Report #33: MH783 - What's better than a throne bulkhead seat?
This will be my report on flying on Malaysia Airlines business class from Bangkok BKK to Kuala Lumpur KUL, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia, on board their Airbus A350-900. Due to operational changes, this review will feature Malaysia's first class A350 seat - the world's only first class product on A350, though otherwise the service is still business class standard.
Readers beware: this review will be slightly longer than the usual reviews here, but the main highlight for this report would be QR's lounge and the on board experience so you may want to focus on those parts first.
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: Read 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: You are 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 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. For this flight, however, the main agenda was: - Review Qatar's new Premium Lounge (when possible, given the tight schedule), - Compare their A330-300 business class with their A350-900 (both of them share the same business class cross-section so I expect this to be slightly narrower), and - Try their normal ex-BKK catering offerings (I previously ordered seafood meal).
Technically my trip to BKK was the one on TG earlier, so there would be no review on how I went to the airport.
QV's AT7 - the last photo I took before I slept.
QR's 77W passing by 1 1/2 hours later.
I then returned to the check-in floor for my flight before it got too crowded.
However, since MH used row G for the MH783 flight (that is, like the MH783 flight I took a few months before) instead of the other row they usually used, it wouldn't accept early check-in, resulting in the massive queue for economy class.
The business class counter wasn't spared from the queue either.
Check-in was done in 5 minutes. I asked: - How was the load (full, 39J 247Y), - What was the plane type (359; the J capacity would be way more than MH 333 could accommodate), and - Whether it would be possible to get 1 more fast-track pass (yes; I also told her because they ran out of it in KUL)
I then received the boarding pass, which like before was less proper than the one issued in KUL (see the black and white MH logo).
I proceeded to the fast-track security and immigration, which I cleared in ~7 minutes.
Bangkok BKK transit area
Part 1: taken between immigration and entering the Miracle Business Class Lounge
A statue greeted as I exited the immigration.
The 4th floor consisted of mostly high-end shops, which I skipped.
Instead, I went down to the 3rd floor where all the lounges I could visit were.
The arrival immigration was so overcrowded the queue overflowed.
Part 2: taken between exiting the Miracle Lounge and entering the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge
The corridor at the 3rd floor lead to the walkway to the gates.
TG's planes at concourse E.
JL's lounge, which unfortunately still closed.
Signage leading to CX's lounge.
FIDS just before entering QR's lounge - never mind that the gate has opened since as I checked on FR24 the flight would be delayed for a bit.
Lounge test #1: Miracle Business Class Lounge Concourse D
I proceeded to the reception, and after I handed my boarding pass and lounge invitation card I was let in.
Wi-Fi credentials was also provided as I was let in.
Upon entering the lounge the first sight would be the 4 chairs.
The lounge have two areas: dining and normal area.
I had reviewed the lounge's dining offerings in more detail here, so I would just fast forward this part, but if there's anything to take note at it's that the dining offerings were uninspiring.
I then proceeded to the shower room, which was unoccupied.
The shower room was clean and spacious, which I appreciated. The water flow was also not too bad, which is another plus.
The main seating area, which was basic.
Lounge test #2: Cathay Pacific Lounge
The signage for the lounge.
The exterior looked warm, an improvement from their granite exterior on their KUL lounge.
I reached the reception area, where after a quick boarding pass check I was let through.
The Wi-Fi password.
The lounge is divided into several sections.
A variety of seating was available, from the stool ….
All the way to sofa and semi-private seat, which I loved.
The semi-private seat afforded excellent sense of privacy and also has its own table, albeit small.
Each of them also sport an individual reading light.
The best part? Of course the plugs.
Even more seats were available further in, which included seats for spotting.
To start I went to the bar and found the extensive menu.
I ordered the rose sparkling wine, which instead of Chandon was its proper counterpart Moet & Chandon.
The drink was served in proper glass, which was appreciated. The champagne was drinkable, so it's a plus by J lounge standard.
I had saved my appetite for the dining offerings here, which was better than the one at Miracle Lounge.
Condiments were plenty.
I opted for dandan noodle and pork dumpling. Having missed it on my earlier visit, this was a quite good option compared with the rest (even pad thai).
To pair the meal I went for the sparkling wine, which unlike the rose counterpart used Chandon instead.
Despite the compact footprint of self-serve light meals, the options were quite respectable.
I went for the pad thai and pork dumpling again. Like before, the pad thai was on the sweeter side, but this time I found it strange that they put the bean sprouts beside instead of cooked together.
There were a variety of reading materials.
The lounge got more crowded over time, so let's hope for no more meltdown at The Noodle Bar.
A business centre was also available but completely unused.
The views from the lounge also include the gate as well as the rest area within the terminal.
To end the lounge visit I had one of their signature mocktails while waiting for my portable battery to charge for a bit.
Lounge test #3: Qatar Airways Premium Lounge
The lounge's closed door may seem intimidating at first (was the lounge closed?)
The rules were clearly posted beside the door, both in Arabic and English.
I then opened the door and welcomed by two reception staffs. They asked for my boarding pass and afterwards let me in first while they took a picture of my boarding pass and told me they would return it to me later. Also note the FiDS, which only showed QR or QR codeshare flights.
Upon entering the lounge I was greeted by the water decoration.
The lounge offered a view of the landside.
The seating area consist of sofas. At this point my boarding pass was returned by one of the reception staffs. I then asked if I was the first guest for the day, to which she said yes.
A universal power plug and USB power plug was provided for each sofa, which was generous. Another staff staffing the seating area then also came to me and informed that foods and beverages were prohibited in the seating area, but I was invited to go to the dining area should I wish to have some.
The table wasn't especially useful for working as it was small and filled with a pot and a placard.
Another seating area.
There weren't that many magazines.
I then proceeded to the dining area, which was well-appointed.
Instead of bare tables like at other lounges, the table setting resembled much more of a decent hotel's breakfast buffet. As soon as I was seated another staff came and offered me sparkling or still water, to which I opted for the still water - talk about a personalized service.
Even the cutleries were heavy enough and patterned, which was not something to see at ordinary lounges.
I didn't manage to take a photo of the dining area on overall, but here are the foods on the main buffet area.
I had eaten quite a bit on the CX lounge so I decided to take a bit. The food was rather decent, which testified how QR invested quite a bit on the lounge.
The water arrived afterwards, complete with a coaster. A small thing in the grand scheme of things, but it was nonetheless appreciated.
Instead of a fully self-serve salad bar they were plated each in small plates and looked especially appealing.
Arabic-style desserts (not photographed) and normal desserts were on offer.
Ice cream was also available on request. After taking the photo the staff behind the counter asked me whether I would also like some ice cream, to which I opted for chocolate (who can resist an ice cream offer?)
Non-alcoholic drink options. Also note the circular shape of the buffet counter - the foods and beverages were arranged in several circular counters.
Cheese and fruit bar.
There are 4 wines offered, as well as their monthly special cocktail.
For non-drinkers, a selection of Dilmah teas were provided, which unfortunately was a notch down from the TWG tea at CX lounge.
I had some blue cheese as well as one of the Arabic-style desserts, which was delicious. The rock-cold ice cream was also served to my table in an ornate ice cream bowl with saucer and spoon. Also note the QR-style design on both the cheese and dessert plate and saucer.
After finishing some of the ice cream as well as the cheese and dessert I went to the bar for a glass of champagne. I also asked if it was possible to take a photo of the champagne, to which the bar staff offered for me to take a photo of the unopened bottle of champagne instead, and afterwards told me that the champagne would be delivered. The champagne was Pommery Brut Royal, which retailed for US$35.
The bar as well as coffee machine. Also note just how many staffs were there in the lounge facing the guests.
Even more staffs?
The champagne arrived within 2 minutes, again with a coaster.
While waiting for the champagne I visited the lavatory, which was equipped with Rituals toiletries that as I understand was also used on board QR's planes.
The shower room was unfortunately closed, so I was glad I used the one on Miracle earlier.
Afterwards I excused myself and exited the lounge. I also asked about the access policy for the lounge, which as others have also confirmed is only for premium class Oneworld passengers.
Lounge test verdict and departure
Given the three lounges I visited, the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge was by far the best lounge available for MH passengers in BKK and this can easily pass as one of the best outstation lounges in SE Asia. From the high customer-facing staffing (since nobody else entered the lounge until I left, there were close to 10 staffs attending so the service was very prompt and courteous), varied dining options (CX is also good in this regard but more Asian-focused), all the way to the champagne (especially important since MH's BKK-KUL flights are dry), it is no surprise that QR wanted it to be quite exclusive. If you are going for an evening/night/morning flight on a Oneworld carrier in J/F, I would strongly recommend the lounge.
This, however, is not to say that CX's lounge and the Miracle lounge serve no purpose: the Miracle lounge is especially useful to guarantee a pre-flight shower (that is, when QR's lounge is closed) while CX's lounge is useful for working and getting some Asian-style hot meals, so it's still worth doing some lounge hopping in BKK.
I passed in front of CX's lounge, this time without reentering.
I then proceeded to the gate G2.
Another Miracle lounge near the gate.
The plane of the evening, 9M-MAC, a 4 months old 359 and the second example delivered to MH. Unlike the -MAB I rode before, during the trial period she was deployed to PEN and BKI on a daily basis so it was also her first appearance at BKK.
To proceed to the gate I needed to go through the downward ramp.
A slightly better view of the -MAC.
It took me 1 minute to get my boarding pass checked.
The waiting area is fully self-contained with amenities including dedicated lavatory and water fountain.
The plane was being prepared for departure.
Boarding was chaotic as people were waiting around the officer, even for business class.
After ~13 minutes since I had my boarding pass checked boarding commenced and it was a walk down the corridor and aerobridge.
From the corridor I could see CX's 359 parked right beside MH's 359.
There was a bit of queue before entering the plane.
I was welcomed on board and after my boarding pass was checked I was directed to the second aisle.
Upon noticing that I was taking photos the flight attendant on the right aisle decided to pose instead.
I then walked to the second aisle.
My home for the next 2 1/2 hours. A blanket, pillow, and headphone had already been placed.
The seat comes with a large LCD screen.
An ottoman was also present, but it was so small I barely managed to squeeze myself there.
Nonetheless, it was enough to get a decent photo of my actual seat from the front.
A flight attendant offered to take a photo of me in my seat, which of course I obliged to - there's not much other opportunity to fly in F given the current budget.
Welcome drinks was then offered, which as usual consisted of water or juices, which I opted for the pink guava. I also asked why was pink guava juice available despite being ex-KUL exclusive, to which the flight attendant said that there was some spare from the earlier flight.
There is no storage under the ottoman, but at least the legroom was more than enough.
The main control panel include an IFE remote control and seat control. I especially loved that there was an option to have the seat slightly reclined during taxi, take-off, and landing.
The IFE remote control while nothing extraordinary was at least touch-responsive.
The emergency door release button.
Like in J, the F seat use three-point seatbelt. There was also an announcement regarding the three-point seatbelt later on.
A reading light was provided at the suite wall.
Another softer light can be found beside the seatback.
The proper suite door handle, which can only be activated from the outside suite wall.
The table can be found together with one of the storage area, which needed some effort to take, showing that it was not meant to be directly take by the passenger.
On the plus side the table was quite big for a one-person suite.
The wrapped headphone and welcome drink, which I had yet to drink.
A newspaper was soon provided, which provided a better comparison. I also opened the headphone, which unfortunately were the economy class type.
Despite bleeding space, it was possible to put all the goodies from the literature pocket without stacking them.
Hot towel service followed, which was quite good (i.e. not too dry).
The goodies from the literature pocket. Note the promotional pamphlet for the in-flight communication services, which was unavailable when I flew before.
No, I didn't forget the airsickness bag.
The front storage area offered the most space and could easily handle a carry-on bag's weight.
The cover of the rear storage area revealed an even more extensive range of seat adjustments.
A basic vanity mirror is located behind the storage cover.
Typical of a modern long-haul cabin, USB and AC as well as headphone plugs were provided.
Another storage area, including a dedicated place for eyeglasses and water.
As there is no luggage storage above the centre seats, individual air vents are available only at window seats in J and F.
Safety cards on MH planes were laminated, making it more easily collectible.
I was then asked by a flight attendant, - If I am a Malaysian (no), and - Whether I would end my trip in KUL (yes). She then provided me with the fast-track invitation card, which unlike the fast-track card for BKK didn't grant fast-track immigration on its own.
Safety video was played, featuring the strangely depicted 359.
After the safety video MH's signature prayer was shown.
The view consisted of simply CI's 738.
Time to fiddle with the window: windows in F are electronically adjustable.
The window shade first applied the thinner shade, something equivalent to day curtain at hotels.
Afterwards it's the proper shade, which completely blocked the window.
Instead of being put at the seat pocket, menu was distributed before pushback which the flight attendant said was due to the last-minute plane change.
The menu was exactly the same as on the MH782 flight.
Selfie test: the seat clearly provided ample space, which was very appreciated.
When we pushed back, FM's 738 arrived at the gate beside.
JL's 788 and 777 parked, waiting their evening departures.
Another plane just took off.
WE's 320 and a construction for the airport's expansion.
Soon it was our turn for take-off and we departed from runway 19L.
The take-off afforded some views of the terminal.
Watch the video of the take-off here:
Climb was smooth and in a few minutes we reached the South China Sea.
After the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off the mobile network was turned on first, followed by the Wi-Fi later on.
A few minutes later the meal service started from the front. I received the low-fat meal option. I also asked if it was possible to change to the normal meal option, to which the flight attendant refused due to limited meal availability, further noting the full load in J while offered me to wait after the meal service had ended to get the remaining meal, which I refused. I didn't manually opt for LFML, so I suspected it was due to me inquiring with QR about their lounge hours and access rules and therefore I had my meal option synchronized with the preference in my FFP account with them. Regardless, here is the low-fat meal option. They also asked for my drink option, to which I opted for the orange juice.
After the lid was opened.
Soy and nut mix was also distributed.
However, they only served the bread 15 minutes after my meal was served, which by that time I had already finished my meal and did my first lavatory visit.
The menu for low fat meal option for the day was: Appetizer: Smoked salmon salad Bread: Bread basket Main course: Lean fish with baked vegetable medley and potato in tomato sauce Dessert: Chocolate mousse (or ice cream?) with nut Drink: Fruit juice / coffee / tea / water Snack: Soy and nut mix
To start, the smoked salmon salad was an improvement over the previous smoked salmon salad where the salmon was too thick. The main was a bit of a letdown as the fish was on the leaner side and the side dish nothing to write home about, but at least it was edible. MH's garlic bread was as usual quite flavourful but at the same time on the more soggy side, and the dessert left me wondering whether it was mousse or melted ice cream as it was rather airy like ice cream but not cold enough. On overall, this wasn't an especially good meal. and I may be better off having the normal meal.
After I received my meal I decided to play around with the door, which can be closed just by lifting the handle.
Like other Vantage XL seats, the door doesn't fully close - there is a small gap that a finger can fit in.
The door handle.
The proper J cabin, which was packed.
I then visited the J lavatory, which was clean.
As usual, Acca Kappa toiletries were supplied.
The flight attendant serving the second J cabin. Note how the meals are packed ready to serve with the main course covered with aluminum foil.
Dinner with a view?
The glass also subtly bore the MH logo.
Laptop test: the table was big enough for me to put my laptop with sizable space to spare. The seat can be also adjusted forward, which is my preferred working position.
Their moving map, which was decent enough since it was customizable.
I then made my seat into a bed, which was especially comfortable although on the narrower side by F standard.
The unmanned F galley.
I then visited the F lavatory in front of my seat, which was wider than the J lavatory.
Other than that, though, it was also equally bare.
Selfie test, which shows the lavatory's width.
I forgot to take a photo of it on the J lavatory, but the water's temperature is also electronically adjusted.
No handphone in the lavatory?
I then did a galley visit and talked with one of the flight attendants. Here are some things we discussed during the visit: - Whether the 359 had chiller (didn't exactly remember that), - Whether my dessert was mousse or ice cream (mousse, otherwise there would be special chilling instructions for ice cream; I showed the photo of the meal), - What happened with the plane change (too many J pax), - How was the load (J completely full and one or two vacant seats in Y), - What was going on with the delay (traffic at KUL on the earlier sector and the catering issue, from 27J for 333 MH needed to contact the BKK caterer for last-minute 12 extra meals), - He mentioned that he was initially scheduled for another flight with the 738, but somehow had changed so it was his first flight on the 359, - He also agreed that the F seat was inappropriate for the KUL-LHR route the MAC usually goes to, - He noted that my LFML was specially catered as it was flown from KUL to BKK to be served for the flight back, and - I asked him if it would be possible to have a photo with the crews as well (yes)
But first, he wrongly took a blurred selfie of himself.
The more proper photo with the flight attendants. Note the Negaraku lapel pin wore by one of the flight attendants.
Bed test: the bed was very spacious by J standard with some room to wiggle.
We soon descended and some videos were screened.
First was the KLIA arrival/transfer guide.
Afterwards it was Uber ad (note that by that time they had stopped operating in all SE Asian countries except Singapore).
Coming last was the nationalistic-themed Negaraku (English: My Country) video, which is also the theme for the -MAC's livery.
Headphone was also collected, to which I asked on why were the J passengers provided with Y headphone, which the flight attendant said it was due to the short-haul nature of the flight (complete nonsense - they had cut the alcoholic beverages and now premium headphone?)
Later on the in-flight supervisor came to my seat and discussed. Some points of the talk were as follows: - She asked whether I had enjoyed the flight (yes; she must have noticed that I went around taking a lot of photos), - She asked what I was doing (studying) and my course of study (computer science; nothing related with aerospace), - She asked whether I blog (I write reviews, but not on my own blog; I didn't mention about FR but I also mentioned I had positive experiences with their 359 before as well), and - She asked whether I was a plane enthusiast (difficult to say, I'm focused more on products; find me on cabins, not observation deck). She also thanked me for flying with MH and afterwards went for pre-landing check.
The other suite with the seat in take-off position.
Arrival information was then loaded for reference.
The note above the suite door handle.
The view during descent and approach wasn't too bad, but my phone wasn't good enough to capture then well.
My IFE somehow was reset.
Some more views during final approach.
Landing was uneventful and we soon proceeded to gate C36.
JT, BA, and of course MH. On an unrelated side note, when I visited the lounge later I happened to talk to a business traveller who was about to go to LHR by BA; she noted that BA's J felt narrower than BA'S W.
MH's 388 again?
We then reached gate C36 and soon J passengers started deplaning from door 1L.
The forward J cabin.
Last view of the suite.
I bid farewell to the crew and deplaned.
Bonus lounge test: Malaysia Airlines Satellite Golden Lounge
This is not really a planned lounge test, but since I managed to get in I decided to make a brief review of it as well. For the more detailed review of the lounge, read my earlier review from KUL to BKK.
I proceeded to the Golden Lounge and asked if it would be possible to get lounge access on arrival. The reception staff then asked for my boarding pass, typed for a while, and afterwards let me in to the business class lounge.
I proceeded to the J lounge.
My first destination was the bar where I decided to get some mimosa after the dry flight.
The seats were quite full when I visited, but as more evening flight departed the crowd subsided. I mostly worked on the first review for the trip.
Feeling a bit peckish, I decided to go to the noodle bar, which still served Sarawak laksa again.
Supper for the evening.
The main dining area wasn't particularly interesting, which I skipped.
The family room.
I then took a shower, which was quite decent.
Seating by the dining area.
Around 1 hour before my bus departure I left the lounge.
Arrival at KUL and post-arrival trip
After my lounge visit I took the people mover back to the main terminal.
From there it was an escalator ride and a short walk to the immigration counters.
The counters were quiet and I was done in < 1 minute. The staff, who happened to just go out from the booth, asked me if there was something wrong, to which I said that I was just timing.
As I was supposed to take my bag 2 hours ago I proceeded to the lost luggage office to claim my bag.
From there I went to the customs area.
I was let through without scanning and exited in no time.
Now it's clear who won in SE Asia between Grab and Uber.
I then walked to the public area.
I proceeded back to the bus terminal for my trip back to Singapore.
I had kept the priority tag from the earlier flight, so I decided to compare the one issued at BKK and KUL. Note the inconsistency in the font and colour.
Worse, the tag for this flight was sticked so that I couldn't keep it.
After waiting for a while I boarded the bus to Singapore, which of course was a downgrade from MH's F seat but still fine given the fare.
I arrived in Singapore on Monday morning, which meant rush hour period on the crossing to Singapore.
Qatar Airways Premium Lounge
Bangkok - BKK
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Let's get this straight: this is by far not only the best flight for the whole trip, but also the best one throughout my 17 years of flying. There's no denying that MH's F seat is the best J seat in the world (for one, it doesn't really deserve the F designation even the flight attendant said so, but I paid J fare to fly on that F seat). Despite the less than stellar meal and classical musics selection cut, the soft product more than made up for it. In terms of the airports, BKK was nothing to write home about but QR's lounge was indeed a hidden gem, offering excellent product and service for Oneworld premium class passengers. KUL was also pretty efficient and and the land transport connectivity wasn't too bad.
Given the chance and the price point, I would be more than happy to fly with MH on their wide-body fleet in J again.
Some thing done well for the trip: + Reasonable price (MYR738 (US$190) roundtrip) + Excellent QR and decent CX lounges at BKK + First class seat upgrade + Decent IFE + Provision of individual air nozzles + Attentive flight attendants + Lounge access on arrival (this is case by case) + Fast immigration at KUL
Things that can be improved: - Slightly slow fast-track security and immigration at BKK - IFE selection cut - LFML food quality - Lack of alcoholic beverage options - Y class headphone in J
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