This will be my report on flying on Malaysia Airlines business class from Kuala Lumpur KUL to Bangkok BKK, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia and a part of the 1 month trial of Malaysia's new Airbus A350-900 planes before they are flown to London LHR, replacing their Airbus A380-800. This report will be much longer than usual as not only I am reviewing a new product on board, I will also spend a lot of my waiting time in the lounge, hence the report of all 3 lounges accessible.
Here are the 3 parts of the trip: KUL - BKK on Malaysia's business class: You are here BKK - KUL on Malaysia's business class (+ mid-flight first class review): Read here KUL - JHB on Malaysia AirAsia economy class: Read here
Malaysia has received its first A350-900 (9M-MAB) around the end of November, so a few months earlier they posted the schedule for the plane's trial. The schedule would initially bring the plane between Kuala Lumpur KUL and Penang, Singapore, and Bangkok BKK with a total of 34 flights weekly, allowing the crews to familiarize with the new plane before they fly on the Kuala Lumpur KUL - London LHR route. As the second plane (9M-MAC) arrives, it will also undergo the trial between Kuala Lumpur KUL and Penang and Kota Kinabalu. Interestingly, as they do not sell short-haul first class those seats are also available for selection, which makes the offer appeal even more to me.
While the fares had been quite erratic, I still managed to snag the ticket at RM930 (~US$230) roundtrip for their business class, which given the flights are 2 hours long each way represented an excellent value for peak holiday season.
As I am based in Singapore, I decided to complete the trip by intercity bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and an AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur KUL to Johor Bahru. This is especially an interesting opportunity as after the whole trip is finished I'll only have Firefly left to review on the Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur sector (Malaysia and Malindo were both already reviewed; talk about being the authority for that route :P)
A few weeks ago they suddenly moved everybody who chose the first class seats (including me) back to business class seats. Out of nowhere, around last week they reopened it with a remark that the seats are to be chosen last; nonetheless I still opted for it despite the chance of losing my "throne" business class seats (i.e. the single seat with two side panels; Malaysia's A350 and A330 business class seats are both staggered).
In terms of lounge, Malaysia is also upgrading their lounge in the satellite terminal, which means instead of trying their Golden Lounge in the satellite terminal, I got to try the Malaysia Airports CIP Lounge - together with the Cathay Pacific lounge and their regional Golden Lounge that still amounts to 3 lounges to compare.
I had also done web check-in, which was quite fast.
Trip to Kuala Lumpur KUL and check-in
As I am interested on trying as many different ways as possible to go to Kuala Lumpur KUL (because the RM10 (US$2.5) direct bus trip from KL Sentral can get boring real fast), here is what I did: Singapore – Kuala Lumpur (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan; Kuala Lumpur's intercity bus terminal): International bus Kuala Lumpur (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) – Kuala Lumpur (Taman Tun Dr. Ismail Stn): LRT and MRT Kuala Lumpur (Taman Tun Dr. Ismail Stn) - Kuala Lumpur (SS21/56): Feeder bus Kuala Lumpur (SS21/56) - Kuala Lumpur (Taman Tun Dr. Ismail Stn): Feeder bus Kuala Lumpur (Taman Tun Dr. Ismail Stn) - Kuala Lumpur (Muzium Negara Stn/KL Sentral; integrated transport hub): MRT Kuala Lumpur (KL Sentral) – Salak Tinggi (Salak Tinggi Stn): Airport train Salak Tinggi (Salak Tinggi Stn) – Sepang (KUL): Regional community bus
Since my review of my trip to the airport may be too long for this flight report, I will put a brief review of each mode and hide the rest :P
I departed from my hall in my campus to the pick-up point by bus. Buses in Singapore are quite clean and affordable, with fares between S$0.77 and S$2.02 for basic bus/train trips (fares are counted continuously instead of per ride, therefore allowing transfers without paying new fare)
I also made a stopover to have my nasi lemak (rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf) dinner nearby, which costed me S$4 (US$3).
International bus (City Holidays Express, Singapore to Kuala Lumpur)
I departed from Jurong East at 11.45 PM, ahead of the 11.59 PM scheduled departure time.
The bus was completely full, which helps to expedite the whole process.
For more details of the bus trip, click below.
Bonus : Click here displayhide
The bus is configured in a 1-2 configuration, so I naturally opted for the single seat.
Legroom was fine, as expected.
Seats are reclinable yet uses manual recline. There is also an adjustable legrest.
There are also USB plugs, though the one on my seat didn't work that night.
One thing I hate is that the seat back isn't as high as the one on planes.
The trip itself is nothing memorable except that I somehow was barely able to sleep.
The bus provided a short break. I opted for a burger which was nothing to write about
I had expected to arrive at TBS first, but the bus surprisingly dropped off the majority of the passengers to Berjaya Times Square in downtown first instead.
Around 20 minutes later, I arrived at TBS for a much needed internet access session (I didn't have any Malaysian SIM card with me)
The escalator leading to the terminal.
There are a lot of people sleeping at the terminal quite literally everywhere, which didn't make an especially appealing sight.
LRT and MRT
Kuala Lumpur's LRT system consisted of three different lines. This is the one on the Sri Petaling/Ampang lines, which is pretty narrow.
The MRT is a much more modern heavy rail system, being opened on end 2016.
For more details of the trips on Kuala Lumpur's LRT and MRT, click below.
Bonus : Click here displayhide
TBS is also connected to LRT, commuter train, and airport train stations, with the LRT connected to Sri Petaling Line, the commuter train on Seremban line, and airport trains only for KLIA Transit.
The single trip ticket is in a form of coin-shaped RFID tag.
A view of the platform.
The train itself is rather narrow, which doesn't help when there is a park & ride facility and intercity bus terminal connected to the station.
I then transferred to the MRT at the Maluri station, which was opened as the 2nd installment of the Sungei Buloh - Kajang line less than half a year ago. On my trip to the Maluri station by LRT, a video was shown on the train where PM Najib suggested that Kuala Lumpur's MRT stations are equivalent to Singapore's and better than many other cities' - one doesn't compare > 100 years old systems and a 1 year old system.
The station feels a lot like Singapore's - except that I hate how their signboards' colour scheme look a bit cheap.
The overground stations aren't that bad either.
Their main pain point, however, lies in its low frequency - on peak morning period there are only 15 trains per hour.
The train is rather comfortable, and being a heavy rail service they are more spacious.
TV screens are present, but most of the time they are just showing the new MRT.
Fortunately, it gets just a little bit easier to go to the National Museum from KL Sentral, where instead of walking through the busy roads there are now dedicated walkways.
The walkway involves a lot of escalators, which means slightly less unassisted walking needed.
The linkway ends at KL Sentral's airport train arrival area.
There are feeder buses to destinations around some MRT stations, which costed RM1 (US$.25) each way. I alighted at TTDI (Taman Tun Dr. Ismail) station, which is the closest I could get to the restaurant.
The reason I took the rather long detour was to get the nasi lemak at Village Park Restaurant, which is rather expensive at RM11 (US$2.75) but is served with whole chicken thigh and tasted fantastic - I don't really know how to compare it with the ones in Singapore anymore.
The airport train services aren't that cheap, but is otherwise quite fast. Instead of going straight to KLIA Stn, I went to Salak Tinggi Stn to try the regional bus, which costed me RM16.5 (US$4.1) after self-service discount.
For more details of the trips on Kuala Lumpur's airport/commuter train, click below.
Bonus : Click here displayhide
To save at least 10% on tickets, use the self-service kiosk to buy the ticket and pay by card. I must say that their card reader wasn't good - it failed on my first 2 tries.
The ticket issued by the kiosk consists of thermal paper with a 2D code and booking details.
Gantries at train stations support Touch n Go, 2D code, RFID tickets, and (still debated) Visa payWave.
A view of the train of the day.
The typical configuration consist of 1-1 and 2-2 seats, which can be either facing each other or facing one direction.
Before I exited Salak Tinggi Stn, I took a photo of the outside view, which includes the train depot.
Regional community bus
Buses are provided by the state of Selangor between various destinations, including between Salak Tinggi Stn and KLIA.
There are only very few basic bus services available, but at least it didn't cost a dime to take.
As I arrived at the airport, I noticed that there are free bus services between KLIA and KLIA2 - instead of paying I should consider using it instead, plus it's available 24 hours.
The departure area was surprisingly crowded thanks to group tours.
Even excluding them, due to the holiday season it is still more crowded than usual.
The airport provided The Malaysian Reserve newspaper free of charge.
I then proceeded to Malaysia's premium check-in row and then to the business class counters.
A notice of Malaysia closing their lounge is also present.
The check-in process took me 2 minutes, but it was mainly because I had somehow been reallocated away from the first class seat I chose and instead looked for the second best thing: "throne" business class seats. Afterwards, I was let through.
I then used the self check-in kiosk, just to get the seat availability of the day.
Here is the comparison between the boarding passes printed at the kiosk and counter.
People have been told of the existence of showers at the 4th floor, so here it goes: - Find the elevator to the food court and turn left when the food court is on the right side.
- Turn left and proceed to the first available lavatory.
- The shower is there - it's the same as the one in KLIA2 except that there is a hanger present.
FIDS of the late morning.
Queue for another flight to Bangkok.
I then proceeded to the international departure area.
There were some queue on the immigration, fortunately by virtue of my boarding pass I got to use the queue-free premium immigration counters and I was cleared in 1 minute.
I then undergo the customs check, although that was painless.
Kuala Lumpur KUL transit area
I proceeded to the automatic people mover station for my lounge tests.
I wonder if they have any thought of renewing the people mover?
A view of my trip using the people mover.
Saudia's 787 (?) could be seen during the trip.
Perhaps the mandatory photo to take at the satellite terminal?
While the idea to build a mini-jungle at the airport is nice, they didn't really seem to take much care of it.
A view of the mezzanine floor.
Is RM37 (US$9.25) meal representative of great "value"? Not in Malaysia, of course.
There are signs redirecting to the temporary CIP lounge.
What follows is the lounge test where I will visit all lounges I can visit without any additional charge using just my business class boarding pass.
Lounge test #1: Malaysia Airports CIP Lounge
Being a makeshift lounge not in permanent use by any airline, this lounge is available for Malaysia Airlines passengers for a limited time only thanks to the renovation.
The entrance itself is unassuming.
I passed my boarding pass and passport to the reception staff, and I was good to go.
There are plenty of seats compared with the number of users - in fact, I was the only lounge user that time.
Charging ports and newspapers were also available.
The food selections were unfortunately very paltry. The hot foods consist of mini murtabak which looks like fried tofu, some dhall, and pasta.
Bread and tomato cream soup was aso available, which was rather bland.
Their dim sum selection include only red bean buns and chicken dumplings.
Curry puffs and fishcakes were also available, but why do they use red lamp?
Their dining offerings are so bad they didn't even have any proper plate for guests there.
The cold dishes weren't that appetizing either, at least by Asian standard.
Unlike other lounges, this is a dry lounge, which surely isn't appreciated either.
The view was fine, though it's not like you can't get it on the other lounges.
After I ate, I followed up with the reception staff, who then told me that the lounge is only a temporary one, hence the lack of amenities (including the lack of shower). He also suggested me to visit the other lounges, and also noted that bar service is available on the Golden Lounge proper. After that, I packed my belongings and left the lounge sorely disappointed.
Lounge test #2: Cathay Pacific Lounge
I couldn't really find any recent review of the Cathay Pacific lounge in Kuala Lumpur KUL, so I decided to go there and see it by myself.
The entrance to the lounge looked rather cold.
I proceeded to the lounge, passed my boarding pass and passport, and after the reception staff wrote my details on the visitors list I was then allowed in.
Wi-Fi is provided, which was reasonable.
As the lounge is a bit tight, there is a luggage storage room available.
Newspapers are available for reading.
The seating is divided into several areas, and there are also partitioned areas, which I loved.
There is also a business centre where both Mac and Windows PCs are available.
What I especially love about the partitioned seats is that instead of one plug per seat, they provided two plugs, which is of course very ideal.
There were only a handful of hot dishes available.
A few types of salad is also provided.
To make it faster for me to see their offerings, I would just put a sampling portion of each to the plate - the food is quite decent.
A Cathay Pacific lounge is never complete without its signature noodle offering, and although it wasn't that bad I couldn't get over the fact that it is not offered on a live station.
Cathay's soup offering is pretty much Chinese, and as I was confused I took the lok mei soup, thought of it as dessert due to its barley-like texture (while later on I found that it had meat), and then put ice on it which made it taste horrendous and didn't do justice to the dish - I should try it again after the return flight.
Pastries and sandwiches are also provided.
Alcoholic drinks were provided, although it's a bit limited and they do not provide a complete set of glasses.
Cup noodles and cereal were also available.
Other drinks are put in the fridge.
A coffee machine is available.
2nd round of the dishes test.
The views afforded by the lounge was of the old LCCT, where I arrived at Kuala Lumpur for the first time around 10 years ago - at that point even flying from the main terminal would be an almost impossible dream.
The plane about to bring me to Bangkok BKK could be seen departing to Penang, which sounds like there is going to be some delay.
I then went to the toilet before leaving, and while the design reminded me of a brand, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of shower there.
After I finished having a look at the lounge for the review, I went to the last lounge for test.
Lounge test #3: Malaysia Airlines Regional Golden Lounge
Before I went to the lounge, I had the thought of the lounge going to be way too overcrowded considering the temporary lounge was abysmal.
A signage leads to the lounge, which is located upstairs.
A staff of the lounge was also there at the front.
The reception area looked quite warm, and I was let through soon after.
A walkway then leads to the lounge.
Newspapers and magazines were available.
The lounge offer different kinds of seating throughout the lounge.
Further down the lounge, they have partitioned areas, which consisted of 6 seats each. What I hate, though, is that they offer only 1 AC plug and 4 USB ports for 3 seats, which doesn't sound ideal for working on laptops.
A rather secluded bar and children area are also there.
They even have a nap area with 6 seats/beds, which looked comfortable for a business class lounge.
I started my stay with a glass of mimosa, which unfortunately used a normal sparkling wine as the lounge does not offer champagne.
Here are the hot foods available on the tray different from the temporary lounge:
They also have pasta and tomato cream soup like the one in the temporary lounge, but at least the pasta was better.
Bread and cheese stick are also available, with the bread roll having more varieties here.
Salad is also provided, which tasted fine.
The sandwich options, though, are identical with the one at the temporary lounge, so I didn't bother trying (for what it's worth the lamb burger wasn't good)
Drinks are available from a fridge except for infused tea/water (not photographed).
There are 2 live stations at the lounge: The one facing the main buffet have noodles and pasta on offer.
Typical of Golden Lounge, they offer a rotating menu of laksa among others.
Another live station serves coffee and toasted sandwich, though the sandwich was just toasted live instead of being assembled on the spot.
Here are the foods from the live station - the sandwich was quite disappointing while the Sarawak laksa was quite good (except that I was full at that time; at least I still managed to finish the soup)
I then worked at the lounge until around 1 hour before departure. The lounge attendant there, though, was quite proactive as he not only cleared my dishes but also offered me another refill of drink from the bar, which is appreciated.
I took a shower before I had my lunch, but I put it last as I checked them last on my other visits.
The toilet looked quite nice but only include 2 shower rooms for each sex, which was sorely lacking.
The shower room is also fine, though the concern is more on the water flow and temperature, which was a bit unstable. Amenities are provided on a basket with small body lotion, shampoo, and shower gel from the toilet attendant desk.
Lounge test verdict and departure
Malaysia's temporary CIP lounge is, to say the least, a dump - one know it's a really bad lounge when even the reception staff told that the other lounges are better. I am also quite disappointed with the Cathay Pacific lounge, which was rather underwhelming for the airline (except that they are quite great for working). On the other hand, Malaysia's regional lounge was rather decent although there are still things to improve on, which is expected at a hub.
I then stayed at the Malaysia Airlines Regional Golden Lounge where I worked on my tasks.
A view of the departure floor.
Plane models of airlines operating out of Kuala Lumpur KUL
Since I didn't have anything to look for, I proceeded to the gate.
The security took me 5 minutes, and unfortunately there is no priority security available.
The screen indicated the flight's retimed departure.
I will be flying on 9M-MAB - I also saw 9M-MAC which was on her first day, but it was a bit challenging to take a decent photo of it.
The gate was quite full, and a quick check with the gate staff indicated a load of around 230 persons.
Boarding was called and I was also handed my fast-track immigration card.
I was the first to board, so the flight attendant wasn't even ready.
The flight attendant then welcomed me, checked my boarding pass, and let me through.
Let's see if I can get to sit in the first class seat for the return flight.
First business class cabin.
I then proceeded to the second one, where my seat is.
A pillow and blanket was already there.
A view of the other seats at my left side.
The screen is fixed, with the coat hanger right beside.
The coat hanger when extended.
Couldn't hate the seat control panel more - it responded to my elbow accidentally touching but not when I tried to purposely press it by finger.
A reading lamp and water bottle holder is also conveniently located.
On some seats (including all throne seats) a secured side storage is available, which is very convenient.
The IFE's remote control can be found in my armrest.
The table wasn't especially sturdy and felt a bit on the smaller side.
On my right side is the secondary literature storage, but I mostly used the side table.
The recessed leg area is pretty wide, a significant upgrade from my trip with KLM.
To get a picture on how wide the space afforded, here are 2 photos of me for comparison, one with a selfie and another when the person seated behind me kindly offered to have a photo of me taken.
The flight attendant offered juices for welcome drink (apple, orange, and pink guava), which was served in a tiny glass.
Cold towel was also offered, though it couldn't even beat Singapore's economy class as it was mostly dry.
Newspaper was also distributed.
There are individual air nozzles, which is appreciated as the plane was quite warm.
Row 9 seats are designated as row for people needing bassinets, so a space for it is provided above the screen.
Luckily the IFE's selection is quite wide, with my usual benchmark (classical musics, that is) yielded quite a good result.
Headphones were also distributed, though it was not noise-cancelling (what?) and didn't even work on one side.
A view of the economy class, which seemed quite respectable.
My seat afforded me with 2 windows, which was facing the people mover station.
The flight attendant was serving the other passenger. In the second cabin, out of 14 seats only 4 of them were filled, which resulted in a very personable service throughout the trip.
The fast-track immigration card provided on boarding,
An inflight shopping catalogue is provided, but the magazine seems to be missing.
The safety card, which features a new design.
Last but not least, airsickness bag.
Safety video was also played, but the way they showed the plane was really unworthy of the A350 being the new flagship plane.
The prayer text before departure is also shown as usual.
We soon pushed back to proceed to runway 32R.
Malaysia's vintage livery 737-800 in sight.
Another Malaysia's Oneworld livery plane.
In a few minutes, we reached runway 32R for departure.
Am I the only one thinking A350's engines are rather noisy, or is it because I sat beside it? Nonetheless, the takeoff roll was fast and we soon climbed to the cruising altitude.
There is a downward facing camera, but it seemed unclear if they have any other camera.
The weather was quite good, which means a smooth climb.
After the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off, Wi-Fi services start to be available.
There are 3 plans available, but as this is only for a short trial I opted for the 8MB plan which costed me US$1. Given the short flight, the price seemed to be reasonable for chatting but definitely not ideal for working.
A few minutes later, the flight attendant offered hot lunch.
Following is the menu for the flight: Appetizer: Salad with thousand island dressing Bread: Bread basket Main course: Beef basil with rice, sunny side up egg, and long beans or pasta (I forgot the details of the pasta) Dessert: Chocolate cake with whipped cream Drink: Fruit juice / coffee / tea / water
I opted for the beef with rice, which looked fine but was served to me with the aluminum foil and have it removed right at my table. Plus, they also have the plastic caps still on.
Another flight attendant brought a bread basket to me, and I opted for the garlic bread.
The Malaysia logo is rather subtly displayed, including at the glass.
To start, the salad was generally fine except that the plastic packaging of the dressing sauce made it difficult to scoop the sauce. The bread was unfortunately soggy, but afterwards the main was quite good with the beef quite tender and flavourful. Dessert was again not too pleasant with the cake making me feel as if I am eating whipped cream, which almost concludes my meal.
The meal concluded with peanut service, unlike others which serve peanuts first.
Throughout the flight, the flight attendant took time to talk with us and also frequently checked if we needed anything. I opted for the famous teh tarik, which unfortunately tasted like it's made using prepacked teh tarik powder.
I paid a visit to the toilet, which have Acca Kappa toiletries.
The toilet was quite clean, though it's a bit on the narrower side.
Flight map during the cruise.
I figured out it's a good time to take a nap, so I put it to fully flat mode. I managed to take a nap for a while in some different positions, which made it quite a good sleep.
Soon, we started descending towards Bangkok through some gloomy weather.
In fact, when we pased away from the cloud were looking at no more than 1500 feet away from ground.
The landing went smoothly and at that point the screen went to a static thank you message.
The taxi to the gate was quite long, but that also means a bit more plane spotting.
Our gate was beside Air Astana's plane.
One last view of the cabin before I disembarked.
I bid farewell to the crew and exited the plane.
The aerobridge was decorated with advertisement and has no glass window like in Singapore SIN.
As the glass bridge was heavily tinted, I could not take a last photo of the plane.
MH783 passengers for the flight back to Kuala Lumpur waiting at the gate.
Arrival at Bangkok BKK and post-arrival trip
Arriving at Bangkok BKK is a bit of a nightmare, and between the long walk involved and the industrial yet sterile-looking place it doesn't seem to be a significant leap over Bangkok DMK.
The distance indicator became a dark joke of how massive the airport is.
The exchange counter there provided a very bad rate - move to the airport train station on landside instead to get a much better rate.
There seem to be a separate area for transfer passengers, but as Bangkok is my final destination I can continue.
Health quarantine facility is also available.
The nearest immigration entrance - priority passengers are supposed to walk further to the priority counters.
Entrance to priority counters - the counters saw less queue so I was done in 1 - 2 minutes.
Arrival FIDS of the day.
Some views of the arrival area.
The luggage carousel was almost like the one at Denpasar DPS, except the voices from the bags seemed to be softer.
My luggage was one of the earlier ones to arrive and I was out to the landside 23 minutes after I have disembarked.
I proceeded to the airport train station.
Security checks everywhere?
I went down to the platform to take the train.
The platform once again looked pretty bare like the airport (and also the other train stations in the network)
While the train was crowded, I still somehow managed to get a seat.
I stayed at Bed Station Hostel, which has a very ideal location for me (no train ride needed to the airport train station, close to ferry pier, yet still convenient enough to reach from the shopping district) and have pretty good reviews. The hostel itself is pretty pleasant for the price, so naturally I would recommend it even though it's not a very typical combination after a business class trip.
Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Regional
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Bangkok - BKK
The truly multimodal trip from Singapore to Bangkok seems to be daunting at first, but as I love exploring transport options it turned to be enjoyable (but I still slept at the hostel after the trip I almost forgot dinner). The plane trip from Kuala Lumpur KUL to Bangkok BKK also presented with quite a lot of things to review, so my pros/cons this time would be limited to the plane trip instead of also covering other aspects.
Would I do this trip again? Not really, but it stemmed more from the plane type (Malaysia usually operates its 737-800, which represented a huge downgrade) and that my family would think of me as crazy to undertake such that convoluted trip (even my Singapore to Jakarta via Kuala Lumpur CGK was considered as such), but given the same circumstances I would love to do it again.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable price (MYR930 (US$230) roundtrip) + Rather new aircraft + Very spacious seat and foot cubby (worth mentioning because the space is almost unreal for staggered seat) + Individual air nozzles provision + Reasonably wide IFE options + Very attentive flight attendants + Acceptable food offering
Things that can be improved: - Elbow issues with the main seat control panel - Slightly unstable table - Lack of inflight magazine - Lack of alcoholic beverage options - Powdered teh tarik
Next report: MH A350 short-haul business class on window/aisle seat plus a mid-flight review of the first class.
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