Happy A380 day! I left for the airport early to enjoy the anticipation of a new Airline/Aircraft/Class combo. The journey to KLIA was made via taxi and I was deposited at the Malaysia Airlines departures area. I entered the terminal where the First Class check in was plainly visible.
There was no wait and formalities were taken care of promptly. The agent was curious and perplexed by my ticket. I guess she couldn't wrap her head around the idea that this American bloke was flying MH to London, connecting to Amsterdam, and using American Airlines miles. She asked, So when do you go to America? You're on an American Airlines ticket. Rather than bore her with my motive of wanting to fly MH first on the A380 before it's gone I just let her know I would be returning home on a couple of days.
After check in passengers descend a level and it was there I located the customs line for premium passengers. I was through quickly and into the terminal. Security check would be done at the gate. The KLIA terminal is a charming one. I get the feeling that Changi was their aspiration when designing the terminal and selecting amenities but the budget wasn't quite in the same place. The heavies seem to depart from the satellite terminal which is a short train journey form the main terminal.
Morning on the train to the satellite terminal.
The Satellite is also a modern and well appointed space. Complete with Changi style garden.
I was very tempted but didn't want to spend the money for an entire box.
I was curious to check out the MH Golden Lounge and keen to have a bite to eat.
After having my boarding pass scanned by the smiling agents at the front of the lounge I was directed to my right. I assume the Business class was to the left.
First impressions were favorable. The entrance was visually grand.
I was greeted by a staff member at the entrance and given a brief tour. I expressed that I was interested in breakfast to start my stay so I was shown to the dining room.
A table with a view. Ramp views at breakfast, a great way to start the day.
I was promptly approached by a server and presented with a menu. Shame on me for neglecting to snap a picture. I also requested a sparking water and a glass of champagne.
To my recollection the menu was heavy on western style breakfast options. I was more interested in a nasi lemak or some sort of Malay flavors, which the small buffet satisfied nicely. A chicken curry and squid curry to accompany the nasi lemak. Just what I was after!
I wouldn't call the service attentive in the dining room but with a little effort I ws able to have water refilled and champagne topped off.
After breakfast I adjourned to the seating area. I was well appointed with great ramp views again. Charging sockets were readily available.
Another buffet was available in this area.
Table service was also available in this area and I was asked on several occasions if there was anything I desired. Eventually I gave in and asked for a sparkling water and a cappuccino. The coffee was served with some biscuits.
The time had come to alight the A380 and begin the journey to London's Heathrow airport. I will note here that this flight is chronically late by +/- 2 hours. It was running about 90 min late on this day. Because, near as I can tell, the airplane flies back and forth to LHR and there is simply not enough time to keep it on schedule or to recover the schedule when there is a delay.
Boarding was underway when I arrived at the gate and the queues were very very long. The combination fo gate security screening and the high capacity aircraft made the situation reflect poorly on MH. I made my way to the head of the queue to see if there was some sort of expedited line for First and/or Business. In fact there was an entirely separate screening area, but it was closed. That's unfortunate and reflects on Malaysia's self fulfilling prophecy of not being willing or able to offer a premium experience to First Class passengers. From my vantage point I also saw that there were two screening lines running down either side of the moving sidewalk and one was significantly shorter than the other, I opted for the shorter one.
Best shot of aircraft I could muster.
I was greeted at the 1L door and shown to my seat by Tina, the flight attendant that would provide most of the service on the flight. I surveyed the cabin and found it to be clean and elegant looking if a bit unspectacular.
I had selected seat 2K.
The semi-enclosed suite was spacious and the materials were all of good quality. The IFE screen was a good size but suffered from a terrible glare when any light was present in the cabin.
Storage space was plentiful.
There were two other passengers in 1D & G. Tina informed me that I was welcome to move to any seats as 2K was nearest to their wet galley where they prepare the meals. I took this into consideration but decided to stay put as I had already unpacked.
You can see the galley right behind 2G.
No alcohol on the ground so I opted for some sparkling water. It was presented with a cool scented towel.
I took a look around the airplane and in fact was offered a tour but declined in that I didn't want ot be in the way of others boarding and storing their belongings.
The atairs leading up to the forward J cabin.
A peek at the J cabin.
FA command center!
Stairs going down.
Pilot rest area.
I returned to my seat and Tina delivered the gift bag with the amenities for the flight.
A look at the IFE screen, flight maps, and glare.
Window view from 2K.
The menu was presented while we were on the ground. I missed a page of the wine list :(
Our delay ended up at around 2 hours when all was said and done. While the announcements did offer an apology I think it was so common that staff don't even think of it as a delay but as the real departure time.
Some shots on climb.
The crew was up early in the climb and the chief steward/purser presented the champagne that was not available until we were airborne. I really like the looks of the stemware for the champagne.
It was served with nuts and a glass of water at my request.
The Comtes was a new wine to me and I really, really enjoyed it. Crisp, well balanced, elegant wine. Maybe it was the vintage or the time and place but I was quite happy. More please.
Shortly after the table was set and an odd parade of dishes began. Looking back I should have insisted this be done in a totally different order but I was along for the ride and just wanted a taste of everything anyway.
First up was the satay, an MH signature dish. Chicken and beef were on offer. I would have preferred a lamb or mutton. The satay was fine but nowhere near the quality or taste of satay I have had in Singapore or Malaysia.
Next up, out of order from the menu I might add, was the odd dish called hot smoked salmon. While the idea of hot smoked salmon isn't odd, I make it myself in my smoker at home, the dish was. It was a clump of salmon salad type spread, 2 prawns (not seared as the menu suggests) and a few pieces of lettuce. Not a memorable dish, in fact comically bad.
The Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2005 was flowing freely as well so that makes up for many shortcomings in the catering…
Next was a creamed pea and leek soup. It was very nice, how could it not be?
Some caviar was served next. Seems to me that the delicate nature of caviar it should be placed nearer to the beginning of the meal. The presentation was visually pleasing but lacking in the details: metal spoon and lack of egg to name a couple. I still very much enjoyed it with the champagne.
For the main I selected the Ayam Panggang Johor. It was a decidedly business class main. I will compliment the flavor and texture of the protein but the vegetables were from a can and terrible.
Throughout the meal I didn't stray from the Comtes as I didn't see anything on the wine list that piqued my interest. After the main I requested a pause before enjoying dessert and cheese. This was happily accommodated.
Dessert time: Chocolate and hazelnut praline with raspberry sauce. Served with a glass of port on suggestion of the flight attendant. A nice balance of richness, acid from the fruit sauce and texture.
Let's check out the cheese: Brie, Danablu, and Edam.
A glass of water and a Chivas 21 Royal Salute to close the proceedings. Overall it was a decidedly average meal for First Class but the presentation, pace of service, and variety were all pleasing.
The bed was made in 2G and I took a solid nap. The bed is very spacious. Effectively any sleeping position can be achieved. The sheets are soft and I slept well for a daytime flight.
In the interest of flight reporting I requested a dish form the snack menu: Noodles in vegetable broth, chicken, prawn, squid balls, and Asian greens. Nothing memorable although it's nice to look at.
Some reading, IFE time, and another nap and we were nearing London.
I ordered the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and it was served in a press. Great presentation.
The arrival meal started with some grilled prawns, vegetables raita and salad.
For the main I happily chose the Penang Asam Laksa. Tina was pleased with my choice and interest in Malay cuisine. We had a nice discussion on katong, asam, sarawak laksas. I was very excited for this dish and it didn't disappoint. It was sour, fishy, and spicy. Is is as good as the Asam Laksa stall near Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang, no way. But it hit the important notes and was fun to have at 30,000 feet.
Almost to London I took an espresso to help me have the energy to transit LHR.
A very direct approach today and no holding. Some shots on arrival.
Malaysian Airlines Golden Satelite Lounge - First Class Section
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
London - LHR
I really enjoyed my time on Malaysia Airlines. I had very tempered expectations based on others' reviews and the general health of the airline. They are struggling financially and had well documented tragic events. Despite all of that they have some lovely, caring and competent staff who really want to make a good experience for their passengers.
The Golden Lounge was spacious and comfortable but lacked the amenities and quality food offerings of competitor's lounge offerings. I experienced attentive service and a clean space with great tarmac views.
The A380 suite is very spacious and comfortable and both a seat and a bed. I think the hard product is competitive.
The food and beverage program, except for the champagne, was more in line with J class than F. I very much appreciate the regional/Malay cuisine and it's a great way to differentiate yourself.
The service was heartfelt and thorough. It struck a perfect balance between formal, familial, and fun. This is a great asset and hopefully the company can leverage this going forward, even if the days of F class service on MH are numbered.
I really hope Christoph Mueller and his team can turn this company around and I am rooting for them. I would not hesitate to fly with them again.
Thank you for reading and happy flying!
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