Here's another trip report filed on behalf of Ryan S. Guaranteed to be another good read
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MH 618, SIN-KUL, First Class, A330 (9M-MKG)
MH 135, KUL-BNE, Golden Club Class, 777-200 (9M-MRL)
I took a connecting flight from Singapore on MH 618 (F Class), flown by an immaculate A330, one of my favorite aircraft. 9M-MQK looked spanking factory fresh. Golden Lounge in Singapore was basic and small, nothing compared to the huge one in KUL, which I will describe later in this report. Boarding through gate F52 was swift and prompt and I was assigned seat 1K. Scheduled time of departure was 1745H.
MH A330 F Class is pretty normal. Seats are wide and upholstered in peach pink fabric, configured 2 x 2 x 2. No PTVs are installed. But because there was no overhead compartments in the middle ceiling, the F Class cabin looked bright and airy. Footrest and backrest are automated (thumbs up compared to SQ’s A310!!!) but there are no adjustable headrests. The menu for F Class SIN-KUL vv. Sector has not changed for years… “Crumbed fish / prawns and hot savories, Mr. Soh?” But I am not complaining the in-flight service was impeccable on this 45-min sector.
By the time we pulled up to our gate in KUL, it was approaching 1900H. With more than 2 hrs to spare, I headed for the Golden Lounge at the satellite terminal. Separated into two sections (First and Golden Club), I found the Golden Club section extremely crowded that night. The lounge is one of the biggest in the world in terms of area used and yet it was crowded, so there must have been many MH flights departing. I managed to sneak into the First Class lounge without any difficulty because the access between the two lounges was hidden from the reception by the business center, which was shared by the two lounges.
There were fewer people in this part of the lounge, which is similarly decorated as the Golden Club section. Pine wood panels with light beige large sofas are neatly placed around the room. It was expectedly quiet; lush carpeting made the entire environment extremely plush and cozy. It had a Scandinavian cum Ikea feel to it. Continuous floor to ceiling windows, that afforded uninterrupted views of the tarmac area from wherever you are, allowed natural lighting into the lounge in daytime. Catering was standard Golden Lounge fare that has varied very little since I started flying Golden Club Class 3 yrs back. There are no boarding announcements but there are many TV monitors showing departure information located strategically throughout the lounge.
The other end of the lounge consists of showers and a gym (which was closed for renovations). Prayer rooms and bedrooms are also located at the same area.
There is a portion of the lounge that functions like a restaurant, with full dining facilities complete with a buffet. A large sail is strung across the top of this “restaurant” with chairs and tables made from the same pinewood as the wall panels. A very tropical look – well done MH! I decided to save my appetite for dinner on the aircraft, as they have never disappointed me on my last few flights with them.
I soon made my way to gate C1, reluctant to leave the wonderful Golden Lounge. A 777-200 registered 9M-MRL operated MH 135 tonight to Brisbane. Scheduled departure time was 2130H. Configured in a 3 class layout, the Golden Club Class (arranged 2 x 3 x 2) is separated in two by a galley. The second part of the Golden Club section, where I sat, extends slightly pass Door 2 into the main cabin by 3 rows.
Security checks at all departure gates in KUL are tight post-911. Every single person and carry-on baggage was searched leading to long lines forming at gate C1. The flight was hence delayed expectedly. It was 2125H when my turn came to be searched. I passed through the checks and metal detectors without any problems, however, my boarding pass was rejected by the scanners. I was asked to step aside while the ground staff keyed my personal details into the computer with the help of my passport. Meanwhile, the boarding of the aircraft completed without me! Did they mistake me for a potential terrorist?
“Mr. Soh, did you do anything wrong the last time you were in Australia? It says here DO NOT BOARD THIS PAX.” inquired one of the ground staff.
I was shocked by the development of the situation. It was at 2145H that they decided to call the Australian High Commission to come down to the airport. However, I was assured that the plane would wait for me. Finally, my details were keyed in again at 2200H. Surprisingly, the computer accepted the entries this time and I was allowed to board! Apologies of computer error were mumbled while I was hurriedly escorted into the aircraft.
“Finally Mr. Soh! Welcome on board!” beamed a kebaya-clad stewardess. I am glad they saw the whole situation lightly because I caused the flight to be delayed by 45min. It was 2215H by the time pushback commenced.
A pre-takeoff drink was offered to me despite the rush to get the flight going. Kudos to the crew for making me feel welcomed even though I was the last one to board. But the stares I received from some of the Y Class pax was something I would not like to have again. I was assigned to window seat 10J (the seat beside me was empty, yeah!!!) that was the last row of Golden Club Class, so I had a full view of the Y cabin as I was being shown to my seat. An amenities pouch with the menu for the overnight flight was given to me soon after.
We left terra firma at 2225H and flew a southerly route towards Singapore and Denpasar. Dinner was served shortly after takeoff. Pink linen was used. I cannot recall the choices but I had satay (delicious skewered pieces of barbecue meat, a signature MH appetizer on F and Club Class), and lamb with some sauce, which was simply exquisite. I wish I had a bigger piece! Dinner was served from a main trolley so I could mix and match the several dishes that were presented before me. The menu given before we took off gave us clues of what was being served. The silver cutlery placed on my meal tray had a plastic knife. Just as I was wondering how was I going to cut lamb with plastic, the stewardess came back to me with several more plastic knives.
“Just in case it breaks.” She smiled. I was amused by her humorous demeanor as she cheerfully explained it was a post-911 requirement on all flights to have plastic knives.
The lights were dimmed after the dinner service was completed. I extended the legrest, pushed the seat back and prepared for a nightcap. The cabin crew made several rounds throughout the night to check on the pax. I had a long drive to Rockhampton from Brisbane after I landed so I did not indulge in the PTV. Instead, I forced myself to sleep which I normally cannot in planes.
The business class seats on MH, while not as sophisticated as SQ or CX, are comfortable. When fully extended (pitch 50", 145deg recline), the seat gives you a “cupped” feel which, personally, do not make my knees numb like the Ultimo seats in SQ’s Raffles Class. Lumbar support comes in a form of a small airbag built into the backrest, which inflates and deflates on demand. However, the minus points are the seats have to be pushed back manually (footrest are automated). Lumbar supports are manual too. You need to sit with your back away from the seat in order for the airbag to inflate.
When the sun rose from the east, the Australian desert clearly loomed beneath us on this characteristically cloudless Aussie morning. The crew was busy preparing breakfast in the galley. Gasp! I actually fell asleep! That was how comfortable the seat is… The cabin lights were still dimmed when the same cheerful stewardess appeared before me.
“Good morning Mr. Soh, would you like some breakfast?”
Once again, proudly starched linen was laid across my tray table. Breakfast consisted of a fruit plate, Danish pastries and choices from the breadbasket. And of course, the usual fruit juices and coffee/tea. I was not impressed. As I chomped down my pastry, I suddenly realized that I was hungry. Smiles from the cabin crew were generous throughout and I was also impressed at how they referred to me by my name throughout the entire flight! A video about Brisbane was screened while we ate our boring breakfast.
As we descended towards Brisbane, the headsets were collected from the passengers. I realized no souvenirs were given out this time, probably a cost cutting measure. I received a calculator on my last Golden Club Class flight a year before.
The weather that day was clear with unlimited visibility. Brisbane City and the airport was visible in a distance as we flew east out into the Pacific Ocean before making a right turn back towards the runway. Beautiful scenery!
Touchdown was smooth as always on a 777. As the reverse thrust was deployed, our jet roared past the domestic Ansett terminal where a sad bunch of bright white AN birds were parked at the aerobridges. Looking dejected, none of them would be receiving any pax today or flying anywhere.
As we pulled up to out gate, I saw a beautifully decorated JL 747-200 “Reso’ Cha” aircraft that was parked next to a KE 777-300. I also saw a SQ 777-200 parked at a remote stand that probably arrived earlier.
The ground crew took a while to bring the aerobridge to the aircraft. In the meantime, the same cheerful stewardess chatted with me about my driving trip that I was about to embark on (Brisbane – Rockhampton – Moranbah – Mackay – Rockhampton – Brisbane).
MH definitely has excellent in-flight service. I have flown business class only on two other airlines that is SQ (disappointed, over-rated and expensive for that kind of service received) and UA (what do you expect from an American airline? But I heard they have improved since 98 when I flown with them).
The cabin crew serving the Golden Club section were very cheerful (I hope they weren’t high on something! Ha! Ha! Ha…
and made you feel that they really liked serving you. Price of the ticket was extremely reasonable ex-SIN (half of SQ’s). Catering was superb except for breakfast, which I thought they could have been more innovative with the variety (bread, bread, and more bread! Urgh!) . Manual operation of the seat was a small drawback for an otherwise perfect business class trip. Not handing out souvenirs was a great way to save cost because I do not use what is given to me anyway!
Overall, I think MH deserves more recognition on an international scale. I would definitely recommend this airline to anyone because you would be pleasantly surprised! They have never disappointed me before. And this is coming from a skeptical Singaporean who is demanding! It’s no wonder why I am a frequent flyer with Malaysia Airlines.
There's always a better way to fly...