Report #28: MH782 - Old vs new: staggered seats edition
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, on board their ex-Air Berlin Airbus A330-200. I had reviewed this route before on their A350 (which feature Vantage seats), but this one will still be a full-scale report as there are several key differences, not to mention being the first report for the product.
Here are the 6 parts of the trip (which magically enough could be crammed into 3 days): KUL - BKK on Malaysia A330-200 business class: You are here DMK - CNX on Thai Lion Air 737 MAX 9 economy class: Read here CNX - DMK on Nok Air 737-800 economy class: Read here DMK - HKT on Thai Lion Air A330-300 premium economy class: Read here HKT - BKK on Thai 777-200ER economy class: Read here BKK - KUL on Malaysia A350-900 business/first class: Read here
Malaysia Airlines conducted their travel fair on March 2018, offering business class to Bangkok and back starting from RM788 (US$205). I then further reduced it with online travel agent discount so I managed to only pay RM738 (US$190), which represented a phenomenal value for money with lie-flat bed on throne seats (supposedly) both ways (I chose my flights partly considering the throne seats availability) and access to up to 6 lounges.
Since I had just went to Bangkok on December with Malaysia as well, I planned an almost completely different agenda for this trip (that is, intra-Thailand aviation tour). For this flight, however, the main agenda include: - Review Malaysia's renovated Satellite Golden Lounge, - Try the ex-Air Berlin A330-200 seats, and - Comparing Bangkok BKK's crowd on "normal" days with the holiday period (note that this is still around Songkran period).
Without any notification (since I still retain the same seat number), Malaysia swapped the plane for Friday departures to the A330-200 which was previously used by Air Berlin. I got the seat 4K, which would still be considered one of the best on the plane.
Trip to KUL and check-in
I departed from my campus to the bus departure place using local bus and electric metro train.
As with almost all of my ex-KUL flights, I traveled from Singapore by international bus. This is exactly the same as what I had when I departed from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta on May 2017, except that since I had booked directly with them for my previous trip I got a further 10% discount from the normal fare, bringing it to only S$9 (US$6.8)
Afterwards, I decided to have breakfast again at Village Park Restaurant, the same as what I had before my KUL-BKK trip before returning to KL Sentral by local bus.
Since I wasn't in the mood for a very messy, expensive itinerary just to go to the airport, I decided to just return to KL Sentral and take the usual airport bus. This time, though, the fare has gone up from RM10 (US$2.5) to RM12 (US$3). The seat was rather tight, but at least iit was barely occupied.
I proceeded from the bus terminal to the departure area using the linkway.
The departure area.
The self check-in machine which could finally be also used for Malindo.
Flimsy boarding pass, as usual.
I proceeded to the business class check-in counter, which was rather quiet. The agent didn't ask any question this time, but I asked: - Whether the flight would be full (yes, from morning to evening - this may be the reason the Z subclass now has 3 days minimum stay requirement instead of 2 like what I had for this trip), - Whether the flight was confirmed to be on A332 (yes, 1-2-1 in J)
I then received the boarding pass, which was decent as usual, and priority immigration invitation.
As I had nothing to do at the public area, I proceeded to have my boarding pass checked.
The immigration was quiet that I ended up just using the regular counters (read: reduced walking distance).
Customs check was also fast as usual.
KUL transit area
Free newspapers were available just as I passed the customs check.
I figured out that their A332/A333 would be flying out of the satellite terminal, so I just went up to the first lounge test: Malaysia Airlines Regional Golden Lounge.
Lounge test #1: Malaysia Airlines Regional Golden Lounge
I entered the Golden Lounge, which has been renovated since late last year.
The reception staff asked for my boarding pass, and I was let in afterwards.
There are several kinds of seating available to use.
Wi-Fi password information is strategically located throughout the lounge.
The bar, which would open later at 10 AM (I took a photo of it at 9.40 AM)
The small family area consisted of bean bags and some children toys.
As it was still early, naturally the nap area was also empty.
The hot buffet part of the meal review covers the breakfast offering, which may slightly differ from lunch and dinner.
Dim sum consisted of chicken dumpling and mini red bean bun.
Western breakfast selections included only hash brown, baked beans, and scramble egg, which was mediocre.
The Malaysian option was nasi lemak, which I just had for breakfast earlier.
Breads were available, featuring the usual buns.
Toasters and self-serve coffee machine was also available (though there's barista coffee nearby)
The cold buffet consisted of salad, smoked salmon, and cheese.
Breakfast fruits and beverages were offered.
The noodle bar, which unfortunately happened to have Sarawak laksa again (or was it my bad luck for traveling at the end of the month?)
The pasta bar offerings were rather basic.
Drinks and made-to-order sandwiches on offer were also the same,
Is that the teh tarik served on the business class?
To end my visit, I proceeded to take a shower, with the amenities provided as shown below.
The bathroom was quite sizable and clean, which I appreciated, but the weak point was the water flow, which was on the slower side.
Lounge test #2: Cathay Pacific Lounge
I proceeded to the Cathay Pacific lounge, located at the satellite terminal.
As I entered, I provided my boarding pass and passport and afterwards let in.
A luggage storage room was available since the lounge was on the smaller side.
There were also less seating varieties. The lounge was also quite crowded since a KA flight was about to depart (but why don't they go to the way better MH lounges instead?)
A decent selection of newspapers, including FT, was available.
There was also a business centre with Windows and Mac PCs, which were unused.
Views from the lounge include the 9M-MAC (i.e. Negaraku-livery MH A359) and GA B738.
Wi-Fi and PressReader were available, with the Wi-Fi using the same Wi-Fi password as before.
In terms of the meal options, the main menu dishes were very limited.
The noodle offered was ordinary, but I especially liked the stronger broth used.
Cold meal options were also no less paltry.
I didn't commit the same mistake of putting ice in the soup again, but still the soup was rather bland.
A coffee machine was available.
A basic selection of liquors and wine were also provided.
Non-alcoholic drink options were rather basic.
The light meal and dessert options didn't appeal much to me so I decided to just skip them.
As I have noted before, the provision of 2 AC plugs per passenger in the lounge is very generous, which I appreciated.
After the KA flight boarding was announced the lounge turned so quiet there were barely anybody inside.
To conclude the lounge test I went to the lavatory which was a bit of a mess.
Lounge test #3: Malaysia Airlines Satellite Golden Lounge
The Satellite Golden Lounge is located right above the people mover station.
I then proceeded to the reception, handed my BP and passport, and afterwards let in to the business class section.
Unlike the Regional Golden Lounge, the bar was located before entering the main lounge area.
As I wasn't in the mood for anything fancy, I opted for the mimosa.
The main seating area feature both semi-private and open seats. Naturally, I opted for the semi-private one by the window, which afforded the view of my plane as well as Mahan Air's A310.
Newspapers were also available and easily accessible.
A pair of seats have 2 USB plugs and 1 universal AC plug, which while better than the regional counterpart was still stingy.
Dining options were almost exactly the same as the one at the regional lounge.
One notable difference, though, is the provision of live waffle station.
The view from the lounge consisted of the plane of the day, -MTV, a 11 years old A332, and a KA A333.
The pasta bar was located just beside the main buffet area.
On the other hand, the laksa bar was separated from the rest and had their own Peranakan design.
The Sarawak laksa on offer - I especially liked the flavourful broth, but not so much for the noodle.
A family room was available.
The nap room was also an improvement from the regional lounge with a partition, but otherwise it's the same.
I proceeded for a shower (for review, of course - I just had a shower before).
The bathroom itself was exactly the same with one exception: the water flow, which was significantly improved from the previous one.
Lounge test verdict and departure
Malaysia's renovated Satellite Golden Lounge offer some minor improvements over the regional one, but other than that they were mostly the same so it would be more of a matter of convenience (i.e. use the regional terminal if you fly from the main terminal). With Malaysia's two newly renovated lounges the Cathay Pacific one seem to pale in comparison, yet at the same time it was surprising to see many people still use that lounge were it not for the slightly more Chinese soup offering and number of plugs.
After my final lounge visit, I proceeded to the gate which happened to be at the corner.
Many people had queued for security, which took me in total 7 minutes. Note the lack of priority security.
The flight display of the day.
Boarding pass check was done right after security
An immigration card was also distributed, but he noted that there was no fast-track card available as they ran out of it.
The rather crowded waiting area.
Boarding commenced at ~14.45 with priority enforced.
I then walked through the corridor and then through the aerobridge.
Fortunately there was barely any queue to enter the plane and I was soon in.
I was welcomed by the flight attendant and directed to the aisle to my seat.
The rather crowded aisle (interestingly enough, while L1 and L2 doors were connected to the aerobridge, the boarding process only used L1 door).
Bulkhead seats on this configuration feature open legrest, which is less private.
I then reached my seat, 4K.
A pillow was put on the seat.
On the other hand, the blanket was put on the legrest instead of together with the pillow.
The seatbelt buckle have some minor differences compared with the usual one.
Notice the lack of legrest on the seat, which is typical of the older business class seat.
The only way to stretch without having your feet going all the way up is by using the small cubby hole below.
The large seat number indicator also house two additional lights, marked as spot light and wall light.
The wall light when turned on.
A basic remote control beside the seat was also provided to control the IFE, mostly using trackpad (note that the IFE is way too far from the seat). The lamp button would activate the overhead lamp, so in total there are 3 lamps only for 1 seat.
Speaking of the overhead unit, there was no individual air vent, which didn't help as the cabin was rather warm.
One of the things I really hate from the seat is how the tray table is not adjustable. I usually prefer to have my tray table close enough to me, so I ended up putting my seat forward during dining service.
The IFE screen was pretty bad as only until late during the flight it would show some distorted display.
The seat in front of me had it much worse, though.
As with older business class seats, 3-pronged headphone plugs were used, and a USB plug was also available.
To the front of the aisle access is the AC plug and a rigid safety card holder.
Compared with the Vantage seats, the aisle access is slightly wider at foot level.
The safety card used the new design like the one on A359.
A menu was provided for MH782 and MH783, which was an improvement.
Is there any difference between dinner and all-day dining?
The usual suspects were also available.
Welcome drink was distributed during boarding.
Offered as an ex-KUL exclusive, I opted for the pink guava juice.
Hot towel service was also provided, and this time the towel wasn't too dry, which was yet another improvement.
Reading material was also distributed with English, Chinese, and Malay newspapers available - I opted for the New York Times instead.
Me with the seat's headrest extendable which was barely able to reach my head. Also note how the wall made the seat look (and feel) rather narrow.
I then tried to explore the IFE after it was available to "explore".
However, the sole information provided was the ETA, and even the moving map was not working. When I asked the flight attendant, she said that the IFE would be loaded around next month.
In fact, the IFE was so screwed up they needed to do the demonstration manually, without even any pre-recorded instruction.
Mahan Air's A310 was there, but otherwise difficult to take a photo of due to the rain.
Nonetheless, the weather got better and we soon proceeded our takeoff roll.
During boarding the captain suggested that the fasten seatbelt sign may be on for much longer due to weather, but it was not the case so I could test the bed before mealtime. I am only 5' 10 1/2" / 179 cm, but the bed already felt very much like I was in a coffin with both my head and leg touching both ends of the seat.
Meal service commence ~25 minutes after takeoff.
The fight attendant offered me the meal options, so since it's a Malaysian airline I opted for the beef rendang, which wasn't crispy (that is, if you've heard of the fiasco in the UK against a Malaysian candidate). As usual, the aluminum foil on the main course was removed after the meal was served in front of me.
The food when the lids were opened.
Following is the meal menu for the flight: Appetizer: Salad with lime, chili, and lemongrass vinaigrette Bread: Bread basket Main course: Beef rendang (Indonesian/Malaysian style slow-cooked beef) with rice and sayur lodeh (vegetables cooked with coconut milk), roast chicken in tomato sauce with potatoes and green beans, or grilled red snapper in hot chili bean sauce with rice and vegetables Dessert: Pineapple and black pepper upside down cake with vanilla sauce Drink: Fruit juice / soft drink / coffee / tea / hot malt drink / water
To start, the salad was fine. For the bread I opted for the garlic bread again, which was rather soggy but still flavourful. The beef rendang was especially good as it was tender, flavourful, and not turned crispy, and the rice was also not dry thanks to the cabbage leaf covering it. On the other hand, there are some issues with the meal: the oil from the beef rendang had seeped through the rice making it look slightly messy, the cabbage leaf covering the rice was a bit sour, and the vegetable could have a bit of extra coconut milk (either that, or the Malaysian version is rather light on coconut milk). If anything, the dessert was fine. On overall, it was an acceptable short-haul business class meal.
After the meal, like on the previous flight I went for the teh tarik again.
Before I went to the galley and lavatory visit I decided to put my seat in bed mode (apologies that I couldn't fully capture the bed in one go).
I then visited the lavatory, which was quite clean.
Acca Kappa toiletries were provided.
I then did a galley visit and talked with Mr. Azril, one of the flight attendants. Here are some things we discussed during the visit: - I asked whether the flight was on -MTU or -MTV (-MTV; I asked since I viewed it from far away at the lounge), - I told him of the -MTU which had some severe delays on her flights to/from BKK two days before (he asked me whether I was following some updates on air travel; of course - there are reasons for each leg of the trip), - I asked whether there are an differences between servicing passengers on MH's A333 compared with the ex-AB MH A332 (mostly the same, but some notable differences include the lack of chiller and the different business class seat configuration), - I let him know of the IFE only showing the time to destination and asked him for more details on the IFE issue (ex-AB A332 planes would have the IFE contents loaded on the next month since they had just started service with MH; I also saw the crew IFE control screen, which have the time to destination as well), - I asked him if it would be possible to have a photo with the crews as well (yes, but he suggested not to make it viral; even if I post it on FR I would still tell the truth anyway, but the fact that the hard product on ex-AB A332 suck is still something to note on)
The AB-branded galley equipment and plastic bag previously containing ice to chill several items in lieu of the chiller.
A view of the (almost) full economy class front the front and behind. Note the equally screwed up IFE.
Afterwards, I decided to move my photos from my handphone to my laptop, especially because I have 5 more flights to review (and since this is an aviation tour ….)
The cruise itself was pretty uneventful.
Descent was also uneventful thanks to the clear weather.
The final approach would bring us to land at runway 18R.
Landing was uneventful and we soon proceeded to the gate F6
One view of the galley.
I then bid farewell to the crew and left the plane.
Arrival at BKK and post-arrival trip
After reaching the arrivals floor I proceeded to endure the long walk to the immigration.
I thought that since I was flying on business class I could just use the fast-track immigration.
However, when I asked the officer before joining the queue I ended up being ineligible by boarding pass alone so I went to the normal one, which took me 20 minutes.
After clearing the immigration I went to the luggage claim area.
I didn't exactly know whether my bag had gone one or more rounds on the carousel, but when I reached there I could immediately see my bag - 34 minutes after I deplaned.
My bag with the priority tag.
I was let through at the customs.
BKK was pretty hectic as usual.
I went for dinner and afterwards just go to my hostel to get some rest, which I didn't as I needed to work on this report (I couldn't procrastinate too much since the next 2 days will consist of flights marathon)
Malaysian Airlines Golden Satelite Lounge - Business Class Section
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Bangkok - BKK
MH ordering quite some ex-AB A332 may seem to be a bold move to "provide more flat beds on mid-haul flights", but the product is nonetheless far inferior to the A333 it would be barely any better than the B738 it replaces. It wasn't particularly good as well to have the IFE still having some problems when the planes started to be deployed - let's hope that the issues would be ironed out as soon as they start putting more planes. The on-ground offerings had slightly improved with the new Golden Lounge opened, but more importantly is that the crew still remained good as ever (so that questioning incident was indeed localized).
Would I fly with them again? I'll wait after the next few reviews whether they have somehow improved the A332, but other than that given I have the option to fly the A333 I would still prefer to fly on those planes.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable price (MYR738 (US$190) roundtrip) + Decent MH lounges at KUL + Good privacy on window seats + Attentive flight attendants + Decent food offering
Things that can be improved: - Extremely narrow seats (so narrow it feels like coffin) - Complete lack of IFE - Lack of individual air nozzles - Lack of BKK fast track card at KUL - Lack of alcoholic beverage options - Slow immigration at BKK
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