ADL Adelaide, Australia to KUL Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia MH136: Scheduled Departure: 08:40 Arrival: 14:55 Distance: 5,689 km -3,535 miles
I have been flying very regularly between Australia and Asia for the last three years. Often these flights have been with Malaysia Airlines (MH) because of their good fares, excellent service and One World connection. Despite the troubles Malaysia Airlines have had, I have kept flying them. Malaysia currently fly from five Australian ports. On this occasion, I chose a flight from the city of Adelaide. This route was first for me.
Malaysia currently fly from five Australian ports. On this occasion, I chose a flight from the city of Adelaide. This route was first for me.
I booked directly through an online travel agent, however, as they were offering a much-reduced price compared with Malaysia directly.
Malaysia’s website does have a very clear booking engine. The airline allows you to see fares over a week for each leg. Once the fare is chosen, you can proceed as one of their frequent flyers or as a guest. One interesting feature is the airline wants to know your Emergency Contact Information up front. It is optional!
Malaysia provides a generous 30kg (66 pounds( of check in luggage, 40kg (88lbs) in Business and 50 (110 lbs) in First.
You can choose your seat(s) whilst booking om the Malaysia site but if you book through an external party, as I did, you cannot choose seats on-line when you book through an agent. This is infuriating.
I called the airline to request seats and add my frequent flyer number. This was a very very experience and if I was new to Malaysia, I would have been very put off. The agent I reached did not seem to know how to help me. She said: “You want to add your Enrich number” [the Malaysia Frequent Flyer program]? “No“, I said, “I want to add my Qantas frequent flyer number”.
After repeating the instruction three times, she put me on hold. She returned, after what felt an indeterminate wait. “Yes“, she said, “I can add your Qantas Enrich number. What is it?” [Note she is still calling it Enrich].
I read out the digits to her and she said “Oh my God”. (That has got be the strangest response to my number!) “I need to put you on hold again“
At this point, i was tempted to hang up and call again but she returned and said Ok I have got it now. your Enrich number is in the system. I said “it is a Qantas Frequent Flyer“. She assured me it was entered as a Qantas number.
Not at all confident she had understood, I then asked about the seats. The agent was unable to give me information on what seats were available for the sectors I was on. I got half way through the process and gave up.
This is not good enough for any airline.
Check in: 8/10
Passenger check-in is located on Level two of Adelaide’s single airport terminal. Malaysia uses check in counters adjacent to the Qantas check in area. The result is a check in area that is a little squishy.
Four agents were handing Malaysia’s check in: one looking after the business class line, one covering internet bookings and two handling economy check in.
The Business Class agent had an Economy Class customer who she had called forward, just prior to my arrival. This passenger’s bag weighed 35kg (Economy limit is 30kg) and had two carry in bags (12kg instead of 7kg and another one weighing 4kg ). Because the check in area is so small, I could hear and see everything. Good for privacy? The agent was explaining over and over again in different ways , why the woman had to reduce her load. It is at times like this when I feel guilty about my generous (and unused ) luggage allowance. I would love to share it but there are the obvious security and logistic issues (she was going to a different onward destination). Maybe there could be an uber for sharing luggage allowances?
Meanwhile the agent handling the internet check in line finished with their customer. His line being empty, he called forward the next customer in the Economy line. Without trying to sound petty, good customer service would suggest that the next customer in Business should go next? They have paid three to six times for the same ticket and are possibly more likely to fly again?
Back at Business Class check in, the agent having found out that the over weight customer was carrying kilos of chocolate, suggested no confectionary was worth excess luggage fees! The customer tried to remonstrate again. The agent told her (more firmly) that she needed to re pack. Finally, the woman moved away with her bags. This had taken about ten minutes.
I complimented the friendly agent on her patience. She said “We get this a lot with this flight. People are often going home with a lot of gifts”.
The agent then discovered that the booking agent (see above) had entered my frequent flyer number in as a Qatar and not Qantas number. Why was I not surprised?
Despite it being 06:30 on a Saturday morning, the security check was very busy with passengers. I passed through in only a few minutes. There are no priority queues at this airport.
MH uses the lovely domestic Qantas club which is where I enjoyed breakfast. The only disappointment about the lounge is that you cannot see activity on the runway and apron area. It is spacious, clean and comfortable with good wi-fi Showers are available.
We were called to the international departures gate at 07:55. This meant exiting the Lounge and proceeding through another security clearance which included a liquids inspection. I was through that in minutes and found myself at the gate area -where there was no seating left.
At 08:10, soon after I arrived at the gate area, boarding began for Business Class passengers. I have no ideas what the actual boarding process was like because I was the second person to proceed to the plane!
We had a very, very warm welcome from the crew. Malaysia airlines staff always seem very grateful that you are flying their airline.
On Board: 10/10
Malaysia Airlines staff worked hard to make me feel at home. They started by presenting Business Class Passengers with a massive selection of newspapers. I collected two Australian and two international newspapers.
I asked for and got a sparkling water. Then came the refreshing towel. How I love my welcome aboard towel! Any airline that gives a towel goes up in my estimation!
On this flight we got two towels, one at the start of the flight and one toward the end. This is in contrast to my recent 787 Thai flight where I seemed to be given a fresh towel every couple of hours!
A headset was waiting for me and a Porsche branded amenity kit. It comes with a hard case which I am now using for my electrical leads. The case contained items from the Acca Kappa “Green Mandarin” toiletries range.
The Cabin Manager stepped back to personally welcome myself and the other four Platinum fliers in the Business Cabin. I do like the touch but am sometimes stuck for something to say. I usually carry candy for the crew which I give to the Cabin Manager at this point.
The Plane: 10/10
Malaysia have two configurations for their 330s. Since 23 September, 2016 they have deployed the 330-300 on the Adelaide route with 27 fully-flat seats in Business Class in an interesting configuration:
Rows 1, 4 and 6 seats are arranged 1-2-1 . Rows 2, 4 and 7 are in 1-2-2. There is no Row 3. The seats are Recaro’s long-range Comfort Line 6510 model with a seat pitch is 60″ and the bed when flat is 75.2″. Seat width is 20″. It felt very roomy! I was in seat 1K, a single seat on the right-hand side of the plane.
262 Economy passengers are in rows 9 to 44 in a 2-4-2 configuration. Seat pitch is an okay 32″ and width is 17.5″.
There is a lavatory in the front of the plane through the Business Class galley and two at the rear of the Business Class Cabin, an average of 9 Business Class passengers per toilet. There are four lavatories in the middle of the economy and one at the rear of the plane. This gives an average of 51 Economy passengers per toilet!
The Business Class lavatories had a set of Acca Kappa sprays, colognes and skin creams available.
Safety Briefing: 7/10
Malaysia uses a recorded video presentation. At four minutes it is quite long. The cabin crew use the time to prep the cabin for take off but stand in position to demonstrate the emergency exits.
This is their A380 safety video but it is pretty identical for the 330.
We departed 16 minutes after schedule, at 08:56 and launched smoothly into a grey Adelaide morning.
We crossed the Australian desert for a couple of hours before leaving the mainland just north of Port Hedland at 10:56 Adelaide time. We had some turbulence in the middle of Australia, over Indonesia and coming into Malaysian airspace.
Malaysia uses an Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) system. Each seat has AC power supply and a USB port. Business Class passengers have a 16″ screen. It is pretty straightforward to use.
Before takeoff, a prayer for the journey is displayed in Arabic and English. I do not believe it was up long enough to properly finish reading it. Many passengers would already have it memorised, I assume.
Like many airlines, despite the vaunted large number of movies, TV shows and games, there was little I actually wanted to see. Most of the TV episodes of the “big shows” eg Modern Family I had already seen on other airlines this month!
Unusually for MH, they did not provide us with an individual menu card. Instead, a member of the cabin crew presented it to us to look at while we chose our main selection. I assume the airline did not load the menu cards?
We were served a breakfast on the way out of Adelaide.
I started with yoghurt and granola, fruit and an Australian brand mixed fruit smoothie.
This was followed by croissant, butter and marmalade.
I chose a Malaysian main course: Nasi Lemak – which I can say was very good. Nasi Lemak consists of rice cooked in coconut milk with Pandan leaves served with anchovies, chilli paste, peanuts and in this case prawns. It rivalled on ground versions. I was impressed.
I was kept plied with sparkling water for the whole flight. My glass was empty once for a few minutes. Midway on the journey, I asked for some crackers and cheese. As noted on my previous Thai flight, what is it with airlines that provide vast slabs of cheese and only a small number of crackers?
Before landing, we were served Malaysia Airline’s renowned signature dish: Satay Sticks. The airline claims it serves 26,000 satay sticks every day to First and Business Class passengers drowned in 200 litres of peanut sauce! Never say no to Satay!
Touchdown was two minutes ahead of schedule and we were very soon at the gate and I was on board the shuttle to the regional terminal within minutes.
My Flight Rating: 86% (4.3 out of 5).
About the Airline: Founded originally in 1937, Malaysia Airlines has had two major restructures. In 1972, Singapore Airlines split off from the company. In 2015, following the disastrous loss of two aircraft in 2014, the airline was re-nationalised and laid off 6000 employees. Today’s Malaysia Airlines flies to 55 destinations in 37 countries, with a fleet of 77 aircraft: Airbus 380, 330 and Boeing 737s.
Skytrax: Skytrax used to place Malaysia Airlines as one of a small number of five-star airlines. This rating was withdrawn and now Skytrax provides no star rating for the carrier. They place them as their 34th best airline. Skytrax customers rate them at 6/10.
Safety Rating: Airline ratings now gives the carrier 5/7. Up to 2014, the airline had possessed an excellent safety record for the previous 67 years.
Frequent Flyer Program: Enrich program. As mentioned, I earned Qantas Frequent Flyer points through the One World alliance. Interestingly despite the ticket being sold as a Business Class ticket, Qantas only gave me the points for a Flexible Economy ticket.
Positives: The Welcome, The plane, The seat, The Satay
Negatives: Booking Agent, Advance seat selection, Eentertainment system content
Would I fly them again? Yes