My First Flight On Malaysia Airlines In Years…

Yesterday I flew Malaysia Airlines for the first time in years, between Kuala Lumpur and Bali. I was quite looking forward to flying Malaysia again, after not having flown them in years.

There’s no doubt that they’re still an airline in pain, and also an airline in transition, following the horrible tragedies of last year.

Let me start by saying that I have absolutely no qualms flying Malaysia Airlines, and would actually go out of my way to fly them. With MH370, we still don’t know exactly what happened, but it seems fairly safe to assume it wasn’t something within the airline’s control. MH17 was an equally unlucky accident. All of this is simply to say that I think they’re perfectly safe to fly — they always have been and continue to be, though they’ve also had extremely bad luck.

Still, emotionally there’s something tough about flying with them. I’m a pretty emotional person when it comes to things I’m passionate about.

In the case of Malaysia Airlines, for example, I had flown the exact tail number of MH370 before it went down, and also flew out of Amsterdam the same morning MH17 was shot down, and at the airport even interacted with a passenger who was on the flight.

So my concern when flying Malaysia wasn’t that I was scared at all, but rather I figured I might have some sort of an emotional reaction. Perhaps it’s strange, but I do sometimes have flashbacks/visions, which is what I figured might happen here.

At a minimum I was expecting to see an airline in “pain,” with employees still visibly impacted by the events of last year.

Well, truth be told my flight on Malaysia was good, and much to my surprise, I didn’t have any sort of negative thoughts during the flight.

Our flight was on a fairly new 737.

Malaysia-Airlines-737

It featured the Boeing sky interior.

Malaysia-Airlines-737-Business-Class-1

The business class cabin consisted of a total of 16 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration. I’d say the seats were marginally more spacious and comfortable than what you’d get in domestic first class in the US. And that’s perfectly nice for a sub-three hour flight to Bali.

Malaysia-Airlines-737-Business-Class-2

The food was the only disappointing aspect of the flight. Everything was served on a single tray (with plastic covers still on), and truthfully wasn’t very good.

Malaysia-Airlines-737-Business-Class-3

But most importantly I was thrilled to see that the crew seemed to be in good spirits, despite the huge staff cuts going on at the airline. The crew was young and attentive, and certainly gave their competition at Singapore Airlines a run for their money.

Bottom line

As I said above, I think Malaysia Airlines is as safe as any other airline. The perception out there continues to be that they’re “dangerous,” though. I posted a picture of the Malaysia 737 on social media, and a couple of people commented “dangerous” or “scary.” And that perception is still out there, which is sort of understandable when two 777s went down just months apart.

Some fears are irrational. I took the Ngong Ping cable car in Hong Kong the other day and the winds were quite strong, and I was on the verge of tears. I knew I wasn’t actually in danger, but I have an irrational fear of cable cars, so when you add in strong winds…

Cable-Car

So with Malaysia I was more concerned about finding the whole experience of flying with them to be depressing or cause flashbacks, but I was happy that wasn’t the case.

I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Malaysia again, and would certainly encourage others to do the same. I’m thrilled to see they’re headed in the right direction under the leadership of their excellent new CEO.

Comments

  1. Second your Ngong Ping experience. Did the cable car as return last year and winds were crazy! and yes, the system is designed to handle it, yet I was totally panicking. I was just happy that we had not opted for the Crystal Cabin.

  2. Hi!

    What do you think about third party websites? Should I book flights and hotels through them? Or should I book directly through hotel/airline websites?

    From what I’ve seen so far it’s alot cheaper booking via third party websites, up to 30% somethings, but there is something im missing, right?

    Take care!

  3. My husband and I actually flew on what was originally MH370 the day after the plane disappears. They changed the flight number but it was an interesting experience.

    We had a long layover in Kuala Lumpor and left the airport to visit the Patronas Towers. We had to show our boarding info for our flight in order for them to open up some extra tickets in the group we needed to catch so we could make it back to the airport on time. The looks on the workers faces when they saw the flight number is something I’m not likely to forget.

  4. Flew them to London in June this year. A330 Business between Sydney and KL was OK, but their seats don’t offer that much privacy, the seats are angled lie flat (it was a daytime flight so no biggie), and the catering as you say – was not great. Service was good and crew were great. A380 to London was very good. Catering seemed a little better, and the seats were more private, and of course the plane is amazing. We travelled on them because they offered one of the cheapest business class seats at the time for a top class airline. I would happily travel them again. The only big disappointment is the lounge in KL. Horrid, and no other one world lounge was open in KL at the times we were there.

  5. I have booked a Malaysia airlines flight from KL to Yangon in Myanmar (and back) for our upcoming Christmas trip and didn’t question it for a moment – glad you feel the same way. My flight is just under 3 hours, but now I am prepared for the food 😉 (or lack of!!)

  6. Haaah, compared to your average below par US airline experience SQ and MH may seem in the same league but trust me, they are not. MH is still way behind.
    Why not try GA instead? It is way above MH now service wise. In particular on widebody aircraft seats are also dramatically better than MH. And service beats SQ easily.

  7. You should stick to writing about points and rewards. You are not an expert on airline safety. Yes, we don’t know what happened to MH370. That sounds like a pretty serious problem when an airline doesn’t know where their planes are. As for MH17, they took a risk and fly over a war zone. BA and LH were avoiding that area for that reason. I know that it is an unlucky incident, but they didn’t take as much precaution as some other airlines to ensure passenger safety. You are an idiot for telling people these 2 incidents is not an indication that MH is unsafe.

  8. @Wim
    Agreed. Malaysia isn’t up to par as SQ in seservic nowhere even close. Theyre warm and friendly, but service feels more like an assembly line than anything else.

    GA on the other hand ks better on short hops. On long haul this is where SQ crew really get to show their strenghts. On a good day, nobody beats SQ.

  9. I flew malaysia on sin-kul-dxb and found the service and food to be quite acceptable and it was only $172.43 USD so quite nicely priced as well but no mileage credit. They gave me a bulkhead seat on kul-dxb as a OW sapphire. I figure the odds of a 3rd hull loss from them to be so infinitesimally small that not flying them because of their history to be ridiculous.

  10. MH need to step up if they want to lead the game again in terms of service.
    MH is the only airline won the most tittle for ‘World Best Cabin Crew’ from Skytrax for 7 times since 2001.
    Flew with them four times in J, however the service was underwhelming. Would still prefer QR or CX tho.

  11. Oh dear, from your photo it looks like (regional) catering in J has gone downhill. When I flew MH from KUL-DPS-KUL in January the meal was conducted by course and, with the exception of satay, looked every bit as presentable as the long-haul catering. My flights were operated by the B772, don’t know if that made a difference.

  12. @W I would agree the SQ service experience is likely more consistent, but I have used GA in F and that was a vastly superior experience as compared to SQ and EK in F. Not only during the flight but also the pre and post flight experience. Frankly, it stunned me.

  13. Regarding the Ngong Ping cable car: I had a half-day layover Hong Kong last month and did the same. I landed from MEL, then spent an hour in The Bridge to shower and have some breakfast. When I asked something regarding me heading out into the city, she said since I had already cleared transit security I would not be allowed to leave the airport. Of all the research I had done for my layover, apparently I had missed that detail. I politely asked what could be done, as I had a 16hour layover and had pre-booked a tour package (Ngong Ping, etc). She made some calls and arranged for me to be escorted through an airline employee exit and to immigration. So next time I’m in HKG, should I not go to a lounge first (that’d be a bummer). Or do I just assume they’ll “pull some strings again” and let me out? Have you experienced this at all?

  14. Yeah, I found the Ngong Ping cable car pretty unnerving, even on a calm day, but the great view of aircraft movement at Chek Lap Kok on the way down made it all worthwhile.

  15. @ Curt – CX has an Arrivals Lounge for that reason. It’s not wonderfully nice, but it’s functional place to grab breakfast and a shower. It’s land-side, after you clear immigration. In countries that have outbound customs processing (i.e. almost every country apart from the U.S.), airports don’t routinely let you exit from the international airside area — which is the part of the airport you’re in after clearing transit security.

  16. @ Josh Ahhh, right right. Good call. I forgot about the CX Arrivals Lounge. When I was last there, that leg of the trip put me at Emerald (though it took a week or so for it to post to my account. And since I was traveling in CX Premium Economy, I didn’t have access to the Arrivals Lounge. That’ll be my plan next time. Thanks!

  17. I flew MH on a short under one hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in April 2015 and had no concerns flying with them. The seats service in business class on the Boeing 737 were fine given the very short flight time and I do agree on the comment about the lounge in Kuala Lumpur that I used was underwhelming.

  18. My husband & I flew MH KUL-DPS-KUL back in September out in J back in Y on Avios redemption. Was originally a 777 but downgraded to 737 when they went through their rationalisation.
    It was all perfectly acceptable, even back in Y.

    What did show me that they were clearly an airline going through tremendous turmoil & change was the lounge in KUL. We used both the MH lounges in KUL, even the First Class one was sadly lacking in finesse & product.

  19. I would have no qualms flying MH, and I quite enjoyed the short hop J SIN-KUL flight I took with MH earlier this year (service was very good), especially for such a short flight.

    However, I’ve heard that MH – in trying to respond to it’s budget crisis – has been cancelling flights with low occupancy and redirecting passengers to other flights at short notice to departure. That has made me drop MH in any future flight planning – it’s too much of a risk if I can’t reasonably rely on booked flights to be honoured as booked (outside of a critical maintenance or weather issue arising).

    On another element – what’s with the references to being afraid of a flashback etc. You are not a ‘Nam veteran Lucky, and it seems a bit tacky to try and insert some sort of inferred “survivor”/PTSD linkage when any direct connection you have to these terrible events is incredibly weak at best (do you suggest you feel nervous about having flashbacks when crossing the road, given you must be aware of the multiple cases of people getting run over every year…). While you may not mean to do so, this sort of statement trivialises the suffering/PTSD/impact of those who lost their mothers, fathers, partners, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, and relatives (who bear real psychological scars). DQing here ain’t cool (it’s not about you).

  20. Of course, this guy is advertising Malaysian Airlines because the airline company invites him to a business class seat and hotels for free plus he received some money as well to publish an article like this. Why do you guys who read this article believe what he says?

  21. The most unprofessional staff in Malaysia airline call center. I will never ever fly Malaysia airline. Never ever and will also not encourage my family and friends.

  22. I too took Malaysian Airlines flight from Singapore to Mumbai on 7th Dec with no preconceived notions. The cabin crew was efficient, attentive and courteous. The aircraft used for the Kl Mumbai leg, MH194 was dated and the Business Class seats reclined as much as the Economy seats on Singapore Airlines.
    My grouch is with the ground staff. I pointed out to them at KL that I had requested for a vegetarian meal for my wife but it had not been made available and showed them the printed itinerary. The response” it is not in our system and we can’t do anything’!
    Worse was to come at Mumbai. Two of our bags didn’t fetch up and we spent two hours filling up the Property Irregularity Report. When I tried to follow up with Malaysian Airlines ground staff in the next two days the stock reply was ” we are from operations, will get some one to call you back”. Needless to say, there has been no call.
    I have made three long distance calls to the mishandled baggage number in KL and got through only after 25 attempts. The response” we are trying to trace it”. The last response that was galling was the one that I got an hour ago, ” your bag is in Singapore, you can call up our Singapore office”. When I told him that I was spending a lot of money on overseas calls, his curt response was ” if you want your bag, call up Singapore”.
    Since I bought return Business Class tickets we have no choice but to fly Malaysia on our return. However, this is the last time I will fly MH, cabin crew’s attitude notwithstanding.

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