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Malaysia Airlines 853
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – Bali (DPS)
Saturday, November 14
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 2C (Business Class)
My first impression of Malaysia’s 737 was extremely positive. The 737 had the Boeing Sky Interior, with larger than standard bins and cool mood lighting.
The business class cabin consisted of a total of 16 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration.
The economy cabin looked pretty spiffy as well, at least in terms of the finishes. Apparently the seat pitch is just 30″, so I was happy I wasn’t seated there.
Business class featured 42″ of pitch, which is excellent for a regional product. The seats themselves are similar to domestic first class seats in the US, except they have leg rests and recline a bit more. Legroom is probably about 5″ more than you’d get on a flight within the US.
We had selected seats 2A & 2C, adjoining aisle & window seats.
Also waiting at each seat was a small pillow & blanket, certainly more than sufficient for the short flight to Bali.
Like I said above, the legroom was ample, even with having a bag underneath the seat in front of me.
The seat controls simply consisted of two manual levers (for reclining the seat and raising the leg rest), and then the entertainment controller was to the left of the seat, near the center console.
Waiting in the seatback pocket were some over-the-ear headphones, which weren’t very comfortable.
Malaysia seems to staff their 737s pretty impressively, as I spotted at least five flight attendants onboard. The four female crew wore turquoise “Sarong Kebayas” of sorts, much like on Singapore Airlines.
What surprised me most was how young the crew was. Admittedly this was a regional flight, but with Malaysia’s recent layoffs I assumed the most senior crews would stick around, which didn’t seem to be the case. Our entire crew was young and chipper, much to my surprise.
A couple of minutes after we settled in the flight attendant came by to offer us some pre-departure beverages. We both had the signature pink guava juice.
Shortly thereafter we were offered hot towels.
And then a few minutes after that the flight attendant came around to take meal orders. This consisted of her showing us the menu for the flight, but we couldn’t keep it (I awkwardly asked if I could have it for a minute, just so I could take pictures).
Within about 15 minutes boarding was complete, as the plane was quite empty. Six of the 16 business class seats were taken, while economy was less than half full.
At around 3:20PM the very upbeat pilot came on the PA to welcome us aboard and inform us of our flight time of 2hr30min. He promised we’d be pushing from the stand shortly.
Sure enough we commenced our pushback at 3:25PM, at which point the safety video began to play.
Kuala Lumpur Airport is huge, and despite a pretty high speed taxi, it took us about 15 minutes to get to the runway.
On the plus side, the traffic enroute to the runway was interesting, including a Malaysia Cargo 747, as well as a Malaysia Airlines A380.
At 3:40PM we made it to runway 32L, where we were immediately cleared for takeoff.
Our takeoff roll was quick, and due to the position of the runway we had a great view of the terminals as we climbed out.
I quickly turned on the seatback entertainment, and switched to the airshow. Malaysia uses the same technology for their airshow as many other carriers.
About five minutes after takeoff I realized what’s quite possibly the most annoying part of flying Malaysia — they have obnoxious boarding music, and they play it until the seatbelt sign is turned off. It’s one thing to have to listen to elevator music for 15 minutes, but 45 minutes of elevator music? Oy!
Fortunately the seatbelt sign was turned off eight minutes after takeoff, as we were passing through 7,000 feet. At that point the music was turned off and curtain was drawn between the cabin and the galley (while I’m used to curtains on widebody planes, there’s still something I find sort of funny about them on narrowbody planes).
Even though the flight was 2hr30min, the crew seemed focused on getting the meal out as quickly as possible.
The menu read as follows:
And the beverage selection read as follows:
Service began with drinks and packaged peanuts. I had a gin & tonic to drink. I was happy to see they had Bombay Sapphire gin.
Then the entire meal was served on a single tray. I had ordered the fish dish as the main course.
There was a side salad as a starter, which was quite good. I loved the combination of the bean curd, pineapple, and peanut sauce.
Then for the main course I had the deep fried fish, which certainly wasn’t my preferred type of preparation.
Ford had the other option, which didn’t look much more appetizing to me.
There was also a selection from the bread basket. I had a piece of cheese bread.
The little slice of cheesecake for dessert was also quite nice.
Overall I was impressed by the service and unimpressed by the food. The crew was friendly and attentive, though everything being served on one tray was a bit disappointing. Though perhaps the bigger issue was that the main really wasn’t good.
After the meal I had a look at the entertainment selection for the flight. Malaysia has a decent selection of movies and sitcoms. Nothing like you’d get on Emirates or Singapore, but for a 737 I thought it was a pretty good selection.
After realizing there wasn’t anything I really wanted to see, I decided to try and doze off for a bit. I reclined my seat and put the leg rest up, and was able to at least rest for about an hour.
When I woke up the first officer was making a pre-landing announcement, informing us we’d be landing in about 30 minutes. At that point we began our descent.
I paid a quick visit to the lavatory, located at the front left of the cabin. It was the standard size for a 737, though I was impressed that they had a few amenities and even some flowers.
The views on approach were gorgeous, especially as the sun was slowly beginning to set.
15 minutes before landing the seatbelt sign was turned on, at which point the boarding music was turned back on. The crew came back with one more hot towel service before landing.
We ended up touching down at Bali’s Denpasar Airport on runway 27 at 6:25PM.
The sunset as we taxied was stunning.
The airport was busy, as is the norm in the evenings, with plenty of traffic from both Garuda Indonesia, low cost carriers, and other international airlines.
What I found most interesting was the “double parking” which seemed to be going on, whereby one plane parked at the gate, and another parked immediately behind it.
This occurred at several gates.
We pulled into our gate at 6:30PM, right next to a Garuda Indonesia 737.
It had been over two years since I’ve been to Bali, and I hadn’t realized they hugely expanded the airport. While it used to be a dump, it’s actually now a pretty modern airport.
Upon deplaning and bidding the crew farewell we began the super long walk to immigration.
On the plus side, at least the airport itself was nice and air conditioned, so it wasn’t too bad of a walk.
Just before immigration we were greeted by someone who had a sign with our names on them. She was someone who handles the “VIP Immigration” for St. Regis Bali guests, which is a standard offering for guests at the hotel. We were through immigration in a matter of minutes, at which point we were in the beautiful arrivals hall. Like, it wasn’t just beautiful compared to the previously crappy terminal, but was nice in absolute terms.
There we hopped in the St. Regis’ car, for the 20 minute ride to the resort.
St. Regis Bali airport pick-up
Malaysia Airlines Business Class bottom line
Physically I was impressed by Malaysia’s 737. It was spotless, had a vibrant interior, and in business class the legroom and overall comfort were better than I was expecting.
The service on the flight was also good, with a friendly and attentive crew.
The food, however, was a bit underwhelming. Not terribly so, but just not anything that’s worth eating unless you’re really hungry.
Overall I was impressed, especially as this was my first flight on Malaysia in a couple of years. The great plane and good service exceeded my expectations.
If you’ve flown Malaysia business class, what was your experience like?