This is the fifth trip report on a journey I made at the end of July. The first part covers the flight from Zurich to Heathrow in Business Class with SWISS. Here’s the link to that report:
Swiss Business Class To Heathrow (part 1/6) (by knightsofmalta Jul 31 2011 in Trip Reports)
The second part covers the flight from Heathrow to Athens in Business Class with Aegean Airlines. Here’s a link to that report:
Aegean Airlines C Class To Athens (part 2/6) (by knightsofmalta Jul 31 2011 in Trip Reports)
The third part covers the flights from Athens to Zurich in Business Class and then on to Bangkok in First Class with SWISS:
Swiss First Class To Bangkok Via Zurich (part 3/6) (by knightsofmalta Jul 31 2011 in Trip Reports)
The fourth part covers the flights from Bangkok to Langkawi via Kuala Lumpur in Business Class with Malaysia Airlines:
Malaysia Airlines Pulls The Stops Out (part 4/6) (by knightsofmalta Jul 31 2011 in Trip Reports)
Date: 29 July 2011
Airline: Malaysia Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing B. 737-800
Langkawi is a really beautiful place and the Datai is everything you could expect from a tropical hideaway. The staff were all genuinely friendly and polite. But alas, after five blissful days of doing whatever I pleased and without having to reply to pesky e-mails and phone calls it was time to head back home. For the return to Switzerland I had decided to fly from Langkawi back to Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur in one stretch and then spend one day in Bangkok before heading back to Zurich.
My driver picked me up at 13h30 to take me to the airport. On our way there I caught a last glimpse of the beautifully lush vegetation on the island. I even spotted a few monkeys and monitor lizards on the way.
Upon arrival at the airport you first have to put your checked luggage through an x-ray machine for security. This whole process seemed rather odd to me as I only had hand luggage anyway which needed to be screened again before going airside. In any case, my suitcase passed the test, and equipped with a sticker on it I was now cleared to check-in for the flight.
When I arrived the Business Class desk was empty, there were two check-in agents sitting at the Economy Class counters with nothing much to do. As soon as they saw me they both jumped up and came over to the counter to check me in. Like everybody else I had encountered on Langkawi they were really nice. There is a sign on the check-in counter informing passengers that the Malaysia Airlines Business Class lounge at the airport had been closed and that there was no longer any such facility. So I headed off to Starbuck’s until it was time for me to head airside to the gate.
I saw this rather interesting advert at the gate. It's interesting to see with which perks the airline is trying to attract customers. Besides, what's wrong with having to walk across the apron to board your plane?
From what I could tell there is one international gate plus two for domestic flights. The airport does not see too much traffic I don’t think. On this particular afternoon there was only an Air Asia flight, also to KL, which should have left at 15h00 but was delayed and eventually left at the same time we did at 15h45.
My aircraft for this short hop would be a B. 737-800. Much to my surprise, when I entered the cabin I found it had a completely different layout to the two previous flights I’d taken. All in all I had four flights with Malaysia Airlines on this trip with three different cabin layouts.
Hairy legs again...
Although the cabin generally looked as though it were the most modern and newest of the three types I sampled on this trip, it was also the dirtiest. The armrest was grimy with a greasy film over it.
The service had been the same as on the inbound flight: cold towels before departure, hot towels before landing, guava juice welcome drink and two open canapé sandwiches with a pudding and Cadbury’s chocolate.
The sandwiches were tastier on this leg: one was salmon with capers, onions and chive while the other was Camembert with strawberries and dates.
When I visited the loo I was surprised to find that the basin surface area had been covered in leaves and orchids. I assume this was to give passengers a touch of something exotic to get them in the mood for their holiday in Langkawi. In any case it was a nice touch.
On this flight I had an Arab woman sitting behind be with her son. Arab women seem to like these very heavy, very spicy perfumes and this one was no exception. The moment she boarded the plane in Langkawi she stank out the whole place. The smell itself was actually rather nice and smelled expensive. The problem was that she’d just put too much of the stuff on. By the time we reached KUL I was seriously starting to feel nauseous with a headache starting from the stench of her perfume. Adding insult to injury, upon touch down the first thing she did was take out the bottle again and give herself a refresh! I couldn’t wait to get off the plane and get some fresh air!
We had to do a few holdings patterns at high altitude en route as apparently there was quite a bit of congestion in KUL. As a result we arrived with a bit of a delay and I had no time to visit the lounge but headed straight to my departure gate for the flight to Bangkok.
Date: 29 July 2011
Airline: Malaysia Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing B. 737-400
The flight to Bangkok was delayed as well due to the late arrival of our aircraft. The crew on this flight probably was the worst one of all the four flights I took with MH. Unlike their colleagues on the other flights they were unfriendly, obviously not in the mood for work and couldn’t really be bothered to do anything much. Thus, no apologies were made for the delay. This set the tone for the rest of the flight.
This is a blurred shot of the new terminal under construction in KUL. According to the local newspaper, 40% of the work is now complete.
The menu for this flight had a very clearly Middle Eastern flavour to it:
Hummus and Dolmas,
Tabouleh salad with mashed chickpeas and stuffed grape leaf
with garlic bread
Grilled chicken pieces with basmati rice and roasted tomato Morrocan style
Grilled Beef Tenderloin,
with potato slices, seasonal vegetables and onion sauce
Lamb Shank Mandi Style,
slow braised lamb shank Arabic style with basmati rice and vegetable pickles
Arabic dessert cooked with milk, sugar, rose water, topped with apricot ad pistachio
As a Maltese national I need a visa to enter Thailand. So upon arrival I made my way to the Visa on Arrival counter. This was brilliant, first of all because there were less people queuing here than at the immigration line for passengers not requiring a visa, and secondly because Malaysia Airlines provide priority passes for their Business Class passengers. So the entire process of getting my visa and paying the THB1000.- fee took less than 10 minutes to complete.
The whole process is very well organised. The list of countries eligible for a visa on arrival is available on the local Thai embassy websites. In order to apply for a visa, applicants need to have two passport photos with them. There is a photo booth right next to immigration, just in case you haven’t got any photos on you. There is also an ATM and a Bureau de Change where you can get the required THB1000. You have to complete a visa application form before you reach immigration. Forms can be obtained from a small counter opposite the immigration hall for visas on arrival.
So much for that. The next report will be the last in this series and covers my journey back to Switzerland with SWISS in First Class.
I hope you've enjoyed it so far. Comment are of course always welcome and much appreciated.