My alarm went off at 6:30am. Today I was finally heading home. I was so tired. We had flown in from Spain that night and did not make it to the house we were staying in Camberwell till 2:00am. I did not make it to bed till about 3:30am as I had to repack my luggage as we left a lot of stuff in London so we would not have to carry it with us to Valencia. Which was just as well as Ryanair has a ridiculous 15kg luggage allowance. The taxi arrived at 7:30am to take my friend and I to Picadilly train station to catch the underground to Heathrow. The taxi was great as we had pre booked it that night and it quoted the fare so you knew exactly what you would be up for.
Once all our stuff was in we were ready to go. I can’t believe it after 70 days traveling through Europe I was leaving. The whole thing just seemed to fly past. On the way to Picadilly Station we encountered many road closures. Luckily the cab was equipped with GPS so our driver could try and work out which route to take to get us to the station. This ultimately added about 15 extra minutes to our journey time but at least we got to see the sights of London one last time such as Tower Bridge, The tower of London, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square. London is dead at 7:30 in the morning. The taxi dropped us off at Picadilly Circus. It was kind of fitting that my trip would end here, as this was the first sight we saw 70 days earlier.
We descended below to buy our tickets to Heathrow. The ticket person informed us that the Picadilly line was closed due to engineering works. For us to get to Heathrow we would have to take the Bakerloo line to Paddington Station and catch the Heathrow Express. The Heathrow Express is quicker and usually more expensive that the underground but because of the engineering works we did not have to pay any extra.
Once we arrived at Paddington we made our way to the Heathrow Express which was about to leave. The journey only took about 25 minutes and before we knew it we were at Heathrow. We made our way to the elevators to be taken to the departure level to check in. People were pushing in front of us but we eventually got the elevator just as it closed. I pushed the button for the next one. We were waiting for a while and my friend asked if I had pushed the button. At this point I was very tired and a bit stressed probably from our detour this morning as well as rude people pushing past me and I just snapped and yelled I pushed the F%^Kin button. Everyone around me took one giant step backwards. I didn’t believe it, I actually had airport rage.
The check in area of Heathrow Terminal 3 is really quite cramped. I found it to be long and narrow. There were thousands of people checking in. Terminal three would have to be the most exotic terminal at Heathrow. There were carriers from North America, Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and Europe all checking in passengers. It was a long walk to the Malaysia Airlines counter, which if I remember correctly is next to the Qatar Airways counter. The checkin line was not that long with only about 5 people in front of us but it moved quite slowly as the people in front of us were having some passport issues with their baby.
I am glad we checked in early, as my friend’s and my bags were overweight by 5 kilos each. They did not seem too mind and just tagged the bags as heavy and let them through. We had repacked a lot of our stuff into our hand luggage. I had two pieces and my friend had three. The lady behind the counter asked to see what we were taking in the cabin and we held up one bag each and did not show the other bags as the counter hid them. I can’t believe that worked. She told us that a gate had not been allocated for our flight yet and to check the boards about an hour before boarding. I looked at our boarding pass and it said boarding time was 10:45am. I thought was crazy as we were not scheduled to depart till 12 noon.
After checking in my friend and I decided to grab a bite to eat. By now a big line had formed at the Malaysia Airlines counter. Much of the line was large school hockey team flying to Malaysia to compete. The food area at Heathrow is crazy. I was going to get a sandwich but the line was too long to pay and the sandwiches did not look at fresh. I opted for Burger King instead and bought some nuggets. Once I had finished we proceeded to immigration. The line went really quickly.
We checked the boards to see which gate we will be departing from but there was no information. The departure area of Heathrow is chaos. There was a lot of building work happening and thousands of people everywhere. It was hard for us to find somewhere to sit. Also the sucky thing is that there are no views airside. I wandered through he duty free shops which some of them were huge but nothing interested me as I was tired and just wanted to get on the plane. At about 10:30am the boards showed that our flight will be departing from gate 31 today. Heathrow have these really great maps that show you where you are and show you how long it would lake to reach your gate. The status of our flight was “go to gate” and the and the map said it would be a 20minute journey.
On the way walking to the gate we finally got some good airside views. I saw an Air Canada 767-300 that was getting ready for departure. As we were approaching our gate I could see through the windows the tail of our plane. As we got closer it came clear that we would not be flying on one of the Hibiscus 747s like we did for our inbound journey. It actually only took us 5 minutes to reach our gate not the 20 minutes the sign was saying. Oh well I guess they do that so people hurry to the gate.
We passed through security at the gate and had our boarding passes checked. I was really worried what they were going to say about the amount of hand luggage we had. But the official’s attention was more focused at a lady who had a bag that was too big for carry on luggage and she was not happy being told that it would have to go in the hold. We were one of the first in the departure lounge but it soon began to fill up. We had a good seat that gave us a great view of our awaiting aircraft.
Our aircraft today was a Boeing 747-4H6 registration 9M-MPJ christened Labuan. She was actually the second 747 to be reconfigured in the new First and Business class so she was quite a regular on the Kuala Lumpur London route. The time now was 10:50 and we had a bout a 50min wait to board. By the time 11:40 came the departure lounge was absolutely full. It looked like it was going to be a full flight today. I was thinking they would make a call any minute now for us to board. An announcement came over the P.A. It was our gate agent. He said that “due to the crew bus breaking down our boarding will be delayed until they arrived”. There was a big groan in the lounge. It was quite remarkable to have a plane already to go but no crew. At that time some ground crew came around and were collecting strollers from the many parents to put in the hold of the 747.
I did not mind the delay as I knew I would be in that plane for the next 12 and half-hours. Anyway it gave me an opportunity to see the Turkish A310 parked to our left pushback and depart as well as the many United and American 777s arrive and depart. At about 12:30 I saw through the security doors our pilots and cabin crew literally running down the aerobridge to prepare the aircraft for departure. It dawned on me that they would need to hurry as this delay would eat into their duty time. At 1:00pm the first boarding call went out for First, Business class and passengers with special needs and small children to board the aircraft. Whilst waiting our turn to board an Iranian 747-200 registration EP-IAG that pulled into the vacant bay left by the THY A310. Then it was our turn to board. They called the Economy class passenger s to board by row numbers and called up about 10 -15 rows each time. Because we were seated near the front of the economy class section we were one of the last to board the aircraft.
We entered through door 2L and were greeted by the friendly male CSM and a female flight attendant. Malaysia Airlines has a slightly odd configuration for its newly configured 747 aircraft. They seem to only have one row seats, A and B behind door 2L for business class whilst the rest of business class is ahead of door 2L.and 2R. We found our seats very easy. Our seats were just after the front of the wing so we had a good view of the number 4 engine and could see a bit of the number 3. We settled into our seats and I took some photos of the Iran Air 747. And a call came across on the P.A by the CSM asking all ground crew to leave the aircraft, as we were ready for departure. One thing I noticed though was how loud the cabin was. It sounded like the air-conditioning was going full tilt. Also it seemed that one of the air-conditioning units was rattling really loud. I hoped it would settle down during the flight. Even with the delay and the crew rushing to get us underway quickly they still had time to offer us some drinks and hot towels before pushback
The doors were closed and the air-conditioning seemed to be turned down as we began our pushback from the gate. The CSM welcomed us on board and used our KLM flight number as well as this was a KLM code share flight as well. The safety demonstration started to play on our little video screens. Once the engines were all started the air-conditioning was turned back on but it was still rattling quite loudly and it continued to do so for the entire duration of the flight. We began our taxi to runway 09R. During the taxi we had a great view of the incomplete Terminal 5. There were many aircraft parked on the remote stands there including an Air Canada 767,an American 777 and an Air Mauritius A340. The captain came over the P.A and apologized for the delay in departure time and said he would try to make up some time on the flight. He also informed us that our departure would be delayed even more as we were number 6 for departure.
We eventually lined up on 09R and I could see a British Airways 747, two 777s and 767 all waiting for us to take off. We held at runway 09R for 17 seconds and then began our long takeoff roll. Our takeoff roll was 51 seconds. Being on the right hand side of the aircraft I had a fantastic view of terminal four which is dominated by British Airways. Now I have heard some A.Netters in the past discuss how Malaysia Airlines 747-4H6’s do this weird shuddering thing just after takeoff. On our outbound leg on 9M-MPD this did not happen but on this flight just after rotation the whole aircraft was shuddering. I have no idea why I have never experienced it before. Our rotation seemed to be very shallow and our flaps were deployed for quite some time. We climbed out quite shallow on the runway heading for 24 seconds and then executed a sharp left-hand turn.
The seat belt sign was soon switched of and the crew began to prepare the lunch service. The skies were clear over England because of our shallow climb profile we some fantastic view s of the English Country side. I switched my PTV to Airshow and saw we were tracking North East towards Amsterdam. Buy the time we had reached the coast of the Netherlands we had reached our cruising Altitude of FL280. The crew came around with headphones and menus and announcement went out saying that in-flight entertainment will be switched on. I was really looking forward to finally relaxing and watching some movies. But after they had switched on the entertainment system we soon discovered that the entertainment guide that they had supplied us was this months but the programming on the system was last month. How annoying, but at least the system was working.
Lunch was served just over an hour into the flight and looking on airshow we were over Berlin and still at FL280. Lunch was so delicious I had tandori chicken. I can’t remember what the other choice was. The lady sitting next to my friend in seat 31I was an old Chinese lady. She seemed very frail. I noticed that the stewardess’s were fantastic dealing with her and pointed to pictures on a little piece of paper to explain that the choice was chicken or fish. I loved it how then bent down to her level to communicate to her what she would like to drink. I can definitely see why these guys have been voted for so many years in a row, world’s best cabin crew by Skytraxx.
After lunch the crew handed out ice cream which was delicious. Can you believe we had a choice of flavors. There was also an announcement that they would be doing the duty free shopping then. I looked through the magazine and decided to buy a Herpa 777 as the Malaysia Airlines ones are very rare and you can only buy them in-flight. When the steward came around I told him what I wanted to buy and he said that unfortunately they were all out of the Herpa 777. Oh well I will have to try again on my connecting flight to Perth. After the meal service I settled down and started playing Tetris. Once I had got board I decided to watch Monster In Law. When that finished I could see it was starting to get dark and according to Airshow we were over Eastern Europe and still flying at FL280. The crews were fantastic and like all my other Malaysia Airlines flights they were walking up and down the aisles with trays of drinks. I decided to try and get some sleep. I awoke a few hours latter to find we were flying over India and we had climbed to FL340. I was quite hungry and paged one of the cabin crew for some peanuts and a Pepsi.
I decided to watch Emperor’s New Groove. That movie is so funny. I laughed so much my friend had to keep telling me to be quiet as the rest of the plane was asleep and I kept forgetting as I had my headphones on. I was still hungry and thirsty so I paged the cabin crew again. They came very quickly and told them I was still hungry and thirsty. The steward came back with two cans of Pepsi’s with a glass filled with ice, a mountain of candy bars, peanuts and a chicken sandwich. He said that should last you through the rest of the movie. Page us if you still are hungry. Let me tell you that was the best tasting chicken sandwich I have ever tasted. During the movie I saw small flashes out of the corner of my eye. Like our inbound flight we were flying over thunderstorms over India. I put the movie on pause (which is one of the features of AVOD I love) and decided to look at the storm. I love flying over thunderstorms as there are many flashes lighting up the clouds below you some so big they light up the sky.
After watching the emperor’s new groove I decided to watch another Disney Classic Sleeping Beauty. I can bearly remember watching this as a kid. By now we were well and truly over the Bay of Bengal. The lights were turned on about two hours before arrival and an announcement came over the P.A that the breakfast service would begin. By now it was starting to get light outside. For breakfast we had a choice of an Omelet or Nasi Lemak which is rice with prawn sambal and a hard-boiled egg. I opted for the Nasi Lemak as I had it on the flight to London and like that flight it was delicious. The crew came around with croissants. It seemed like there were not many takers of the croissants as they did two rounds. Now we were flying over Phuket and following the coast of the Malay Peninsula at FL390. A steward came past and said was I the gentleman who had ordered the Herpa 777. I said yes but I thought they were sold out. But before I could finish he asked for my credit card and handed me a bag with my model inside. Now that was a surprise. By the time we flew adjacent to Penang an announcement was made that we will be making our decent in Kuala Lumpur. A feature presentation was played on the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport and how to navigate through it and to connect to domestic flights as well as a city guide to Kuala Lumpur and a country guide to Malaysia. The destination guides made me wish I was staying in Malaysia longer but I was glad knowing that I would be seeing my family in Perth this afternoon.
There were a few bumps as we descended through some low cumulus clouds. We would be landing an hour behind schedule so the pilots were able to make up about half an hour on the flight. The crew came around to make sure the cabin was secure. We swung onto final approach and the flaps were lowered into their final position and the gear lowered. The crew still had not taken their seats yet. Eventually the seat belt signs came on and they took their seats. There was not much to see out the window on final approach except for many Palm plantations and the odd highway. Touchdown was quite smooth and it seemed like the runway grab us straight away as we decelerated quite quickly. We rolled out on the runway for quite some time.
We eventually turned off the runway and proceeded our long taxi to our assigned gate. The taxi went around the satellite terminal, which gave us some fantastic views of the many aircraft parked there. It seems that Kuala Lumpur International Airport is actually quite busy in the morning but it looks like most of the action seems to be from Malaysia Airlines as their aircraft could be seen everywhere getting ready for their next departure. Whilst taxiing to the gate all the windows on the plane started to fog up very quickly. So my views started to disappear. Whilst we were taxiing the CSM came over the P.A and gave us information about connecting flights because of our delay.
We eventually pulled into gate C3 next to us was a MH744 wearing the Manchester United Sticker. I can’t remember the rego though. The plane came to a halt and the seatbelt signs were extinguished. We gathered our things and exited the plane. The crew lined the aisles and wished us a pleasant stay. Once outside the gate I could see a few gate agents holding signs for connecting passengers. I guess these guys will try and sort out affected passengers from us being so delayed. Also I am not sure if this is a co-incidence but our gate was very close to the train linking the international satellite building to the main terminal where the domestic flights at Kuala Lumpur operate. This would allow at least some sort assistance for passengers with really tight connection times. Nice touch by MH is it was done on purpose. Any way my friend and I sped off to find a display screen to try and find which gate our connecting flight to Perth was leaving from as we would need to board it very soon.
GROUND HANDLING: 6/10
Heathrow is chaos. But hey what else would you expect it is only the world’s busiest International airport. I don’t like it how there is no natural flow like from checkin to boarding but in stead a series of turns and corridors. At least everything is well sign posted. The check in area seems a bit tight. Kuala Lumpur International Airport is fantastic and I would be happy to transit through it any time. Singapore Changi still remains my favorite airport though but only just.
Clean inside and out. The 747-400 is my favorite aircraft so it was a pleasure to fly on her. Pity she was not in the spectacular Hibiscus livery like 9M-MPD who I had the pleasure to fly on from Kuala Lumpur to London. The air-conditioning was very noisy due to the rattling. The 747 seems to ride turbulence very well as it was quite bumpy over India and over the Bay of Bengal. I have no idea about the shuddering on takeoff. It felt like 9M-MPJ was really struggling to get off the ground
Possibly the best I have encountered. They were polite attentive and friendly. I could not fault them. It sucks that these guys work so hard but thanks to marketing, people are more aware of the Singapore girl. I tell people if you liked Singapore Airlines you will love Malaysia Airlines
The best food ever. Great traditional Malaysian Cuisine, The best tasting chicken sandwiches ever. Ice-cream that was not too frozen and was delicious. This has definitely been the flight with the best food I have ever tasted.
Pity the programming was behind schedule but what was on offer was still great. AVOD was fantastic so I could pause the movie if I needed to visit the toilet or switch to airshow to check the flight’s progress. I love how you can select what song’s you like from their vast CD collection and make your own jukebox selection you can play whilst looking at airshow and gazing out the window.
X FACTOR: 5/5:
Absolutely love Malaysia Airlines. They are definitely my favorite airline even though I think their livery does need an update and I am a Qantas frequent flyer. The crew and food were fantastic. I only hope that what ever financial difficulty they are in that it ends soon as these guys (cabin crew) were fantastic and I hate to see bad management lower moral as the front line of Malaysia Airlines really deserves better.
9MMPD From Australia, joined Oct 2005, 306 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 27345 times:
Quoting EGBJ (Reply 2): Interesting that your were cruising at FL280, isnt that a little low for such a long flight??
We did cruise for quite sometime at FL280. I guess we were trying to make up some lost time. We did eventually climb over Georgia. I think it was FL320? When we began our decsent just south east of Penang we were at FL390.
Quoting B742 (Reply 1): I personaly think MH is the worlds best airline in my opinion,
MAS777 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 1999, 2939 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 26763 times:
Quoting 9MMPD (Thread starter): used our KLM flight number as well as this was a KLM code share flight
I didn't know that KLM now also put their codes on the London flight. It's great to see KLM and MAS continue to expand their code-share (if at least to p**s off the French). Will start flying them again once they are accepted into Skyteam - do miss their excellent service!
ahh - this has been solved (thanks to my partner who flies 747s (for another airline)) - it does occur occasionally due to the wheel spin as the main gears retract into the wheelbay as it not unique to MAS!
Parisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 844 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 26699 times:
hey nice report ! waiting for your next one.
i do too love MH especially in Y, I think, MH is very good and better than many others who put all in their C and F classes ! The crew seem excellent, the same with my experience. The only difference that seemed to have been remedied was that SQ had AVOD but not MH .....other than that, seat pitch was way better on MH (on 747s) and the service in Y uncomparable !
9MMPD From Australia, joined Oct 2005, 306 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 26369 times:
Quoting MAS777 (Reply 5): ahh - this has been solved (thanks to my partner who flies 747s (for another airline)) - it does occur occasionally due to the wheel spin as the main gears retract into the wheelbay as it not unique to MAS!
Thanks for the information. the shuddering realy puzzled me. I have since taken 3 more 747 flights all of them QF 747-338s and the last one I had the same thing occured. So I guess the problem is not isloated to MH747s. Come to think about it my last flight a QF763 did the same thing taking off from Melbourne but it was not so severe so i just thought it was some light turbulence.
Thanks Parisien the next installment should be up soon. It is MH125 to Perth. I am just sorting through my photos. Love Paris by the way. An amazing city.
Quoting MH017 (Reply 6): Guess, what is my favourite one (check my username)
I thought as much. My cousin who know lives in Amsterdam takes this flight regularly to visit home (Perth) and always raves about it. Can you guess what my favourite aircraft is?
Quoting MH017 (Reply 6): This was a great read, 9MMPD, and I'm very happy you've enjoyed your MH flights
The good news is my family and I are going to Kuala Lumpur for a holiday in June or September so that means another chance to fly with MH. I told my folks that even if Air Asia starts flying to Perth by then (unlikely but it is a posability) I would rather pay the extra and fly MH. Hopefully when we go MH will still operate a mixture of 747 and 777 flights to Perth so I can mix it up a bit.
Quoting 747LUVR (Reply 4): Great report- nice photo's...I enjoyed. Joe
Thanks Joe. I can't take credit for all the photos. A net have some fantastic photographers and without them some of the pics (the best ones) could not be possible.