No, this is not the story of an aircraft disaster but of me burning my Flying Blue miles. I decided to leave the programme after they decreased the miles you earned on economy trips and several other devaluations. I switched to BA in 2008 and have never looked back. Several 'soft landings' mean I still have status but the time that my miles will expire is drawing closer. I ended my recent RTW in Kenya so I bought a NBO-AMS-KUL-DPS r/t in J for 160.000 miles. You get one stopover which I took in NL and continued 4 months later.
About a week before I actually left I had arranged to visit Timor-Leste (see A Little Unusual: Timor-Leste On Merpati From DPS (by henkybaby Oct 9 2010 in Trip Reports)) so I needed to change the flights around a bit. I quickly inquired if it was a problem if I did not fly the last leg of the ticket (AMS-NBO) and they friendly agent told me 'no problem, you may even get a lot of taxes back'. I had feared all kinds of retribution, flocking and whatever else the evil FB programme had in store for me but instead they reissued the ticket and reimbursed about €170 in tax. Well done KLM!
Although you do not earn miles on MH, you can burn them. I had not been impressed with my latest KLM flights so I decided to go AMS-KUL-DPS on MH. MH also keeps the exit seats blocked until check-in, unless you provide them with a copy of your passport that states you are over 2 meters tall. Lucky me! Seat 9A secured on both flights between AMS and KUL.
Flight Time: 11hrs and a bit
I don't like 12:00 departure times for Asia with an 06:00 arrival. I am never tired enough to fall asleep on the plane until like 10 minutes before landing. I knew it was going to be tough. Since my switch to BA I have also gotten very used to full flatbeds instead of these angled seats. I hate them. Ah, well. Still better than Y.
At AMS I took a quick look in the Menzies lounge that MH uses and immediately walked back to the BA lounge. As a BAEC Gold I can use their lounges even when I am not traveling on BA or even OneWorld. I spend about one hour in the lounge before heading to the gates. BA had recently redone the lounge, but it was merely a touch up. Couple of new chairs, new upholstery here and there, that's it.
It is not so much a lounge as it is a waiting area. Still much better than the Menzies hellhole though.
Boarding was the normal AMS process. You can get to the front of the line as a J pax and get through the security check, but you will have to wait at the gate till boarding starts. You need to time it carefully. I guess I didn't because we were kept waiting till 11:55 or so before boarding started. I did not mind the delay since I had a long wait ahead of me in KUL.
Big bird waiting for us
Seat 9A is on the upper deck, a place I find much more agreeable than the downstairs. Quieter, more intimate. Unfortunately so does everyone else so it was full. 6 times out of 10 the exit seat next to you stays empty since they do not preassign it. Not this time. My seatmate was a very nice Dutch Shell procurement manager. Shell makes up for a lot of revenue on this route.
The upper deck
Loads of space in the exit row
Soon after takeoff they started serving their famous satay. Being Dutch I did not mind at all and had about 3 very generous helpings. They keep serving it until they run out I believe.
Although I was by no means hungry anymore I decided to order lunch (or dinner, whatever you prefer) anyway. For starters they had Donald Duck.
Followed by a particulary nice beef rendang
Unfotunately there was no more room for desert. I ordered a glass of wine and tried to get comfortable. I brought my iPad since I prefer to be in control of my own on board entertainment. The apple cover is very handy for draping it over the avod screen.
After about 4 hours I decided I had to try and get some sleep. Unfortunately my carry-on was blocked by someone elses luggage in the overhead bin. This was annoying because there actually is a trick to making the sloped seat into a flat bed. You simply put your carry-on under the seat extension and force it into an almost flat position. Not all crews like you doing this but most won't mind. Maybe I caught 2 hours of sleep but no more before we arrived in KUL. I had not been this tired after a long flight in quite a while. It was a sturdy reminder why I fled to BA.
Since I could not sleep anyway I partook of breakfast. Again, catering is very good on MH. Much better than BA or KL.
We landed on time, even with the delay in departure.
KUL is a nice little airport. It is very quick to get around and like AMS you don't have to clear security to get from arrivals to departures. Straight of the lounge in the satelite building it was. Bit of a mistake, since it turned out that the lounge in the other terminal is much, much nicer.
OK, I'll admit it looks great and it is one of the nicer lounges I have ever been to. However, when I went over on the train to the main building (which isn't really the main building) for my flight to DPS I discovered that it was delayed by at least one hour. This was not improving my mood. I was by now feeling stoned from fatigue. Luckily there was another lounge nearby. This turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.
Now isn't that a much nicer lounge?
Dep: 12:05 (actual 13:15)
Flight Time: 3hrs
After about an hour I saw my plane pulling up to the gate. I waited until I saw people on the bridge boarding the plane before I went downstairs.
Turning onto the runway
The particularly nice regional J.
J is almost always three quarters empty on this route. This time was no exception. It was just me and one other guy sitting in J. Maybe I could get 2 hours of sleep on this 3 hour flight. We left almost immediately after I sat down and took off towards my much loved destination. As soon as the fasten seat belts signs where off a woman and 3 kids came into the J cabin and settled in. I was trying to get some much needed sleep and the kids were using the seats as a playground.
I noticed the purser talking to the man who started to argue (with an increasingly louder voice) that he was Silver with AF (which means nothing, not even on AF) and that since the cabin was empty nobody would be bothered if his wife and kids joined him. This argument was now already going on for about 10 minutes and I had enough:
"Sir, your family is bothering someone: me! If you want to be with them you should have bought them J class as well or you can join them in Y. Now please shut up so I can sleep!"
The guy told his wife in French what he thought of me and I replied likewise in the same language. Besides, I can't understand people who put themselves in J and the wife & kids in Y.
Soon after the kids starting making guest appearances in the J cabin and running out laughing again when the purser showed his face. I was now so fed up that I decided to have a quick word with the purser who immediately followed up on my suggestion and downgraded the man. The looks he gave me when he was escorted to the back...
Here is me having peace at last.
Suffice to say I slept no more after this annoying incident. Upon arrival in Bali it was quite a long walk to the VOA and Customs but luckily there was no one there but me. Quickest entry into Bali ever. My hotel was near the airport so I found me a taxi and went to sleep.
On October 5th I returned to AMS from KUL.
I did not take too many pictures on the flights. My flight left Bali about 20 minutes early giving me a little more time in my 90 minute connection (which is more than enough at KUL anyways) so I went to the main building and took a shower.
I took my time so I was a little late on board. With my carry on in the overhead there was no more space for my backpack but they purser told me to simply put it in the bin on the side. BA would never allow it sticking out like that but it was secure and that is all that matters.
I had quite a bit to eat at the lounge at DPS and KUL so I declined the food offering (except for the satay!) and went straight to 'bed'.
This time the seat next to me remained empty in an otherwise full cabin. This being the night flight sleeping was not a problem, especially since I did put my carry-on under the seat extension this time. That makes such a difference. Mind you, you can only do this on seats with extra legroom since you have to put your seat into sleeping position, lift the end and shove your case under it. Won't work in regular seats since there is not enough room, although it may work from the side.
Yep, still roomy...
I slept for a solid 9 hours before they woke me up for breakfast. I was too groggy to remember to take a picture but I do remember I found it annoying that they served breakfast at over 2 hours out. After breakfast they dimmed the lights again so we could chill for one more hour.
This time I arrived refreshed in AMS and was even able to pick up my new car (a Mini Convertible) the same day.
I had not flown MH in a while and I must say that I was impressed by their soft product. Food choices and quality was excellent, crews were wonderful and attentive (we had 3 people serving the UD alone with a 4th helping out at meal service) and the lounges were good. Their hard product (although better than KL/AF) is still a bit old fashioned and I prefer flat beds. If you can get exit seats you can make it a lot better though. I think I would certainly fly them again.
Hope you enjoyed the read! Feedback always appreciated.
[Edited 2010-10-14 08:15:26]