Original Routing: Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur-Sydney
Flown: London Heathrow-Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur-Sydney
Date of Flights: Nov 16, 2004 (LHR
Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur, MH
Checked in at KL
/MH transfer desk at Amsterdam Schiphol after having arrived from Chicago on KL611. Though able to check baggage all the way through Sydney, KLM partner Northwest was not able to check me, the passenger, all the way, requiring me to get my boarding passes beyond AMS
at the transfer desk at Schiphol. Check-in was non-eventful, just enough pleasantries to process me through but not at all warm (typical KLM efficiency) compared to the Asian carriers. Was handed boarding pass to KLM Crown Room on the 2nd level. Not awe inspiring as the some of the lounges in the Far East (CX/HKG
) but comfortable nonetheless. Plenty of drinks, snacks, pastries and amenities, but ironically, the only thing that got me excited was the entire collection of delft ceramic houses that they give in World Business Class displayed. Talk about a loser eh? About an hour prior to departure, I made my way down to the gate area, where the beaut 747-400 Alor Setar was waiting for me. Initially there were only a handful of passengers at the gate area. Before you knew it, it seemed like the whole airport was in F9
. I checked in with the gate kiosk to ensure my transit accomodations at Kuala Lumpur was intact. That is where my first experience (exposure) with true MH
staff took shape.
Thirty minutes prior to departure was when the ominous 'possible' delay was announced. Something about a warning light that although was minor could not be overlooked. The MH
ground staff was pretty open about what was going on. There were announcements every 15 minutes or so regarding the status of the warning light. At about 30 minutes past the original departure time, a delay of at least an hour was broadcast. Then something unprecedented, at least for this US-based guy, happened. Malaysia Airlines informed us to stay in the gate area as they have ordered snacks and drinks to pass the time away. Great way to pacify a crowd. About 90 minutes past the departure hour, it seemed evident that it was going to be a while yet. That is when the purse strings opened even further and food vouchers were distributed-- 8euro for Y, 15euro for J, and 21euro for F. Again, what could have been a potentially ugly situation was pre-empted by periodic announcements, quick thinking with the snacks and drinks, and finally the food vouchers.
Three hours past departure hour and it was obvious this plane wasnt leaving. The cancellation notice was given and most passengers were given overnight accommodations at a nearby hotel. Premium passengers, those in F or J where given an option to be re-routed via London on British Midland. Considering I only had eleven days to do Australia and New Zealand with only 1/4 of my plane ride completed, I opted to be rerouted. Again, MH
ground staff showed outright professionalism in handling the situation. The eight of us that were rerouted were put on a London bound BMI
flight Business Class to connect to MH7 departing for Kuala Lumpur.
But here is where Malaysia staff impressed me. Having had originated my trip from Chicago fourteen hours prior, the boy was starting to feel well, un-fresh. I figured adding London to the mix was going to add another three hours to the twelve hours it was going to take to get me to Kuala Lumpur. I wasnt about to wait that long to take a shower. With seven words, 'Know Of A Place I Can Take A Shower?, a Malaysia Airlines staff member personally escorted me to a transit hotel within Schiphol and arranged for my shower (read: pay for my shower, that's all). Having about an hour to kill, you can bet I took my sweet little time. It did not dawn on me that Maureen would be waiting. Twenty minutes later, there she was smiling. For all the accolades the Malaysia Cabin staff have been awarded, I wanted to yell out a big 'dont forget the ground staff!' referring to the exemplary courtesies accorded to my by the MH
ground staff in AMS
Okay, now for the real trip report. MH7 to Kuala Lumpur via Langkawi. The ship was a 747-400, named Penang. The first thing that struck me was the colours in the cabin. Must have been the lighting cause at 9:00pm, the First Class Cabin looked almost too calming. Then, there are the uniforms..Nice on the female attendants but a bit too much for the guys. I was greeted by the Flight Purser and was shown immediately to my seat. Having had introduced himself and taken my coat, the three flight attendants assigned to the FC cabin were summoned, each with their own intros. Common were the subtle bow of the head, a natural smile, and of course, eye contact. Yes, Ill go out with you, you and you. Once I got situated, it was a choice of Dom Perignon or an endless number of juices. Shortly thereafter, instructions on how to use the IFE, and the seat controls were presented. That, for all my travels, was a first. I was given two set of blankets without solicitation, the typical wool blanket and a duvet on 'test' basis available only on flights ex LHR
. Choice of newspapers and magazines, and a relatively generous gender-specific amenity bag were also distributed.
Eight minutes past departure time, Penang was towed away from the gate. The First Class cabin on this 747-400 was showing its age. Again, lots of blue, green with smidgeons of purple. The seats were old-fashioned, not the flatbed that you see with SQ
/BA/CX. When given a choice, I would have preferred them anyway. The pitch was a generous 80 in. (I tried touching my feet to the seat in front of me in a stretch position with no luck) Seat width was more the adequate. Recline was not 180 but close enough. The personal TV
screen was huge. Kinda bulky and tricky to stow but for watching, it cant be beat. No AVOD on this flight but the IFE was still impressive. 50 full CDs, a dozen movie channels, create your own jukebox, cmon, can it get any better. I heard MH
is introducing a new FC cabin. I must say as unimpressive this cabin may be to today's standard, comfort will be hard to beat.
About the food, the glorious food. Isnt this what FC is about. Here is the supper menu
Malaysia Satay (Signature Dish everyone knows about)- Lives up to its reputation. Had the chicken and the beef. Good stuff. Jasmine offered refills-- Joel took a pass.
Hor d'oeuvres were a combination of Lobster Spinach, Italian Roasted Vegetable and Roast Duck. That would be a yes, a yes, and another yes.
Next was the trolley with the Sevruga Malossol Caviar with the traditional garnishes. As there were only three of us in FC, servings were rather generous. With the pinkie slightly up, the caviar was savored. Will miss that for sure.
Next course was the soup, again served off the trolley. Choice of Carrot and Ginger Cream Soup or Consomme Royal. Not deciding fast enough, Jasmine recommended the former. She knows her soup. That was good.
Then we get to the serious stuff.
Roast Rack of Lamb, Prawn Kurma, Spring Chicken with Garlic, and Gnocchetti Sardi Pasta. Yum-E. All of them. (Yes, if you flash the magic smile, they automatically assemble a portion of each on the plate. The beauty of FC is they feed you, and feed you, and then just when you think you've had enough, they feed you some more). Then, there was fruit and there was dessert! Ahhhgh!
So how about the service you say? Top notch. Everything was anticipated, from the water glass needing refills, to the adjusting of the pillow, to when my head was going to hit the adjusted pillow, to when I start snoring. Every interaction with the staff was humbling. When they talk to you, they crouch down so theyre eye level is at yours, one hand always has to be touching the armrest, and the subtle flirting (oh wait, was that just my imagination)
Midway through the flight, the SkySnack buffet was set up between First Class and the Golden Class cabins. Never physically saw it as it was described to me in detail by Jasmine. Sounded intriguing, but having just finished a grand meal an hour before, there was no thinking of even yet more food. An hour later, threw that whole thought out of the window and requested a hot snack. Better than any of the entrees I had earlier was the specially prepared Ramen noodle snack, served on a porcelain bowl that would would make even the Ramen noodle itself slurp in disbelief. Never thinking that I would revert back to my college days, the presentation was amazing. This wasnt Cup A Noodle mind you. This thing was a meal. Thanks again to Jasmine. Never had ramen noodles like that before, doubt if Ill have ramen noodles like that again.
Between the food, the IFE, the chats about being a MH
flight attendant and why neither one of us was married, (its that flirting thing again), what was technically a 14 hour flight felt like a 4 hour flight. Never thought I would say that. Great food, great amenities, great service, great flight.
There was the short stopover in Langkawi, a very picturesque, not yet commercialized island frequented by the Brits. Transit passengers deplaned via stairway to the tarmac, surrounded by what seemed to be paradise. There is a small transit lounge for international or connecting passengers and a Golden Club Lounge. Nice selection of snacks there. 60 minutes later, we boarded for the forty five minute flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Basic service, even in First Class for the flight to Kuala Lumpur. Snack sized sandwiches and drinks were offered. Before you knew it, we landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Great start to a great trip. To all who have not tried Malaysia Airlines, take them out on a spin. Granted my trip was in FC, but judging from my experience in AMS
with the ground crew and the flight attendants on both sectors, the airline is top notch.
Next report: Kuala Lumpur to Sydney MH123 747-400. Maybe tomorrow.