London Heathrow (LHR) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
Friday, 30th of August 2013
Depart: 10.30 p.m. (UK time)
Arrival: 6.40 p.m. (Malaysian time, next day)
Duration: 12 hours and 10 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A380 (1st flight on 1.7.12)
Seat: 74A (Economy Class – Lower Deck)
After reading many excellent trip reports on Airliners.net, I have decided to write my first trip report to share my inflight experience with you guys. I hope you will enjoy reading this TR and sorry for the relatively few pictures. Comments are the most welcomed!
After spending 5 days and 4 nights in the UK to get something important sorted out, it’s time for me to fly home on board Malaysia Airlines’ A380. At about 7.10 p.m. in the evening, after doing some shopping in London, I took the Heathrow Express from London Paddington to Terminal 3. As it does not go straight to Terminal 4 so I had to wait for the Heathrow Connect train which arrived 7 minutes later on the same platform.
CHECK-IN & SECURITY CHECK
I arrived at Terminal 4 at about 7.40 p.m. and went straight to the Enrich check-in counter. I was surprised to be informed by the ground agent that the flight today was overbooked because when I did my online check-in the day before, I noticed that there were quite a number of empty seats in economy class. It took less than 5 minutes as I only had one big luggage to be checked-in.
However the security check took quite a while as certain passengers were not familiar with the procedure, for example putting cosmetics in a sealed plastic bag, taking out laptops and tablets for security scan etc. The security officers had to guide some passengers through but they were quite patient in getting their jobs done.
DUTY FREE SHOPPING
After that I walked around Terminal 4 to do some last minute duty-free shopping to pass time. Initially I thought of having a late dinner at the airport but at last I did not have anything as I spent most of my time walking around. At about 9.10 p.m., when I was on my way to the boarding gate (normally gate C5), I stopped by at Boots to buy a bottle of mineral water to keep myself hydrated during the flight.
When I was approaching the gate, there was already a huge crowd waiting there indicating that there will be a full flight tonight. About 5 minutes later, passengers travelling with children, those travelling in First and Business class and frequent-flyers were invited to board the aircraft. As I am an Enrich Silver card holder, I was able to board the aircraft ahead of other passengers.
As I had done quite some shopping at the terminal so both my hands were full, luckily a Chinese air stewardess helped me to put my shopping bags on my seat. I then stored my cabin luggage and shopping bags in the overhead compartment and settled down on my seat. My seat 74 A was located in the last cabin of economy class on the lower deck. My seat was special in the way that it's a window seat with direct access to the aisle as there wasn’t a seat in front on the first row which was right beside an emergency exit. I paid MYR 150 for my seat (a premium seat) when I secured my booking.
BEFORE & AFTER TAKE-OFF
Malaysian Hospitality starts from the ground! I noticed that the flight attendants served some passengers water on the ground. Before the take-off, as I was seated in front of an emergency exit, a flight attendant helped me to store my handbag in the overhead compartment. The cabin light was dimmed during the take-off but I was a bit disappointed due to the lack of mood lighting in Y class which would greatly enhance the inflight experience. The aircraft was not quite stable when it was gaining altitude due to the strong wind. As two female flight attendants were seated on the crew seat right in front of me, I requested for ear plugs as the cabin was quite noisy. I was promptly given the ear plugs after the seat belt sign was off.
The flight attendants handed out headphones to passengers after the take-off. I told one of them that I do not need one as I have got my own pair of headphones. When I was struggling to take out the PTV which was stored underneath my seat a male FA taught me how to do it. I later found out that there was a problem with the IFE system on my seat as it kept on bumped back to main screen while I was trying to use it. I requested for a reboot which was responded promptly by G who was the best female attendant I met in this flight. After a second reboot by another flight attendant the IFE system finally worked.
DRINK & MEAL SERVICE
The FA’s later served drinks when the airplane had climbed to a safe altitude. The drinks included water, apple juice and orange juice. They came for two rounds after all passengers were served and came around shortly with a generous basketful of MH’s renowned own-branded peanuts.
About 30 minutes later, our first meal was served. There were two choices on offer – beef brisket with potatoes and chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables. I was surprised that there wasn’t an oriental or Asian choice on offer and decided to choose the former. I still think that MH should offer three instead of two main courses so that passengers have got more choices to choose from which other premium carriers do. My meal tasted okay overall. The flavour of the dish was good but the beef was perhaps a bit on the dry side and portion was a bit small for me. The main course was a bit cold as it wasn’t heated up thoroughly whereas the starter and desert wasn’t cold enough.
The second meal was served about 3 hours before landing where we were flying across the Bay of Bengal and started to experience some mild turbulence. Despite the turbulence, the FA’s conducted the meal service in a very organised manner which deserved particular praise. This time I had chicken curry with basmati rice which was much better than my first meal. The main course was heated up properly this time and the chicken curry was rich and flavourful. When I asked for a drink, I was generously offered a can of Pepsi.
However I was disappointed because the starter and desert was basically the same as what I had in late June on the same flight (MH 4). It seems to me that MH should update their menu from time to time so that frequent flyers like me do not get the same thing over and over again.
THE INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (IFE)
After the first meal, I slept quite comfortably for about 4.30 hours as I have got plenty of leg room, in addition to the travel pillow which I brought along with me. When I woke up, I tried to use the IFE system to check out the flight map but it just did not work. I pressed the service button and a FA came to me promptly and tried to help me to reset the IFE once again but to no avail. He told me that this will his last try to reboot the system because he was afraid that this might affect other passengers. I then had to wait for 10 minutes to see if it worked. As my phone battery was running low, I decided to charge my phone using the USB port on my seat but it wasn’t working as well. The passenger seated beside me kindly allowed me to use her USB port during the flight.
The male FA then came over to my seat again and I told him about my situation. He apologised for the faulty IFE on my seat. I also asked if there were any empty seats which I could move over but unfortunately the flight was full. He told me that he’ll speak to his boss (the inflight supervisor) to compensate me.
Actually, about 1.5 hours before landing, G came over to my seat and asked if I want to go over to the blocked crew seats to use the IFE which was a really nice move. I told her that it's fine because I was able to use my I Pad to watch some pre-downloaded shows. The inflight supervisor came after I finished my second meal and offered me a MYR 100 shopping voucher which I accepted. The voucher is valid for 6 months.
CHATTING IN THE GALLEY
After I tried to sort out the IFE, I went to the galley (which was on my right) to get a drink to quench my thirst. This time G, the female FA who helped me earlier on was working on her own in the galley. I then had a conversation with her about MH as an airline generally. We talked about MH’s plan to phase out the current ageing Boeing 777-200ER’s and possible replacement aircrafts which were rumored to be the A350s. She told me that management decisions are unpredictable and are often subject to change. Nothing is certain until the final decision is made.
We then talked about MH’s competitiveness in relation to other airlines. Cost cutting measures are evident as there is no hot towel service, amenity kit and menu handed out in Y. It is actually a nice thing provide an amenity kit in Y class which is not so common in the airline industry today. Small things like these do count!
Interestingly, the upper deck front business class cabin was supposed to be the first class cabin when the A380s were configured. MH has currently got insufficient crews trained to serve the A380s. During my previous flight, I heard some FA's have got to fly to either London or Paris almost every week which could be very exhausting. She told me that she flies to London so frequently that she could call it her second home. During our conversation, she kept the galley very clean and tidy and was constantly wiping the surfaces. I told her that MH should realise that their best assets are actually their dedicated crew! She then promised bring me to the crew rest area at the end of the flight.
THE CREW BUNK VISIT
Sorry about the poor image quality
MH’s crew bunk is located at the end of the upper deck right behind the Y class galley. I didn’t expect the rest area to be so spacious that it is able to rest up to 12 people each time. G told me that their resting time is 3 hours for a standard 12 hour flight from London. I had a unique experience of lying down on one of the beds which was quite comfortable but I have found the space to be a bit cramped, She helped me to capture a few pictures in the crew bunk.
The cabin after passengers disembarked
Overall, this was a great flight served by a lovely set of crew despite the lack of IFE (I was just unlucky). Having flown MH so frequently (especially the KL-LHR-KL route), I am happy to say that things in MH have started to get better with the deployment of new aircrafts albeit the slow progress. One thing good about MH is that service is generally quite consistent on long-haul flights. In order to truly deserve the name of a "five-star" carrier ("five-star" certification is a completely different story), MH should really improve on both its soft and hard products. I hope to see improvements in things like the IFE system, the maintenance of aircrafts, the frequent-flyer program and the presentation of meals. I sincerely hope that MH will shine in the future as the national carrier of Malaysia and as a five-star airline.