Malaysia Airlines (MAS) hasn’t had the best of reputations in recent years, but as Malaysia’s flagship full-fledged carrier: the show must go on. Over the years though, MAS has had to stop serving a lot of their European routes, however their London route still remains and is (and has always been) their most popular. But have they also lost their Malaysian Hospitality along the way?
Flight Route: Kuala Lumpur to London (LHR) – MH2
Aircraft: Airbus A350
Seat: 11A – window (3-3-3 layout)
Flight Time: About 13 Hours
On Time? Late departure and arrival of 30 minutes
At Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
Any trip I make to and from any of the Kuala Lumpur airports, I would make using the KLIA Express. Using Visa PayWave at the gate saves you 15% off the ticket price which would make it about MYR44 a trip (AU$15) and the trip takes you less than half an hour, compared to the 45 minute to an hour journey you might make by using Grab (the South East Asian version of Uber). So, I arrived to the airport with a little over 2 hours to my flight. I had checked into my flight online and surprisingly was met with an almost empty queue, while the regular check-in line was quite full. So hot tip: be safe, check-in for your flight online and save some time. Once crowned the world’s best airport, the main KLIA terminal (as opposed to the KLIA2 budget terminal) has had the same stores for as long as I can remember.
Baggage & Boarding
Everyone flying economy gets a 30kg baggage allowance which is probably more than you’d ever need, honestly (unless you’re moving across the world). Though frequent flyers (either with Enrich or OneWorld partners) get different bonus allowance depending on their tier, while upper class passengers would get between 40-50kg allowance. Check here for class allowances, and here to see how much you can get with your frequent flier tier.
In all honesty, in my distraction with taking photos, I was one of the last passengers to board the flight. What was a little annoying was that there was no airport-wide final call for that flight, although there were for others. But even so, the security check just before the gate was quick and easy (just take your laptop out before you’re even at the checkpoint and the process will be a breeze) and I boarded the flight hassle-free.
On the Plane: Seat and Comfort
The last time I flew this route with MAS was back in 2011 and from what I remembered, back then this route used a Boeing Jet. Now with the Airbus A350, the airline boasts more legroom and brought back the First Class tier (though called “Business Suite”), which I only had a peep at while leaving the plane (it looks great though, by the way). I found out only as I walked to my seat that the aforementioned extra legroom was allocated to the first three rows of Economy Class – aptly named “Economy Class with Extra Leg Room” on their website. So “standard” Economy seats had typical legroom. Thankfully and also surprisingly, the flight wasn’t full and the seat right next to mine was empty. I got my extra legroom after all!
The flight was relatively turbulence free, so I had quite a lot of uninterrupted sleep. About halfway through the flight, non-electrical bits and bobs around the plane started to malfunction – like the sink of the lavatory closest to me that people kept using despite it being close to overflowing. I was told by one of the flight attendants that it’s a common problem they face with the A350 planes (and a quick peek at the piece of paper he held showed that that lavatory wasn’t the only one with problems). If you’ve got a small bladder, that couldn’t have been the best of experiences.
I’m a pescetarian, so I had to request for their ovo-lacto meal and can’t tell you what their regular in-flight meals were like. Sadly, ovo-lacto meals come with none of the Malaysian goodies although they were still rather tasty, at least my “dinner” dish was. My first meal was pasta with a marinara sauce and my other meal was an omelette with veggies, the latter of which was too plain for my tastes. Both meals were served with water, bread and local fruits.
If I’m not mistaken, for the first meal you had the choice of a stir-fried chicken with rice or beef korma with rice while for the “breakfast” meal there was a choice of nasi lemak with chicken rendang (coconut milk infused rice with slow-cooked chicken) or an omelette with veg and chicken sausage. I do think that MAS should be able to serve nasi lemak for those who order vegetarian meals, since traditionally the dish is simply coconut rice, sambal, egg, fried anchovies and nuts.
Flight attendants showed the Malaysian hospitality that MAS is known for from start to finish. As soon as the seatbelt sign turned off, they distributed hot towels with a genuine smile and not too long after they started serving drinks and the first meal of the flight. They were quick to respond to requests and were never dismissal. Since I had a special meal, all the flight attendants knew my name and throughout the flight they would address me by my name if I happened to walk-by them. I thought that was a nice touch.
Possibly the most enjoyable part of the flight was when some passengers had wanted to stretch their legs (including me when the aisle passenger left his seat) and ended up gathering at the back of the plane with a few of the off-duty flight attendants (since they work on shifts during long-haul flights). There was good conversation, free flow water (the alcohol was in the middle of the plane) and snacks. Oh and a really cute baby that wasn’t crying!
Despite the difficulties in Malaysia Airline’s recent history, the experience overall has not faltered one bit. The seats were comfortable, despite the lack of “extra” legroom; good food and drink options and service that made you leave the plane after a 13-hour flight smiling. I can see why they were crowned “Best Airline in Asia”.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
For more information about Malaysia Airlines and to make bookings, visit their official website.
The writer flew at her own expense. Photo taken from Malaysia Airlines website.