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We arrived at Kuala Lumpur Airport at around 1:30PM for our 3:20PM flight to Bali.
Kuala Lumpur Airport has a rather impressive exterior, even in the drop-off zone.
Once inside the terminal, we headed towards Malaysia Airlines’ premium check-in, which is partitioned off from the rest of the check-in area with frosted glass and a special entrance, which I find to be a nice touch.
The first class and oneworld Emerald check-in is located inside the premium check-in area and to the left. Malaysia’s only flight with first class anymore is to London Heathrow, so for the most part it’s simply a check-in area for oneworld Emerald members.
The area has a few couches, though isn’t really special aside from that. There was one associate in this check-in area who was assisting another passenger. Within a couple of minutes she motioned us over, and a couple of minutes later we had our boarding passes to Bali.
We proceeded towards international departures, which required taking the escalator down a level to the immigration hall.
There’s a special premium immigration queue, so we were through within a minute, though it didn’t look like the other lines were especially long either.
At that point we had to clear a quick security checkpoint. This wasn’t the final security checkpoint (which is at the individual gates), but rather just a more “basic” check.
At that point we were in the terminal, where I spotted the impressive collection of model airplanes they display right by the departures board.
Our flight was leaving from the pier closest to check in (the “H” gates), but Malaysia only has the regional lounge there. Their international first class lounge (which oneworld Emerald members have access to) is located in the concourse they primarily use for their longhaul international flights (the “C” gates).
The train ride takes a few minutes and has great views of the tarmac, including both the airline’s regional and longhaul operations.
Once we arrived at the other end we turned left and took the elevator up a level, which is where the lounges are located.
Malaysia’s Golden Lounge is located one level above the train system, basically hidden “behind” it.
The lounge reception is shared between the business and first class lounge. At the reception you’ll be directed either left to the business class lounge or right to the first class lounge. Upon presenting our boarding passes we were pointed right.
There’s a long hallway, and then a few stairs and a ramp leading up to the lounge.
I last reviewed the Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge in March 2013, shortly after Malaysia joined oneworld. At the time I had flown their A380 first class from London to Kuala Lumpur and from Kuala Lumpur to London.
On to the actual review. The lounge itself is a decent size, at least given how little traffic it seems to get nowadays. It’s basically just one long rectangle. There’s a seating area right near the entrance, which seems more decorative than anything, as I’ve never seen anyone sit there.
The primary seating in the first class lounge is a few steps below the level at which you walk-in. There’s plenty of seating along the windows, arranged in a comfortable and semi-private way.
Then on the upper level there are single sets of seats, which are less “cosy,” given that you basically feel like you’re sitting in a hallway. Since the lounge never really seems to fill up, though, there’s no reason to sit there.
At the far end of the lounge is a small smoking room, which at least has great tarmac views.
The views throughout the lounge in general are pretty good, though due to the way the roof is designed, you sort of have a limited view vertically.
At the far end of the lounge past the smoking room are the bathrooms, showers, and nap rooms.
The shower rooms are a bit past their prime, though functional.
There are also nap rooms, which are hideous. I’m not sure how else to describe them.
The shared bathrooms are fine as well, though they sort of remind me of what you’d expect from the pool bathroom at a three star central Florida hotel.
The food spread in the lounge is downright underwhelming, even for a business class lounge.
There’s a rather depressing looking espresso machine.
Then there are some cookies and snack mix in jars, along with some finger sandwiches.
Then there’s some fresh fruit, salad, and veggies.
There’s also some juice available.
Below the juice is a fridge with a limited selection of soft drinks.
Service in the lounge is virtually non-existent, in that nobody came by to offer us anything. However, when I went to visit the dining room, there must have been a dozen staff members in the back room just sitting there chatting. When I walked into the dining room they all sort of jumped up and were overly attentive, which made it sort of uncomfortable to take pictures.
Hey Christoph Mueller, if you’re laying off a huge portion of your workforce, the back room of your first class lounge may be the first place to start reassigning roles. 😉
The dining room had a couple of hot dishes on display which looked positively unappetizing, as if they had been sitting there all day untouched (come to think of it, that’s probably the case).
On top of the buffet there was a limited a la carte menu, which read as follows (I had to specifically ask for the menu and wasn’t proactively offered it):
We headed back to the main part of the lounge, where once again there was no server in sight. I had to go to the back room of the dining area to request a drink from them. As far as I know they’re supposed to proactively offer you drinks (I’m not sure why else the lounge would be so heavily staffed), but that wasn’t the case during this visit.
Eventually we were poured champagne, which was a perfectly fine glass of Cattier Brut.
I did like the flutes they served champagne in.
Our flight was scheduled to board at around 2:50PM, so at 2:30PM we left the lounge and headed to our departure gate. This required taking the train back to the main terminal.
From there we turned right towards our departure gate, H6.
There we had to go through another security checkpoint. Since we arrived just a few minutes before departure, we were among the last people through security, and therefore the line was only very short.
There was a flight leaving to Hong Kong from the same “secure area,” as the security checkpoint was shared between two gates.
Once through security we took the escalator down a level to the gate area, which was rather empty.
While the departure board said “boarding” starting at 2:50PM, in reality boarding didn’t start until 3PM, at which point business class and elite members were welcomed to board.
Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge bottom line
This is one of the most underwhelming international first class lounges I’ve been to. By comparison the Malaysia Golden Lounge in London is really nice, while this one is sort of dumpy. It’s not often that outstation lounges are nicer than an airline’s “flagship” lounge.
I realize Malaysia is sort of in a financial situation, but the thing is that the biggest problem with the lounge isn’t even expensive to fix. The seating and everything is fine, but a bit of warm hospitality or proactive service would go a long way here. Also, improving the food spread just a little bit wouldn’t be too costly, but would improve the experience substantially, in my opinion.
Between the bad service and terrible spread, this lounge is underwhelming even as a business class lounge.
Have you visited the Malaysia First Class Lounge Kuala Lumpur? What was your experience like?