OneWorld Welcome: Malaysia Airlines First Class London to Kuala Lumpur

Introduction
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Malaysia Airlines First Class Golden Lounge London
Malaysia Airlines First Class London to Kuala Lumpur
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines First Class Golden Lounge Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines First Class Kuala Lumpur to London
Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 4
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American Airlines Business Class London to New York


Malaysia Airlines 3
London (LHR) ā€“ Kuala Lumpur (KUL)

Friday, February 15
Depart: 10:50AM
Arrive: 7:10AM (+1 day)
Duration: 12hr20min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 2D (First Class)

Upon boarding through door 1L I was greeted by one of the chief stewardesses, who directed me to my seat, 2D.

The cabin had only eight seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, so is pretty intimate. The cabin isn’t nearly as “sophisticated” looking as those of Emirates or Singapore, though I still found it nice. While the seats weren’t fully enclosed they had enough partitions so that each seat felt private. What I noticed with the curtains open was just how close coach felt to first class, in that the galley between cabins was tiny.


First class cabin


Seat 1A


Our seats, 2D & 2G


Seat 2A


View from 2D


View from 2D

The seat colors reminded me a bit of Thai.


My seat, 2D


Ottoman at my seat

One of the most impressive aspects of the seat had to be the amount of storage. To the left of my seat were two huge storage compartments.


Storage

Then to the right of the seat was another deep storage compartment.


More storage

Also to the right of the seat were the seat controls, which were pretty intuitive.


Seat controls

That’s also where the entertainment controls were, which were similar to those found on several other airlines.


Entertainment controls

On the ottoman was a red “Malaysia Airlines First” bag with pajamas, an amenity kit, and slippers. The presentation is easily the classiest I’ve seen from any airline. I love the bag, since I usually don’t have enough space to otherwise stash the amenity kit and pajamas into my carry-on after a flight.


Amenity kit, slippers, and pajamas


Amenity kit, slippers, and pajamas

The pajamas was reasonably comfortable, much better than those offered by Singapore and Emirates, in my opinion, though not quite as good as those offered by British Airways and Lufthansa.


Pajamas

The amenity kit was Bulgari branded, and featured a toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, a comb, eye shades, socks, and a few creams.


Bulgari amenity kit


Bulgari amenity kit contents

Also waiting at my seat were a pair of noise canceling headphones.


Headphones

Once settled in the two chief stewardesses came over to introduce themselves. Their names were Sissy and Mary — Sissy would be working my aisle, while Mary would be working the other aisle. They offered me something to drink, and while I requested champagne, they informed me only non-alcoholic beverages could be served on the ground. So I went with apple juice instead, which was promptly served.

I’m not sure if there’s a cultural significance to alcohol not being served on the ground or if they’re just too cheap to pay the taxes associated with it, but I found it a bit strange.


Pre-departure apple juice

I was also offered a hot towel, which had an awesome scent.


Hot towel

As boarding continued every seat was eventually occupied in first class. When we checked in we were the only passengers booked in first class, while business class seemed to be oversold, so I believe all six of the other passengers were operational upgrades from business class.

Around departure time the inflight supervisor, Karen, came around to each first class passenger to introduce herself and wish us a pleasant flight. She also distributed the menus and wine list at this point.

Shortly thereafter the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 12 hours. He also said there was a delay with cargo being loaded, so we were running around 40 minutes late, unfortunately. Given our fairly long flight time, he anticipated we’d be arriving in Kuala Lumpur about 45 minutes late. That worked great for me given our early morning arrival, and my fear that our hotel room wouldn’t be ready given how early we were arriving.

The safety video began playing around 30 minutes after our scheduled departure, and I found it pretty comical how bad the lip synching in it was. I tried to find the safety video online, but could only find the one below. I’m not sure if it’s apparent from the video below, but it gave me a few chuckles.

Sure enough we began our pushback about 40 minutes late, and taxied to runway 27L. By the time we made it to the runway we were number two for takeoff, so by Heathrow standards it was a speedy taxi and takeoff.


Taxi to the runway


Holding short of the runway

The takeoff roll was extremely long, and our climb out was smooth but gradual.


Taking off


Airborne


Climbing out

About 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and cabin crew began their service. The lunch menu read as follows:

And the drinks list read as follows:

Service began with drinks. Since I was deprived of champagne on the ground, I decided to have a glass of it along with my standard Diet Coke. I have to say I like Malaysia’s champagne flutes. I guess I’m too used to Lufthansa, where they pour champagne in a wine glass. The drinks were served with mixed warm nuts.


Drinks and nuts

Next the tables were set, which included a decorative upside down glass with a flower in it. Once tables were set the first course was served, which consisted of satay. This is probably what I was most looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. The serving of peanut sauce was downright excessive, though fortunately there was a spoon so none of it went to waste. Who doesn’t like some peanut sauce soup? šŸ˜‰


Satay cart


Malaysian satay

After the satay course bread was offered from the bread basket.


Table setup

For the appetizer I decided on the caviar, which was served in a sealed Malaysia branded container. Both the caviar and salmon were delicious.


Caviar

For the main course I ordered the Malaysian option, which consisted of slow braised beef rib with rice. It was fairly good.


Asam Pedas Rusuk Lembu

Then for dessert I had the egg custard with fresh fruit and ice cream.


Egg custard with fresh fruit and ice cream

To drink I had the pulled tea. I used to think that Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong style milk tea was the best onboard beverage, though I think Malaysia one upped them with this. It was delicious, and I had a few cups throughout the flight.


Teh Tarik

The meal service finished once again with their scented hot towels, bottled water, and fast track immigration cards for Kuala Lumpur.


Hot towels


Bottled water

So, about the service — it was interesting. I think Malaysia Airlines’ most direct competition is Singapore Airlines, so I was curious to see how the service compared. Well, on this particular sector I couldn’t help but feel that the two flight attendants working first class were like “Singapore Girls” before they started their first day of training. The service was fine. Mary was actually quite friendly, though she wasn’t working my aisle. Sissy seemed mostly indifferent, and while she wasn’t actively rude, I couldn’t get a smile out of her either.

While they were somewhat attentive (given that there were only two flight attendants serving eight passengers) they weren’t especially polished, and certainly lacked some of the “refined” touches of the world’s leading airlines. For example, they would remove plating from the tables without a tray, while also carrying dirty dishes from other passengers. While it didn’t really bother me, that would never happen on Singapore Airlines, for example.

So I wasn’t blown away by the service, in contrast to the return, where I found the service to be excellent. One other interesting note — on both the outbound and return flights our meal orders were always taken first. I’m not sure if this is because the other passengers were op-ups, if it’s because we’re OneWorld Emeralds, or if it was a coincidence, though I’d be curious to hear if anyone knows why that might be.

After lunch I headed to the area in front of first class, where the staircase led up to business class.


Staircase to business class

There was a snack station set up right at the top of the staircase, which even included (legitimately) fresh baked cookies. While I wasn’t hungry at that point, I was sure to take a mental note of that for later. šŸ˜‰


Snack bar

Since this was an overnight flight and every business class seat was taken I only briefly walked around the business class cabin. The return was much emptier, so I can share my thoughts on business class in the review of my return sector.


Business class cabin

Once back at my seat I was rather tired and requested turndown service, given that we had taken the redeye from the US the night prior. I found the bedding to be simple though comfortable. Certainly nothing like the bedding offered by Cathay Pacific or Qantas, though still good.


Turndown service


Turndown service

Now, Malaysia claims to have the widest first class beds in the sky on their A380s, and I’m not sure I follow. Yes, the seat is fairly wide, and yes, the console on the side of the seat being the same level as the bed helps in making the sleeping area feel more spacious, but I’m still not sure how they can claim it’s the widest bed in the sky, when I can think of several that are wider. Can anyone fill me in on what I’m missing?

Since I was tired I slept well for about six hours, and woke up over eastern India with about four hours to go to Kuala Lumpur.


Airshow upon waking up


Airshow upon waking up

At that point I was pretty wide awake and decided to browse the extensive entertainment selection.


Entertainment selection

I decided to watch “Here Comes The Boom,” which was entertaining enough for an airplane movie.


Movie selection

My one complaint about the selection has to be the ads played before each program. My issue isn’t actually that they play ads, but that the ad they play is the single most annoying one I’ve ever seen. And that includes the commercial for “Head On.” Below is a screenshot, and I’m sure you can imagine the rest. I’d be simultaneously delighted and horrified if someone could find the ad online.


Most. Annoying. Ad. Ever.


Most. Annoying. Ad. Ever.

And, as you’ll see below, my entertainment selection only went downhill from there…


No comment


No comment

During the movie I ordered an iced coffee, which Mary made without blinking twice. I also grabbed a cookie from the bar upstairs. For what it’s worth, the snack menu read as follows:


Iced coffee and cookie

About 90 minutes out of Kuala Lumpur the breakfast service began. The menu read as follows:

To start I had some more pulled tea and guava juice.


Pulled tea and guava juice

Once the table was set I was served fresh fruit.


Fresh fruit

I was also offered a breadbasket with a croissant, pastry, and two types of rolls. I was offered a selection of jams along with it.


Breadbasket

Next I was offered a muesli parfait, which was also delicious.


Muesli parfait

For the main course I went once again with the Malaysian option, nasi lemak, which was phenomenal.


Nasi Lemak

About 30 minutes out we began our descent into Kuala Lumpur and I changed out of my pajamas.


Airshow descending into Kuala Lumpur


Airshow descending into Kuala Lumpur

As we descended Karen once again came through the cabin to thank each passenger for flying Malaysia Airlines, and wished us a nice time in Kuala Lumpur.

The seatbelt sign was turned on only 10 minutes before landing, which has to be a new record for me on a longhaul international flight. As we began our final descent I switched to the tail camera view again. We had a smooth touchdown in Kuala Lumpur about 40 minutes behind schedule.


View on short final


View after touchdown

Our taxi to the gate took only a few minutes, so in the end we were about 45 minutes late.


View approaching the gate

After landing we walked through the airy international terminal towards the tram, which took us to the customs and immigration hall.


International terminal upon arrival


Main terminal upon arrival


Keep walking!

There were no queues at immigration, so we were through in no time. We took a taxi to the Grand Hyatt, which took about 45 minutes, and were refreshed and ready to do some exploring.

On the whole I found the flight to be extremely pleasant. The food was excellent, possibly among the best I’ve had on any airline (though I still think Swiss and Asiana have them beat). The service left a bit to be desired, though it’s hit or miss with just about any airline, as I had a great crew on the return. And while the seats were among the least private of any airline on the A380, they were extremely comfortable for both lounging and sleeping. As of now Malaysia only flies their A380s to London and Paris, which is a shame, since you can’t route from the US to Asia via Europe on an AAdvantage all partner award. Unfortunately the US seems to be a dying market for Malaysia Airlines, or else I’d hope they eventually put it on their Los Angeles route.

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Comments

  1. Wow- that is a super indepth trip report, the seats look good, the food and drink seems a little sub-par for F but good Business Class, is that fair or did it taste better that it seemed?

    Must say its a heck of a long series of flights just for the journey- next time why not spend a week in each place to check it out? Gotta be better for the body and soul?

  2. You know you’re the FIRST person to actually have a FULL report on MH’s new A380 F Class, right? Props! šŸ™‚ To answer your question– I think one-world airlines do prioritize their emerald members in food ordering and selection priority. When I was flying BA, they did the same thing and took the orders of the emerald members first (there was a list of them on the CSD’s ipad), and they gave them their food selections first (and told me that my choice was not available).

    PS: I think a lot of airlines claim that they have the widest bed in the air. Like this lufthansa PR person: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iG0XXxA6Nk I would like to see how they would justify it if we were to bring up other airlines’ claims about it.

  3. The hard product perplexes me. It looks almost as if they’re going for a more modern look, but it sort of comes across looking cheap. Perhaps it’s the red splattered everywhere.

    I’m curious as to how this stacks up against other A380 seats.

  4. @ Saverocity — Agreed the food wasn’t especially “refined” for the most part, but it did taste very good. Actually have a pretty interesting comparison between the business class and first class meal service with the return sector.

    I had to make this trip so quick because I literally only had a five day window in which I could reasonably travel. I wanted to try Malaysia’s new first class, and that was the only opportunity I had to do so.

  5. Hi,

    We are going on Malaysia Airlines first class in a few months and love our champagne. Did you find out why they didn’t serve it on the ground?

    Is it better than Cathay or just different?

    Dale.

  6. @ Dale — I would guess it’s because airlines have to pay taxes for alcohol saved on the ground, and I’d guess Malaysia didn’t want to pay that. I’d say Cathay still has the edge over Malaysia.

  7. so they don’t have catering upon request like on other airlines? in cathay or emirates first you can order any meal any time…

  8. So Lucky, the big questions is…SQ or MH? If any discussion turns the online air traveler community into a bunch of Twilight-esque Team X vs. Team Y arguments, it would be this one…

    It seems like the seats themselves are like the Suite seats on Etihad, minus the door.

    Regardless of the quality of the food, the amount of selection is impressive. 5 choices for breakfast? That’s something you don’t see often.

  9. feels a lot like the TG A380 F.

    differences :

    1. TG has 12 seats (much easier for redemption).
    2. TG is on upper deck.
    3. TG operates it to both Europe and NRT (not sure if HKG is still scheduled), and either side is allowed for US-Asia redemption on UA
    4. TG’s colors are the most subtle and bland ones. MH are bit more bold.

    I think the conclusion i could draw from this trip report is that “F is F, but MH F is no SQ F”

  10. @ Lantean — While it’s not explicitly offered, I’d be willing to bet they’d serve you what you want when you wanted.

  11. @ wwk5d — I’m Team Singapore… and Team Jacob! While Malaysia has a fairly good product, I don’t think they’re quite to the level of the world’s top airlines.

    Yes, the variety of options was impressive, and interestingly enough the business class menu was almost as extensive, as I’ll share in the return portion of the report.

  12. Thanks for the thorough trip report. Looking forward to having the opportunity to fly MH F sometime in the future.

  13. Luckieee I don’t see the point of in-flight commercials but weirdest thing is those real estate ones in Singapore but on CX flights??!?

  14. Lucky, you mentioned the long take-off roll on the departure. Do you think that’s just the nature of the A380? When I flew the A380 (Air France) I thought the same thing. In fact, the roll was so long that I started to get concerned that we’d run out of runway before it took off, lol. When it suddenly did lift off the ground I was surprised, as it didn’t feel like we were moving fast enough for it to get airborne. I’m guessing it’s just the nature of the plane, but I haven’t flown it enough to make a good comparison.

  15. Thanks. This is probably one of you Top Ten posts. I find it amusing that with only EIGHT FC seats, they publish FIVE Main Course choices. I know you mentioned that (as OW Emerald) your order was taken first, but I wonder, did you overhear others being told that their first choice was not available? There is either a lot of that, or some substantial waste – as we KNOW they are not carrying EIGHT servings of all FIVE. What do you think?
    As for the no alcohol before takeoff, I’m sure it is at least related to the TAX ISSUES. Again, a very nice segment report. -C.

  16. Not sure how happy the shops are that there’s a sign that says “keep walking!”

    I’d been looking forward to this report for several days and it didn’t disappoint… definitely putting this one on the to do list.

    Regarding measurements could they possibly mean that wall to wall, their open suite is the widest in the sky? Certainly seems possible being 1-2-1 on the lower deck of the 380. And it’s also a flat bed seat… ergo “widest bed in the sky?”

  17. @Ben — You can’t use AA miles to book LHR/CDG – KUL? A nice RTW from SFO would be SFO-LHR in BA F then LHR-KUL in MH F and finally KUL-HKG-SFO in CX F. Isn’t that bookable for 200,000 miles?

  18. Do any airlines provide spoons for caviar service? I notice it missing when I fly Cathay as well.

  19. I enjoyed reading this report Lucky! Thank you! I recall Malaysia Airlines used to fly to New York City via Stockholm but they terminated that route a few years ago. šŸ™

  20. “What I noticed with the curtains open was just how close coach felt to first class”

    The horror…the horror…. šŸ˜‰

  21. @Lantean- Hey, I get Bernoulli’s principle, but I’m not sure what point you were making in relation to my post. Please explain if you don’t mind.

  22. “For example, they would remove plating from the tables without a tray, while also carrying dirty dishes from other passengers.”

    Are you serious? Who cares?

  23. Coutureguy: I don’t think Lantean meant that Bernoulli’s principle is literally why it takes a long takeoff roll. The A380 is the largest and heaviest commercial airliner in the sky. It has to get up to the proper velocity to fly, which takes longer in a heavier aircraft. Especially if they want it to be comfortable for the passengers!

    Think of it like cars — a sedan might go 0-60 in 6.5 seconds… a bus might need 15+ seconds to do that same thing!

    If you’re paying attention and fly enough you can tell the difference when you fly longer vs short routes on the same aircraft. For example, a BWI-SAN 737 is loaded with fuel and will require a longer takeoff roll than the same 737 doing BWI-JAX.

  24. Thailand has their version of the pulled tea also. Although I think you can only find it on the ground instead of in the air. šŸ™‚

  25. Kinda giggled at the ‘Mocktail’ section of the menu with the Virgin Cuba Libre. Isn’t that just some coke?
    Looked good though, all in all.

  26. @David- Your last post is essentially what I said in my post: “I’m guessing it’s just the nature of the plane.” šŸ™‚

    Now Lucky has flown quite a bit on the 380s, and in his post he said that the takeoff roll “was extremely long”, indicating that it was probably longer than even he was used to. So that’s why I wanted to get his opinion on that point.

  27. Nice trip report! I don’t think I’ve ever seen you order so many “local” dishes before (thinking of your other trip reports with OZ, CX, NH, SQ)! Looking forward to reading the return flight.

  28. The reason your order was taken first (and that other passengers suddenly appeared in first class) is most likely that the others were traveling on space-available employee passes.

  29. I think that it’s going to be hard to beat this product. From what you heard from Lucky, it was fantastic. They really should route it to the US. Not only do a lot of Asian airlines only fly to LA and not nonstop, but the prouducts are subpar compared to what you see on routes to Europe. They should really think about expanding their offerings and services. What do you think Lucky?

  30. @ Willy — The galley was pretty close so there was a bit more noise than usual from there, though nothing bothersome, really.

    @ Coutureguy — Definitely the nature of the plane, but also notice a difference in the length of a takeoff roll between a fully loaded LHR-KUL flight and a HKG-SIN flight, given the difference in the amount of fuel it’s carrying.

  31. @ Cook — Thanks! I was going to post it with the return trip report, but interestingly almost all the entree choices were identical in both first and business class. Perhaps the plating was a bit different, so I have to wonder if they just share the entrees between cabins. I didn’t see anyone get turned down on their choice.

    @ Justin — Perhaps so, but even that is a stretch. I still think the full width of a Singapore Suite is greater than what Malaysia offered. But that at least sounds *more* right.

  32. @ unlucky — I am serious, and I don’t care. I’m simply noting the small details that differentiated them from Singapore. Like I said it didn’t bother me, but Singapore flight attendants are specifically trained to only remove things with an empty tray.

    @ CalAggie21 — Thanks! Hey, I love Malaysian food. šŸ˜€

  33. @ Claire — While it’s possible, I don’t think they were. Many of them had frequent flyer cards, so I feel like it’s more likely they were operational upgrades than on employee passes.

    @ AidanAhearn — Yeah, to be honest I’m a bit puzzles by both Malaysia and Thai’s service to the US. They’re huge airlines with an extensive European network, though they have at most one 777 a day to the US. You’d think there would be more of a market, but I’m guessing they know something that I don’t.

  34. @ Gene — You could on a distance based award, though not a partner award. 200,000 miles is a bit steep for me when United charges 140,000 miles for the same award.

  35. I for one am fairly unimpressed with the alcohol selection. With obvious exception of Dom, the wines were very limited and not to my palate. Just a Chardonnay and a Riesling on their flagship product? Lame. Also their spirt selection is overly J class. Step it up to Johnny Walker Blue like your competition, MH.

    As for the pre-departure Apple juice, I’d 100% bring on-board a chilled mini-bar sized bottle of bubbly from the terminal and ask them to serve it to me, (which is within regulations).

    JRL

  36. @Wade ā€“ Correct

    http://on.fb.me/YKPgZ6

    But I can swear I’ve been on an airline that actually provided mother of pearl spoons for caviar service proper. Anyone know the carrier I’m thinking of? Asiana?

    JRL

  37. @Ben — I realize that I don’t get the “free” routing via Europe, but I can buy 3 one-way partner awards SFO-LHR-KUL-HKG-SFO for 200k, right?

    It looks like you could do SEA-LHR-KUL-HKG-SFO for 180k using a distance-based award. Not bad considering *A F awards would require either undesirable UA flights or difficult to obtain seats on LH, LX, or SQ (maybe TG wouldn’t be too difficult).

  38. Great trip report Lucky! As mentioned above, I like that you went more for the ‘local’ cuisine on this trip – good choice. Malaysian food absolutely rocks!

  39. Great report and I’ve been waiting for one on MH. Also, like the other commenters, kudos for going with the local dining options.

  40. Well just want to share this with you… I flew a J roundtrip on MH from HKG to AKL via KUL. I have noted that the F/As all make an effort to recognize me and call me by my last name. On the return flight, I was really early and saw the notes on the manifest for the ground agent in first class counters. I saw my name, along with another passenger, noted with our corresponding seat numbers. Both reminded the agent that I am an Emerald/MH Platinum members. Since MH possibly has a small pool of Platinum members, they really go out of their ways to make sure that the top elites are well taken care of, and I hope they can keep it up. During the return flight, the head F/A in J (no F on these flights) said hello and greeted me by my last name, as soon as I walked toward my seat. However this service seems to be limited to long haul and on regional sectors, there were no special treatment. (Other than better meals in MH J, the service element is actually pretty weak on regional flights, and the F/As are notably stressed. Long haul is very different)

    I am flying MH in April and this trip report gives me a good idea on what to expect.

  41. Hi,

    Malaysian doesn’t seem to be releasing first class award space on the KUL-CDG or KUL-LHR routes. Have they just stopped offering award space or release it last minute now?

    Thanks,
    Dale.

  42. Where are the Malaysia Airlines Blue stripes on the fuselage of the A380? I didn’t see them. I saw them on your return trip to London on another MAS A380.

  43. @ Edward Ang — Good catch. Oddly some of their A380s don’t have that stripe. Odd that with such a small fleet they’d have different liveries.

  44. Hi Lucky, your blog was very impressive with transparent and constructive comments and I like it. I am Malaysian and glad to see you fly with MH. To answer your question regarding on to not serving champagne or wine on the ground is not because theyā€™re just too cheap to pay the taxes but Malaysia is one of the typical Modern Muslim country although here also got Christian, Hindu and Buddhist as well. Hope that Im not too late to share this with you and your reader. Btw, thanks for choosing Malaysia Airlines and I hope MH will improve in future.

  45. OH how did you put up with COACH CLASS so close to you you poor thing.I dont think they wash to ,have another cappucccino as you love so much and stop having a HAIRY FAIRY FIT DEAR ps love your work

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