Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is probably Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) main competitor and vice versa. I had the opportunity to experience these two rivals recently and I would like to share my opinions regarding these two airlines here. These are my just my opinions and it may differ accordingly to each individual (no offence intended to either SIA or MAS fan).
Cabin Crew Service:
MAS: There was no doubt that MAS deserved to win the Best Cabin Crew Award for the third consecutive year. The flight attendants were very warm and hospitable to the passengers ensuring that their long-flight was as pleasant as possible. The flight attendants often offer passengers drinks between meals to keep them hydrated in an atmosphere where the relative humidity is around 20%. Occasionally, on some flights, the flight attendants will chat up with me when they are free and if they do, they will address me by my last name when they serve me again later in the flight.
SIA: The flight attendants whom I had experienced with SIA can be split into two. There were some who were very friendly and there were some who were just plain snobbish. Luckily for me, the flight attendant serving my part of the cabin was the friendly one and she served me with a warm smile. The one serving the cabin in front of me was unapologetic. She accidentally hit my chair a couple of times while she was making her way up to the front part of the cabin and the worst thing was she didn’t even apologize to me and head straight up the aisle! The tap in one of the washrooms at the back of the aircraft was not functioning properly and when I told her the situation, her reply was, “So how? I can’t bring a pail for you to wash your hands!” I was like “what the f*ck!” I was just telling you that there was no water in the washroom and I am not even asking you for a pail!
Verdict: Definitely Malaysia Airlines. (Probably I was just unlucky to meet this cabin crew!)
MAS: Once again, MAS had fair pretty well in this aspect. In Economy, they offer passengers a choice of 3 entrées, of which one is normally a Malaysian dish; one is a local destination/origin dish and another vegetarian dish. The catering department at KUL had done remarkably well in providing passengers one of the best meals in the air. However, on long-haul flights, their in-between meals snacks were a bit short of decent. They only offer sandwiches, cookies, cheese and crackers. I also noticed that the flight attendants tend to bring a lot of beer to the passengers!
SIA: They only offer a choice of 2 entrées to the passengers, eliminating the vegetarian dish. I assumed that those passengers who require vegetarian meals would probably need to order it 24 hours in advance. Their choice for in-between meals snacks was fairly similar to MAS, but they offer Pot Noodles to the passengers as well. Their ice-cream is nothing less than superb!
Verdict: Malaysia Airlines
MAS: They offer passengers an elegant menu to choose for their meal service, which is printed in a nice little booklet. Each flight will have a different menu. Also, they offer passengers comfy feather pillows in Economy, which makes a great souvenir!
However, their blankets are getting old and worn out. They used to provide toothbrush/toothpaste and a pair of socks in a toiletries bag, but now that their financial situation ain’t that great, they had scrapped the socks. Toothbrushes/toothpastes can be found in the drawers in the washroom.
SIA: They offer passengers menu as well, but not as elegant as those found in MAS. Their cover page is printed on a glossy paper! (Personally, I would prefer MAS’ recycled paper rather than glossy paper!) Also, they print two flight sectors in one menu, the outbound and the inbound flight in the same menu. They provide passengers with a little toiletries bag consist of a toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste and a pair of socks, which is useful if you want to walk around the plane in your socks without dirtying your own pair of socks.
Verdict: Malaysia Airlines. The only thing lacking from MAS was the pair of socks. MAS’ feather pillows are way superior to SIA’s polyester pillows. The menu in MAS was of better quality as well.
MAS: There are 12 channels of entertainment, consisting of 8 movies, 3 short features and 1 airshow channel on your personal TVs. Movies are pretty up-to-date. Different movies and short features are shown on both the inbound and outbound sectors. MAS also offer passengers seat to seat phone call, Nintendo and PC Games.
SIA: Fortunately for me, I was flying on the aircraft equipped with Audio-Video-on-Demand (AVOD) in the Economy Class. There were a lot of movies, short features and games available for selection. As far as I know, there were only 2 aircraft is equipped with AVOD in Economy, i.e. 9V-SPQ and 9V-SMM, which I flew on the latter aircraft. The entertainment controller/in-flight phone was very sensitive, so much so that my movie was always interrupted because my thighs accidentally touched the controller placed in the arm-rest. On 9V-SMM, the movies and short features were the same for both inbound and outbound flights.
Verdict: Singapore Airlines. The AVOD is definitely a plus!
MAS: They had done a good job in this aspect. When they were informing the passengers regarding the safety features of the aircraft, there were subtitles in French, Spanish and German, if I am not mistaken, thus catering to many passengers around the world. The safety procedures were announced in Malay before English was announced.
SIA: The safety procedures announcer had a weird accent. It’s not Singaporean; neither it’s American nor British. Also, they used the term “hand phone”, which was mostly restricted to Asian passengers only.
Verdict: Tie. (I had not experience any emergency with these two airlines, hence, I was not able to judge. If you only take the safety announcements into considerations, then MAS will have the upper hand since they have a better accent
, plus subtitles in other languages)
MAS: They offer passengers a very generous seat pitch of 34”, probably one of the largest in the air! Their seat is equipped with wing headrest and lumbar support, which was useful if you want to change the way you seat, especially while you are sleeping! Their orange fabric colors are dull, but their green, blue and purple are pleasing to the eyes. The leg space was more than enough for me (I am a 6-footer) and the seats are comfortably wide. Also, the seats in MAS tend to recline more than most major airlines I had been into.
SIA: They offer passengers an industry-standard 32” seat pitch. Their leg space was just adequate since my knees were about 1” from the seat in front of me. They offer wing headrest, but they lack the lumbar support found in MAS. Their fabric colors of green and blue were nice.
Verdict: Malaysia Airlines. No one will complain for more leg room or seat pitch!
MAS are definitely under-rated in the airline world. If you can’t decide which one to choose, either personal TV’s in economy or seat pitch, then MAS have both to offer to passengers. With a pretty decent in-flight entertainment, albeit not as great as SIA’s, but their seat pitch are superior to that found in SIA. Their award winning cabin crew will ensure that you will enjoy flying by providing you warm service straight from their hearts.
SIA on the other hand provide great entertainment in the sky. It will be great if you are small in size and don’t mind the 2” short in leg space. SIA is probably the airline to go if IFE is all that matters to you (this is extremely true if you are small in size and flying for more than 10 hours!) SIA had done so much publicity about being the world’s best airline, so much so that the passengers expected it to be a flying palace; but in fact, they do not differ a lot compared to their 2 main competitors, i.e. Cathay Pacific and MAS.
Finally, I find these two airlines are probably one of the best in the world, along with Cathay Pacific, Scandinavian and Japan Airlines. Every airline has its pros and cons and neither one of them is perfect in any way. In my humble opinion, I will choose MAS anytime over SIA. Probably, I am just pro MAS.