Date: 11 Oct 2004
Flight No.: MH2617
From/to: Kota Kinabalu (BKI) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
Distance: 1,014 miles or 1,632 km
Scheduled departure/arrival: 1735/2005
Aircraft: A330-200 (9M-MKU)
Fare paid: MYR219 + 11 taxes (Supersaver, 50% off published fare; Booking Class: L - no Enrich FFP mileage awarded)
At 1638 I entered the Departure concourse at BKI. The Immigration officer told me I needed to pass through his counter, even though this is a domestic flight, since it's got to do with travel between Sabah/Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia. He stamped my boarding pass upon looking at my Identity Card. Passport not required.
1640: settled in a seat with a full view of a majestic-looking A330-200 bird parked at Gate 1, 9M-MKU. Having got tired of the usual MH B737-400s at BKI, I looked on admiringly, and what a great feeling too when you know you get to board that plane!! The flight screen showed that at 1930 later that evening, there's a flight to KUL by the number of MH81, which is a B777-200 (my
absolute favourite!!); but sorry, man, that one is the domestic leg of an international flight (i.e. NRT-BKI-KUL), and so, no Supersaver (L Class) seats are available! Anyway, the A330 more than makes up for the "disappointment".
Observed a few ground crew loading containers and cargo into the belly - they were actually able to stand upright in that place!
1706: Boarding call made. The queue was short, and the ground staff checked our boarding passes to our identification documents. No wonder I was still able to get a Supersaver seat even though I only booked 10 days earlier! Of course, give thanks to Air Asia for drawing away so many of MAS' customers!!
At the end of the aerobridge, just outside Door 1L, newspapers were arranged neatly on a trolley. Immediately noticed the South China Morning Post among them - hmmm, this bird must have been in Hongkong earlier that morning. Picked up a copy of New Straits Times, which on its front page had a headline screaming: "Air Asia welcomes MAS statement"
Entered thru Door 1L, into the C Class cabin. Immediately after passing Door 2L, stopped by briefly beside a toilet-sized compartment that housed what must surely be the control panel for the audio/video entertainment system. The rear section of C class awaited after Door 2L.
Settled in seat 36C, not before looking longingly at the seat pitch in C Class and also the acres of space in front of Y Class bulkhead seats in row 31. (FYI: In comparison, there's not that much space at the bulkhead at row 20.)
Soaked up the widebody atmosphere..... it's exquisite and spacious, so unlike the narrow bodies. Then I noticed it - there's no footrest on this bird, unlike another one that I'd flown on 12 months ago! (Deduct half a point here, if you please....) But the headrests are foldable, and there's in-seat lumbar support.
1727: a captain-like voice came on air, and instructed the cabin crew to "arm and cross-check all doors". The plane was only half-full, and yippee, I've got no neighbour!
1728: welcome announcement. And yes, they extended a "special welcome" to their Enrich (FFP) members. Hmmm, anything to keep you from switching over to Air Asia!
1731: the video screen was activated as the safety demo was about to begin.
1732: Pushback (3 mins ahead of schedule). For a few seconds, the cabin smelled of either aviation fuel or exhaust (not sure which)
1736: began taxiing after end of safety demo. Video screen goes blank, and only the larger one at the bulkhead remains on.
1740: Without the usual "wait" upon lining up on the runway, takeoff roll commences, and 30 seconds later we're airborne. As we lifted off the ground, I could see a Transmile Air B727 (Cargo) parked at the Terminal 2 apron, doesn't look like it's flown for some time! Soon, Sutera Harbour Resort passes underneath, and then we bank left to make a 150 degree turn to head westward. Nice panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu lasts only some 10 seconds, and then there's not much worth seeing.
1742: Video screen showed that our speed/altitude is 481 km/h and 4,322 feet.
1743: 509 km/h; 7,365 ft
1745: 584 km/h; 11,007 ft. FAs get into action as seat belt lights go off.
1747: 666 km/h
1748: 702 km/h; 17,677 ft
1749: 725 km/h
1750: 742 km/h; 20,500 ft. FAs serve OJ in those usual little cups. (Ryannair, FYI, there's no Milo offered, unlike those flights you were on. Maybe it's only on those flights within Peninsular Malaysia.)
1752: 779 km/h; 24,000 ft
1753: 787 km/h; 25,500 ft
1754: FAs offer 2nd cup of OJ
1755: 853 km/h; 28,500 ft
1756: 872 km/h; 30,000 ft
1757: 885 km/h; 31,000 ft
1758: 914 km/h
1759: 925 km/h; 33,000 ft
1800: 928 km/h; 34,500 ft. We've reached cruising speed. Engines seem louder than usual.
1801: 927 km/h; 36,000 ft.
1803: 37,500 ft as I make my way to the toilet. Inside, I appreciated what they meant by quiet engines for the A330.
1805: 927 km/h; 39,000 ft. We've reached cruising altitude, it's -56 degrees C outside! Light meal service starts as 2 carts are rolled to the front section of Y Class.
1813: The cart arrives at my seat. I went for the stir-fried chicken with noodles. The alternative was pan-fried fish with rice. A "Large" size tray was set before me, and the lots of empty space on it immediately caught my attention - the (only) other items there were a strawberry mousse cake, a prepackaged cuplet of mineral water, a coffee cup and mini glass, and of course, the (metal) cutlery + salt/pepper/sugar/creamer. Add a bonus half-point here for the metal!!
[Note: the flight I was on was a "pure" domestic flight - you can tell by the 4-digit flight number. Those "domestic legs" of international routes, which have 2 or 3-digit flight numbers, would have an appetiser + warm bread roll in addition to the above]
The chicken was tender and tasty, with lots of gravy. You've got to give credit to MAS for always serving chicken thigh...... Add another bonus half-point here for this...... Mousse cake (also tasty) is a vast improvement compared to the days of Tajuddin, when it'd be a slab of jelly!!!
1828: Trays were collected. We're still cruising at 927 km/h and 39,000 ft.
1844: the large Indonesian island of Natuna passed by underneath
1846: 905 km/h; 39,000 ft. 47 more mins to destination at current speed
1850: 911 km/h; 39,000 ft
1853: 903 km/h; 39,000 ft. FAs retreated to the galley at the rear. One of them distributed peanuts at my request - these proved to be popular, since many other pax snapped them up. Yes, quite tasty indeed.
1855: 894 km/h; 39,000 ft
1856: walked over to the (rear) galley for more peanuts. Saw a couple of crew eating some of the same stuff we had been eating, standing up (poor ladies!). Spotted some garlic bread (presumably leftovers from C Class) with them. Lucky - get to eat the crumbs from under the (rich man's) table!!
1900: 892 km/h; 39,000 ft. 32 more mins to destination at current speed
1905: 894 km/h; ; 39,000 ft. Last rays of sunlight on the horizon
1908: 896 km/h; ; 39,000 ft. FAs have mostly retreated to the galleys, but would respond if called, mainly to serve drinks. Hmmm, I did't know MAS still gives playing cards on request on domestic flights......
1910: 906 km/h; 39,000 ft. Captain came on air, advised we will descend in 5 mins time.
Expecting to land at 1940, 25 mins ahead of schedule.
1915: Descent starts, and we're not far off from the coast of Pahang
1916: 903 km/h; ; 38,000 ft
1917: 900 km/h; ; 37,000 ft
1918: 904 km/h; ; 37,000 ft
1920: 901 km/h. It's dark, and we're almost reaching the Pahang coast
1922: 895 km/h; 37,000 ft. Flying over land now
1923: 927 km/h; 33,000 ft (Is it my eyes that have a problem?)
1924: 832 km/h; 32,000 ft
1925: 808 km/h; 30,500 ft. -32 degrees C outside
1926: 774 km/h; 27,500 ft
1927: 766 km/h; 25,500 ft
1928: 764 km/h; 23,500 ft
1929: 764 km/h; 22,000 ft
1931: 678 km/h; 15,624 ft
1932: 652 km/h; 14,110 ft
1934: 604 km/h; 8,809 ft
1935: 581 km/h; 7,192 ft
1936: 501 km/h; 5,357 ft. The lights on the outskirts of KL are nothing compared to the lighted highways, which really stand out in the dark as rivers of brightness!
1937: 509 km/h
1939: 422 km/h; 3,103 ft. What must surely be Putrajaya appears on the left (south). Plane then banks to the left for final approach.
1941: 315 km/h; 1,314 ft. Final approach, and undercarriage is lowered. Engines are rather quiet now. Putrajaya rolls past to the left (west). The screen stopped showing speed/altitude data after this, only advertised some of KL's tourist spots.
1943: Touchdown!! A smooth one too, compared to a number of touchdowns by B737-400!
1948: 17 mins ahead of schedule, we pulled up at Gate A4 or A2 (not too sure which one) of Main Terminal Building. Not sure why the had plane stopped for 2-3 minutes in front of the gate, before rolling those final few metres and then docking! What's Air Asia goingto think about the burnt fuel? Other than the usual MAS B747s, 777s and A330s at the Satellite Terminal, the foreign aircraft seen were a Japan Airlines B747-400, Lufthansa B747-400 and Thai Airways A330.
Atmosphere/Experience: 9.5/10. Nothing beats widebody! What more when you've got a video screen to tell you how fast and high you're flying!
Crew and services: 9.5/10
Value for money: 10/10. What more when you're on Supersaver, and it's a widebody??? Bring on Air Asia!!!