choices – the other being a more traditional egg dish. It’s a substantial tray that includes an orange juice, strawberry yoghurt, warm croissant, fresh fruit, muesli bar and coffee – Kwan, looking to nitpick, is instead left impressed with both the quantity and quality of what’s on offer.

Breakfast service is completed a lot faster in economy than for business class. With less than two hours of the flight to go when my tray is collected, I quickly make my way upstairs to see Roni for a kind of ‘work meeting’. It’s our last opportunity for a face-to-face as we’d be parting company in London and while we had a vague idea that we write some sort of a joint trip report, we hadn’t yet worked out details or timelines (needless to say the targets we set are far too ambitious). Of course at this point, A.netter Airpearl is also suddenly remembering why he decided to retire from writing regular reports in the first place (and he can also reveal that the initiator of this one is Ronerone): it just feels too much like being at work! Hesitating to barge through the business class curtains, I ask a flight attendant if he can summon Roni. The crew member returns promptly: “Mr. Hawi is just finishing his breakfast and will join you shortly,” he says, like Roni’s personal valet might.



.

.



As breakfast was finishing, a male cabin crew –working on the upper Economy cabin- approached me, and I was initially surprised that he made the effort to check the manifest in order to address me by name.

“Mr. Hawi”
“Yes sir”
“Hi, your friend from downstairs is asking about you. He is right here in the back”
“Yes yes, I will be there in just a few minutes”
“Sure sure, take your time”

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I caught up with Kwan again, and we wandered around the aircraft like little lost children. We also caught up with a couple of people from the infamous ‘First to Fly’ group who –not surprisingly- were here for the very non-reason we were. It is always a pleasure meeting other aviation nerds on such missions because this always makes me feel normal for a few moments.


.

.

However, all good times come to an end, and only now I begin to regret sleeping over those seven hours. At 4:50am London time, our captain comes on the PA and announces descent. We try not to take our seats until the last minute when we were made to do so by the crew.



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 943 posts, RR: 27
Reply 6, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

LONDON CALLING, BUT WHERE'S MY WATER CANON?!

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At 5:20am, The Malaysian Airline System had officially completed the inauguration of its first A380 flight, as we touched down at London Heathrow Airport. We were both expecting the usual ‘dump and slam’ on the runway –typical to what we are accustomed to on the A380- but today was probably a breakthrough. It was the smoothest Shamu touchdown we have experienced to date. Is this a hats off to the MAS cockpit crew or perhaps an improvement in the aircraft’s technology? Heck if I knew!

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.

What is the very thing you'd expect out of an arrival of an inaugural flight? Well, if it's a water canon welcome, then this never happened at London Heathrow, and I was almost left in shambles. Is there an anti-water canon policy here?, or did the airline simply not demand it? I really need to know!

It is perhaps the most exciting part of an inaugural event, and perhaps because I know exactly how much effort goes into making one a reality. It is offered as a freebie to the airline, and it's a gesture for good luck in the airport world; so again, why the hell not???

At the micro level, MAS did make history by deploying the world's first regularly scheduled A380 to Heathrow's T4 (Air France did of course bring in its A380s but only for a short stint), so I see no excuse for no proper welcome. Airlines at other airports get showered with water at just the introduction of an additional frequency, but at this more significant event, it could not have been more untypical.

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I really did not want to leave, but there was no choice to this, so at the dock it was signal to gather my stuff and leave. Along with the rest, ‘The Proud of Meleshe’ was the first to get set and barge out of the aircraft.

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THE AFTERMATH

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Upon heading downstairs, I decided to stay back a little longer and take a look around the First Class cabin. I also caught up with the Captain for a quick chat and a picture.

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First Class on the MAS A380 is a very boutique cabin of 8 large suites, quoted by MAS as larger than SQ’s (though not sure which SQ version is being referred to here). In pictures, I was not impressed, but the reality revealed a better shade of red on the seats. Malaysia Airlines First Class is one hell of a class I wish to fly in one day!

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In one of the suites, a few MAS crew were gathered around relaxing after their long 12 hour shift. I joined their conversation briefly, thanked them for being my favorite MAS, and requested a photo opportunity. It was then when I realized that a small commemoration cake was placed on the large suite’s fold-out table, courtesy of LSG SkyChefs.

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FINAL WORDS

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By Roni:

I LOVE MAS! I've said it on Facebook, here, and everywhere else really. Malaysia Airlines has always been one of my top airline experiences, and after today, they continue to remain.

Today surely was MAS at its finest, but as I had mentioned earlier, this is everyday MH in my experience. Attentive crew, spotless service, great food, and friendly warmth all over. This was MAS back in January on a routine jumbo flight to Sydney, and this is also MAS on today's routine non-inaugural, inaugural A380.

The Malaysian A380 was definitely an added value to this positive experience. Simple in offering, this whale jet does offer exceptional comfort levels in the premium cabins that match any other airline that matters. Great IFE -which really isn't so new to MAS- along with proper flat beds and ample personal space is definitely a welcomed change to the previous ideas that MAS toyed with on older fleet types. Furthermore, the added storage space at each business class seat -minus those at the bulks- is surely an unmatched quirk that was received so positively. I think MAS works best with simplistic ideas, and I am glad they did not try to go all out with their A380.

But a faultless experience does not mean all is bright and airy for Malaysia Airlines. In fact, I am always saddened -if not confused- by the stark contrast between what seems to be fruitful onboard, with what is rather dodgy and offbeat at the management front. Let's face it, MAS Corporate is a sleepy little enterprise that has no immediate plans to wake up. Maybe Oneworld can help, but the see-saw plans on share-swaps, premium airlines, and everything else in between will most certainly not.


By Kwan:

If Roni loves MAS, then I guess I’ll have to say that I like it a little bit more after today. If anything, I thought the biggest advancement with the introduction of its A380 is to be found in economy class. The new cabin is cosy, the reclining seats are very comfortable, seat pitch is adequate (mine was superb), the IFE, presence of power supply and USB ports puts Malaysia Airlines on par with most of its global competitors. The inflight meals were a pleasant surprise; and even if there were elements in the service that I found lacking, all in all, I enjoyed my flight, which is more than I had expected to say before I set off. I’m certainly very happy to have been a part of one of MAS’s most significant milestones.

That said, my concerns are with what happens beyond today. The bigger question of whether MAS should be operating a small fleet of aircraft as large as the A380 on essentially one route that can truly support it remains unanswered. Common sense would suggest No but then, we haven’t had too much of that lately in the boardrooms of this airline. I agree with Roni that the top echelons of this airline sometimes sound like they don’t know what they’re talking about. Add in meddling politicians and you’ve really got a recipe for disaster. Perhaps because business and politics are so inextricably linked in Malaysia, there’s probably no solution to MAS without a change in the politics. I wish I could be more hopeful for this airline but at the current stage, I really do not see it.

What stood out for me on this flight was the staff. MAS really does have a great bunch of people and I think they do deserve enormous credit for their efforts despite all that’s thrown at them. My conversations on this journey with both cabin crew and HQ staff have reinforced the belief that they do know what needs to be done, if only someone at the top listened and acted on it. I wish them all the best.



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FIRST FLIGHT FACTS & FIGURES

Malaysia Airlines’ first A380-841 enters commercial service
First flight: MH002 - Kuala Lumpur to London - 1 July 2012
(Also commemorates 38 years of MAS service to London. First flight was 1 July 1974, operated by B707 with a technical stop in DXB.)
Registration: 9M-MNA (MSN078, test registration F-WWSU)
First flight: 20 Oct 2011
Delivered: 29 May 2012
Engines: 4x Rolls Royce Trent 970
Depart Kuala Lumpur International Airport Main Terminal (gate C17): 2348 (schedule: 2340)
Arrive London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 (gate 6): 0530 (schedule: 0550)
Total passengers: 478 (aircraft configuration: 8F 66J 420Y = 494)
Pax load factor: 96.8%
Cockpit crew: 4 Cabin crew: 21


Tentative delivery schedule:
Jul 2012 9M-MNB (MSN081)
Oct 2012 9M-MNC (MSN084)
Oct 2012 9M-MND (MSN089)
Jan 2013 9M-MNE (MSN094)
Mar 2013 9M-MNF (MSN114)

MAS A380 operating routes (tentative)
1 Jul 2012 – Kuala Lumpur-London (3x weekly)
25 Aug 2012 – Kuala Lumpur-London (frequency increase to 1x daily)
25 Nov 2012 – Kuala Lumpur-Sydney (1x daily)
25 Nov 2012 – Kuala Lumpur-Tokyo Narita (1x daily)
1 Mar 2013 – Kuala Lumpur-Beijing (1x daily)
This data is based on an airline release, but news reports quoting the CEO provide conflicting information, including “no immediate plans for Sydney” in one article, while another mentions both Sydney and Melbourne as A380 destinations before the year-end. It seems like nothing is firmed up yet.


An early commercial of the A380 not long after MAS ordered six examples in 2003. Those were optimistic days indeed for the Malaysian national carrier whose tagline then was “Going beyond expectations”.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDnRd2eKTwI


The reality: a new journey is about take flight
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xypzPcv2OAA

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User currently offlinefalkerker From Seychelles, joined Apr 2012, 162 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Great TR!! Thanks!!! Awesome insight on both Y and C!!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
It is always a pleasure meeting other aviation nerds on such missions because this always makes me feel normal for a few moments.

  


User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26844 posts, RR: 58
Reply 8, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hey guys WOW is all I can say . Amazing report , lovely writing and I loved the format of the two experiences. I have to say after your report MAS certainly is an Airline I would like to try sometime. I like the Y class cabin and the meals look good in all classes. Finally the FAs uniform is very pretty indeed .

Thanks for taking the time to share.

Regards

Philip  


User currently offlineluv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12090 posts, RR: 49
Reply 9, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

I can never write a report after the likes of you guys..... and Ron I where are the shoe shots, I live for those.


You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineburj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 901 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
“Mr. Hawi, may I offer you something to drink?”
“A Virgin Mary please”

Um...considering this was MAS...shouldn't you have asked for a Halal Bloody Mary?! That is what I order!
 

As expected, an awesome trip report!

It is interesting to compare J-class Nasi Lemak to the Y-class version!


User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1230 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hello Roni and Kwan,

This joint venture of an upstairs and downstairs version on the same flight, is a very good idea.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Never one to shirk responsibility, Roni is ever ready to don his babe-magnet shirt to please his many MH fans, even if it means having his hands constantly full to overflowing.

Roni, the way the flash shines around your head, it gives you a feeling of a heavenly being lol and your love for MH displaying a strong aura around you. I have to say while MH crew were not the most prettiest, but provided service from the heart, these newer FAs are truly gorgeous. I just hope MH is not starting to go for external beauty as opposed to internal beauty, as in providing service from the heart.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
As Kwan is often seen as unfriendly to MAS, nobody initially wanted to pose with him. It is only out of pity that two stewardesses eventually agree to flank the poor sod, with the proviso he keeps his hands to himself.

Kwan, unfortunately due to your negativity the light has decided to set behind your head lol

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
On board, service is exceptional, and it is always a good feeling being back on board a Malaysia Airlines flight.
Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Instead, at the common economy class counters on row C where I checked in later, there wasn't even one banner to suggest anything special was happening today. What a pity.

That is a shame they did not have a dedicated A380 counter.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
One 'new' thing that I did notice is how MH's corporate colors have changed. I'm not sure if it's from today that everything started suddenly looking so blue - it's almost an attempt to be KLM - but it does seem that the airline decided to incorporate parts of its new A380 livery into its corporate branding, together with the latest wau logo, now back in red and blue but different from that painted on the super jumbo. Confused? Well, you should be. But at least it's different - and for some inexplicable reason, I quite like it.

Is it true that these colours are only a one off for the first A380?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
On-duty cabin crew are visible here too. The official explanation why the airline is now rostering cabin crew as ground hosts for its premium passengers is service enhancement, but one can't help thinking that overstaffing following the longhaul route cuts may have something to do with it.

Do these cabin crew then join the flight? Or are they just overstaffed cabin crew now helping at counters to provide a premium experience while on the ground?

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
Passengers are also invited to pose with four beautiful Malaysia Airlines cabin Crew in front of a "First to Fly A380" backdrop and we're all given a Polaroid to remember the occasion by. Nice touch MH.

Nice touch indeed. I wonder how long it took, and did every passenger have to do this or could they opt out. Seems like the mandatory shots that one has to take at places like the CN Tower, Empire State building or even the Burj Khalifa before heading to the top!! And in this case their is a top, it's the upstairs of the A380!!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
The view of the plane from the upper level of the gate is significantly better than from downstairs. Economy class passengers will not have seen this view:

The differences in top and bottom are starting to show even before entering the jet!!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
At the door of the aircraft, I stop in front of two male cabin crew in charge of the boarding welcome.

Such a relief to see them giving up those funky jackets that they used to adorn on their flights. While they could have kept the green in general, this grey and blue is a welcome change. But the older colours with the green (sans the jackets) did blend in better with the green in the FA uniforms!!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
In my own usual way of always looking at things positively, I tried very hard to like –or appreciate rather- the progressive introduction of the new MAS livery on the A380. While I am still confused as to why Malaysia Airlines did not adopt the ‘shark fin’ design across the entire fleet, I was surprised that yet another livery was introduced for the Shamu jet.

My personal favorite will always remain to be the classic silver belly livery, but I am quite agreeable that even that design will not be much of an appeal on that big jet. And personally, I think a little more could be done to spicify things with this new livery, especially since the bright red on the kite is now a no-show.

Rumors flying about say that this new livery is a cost cutting measure, but surely those additional blue stripes across the fuselage would cost more to apply, and would probably weigh more and burn more fuel than a simple red on the tail. But on the positive side, I think I the new livery is indeed growing on me, and with cloudy/rainy backdrop, the aircraft does somehow stand out in a very unique way.

Again as mentioned earlier, It was rumoured these colours are just for the first A380? I really wish they had never let the colours change of the grey, blue and red...

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
This very infamous cabin was to be the infamous ‘child-free’ zone on the MAS A380, though tonight, echoes of crying babies are already heard coming from this zone even whilst still on the ground. (Following the initial news reports of its child-free zone, MAS later clarified that children can be assigned upper deck seats but only if the downstairs economy section is completely full.)

Must have had lots of kids in that case. But those little ones and hopefully they will be future a.netters can let others know they were on that inaugural flight!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
Probably because of the segregation between premium and economy classes for the inaugural party at the gate, many of those traveling Y class on the upper deck board on the lower deck and have the longest trek to their seats, via the back stairs.

That must be one long walk!! Do not other carriers allow one to walk through the premium cabins to get to the Y cabin, where Y class is on the upper deck?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
But I feel the lower ceiling coupled with the large overhead lockers make the cabin look less roomy compared to the ones downstairs.

Makes it look like a regular jet in terms of being roomy. The lower level is indeed very spacious in comparison.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
Most the passengers were already asleep, and I could even hear some snoring. But that is because the takeoff was far too quiet –which can be a good thing I suppose– and significantly smoother that it did induce a delayed reception from me that we were actually gliding across the runway.

Where's the fun if you can't hear the roaring thunder of the jet as it races down the runway!!!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
Clearly, MAS needs to put up a good show tonight, but this is also everyday MAS in my experience.
Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
Others have described MAS as humble service purely from the heart, and I think I can agree with that.

Both of you posting each others versions has caused massive confusion sometimes while quoting text lol...Roni I can only agree with you. Allow me to shamelessly plug my own experience on MH http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/178320. I can only agree if not echo with you the very sentiments. It's a long time since I last flew with them, but the memories are still as fresh as ever!!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
MAS maintains its 5-star ranking for 2012, and also snags Best Cabin Crew,

Woo hoo!! Congratulation MAS and MH cabin crew. MH is indeed Malaysian Hospitality. I know for a while they were receiving this award consecutively year over year for a period of five years or more!! And it was around the time I flew with them, so I was actually quite not surprised that they were!!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
During supper, I had started flipping through the AVOD IFE - there's no shortage of movies, but there isn't anything I particularly want to watch either. I settled half-heartedly on The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, mainly for its crop of veteran British actors who can be relied upon to deliver the sort of humor I might enjoy, but the film that's set in Jaipur turned out to be such a serendipitous find that I watch it right to the end. By that time, we're over northern India (and rather coincidentally, set to overfly Jaipur), and already about a third of the way to London.

Again confusion with the quotes!! Kwan, how appropriate about the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold hotel"! and to watch it as you fly over Jaipur, though heading in the opposite direction towards London, unlike the cast who fly out of London instead. I actually have watched it twice over already!!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
Feeling dehydrated and realizing I hadn't had a drop of water to drink since dinner, I pop into the galley for a glass. That's no problem at all, but, four refills later, it also made me realize that the crew haven't done any rounds with trays of water or juice since the end of the meal service. In fact, unless one uses the call button (which I notice is answered promptly enough), there isn't any service at all until breakfast, some seven hours later. I remember the days when relatively regular water and soft drink rounds were standard on MAS, as it still is with many quality long haul airlines in economy. Their absence here, especially on such a high-profile flight, is surprising and frankly, a little disappointing.

Kwan, they definitely used to do water runs!! In fact with their runs they even used to serve sandwhiches, and that too in the dark like Qantas cabin crew do with their bowl of apples!!!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
Premium is more than the crew. That's what we constantly tell management and we do suggest improvements all the time. But instead we're told it is us, the crew, who are ‘the premium'
Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
strays to Emirates and its inflight product
Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
I LOVE MAS! I've said it on Facebook, here, and everywhere else really. Malaysia Airlines has always been one of my top airline experiences, and after today, they continue to remain.

Today surely was MAS at its finest, but as I had mentioned earlier, this is everyday MH in my experience. Attentive crew, spotless service, great food, and friendly warmth all over. This was MAS back in January on a routine jumbo flight to Sydney, and this is also MAS on today's routine non-inaugural, inaugural A380.

Believe me, Malaysian Cabin crew are their premium, and as far as passengers are willing to sacrifice frills over great service they need not worry. The day "ALL" Emirates FAs reach the level of MH cabin crew then that is the day MH need worry. For now EK's cabin crew are a mixed bag of nuts. They have some stellar staff, and some do provide great service, but all of MH's crew provide service from the heart. Heck, even SQ's FAs are know to be robotic in comparsion. Roni again I agree with you about MH's crew.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
A small social area is set up in the front of the Business Class cabin by the staircase. Apart from two baskets of apples, and nuts, a magazine rack lines the sides and the front

I think so far I like QF's version of the snack bar....and while on Snack's Qantas' Snack on Q is still the number one out there.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
Of course at this point, A.netter Airpearl is also suddenly remembering why he decided to retire from writing regular reports in the first place (and he can also reveal that the initiator of this one is Ronerone): it just feels too much like being at work

This would explain why airpearl suddenly disappeared!!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
We were both expecting the usual ‘dump and slam’ on the runway –typical to what we are accustomed to on the A380- but today was probably a breakthrough. It was the smoothest Shamu touchdown we have experienced to date. Is this a hats off to the MAS cockpit crew or perhaps an improvement in the aircraft’s technology? Heck if I knew!

Maybe even Shamu knew that he was in good hands, and decided to also give a landing "straight from the heart" !!!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
What is the very thing you'd expect out of an arrival of an inaugural flight? Well, if it's a water canon welcome, then this never happened at London Heathrow, and I was almost left in shambles. Is there an anti-water canon policy here?, or did the airline simply not demand it? I really need to know!

It is perhaps the most exciting part of an inaugural event, and perhaps because I know exactly how much effort goes into making one a reality. It is offered as a freebie to the airline, and it's a gesture for good luck in the airport world; so again, why the hell not???

At the micro level, MAS did make history by deploying the world's first regularly scheduled A380 to Heathrow's T4 (Air France did of course bring in its A380s but only for a short stint), so I see no excuse for no proper welcome. Airlines at other airports get showered with water at just the introduction of an additional frequency, but at this more significant event, it could not have been more untypical.

With the amount of future new A380 services to be using London, I guess the novely is starting to wear off for Heathrow lol

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
Malaysia Airlines First Class is one hell of a class I wish to fly in one day!

Now I am officially confused who said this!! lol. Just teasing....Experiencing MH in first would literally feel like you'ved died and gone to heaven!!! If they make you feel like royalty in Y class, just imagine what it must be in F!!!


User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1884 posts, RR: 9
Reply 12, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thanks Roni and Kwan for a detailed report! This joint report is fascinating but one can see the contrast between the business and economy experiences. To be honest my expectation for MH A380 is minimal and MH is a bit more "practical" but at least they make an effort in a celebration at KLIA. I can see more on LHR, but LHR has been receiving so many A380s these days, so it is not a big deal anymore.

However the cabin looks smart and the new upholstery is nice, except the red in first class, which seems to be too much. However, the suites look nice. I am also a bit disappointed that MH does not go with the solo business class seats, but the legroom looks excellent and the window seat passenger will not have a big issue going in and out of seats even when neighbor goes fully flat, except a really tall guy. But I still feel that it misses a chance to showcase a really gorgeous business class with all aisle access that this generation of business class is calling out for. Economy class seats look good and the new PTV is good. I like the power outlets available at each seat especially in Y.

The meals look good and the Y meals look very good especially in today's standard.

But I can't help to notice that MH does not have any on board lounges or self-serving areas in all cabin classes. I am surprised that a mid-flight snack is not available for Y passengers. J has a snack menu, but as Roni pointed out, the J self-serving areas need more substantial stuff.

Once again thanks for sharing.

Thanks,
Carfield

BTW, are any of you going to do the TG A380 inaugural Bangkok to Hong Kong in October?


User currently offlineEconojetter From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 430 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Announcing the departure of a code-share trip report

A KP/RH codeshare. There, you are both assigned IATA codes (though I'm not sure these are not actually taken by some airline company somewhere in the world).  
It's an exciting way to present a joint trip report. I haven't taken the time to ensure that the quoted text is correctly attributed at all times, but I suppose it doesn't matter. It is a codeshare after all. Besides, none of my comments below are personal.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
So our first words of thanks (and commiserations too) must go to the long-suffering Malaysian taxpayers who are unwittingly footing the bill for this one and making tonight's inaugural flight possible.

Hear hear!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
You get so distracted reading all the unnecessary MAS-bashing happening on forums and such, that all that’s needed is one simple flight on this airline and all will be forgotten.

While I agree that a lot of it is unnecessary nitpicking, an equal amount of it is deserved. Most of the vitriol is directed towards the top management and the meddling fingers of the government. To the people who have followed the airline closely for years, bungled corporate re-branding efforts or failings in product delivery are irritating for the thing that they have come to represent: abuse of resources at the highest level. Yes, it becomes emotional baggage; but the abuse is still happening, so there is no way to forget it.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
This airline is, after all, where my passion for aviation was first conceived, and then developed. My first flight,

MH was my first too. There used to be a feeling of attachment. I cannot recall in detail the handful of flights (all short ones not exceeding 1hr) I took on MH before the 1990s except for the route and type. The first longhaul I took in 2001 was a rather mediocre experience. I have seen exceptional cabin staff in action but to this day I remain unconvinced that there are more of them at MH than at other established carriers. With each passing year and each "turnaround" after the government reacquired control through the purchase of shares at a wildly inflated price, the disenchantment grew. It became clear that there would be no chance at rebirth as long as the government remained at the helm. Even the armchair strategist game became rather pointless.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
There are a couple of screens showing what's happening upstairs, where all the entertainment seems to be happening, but there's obviously not enough of them: frankly, it just feels like noise downstairs.

Sadly a rather telling image of the airline's situation at the moment: weak and incoherent.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
Instead, at the common economy class counters on row C where I checked in later, there wasn't even one banner to suggest anything special was happening today. What a pity.
Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
During the course of this flight, I am to have conversations with other crew members who are surprisingly frank about what they think of the MH of today, making me wonder if the two plane nuts writing this report are the odd ones out for being excited about its A380.
Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
"Precisely," she agrees. "Premium is more than the crew. That's what we constantly tell management and we do suggest improvements all the time. But instead we're told it is us, the crew, who are ‘the premium'. But there is only so much we can do."

It seems quite evident that the frontline staff (the ones that really work and care) are already over it. One can't help but feel sorry for them.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
At the door of the aircraft, I stop in front of two male cabin crew in charge of the boarding welcome.

As much as MH's aesthetic sensibilities and mine seem to diverge, the new male cabin crew uniforms look rather fine.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
The feeling is a warm and inviting one, and first impressions are good - wood-effect floors and the earthy reddish-brown colors are entirely appropriate for Malaysia's national carrier.

The Economy cabin looks pleasant and evokes the style of LAN. I can't say I like the look of the premium cabins though (except for the Business class lavatory).

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
switched off, I notice Ahmad Jauhari (MAS’ CEO) doing a quick walk-around in the cabin. Some probably do not realize that this guy IS MAS, while others actually stop him for a few words; myself included.
Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
We briefly continue on, as he explains a little about his company’s decisions behind making the MAS A380 what it is today, and he is even in-tune with the idea that with today’s trend, the A380 should really be simple yet exceptionally comfortable.

The quotes attributed to him in the media make him sound rather clueless and almost clownishly so.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
What exactly makes a Skytrax ranking? I am unsure myself, but its value isn’t as shallow as people like us think. In the airline world, it is perhaps the most prestigious house one could ever belong to, which is why I am admittedly baffled when I discovered MAS’s ranking was ‘under review’.

Good question. What makes it prestigious? Is their assessment fair or relevant? Let's put aside the allegations of favoritism and start by asking a basic question, how informative is this to the traveling public? Without reviews and trip reports, the star rating tells me zero about what to expect in an airline I haven't flown before. If I want to know about the seating I can check out seatguru; if I want to get an idea of what I might be fed, there is airlinemeals; if I want pictures and narrative, I come to this forum. I, as a traveler, cannot see any value in the Skytrax ranking system. But I understand how an airline marketing department might disagree.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
The grey-trimmed containers, tray and plastic utensils are apparently new, but they look a touch clinical to me.

What's with the lip at the lower right corner of the square containers? Does it have any function?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
It’s our last opportunity for a face-to-face as we’d be parting company in London and while we had a vague idea that we write some sort of a joint trip report, we hadn’t yet worked out details or timelines (needless to say the targets we set are far too ambitious). Of course at this point, A.netter Airpearl is also suddenly remembering why he decided to retire from writing regular reports in the first place (and he can also reveal that the initiator of this one is Ronerone): it just feels too much like being at work!

I am impressed that you both got it together beautifully despite the physical separation; and so soon after the event too! Thank you both for the pleasure of experiencing the event through your well-coordinated report.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
Maybe Oneworld can help, but the see-saw plans on share-swaps, premium airlines, and everything else in between will most certainly not.
Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
That said, my concerns are with what happens beyond today. The bigger question of whether MAS should be operating a small fleet of aircraft as large as the A380 on essentially one route that can truly support it remains

It is a joyful occasion when enthusiasts can gather and experience a special event together. Yet I cannot look away from the reality that the airline is in poor shape. I am clearly not alone in thinking that the A380 at MH is a mistake, and the airline seems bent on continuing on the path of what appear to be knee-jerk, simplistic, misguided and uncoordinated strategies. There are deficiencies at the core of the airline. Membership in oneworld should boost MH's profile, but it also opens up a path for MH fliers into the more able hands of CX/KA and their superior HKG hub.


User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1912 posts, RR: 24
Reply 14, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Great report - Malaysian Airlines looks as good as ever. Food looks of a high quality in both J and Y. That satay looks awesome!  

Thanks for sharing this significant flight!

Best,

Matthew (767747)


User currently offlineburj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 901 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 11):
That must be one long walk!! Do not other carriers allow one to walk through the premium cabins to get to the Y cabin, where Y class is on the upper deck?

When I was in Y on the upper deck of Air France's A380 from JFK to CDG we did indeed board and go through the J cabin to get to the Y cabin.


User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8484 posts, RR: 55
Reply 16, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Excellent report guy's!

Love the way you have combined your reports into one, gives a real feel for both cabins experience and service on the same flight.

Lot's of good looking FA's on this flight  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Never one to shirk responsibility, Roni is ever ready to don his babe-magnet shirt

- Oh yes  

Looking forward to flying the MAS A380 myself, not sure if it will be November or early next year yet, all hinges on the date they join OW.

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333,342
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 32
Reply 17, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

To you both,

A really great and ever so novel report. Many thanks - it shall be archived so as to never loose it.

So interesting also to see what goes on just a couple of metres above/ below. MAS are doing very competitive one-way flights GLA-LHR-KUL so perhaps one day I will give this a try... downstairs.

I must just personally say that, Kwan, your retirement has made the archives of Anet a duller place. I hope that perhaps you'll keep astride of the forum and give us the occassional royal appearance!

Luke!



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6714 posts, RR: 78
Reply 18, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi Roni and Kwan,

excellent report about this special event - I was really looking forward to get an impression of MH's A380. Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed by the interior in all three cabins (colors, seat designs etc.), it's not really to my taste. But the food looks great.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
One 'new' thing that I did notice is how MH's corporate colors have changed. I'm not sure if it's from today that everything started suddenly looking so blue - it's almost an attempt to be KLM - but it does seem that the airline decided to incorporate parts of its new A380 livery into its corporate branding, together with the latest wau logo, now back in red and blue but different from that painted on the super jumbo. Confused? Well, you should be. But at least it's different - and for some inexplicable reason, I quite like it.
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):

Rumors flying about say that this new livery is a cost cutting measure, but surely those additional blue stripes across the fuselage would cost more to apply, and would probably weigh more and burn more fuel than a simple red on the tail. But on the positive side, I think I the new livery is indeed growing on me, and with cloudy/rainy backdrop, the aircraft does somehow stand out in a very unique way.
.

I really miss some red - why on earth did they get rid of it entirely? A little red strip would be fine. Malaysia Airlines has always been red and blue.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
What is the very thing you'd expect out of an arrival of an inaugural flight? Well, if it's a water canon welcome, then this never happened at London Heathrow, and I was almost left in shambles. Is there an anti-water canon policy here?, or did the airline simply not demand it? I really need to know!

That's disappointing indeed. Getting a water canon salute is really something special.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinenipoel123 From Netherlands, joined Jan 2011, 267 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hello guys,

This is the first joint TR I've read, and I must say I like the concept. If anything, it illustrates the significant differences between the classes. I don't know a whole lot about MAS, but based on this review, it seems they are indeed worthy of a five-star rating.

While crew may be what makes an airline 'premium', it is also the part that is most prone to inconsistency. If all the MAS crew are like the ones on your flight, then they should be able to get out of the slump, based on their product.

Thanks for the great read guys,

Nick



one mile of road leads to nowhere, one mile of runway leads to anywhere
User currently offline1stfl94 From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 1455 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Excellent report but I really can't see how MAS will make the A380 work in the long run. Were there any passengers in F, the seats looks very unused in the pictures

User currently offlinenethkt From Thailand, joined Apr 2001, 1067 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

AMAZING!
Another big step for MH, they have done a great job regardless of what they have been through in recent years.

Many thanks for sharing your precious experience on the latest A380 operator.
This trip report is very valuable and very neatly done!!

P.S Notice that one drawback of seat 74A is that the seat is installed way too close to the window than the rest A seat.
Extra volume passenger (or guys with muscular legs) may have problem with the left leg squeezing aircraft frame at all times, vice versa for 74K.
However, the benefit of endless legroom may balance out the drawback  



Let's just blame it on yields.
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6405 posts, RR: 39
Reply 22, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Roni and KP - Wow, what more can I say? A superb report with the 2-in-1 effect of masterful creative writing. It has got to be the best combined report to date. Aspects from both of you shine through and the synergies created make it such a pleasure to read. A pity that something like this is only really possible when there are 2 different classes involved so I wonder how long it'll take for the next similar one to occur!

I only just realised now that you also alternated the posting.. Fantastic!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
or so the joint authors of this report - Ronerone and Airpearl - plagiarize, in the absence of anything more original to say.

Great minds think alike, you know  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Everything that could conceivably be done with an A380 within the shrinking limits of airline economics has been tried. Install suites with double beds in first class and one would be copying Singapore Airlines, fitting showers or a plush bar mean tailing Emirates; inflight duty-free shops are the exclusive domain of Korean Air's planes, while an electronic art gallery has already been tried by Air France. Trying to invent something impressively original must be the bane of new A380 operators, especially when expectations linked with any new delivery of this largest commercial aircraft haven't yet been tempered, and yet niggling, party-spoiling accountants are telling management that the plane can only be paid off with an 11-abreast economy class.

Well since VS hasn't received their A380s yet, could MH have installed a casino onboard? One that could possibly help pay off this huge debt owed to the Malaysian taxpayer? Regardless, thank god they decided against 11 abreast!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Flying especially high tonight is Ronerone (Roni) who is in business class and seated on the upper deck – but he starts his journey earlier today in Ho Chi Minh City. Never one to shirk responsibility, Roni is ever ready to don his babe-magnet shirt to please his many MH fans, even if it means having his hands constantly full to overflowing.
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Meanwhile downstairs, Kuala Lumpur-based Airpearl (Kwan) is embarking from his home town and is booked in economy on the lower deck, seemingly hoping he’ll find at least a few things to nitpick on. As Kwan is often seen as unfriendly to MAS, nobody initially wanted to pose with him. It is only out of pity that two stewardesses eventually agree to flank the poor sod, with the proviso he keeps his hands to himself.

LOL. Fantastic captions!
Looks like a case of Business Class = 4 FAs, Economy Class = 2  
All hail the mighty Roni and the god-like glow! 
I'm left wondering if KP wasn't smelling quite as good as Roni; hence the rather reserved FA decided not to front up in the following picture  
Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):

One 'new' thing that I did notice is how MH's corporate colors have changed. I'm not sure if it's from today that everything started suddenly looking so blue - it's almost an attempt to be KLM - but it does seem that the airline decided to incorporate parts of its new A380 livery into its corporate branding, together with the latest wau logo, now back in red and blue but different from that painted on the super jumbo. Confused? Well, you should be. But at least it's different - and for some inexplicable reason, I quite like it.

Too much blue for me in an airline which has always screamed the main colours on the Malaysian flag of red, white and blue. I guess I'll just never understand them.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):

The arch guard must have been feeling generous when he granted me access to the premium enclave, for a few quick snaps, I promised.

Nice of him to do that.. Wonder why Malays were barred!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
My retro folder pleases the check-in agent who passes it round to show her colleagues. She issues my boarding pass without fuss, confirms that my DL Skymiles (one of MH's more unorthodox FFP relationships) number is entered, and wishes me a pleasant flight on the A380.

Great piece of memorabilia. I'd probably be too scared to take something like that to the airport! It looks like you'll be finding some other FFP once MH joins OW..

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
From a facilities perspective, this lounge no doubt offers all the frills. A luggage storage area, a full business center, and a Faber Castell themed children’s play area occupy the open space before the main lounge area, and of course, other facilities inside the lounge include ample seating area, a buffet spread featuring hot and cold food and drinks, a full service spa with shower facilities, and of course friendly staff all over.

The lounge looks great. I suppose MH doesn't have too many flights around that time? It just looks so empty.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 1):
This end of the terminal is closed off to all except passengers on MH002 and the many MAS staff, security personnel and press who are here to send off the airline's first commercial A380 flight. Security is particularly tight because the deputy prime minister, among other assorted VIPs, has decided to join the send-off party too. We are both handed a goody bag here; for Y class, they contain a hardcard certificate, A380 passport holder and baggage tag, but not a model plane. For J class, they contain all of the above in addition to the model plane. Both the certificate and the model A380 were definitely appreciated.

Another security checkpoint screams a USA flight all over it! Great goodie bags - if only every airline did that.. I'm starting to wonder if you guys actually stuck your boarding stubs to the certificate or simply photocopied it as to retain the original with all the other ones you have collected..

Quoting airpearl (Reply 2):
Naturally, picture-taking is so allowed tonight, and that is always a good thing!

A very good thing! Probably a good reason in itself to take inaugurals!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
A window seat, one row behind the exit row making it feel cosier than the seats at the door but with the legroom of an exit row because of a missing 73A and aisle access allowing me guilt- and trouble-free roaming on this flight.

Great choice of seat! That over a prisoner seat on the upper deck any day.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
When top politicians feel the need to squeeze into really tiny spaces like the cabin crew rest area, it's quite extraordinary how many others (assorted other VIPs, VIPs' assistants, VIPs' security people, wannabe VIPs, wannabe VIPs' assistants, pressmen who can't stop their flash photography) suddenly feel the need to do the same

Sounds like a bureaucracy scrum to me!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
Two of my immediate neighbors in identical light blue shirts turn out to a program manager and a systems engineer from Thales - our IFE trouble-shooters tonight.

Haha, one's prepared to sleep already!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 3):
Interestingly, MH uses the Thales system for its A380s only; the new A333s and B738s get Panasonic.

That sounds utterly confusing.. Why be so different and suddenly hire a new company for thei A380 IFE? Surely the A333/738 IFE isn't that bad or Emirates would have found an alternative. I suppose you gotta love the continual inconsistencies/inefficiencies of this whole ordeal.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
Downstairs, there was no mood lighting, which was a slight disappointment because for some reason, I had expected it.

I was also disappointed with CX as they failed to use mood lighting in Economy too. I had expected it to no avail.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
A quick chat based around MAS, aviation, and today’s fierce competitive environment reveals that this man is relatively humble and very approachable as a person

With your shirt shouting "MH Hibiscus liveried 747-400", did you mention any special liveries?  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
Ah, life is indeed good upstairs, isn’t it? Or so the ever so slightly envious co-trip reporter from economy (who’s neither been offered a drink at this stage, nor made small talk with the CEO) cannot resist writing here. Actually downstairs, Kwan is, at this time, wondering about much more basic things like if he’ll be getting a printed menu for tonight’s flight.

I guess it does highlight the differences in service between J and Y!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
My fellow passengers, either already engrossed in their PTVs or fast asleep, are settling down to the long flight ahead. But I find it hard to do so (despite the reasonably comfortable, even if a tad firm, seat). Still on a high from the early festivities, I am hoping more will come our way, and I don’t plan to miss any of it. So maybe there’s no special paper menu, but could they surprise us with a plastic cup of champagne perhaps, like SQ did for its last B747 flight? An upgraded meal service with lobster maybe, like TG did for its 50th anniversary flight? A walkabout by the captain, like QF’s did on its first A380 flight? Another souvenir giveaway? A Malaysian cultural performance? A fashion show? A lucky draw? Inflight bingo? Anything?

A shame festivities came to an end rather quickly in Y!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
One thing MAS does very well –and I think we all agree to this- is the legendary onboard satay service. Whilst SQ’s similar offering is a sign of today’s economic redundancies, MAS specifically continues its generosity and offers something definitely better.

Good to know. I must try this sometime!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
In the airline world, it is perhaps the most prestigious house one could ever belong to, which is why I am admittedly baffled when I discovered MAS’s ranking was ‘under review’.

Its credibility will never cut it for me - from that statement, I'm a little surprised that it's taken with pride by some and completely ignored by others. With MH's ranking under review and Hainan not even in the top 10 airlines baffles me. But also the fact that CX receives the best Business Class award yet is ranked #2 on J seat, off the list for J catering and #8 on the best J lounge absolutely baffles me. I wonder if IATA should create some big awards thing which would actually mean something to everyone rather than this obviously skewed "People's Choice". It almost sounds communist!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 4):
To be honest, I am pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer. The cost-cutting that had eaten into both the quality and quantity of MH catering in recent years must have considerably dampened my expectations. So getting this tray is an unexpected positive. This meal consists of a smoked salmon salad starter, a chicken hot main course with a slightly spicy sauce, well-cooked rice and vegetables, warm roll, cheese and biscuits, a small chocolate bar, water, choice of wines and beverage – all pretty good Y stuff – that are let down a little by the obligatory mystery yellow cake.

I wouldn't be disappointed as a Y passenger to receive that meal. Nothing wrong with it at all - very comparable to my meal onboard each CX flight.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
But ‘just a quick snooze’ ended up seven hours of sleep on a 12-hour flight. And I only was awake because of the passing sunlight through the cabin’s windows. How anti-social I thought, but I guess the celebrations today had morphed into a typical flight one could just enjoy for the service. But I do wonder what Kwan had been up to all this while downstairs …

I guess that proves how nice it is to sleep on! I don't suppose you missed out on a hell of a lot though!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
Feeling dehydrated and realizing I hadn't had a drop of water to drink since dinner, I pop into the galley for a glass. That's no problem at all, but, four refills later, it also made me realize that the crew haven't done any rounds with trays of water or juice since the end of the meal service. In fact, unless one uses the call button (which I notice is answered promptly enough), there isn't any service at all until breakfast, some seven hours later.

Seems like the same as a few of my CX flights. I remember at least 2 of them where the FAs were up. Neither of the 744 flights had any water runs to my knowledge. That is a very long time between drinks!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
There's a sudden pang of guilt as I wonder if my co-trip reporter had been religiously documenting everything about this inaugural flight, while I'd been watching movies and sleeping...

Haha, wonder what your reaction was when you found out he had slept for 7 hours!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
When she hears that I'd been on other A380s, the conversation immediately strays to Emirates and its inflight product. What did I think? Is it very much better than MAS, like others say? This is not the first, nor the last, chat that I have with MH staff tonight when the name 'Emirates' has not cropped up. And even if not everyone says so explicitly, the underlying tone is always: "how can we compete?"

I suppose it's fair, in some aspects, to call Emirates a benchmark in the way that everyone else does. Though it's not entirely an accurate measure, there are many things in which EK got right; such as an excellent IFE system and it has been known for its decent meals. It wouldn't come as a surprise to me if more FAs kept asking for opinions, knowing that you have previously flown on EK. It must be difficult having them breathing down your neck.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
I turn on my PTV just in time to catch a news flash on the Euro 2012 finals that was being played in Kiev as we sped through the night. Nice touch MAS, and especially apt now that we're over the Ukraine.

Good to know they're informative!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
I was quite impressed with the size of the lavatory on the MAS A380. It was basic in its offering, but was long enough to fit several people in one go; more importantly, it was clean, and apparently cleaned after every use.

Is this lavatory in the same place as the EK shower lav or is it the disabled one in between the J sections? Very spacious, just the way I'd like it!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 5):
Downstairs too, breakfast is being served, and Nasi Lemak is also one of two choices

Wow. I don't think there'd be many airlines in the world serving essentially the same menu item separately in J and Y. Immediately, differences can be noted but I take my hat off to both of you for choosing the same thing! The Y egg looks like it has been battery hatched compared with a slightly more healthy looking egg for J. The colour also does it for me. I guess I'll have to try one of these myself sometime too!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
Breakfast service is completed a lot faster in economy than for business class. With less than two hours of the flight to go when my tray is collected, I quickly make my way upstairs to see Roni for a kind of ‘work meeting’. It’s our last opportunity for a face-to-face as we’d be parting company in London and while we had a vague idea that we write some sort of a joint trip report, we hadn’t yet worked out details or timelines (needless to say the targets we set are far too ambitious). Of course at this point, A.netter Airpearl is also suddenly remembering why he decided to retire from writing regular reports in the first place (and he can also reveal that the initiator of this one is Ronerone): it just feels too much like being at work! Hesitating to barge through the business class curtains, I ask a flight attendant if he can summon Roni. The crew member returns promptly: “Mr. Hawi is just finishing his breakfast and will join you shortly,” he says, like Roni’s personal valet might.

As you'd expect, I suppose. When you have at least 2 courses, things take time! Even from this point, it seems like a heck of a coordination job; even more so than the actual report itself! But you managed to get this one off and it's great you did too. This report wouldn't be half as exciting without your input!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
We were both expecting the usual ‘dump and slam’ on the runway –typical to what we are accustomed to on the A380- but today was probably a breakthrough. It was the smoothest Shamu touchdown we have experienced to date

Odd - all my A380 landings have been smooth. I was watching a BBC programme on the A380 technologies and one part specifically looked at the suspension of the A380. It was interesting to learn how strong the shock absorbers actually are!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
What is the very thing you'd expect out of an arrival of an inaugural flight? Well, if it's a water canon welcome, then this never happened at London Heathrow, and I was almost left in shambles. Is there an anti-water canon policy here?, or did the airline simply not demand it? I really need to know!

Earlier in June, I was hearing about how the UK was facing a drought this season. Maybe there were in 'drought' (UK definition = 15 consecutive days without rain) at the time and faced restrictions  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
Along with the rest, ‘The Proud of Meleshe’ was the first to get set and barge out of the aircraft.

Gotta lead by example!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
Maybe Oneworld can help, but the see-saw plans on share-swaps, premium airlines, and everything else in between will most certainly not.

At least they had sense in backing down from the propsed QF/MH premium Asian airline.. That was surely going to end in more millions poured down the drain.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 6):
What stood out for me on this flight was the staff. MAS really does have a great bunch of people and I think they do deserve enormous credit for their efforts despite all that’s thrown at them. My conversations on this journey with both cabin crew and HQ staff have reinforced the belief that they do know what needs to be done, if only someone at the top listened and acted on it. I wish them all the best.

I totally agree. People (FAs/ground crew/pilots) are very important and they need to be heard too; seeing that they're the ones who convey what the airline is to the passengers and also many good experiences on airlines follow good service. I also wish them all the best.. And hope that I'll fly on them some day soon!


Thanks again for compiling this amazing contrasting report of one flight in two cabins. It seems to have set a benchmark for future inaugurals!   And I hope that the out-of-retirement period doesn't simply close here either!  


Cheers,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineShudu From South Africa, joined Sep 2011, 26 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi Roni, Kwan and Airpearl,

Simply outstanding trip report guys!!!! I thought I have seen the best report out there but you guys just hit it out of the ballpark. Much appreciated.

I'm so sad that MH canceled South Africa a few months ago, but I have hope of one day making it on board MH, especially their A380, MH truly is Malaysia Hospitality.

Regards,

Shudu


User currently offline9V-SPJ From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Now we have an outstanding report by two of the best trip reporters on a.net! Thanks for the great report!

9V-SPJ


25 ElPistolero : Epic. This stuff is higher quality than anything I've ever read anywhere. Everything one could possibly want (and hope for) in a trip report.
26 Post contains images airpearl : Hi guys Firstly, thank you ALL for your kind words. Really appreciate it! It makes all the toing and froing of Word files between Roni and me over the
27 NC1844v : Awesome Trip report! Fantastic Read. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for sharing.
28 globetraveller : Well well - what have we here. A true gem of a trip report! I had heard from both of you that this trip was in the works - glad to see it came into fr
29 Carfield : Yes I will be flying the inaugural TG A380 BKK to HKG (TG 600) on October 28... I am doing in first class too. I manage to buy a normal discounted fi
30 aflyingkiwi : Hi Kwan & Roni, Absolutely fantastic report! You guys made this joint trip report work to perfection. Before reading this report I hadn't realized
31 Post contains links themit9 : Hi airpearl and ronerone, I was really looking forward to reading about the MH A380 flight after following the action, so thanks for bringing such a h
32 Post contains images ronerone : Dear All, Many thanks for your continued support! Things have become a bit quiet here, so it was nice to liven it up a little I think it was a GREAT p
33 Knightsofmalta : Hi Kwan, hi Roni What a great report. I really enjoyed that. I also particularly enjoyed the style of writing - very witty and entertaining. As for th
34 themit9 : When I flew SQ they had two seperate lines for Y pax on boarding- upper deck and lower deck pax. The upper deck Y pax had an orange SQ sticker on the
35 Post contains images NZ107 : Woah, so much effort. I would have used Google Docs but the whole track changes thing wouldn't exist because everything is updated on the spot. I can
36 ronerone : About 1.5 hours before the LON flight.
37 Post contains links and images airpearl : Thanks all for your comments. Also thanks Roni for chipping in Here are further responses to specifics: Great, that's cool... and it looks like we'll
38 Post contains images ronerone : Very cool review! .. I guess service was also slow-ish on the return leg too. As for the seat and the leg rest, it probably does droop as mentioned,
39 Post contains images airpearl : LOL... after the flying that you did before this flight, I can truly believe that
40 Ryanair!!! : So while I was freezing my ding-dongs off down under, this is what you both were up to, very naughty... How can I not log onto a.net and leave my mark
41 bedo : Great job!! Thank you for sharing. I had a great time reading you guys.
42 Post contains images ronerone : Well if this scored us a Ryanair!!! reply, then i am very glad But why 'used' to? Thanks bedo. Glad you enjoyed! Cheers, Roni
43 MSS658 : Hello Kwan and Roni Great trip reports, thanks for sharing this with us. It was a pleasure to read the trip report. Good luck on catching the inaugura
44 deltamartin : Hi Roni and Kwan! Excellent report. Great idea to do this code-share tripreport of two classes on the same flight. And this flight being an inaugural,
45 tjcab : fantastic report. Just wonderful. I gues the red lost on the exterior of the plane has been compensated for by the abundant use within the cabin. I ai
46 The777Man : Hi Airpearl and Roni! Very nice report and great to see the same flight from two perspectives! Economy class looks okay; meals look great and service
47 kurt : Excellent report, both of you. One of the best I have ever read!
48 allrite : There was no way that their hard product offerings and food in Y on their flagship 747s was five star. Not even close. They deserved to be under revi
49 Post contains images signol : Hi Airpearl, Roni, great pair of reports! Nice to do something a little different, this is certainly well done MAS certainly seem to be upping their g
50 MHTripple7 : Hi guys, amazing trip report! Very creative formatting! I love Malaysia Airlines, I flew them back in 2005 on their 777s from PVG to KUL and then from
51 gabrielchew : Great joint report! Thanks guys for all your effort! Service, staff, food, seats and plane looks great! First to fly...Um, how can they claim that? Do
52 777MAS : Thanks for such a comprehensive codeshared TR! Many of the so-called new concepts brandished by Airbus (jacuzzi, gym, casino) could have been installe
53 kazim786 : Definitely one of the best A380 trip reports on this site. Awesome job guys!!
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