Kuala Lumpur - Johor Bahru
Seat 1A, Golden Club Class
Photo © David Wong
Alright then. Here am I back on a plane again within a week. What the hell was going on? It all started with an impulsive decision make the 3.5hr drive up to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore on Friday night. Within minutes after work, I showered, changed, had dinner and drove off into the horizon - figuring that I could be there by midnight and hit the clubs. After crossing the border on the Singapore side, my car decided to breathe its last just before I reached the Malaysian side of the immigration. Hence, my car was towed to an obscure little town called Gelang Patah, in the Malaysian state of Johor - about 45 mins drive from the state capital of Johor Bahru.
Thus, after the hoo-ha of the waiting game involving tow trucks and negotiations, I made it to KL in a bus at 7am Sat morning - after leaving Johor at 2am in the morning. After a weekend of partying till 6am on Sun morning, it was time to fly to Johor Bahru from Kuala Lumpur to collect my precious Rover, and driving it back to the comfortable confines of Singapore. Hence, this was an unplanned flight in my itinerary, so there are no photos from this trip!
It was a week of school holidays in Malaysia so flights were pretty full out of KUL. So once again, I had no choice but to fly Golden Club Class. Still, it was a struggle getting up the next day to make it for my 1400H flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Simply because I was still pretty stoned from the night before!
Boy! The departure level of the airport was a hive of activity, with thousands of Malaysians heading everywhere because of the holidays. The queue for ticket collection was long for Economy Class, but First and Golden Club Class was empty. So I got my ticket pretty quickly.
Farida nonchalantly slapped my ticket on the counter and thumbed me towards check-in island B, where all domestic flights check-in from.
Since I had no check-in baggage, I presented my ticket and my Enrich FFP card, and the formalities were quickly completed. A Golden Lounge invitation was given to me but I returned it because I simply had no time, it was already 1330H so I figured it was no point. I just wanted to get to my car! This is what an entire night of partying does to you the next day, grumpy and spaced out!
Quickly running through the Perlepasan Dalam Negri (domestic departure gates) security checks, my handphone set off the alarm and I had to go through the metal detector again. I managed to be the last one to board at Gate B07.
Running into the cramped confines of the 737-400 (reg. 9M-MMG), I was welcomed at the entrance by Leading Stewardess Joyce Lim. "Ah Mr Soh, we are just waiting for you!" she beamed.
I was ushered to my seat 1A and I noticed that I was on this aircraft previously in Jan. That was when I noticed the new interiors which, by now, I found out that it was on a few other 737s in the MAS fleet as well (eg. 9M-MMI). Seats were upholstered in dark purple fabric and was wide, arm rest was all new, but pitch was rather tight for First / Business Class, with 4 rows in the front cabin. Golden Club Class had about 3 other passengers but Economy Class looked full when I peered past the bulkhead.
It was 1350H so I wasn't that late after all. A pre-take off drink order was taken by the cheery Joyce and I chose guava juice, she also asked if I wanted lunch (hot savouries). You see, MAS takes the order individually from the pax (and served individually with coasters too...), and not served en masse on a tray, unlike the horrible Biz Class flight I had with Swiss last week. As far as I am concerned, they need to buck up BIG TIME! Now back to MAS...
With no one else boarding, the doors were closed at 1355H as Joyce handed out the hot towels. Another stewardess was briefly visible busy in the forward galley but I failed to get her name.
Pushback commenced at 1358H so we were rather on-time. Surprisingly, safety announcements were done in English, which is rather uncommon on a domestic flight - it is normally done in Bahasa Melayu, the national langauage of Malaysia.
A brief burst of power pushed us away from the manouevering area and off we taxied towards runway 32R. My empty glass and used towel was discreetly collected by Joyce (I didn't even realise she took them) after the safety demonstration. After that, she took orders for drinks which were to be served after take off.
We didn't even taxi to the end of runway 32R, but rather entered the platform from an access and commenced the take off roll from there. Obviously there was no need to utilise the entire runway for this small plane. The whine of flap extension was heard softly behind me as we continued taxiing for departure.
Entering the runway, take off clearance was immediate. The Sepang Formula 1 circuit raced past the windows on the other side of the aircraft while we smoothly rotated and up we went! Stabilising on a climb towards our assigned cruising altitude of 23000ft, a right turn was executed that brought us on a southerly track. Passengers on the right side of the plane had a spendid view of KLIA on that clear afternoon.
Since this was a short flight, Joyce wasted no time and laid out the meal linens after she quickly drew the curtains separating the two classes. Trays containing a bowl of fruit, an empty plate and a glass of pre-ordered drink was once again individually served to the pax from the galley. She came out again with a hot tray of hot savouries and encouraged each passenger to make his selection, that she would place on the empty plate with tongs.
The hot savouries included chicken drumlets, mini-quiche, crumbed fish fingers and crab cakes.
A second helping was offered that I gladly accepted. By then, we were 20mins into the flight and the first signs of descend was felt. Arrival announcements were made by the First Officer about the current weather (cloudy) and flight details (speed of 800km/h).
Trays were then collected as descend continued through the stormy skies. Bumps and buffet was making it difficult for Joyce to balance but she did it anyway. She then proceeded to secure the curtain behind and made a final walkthough the Golden Club Class cabin before strapping herself in.
Miles of palm plantation stretched for miled into the horizon outside so no wonder Malaysia is the world's largest producer of palm related products!
We sailed down and had a bumpy landing in Sultan Ismail Airport, Senai, Johor Bahru. This airport has only one runway and a single access into the manouvreing area, 4 aerobridges and a small but exquisitely modern looking terminal building. We nosed into Gate 2 and disembarked within a minute. I was delighted by the extremely pleasant surroundings of this airport which caught me rather by surprise.
Another wonderful flight with Malaysia Airlines...
Now then, I eventually collected my car uneventually after a 1hr taxi ride from the airport to the town of Gelang Patah. Once again, if I could thank all who helped me when my car broke down, I would.
Departure: 6/10 (MAS ground staff was not particularly friendly, but the modern and expansive confines of KLIA was a sight for sore eyes.)
Check in: 8/10 (Check in desk was tastefully decorated with a dark green carpet)
In flight service: 9/10 (Joyce was ever-smiling and pleasant. Was very accomodating to passenger's requests. There is a reason why MAS won the Skytrax Best Cabin Staff award and this is it!)
Catering: 5/10 (Greasy fare. Not a healthy choice)
Arrival: 8/10 (The modern Sultan Ismail Airport has very pleasing and modern interior with the generous use of bold and loud colours that is sure to wake up a pair of sleepy eyes. Facilities to meet arriving passengers are easy to spot and user friendly.)
Overall: MH 1051 scored a total of 35 points out of a possible 50 (70%). This was a excellent flight brought down by mediocre catering. However, the awesome cabin service made up for it.