The airline with the best average rating is Garuda Indonesia with 8.0/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 52 minutes.More information
After my first experience of flying Business last November, I had got the taste for this whole Premium Cabin thing.
Strangely enough it was a chance comment from a friend that was the opening to the rabbit hole. He mentioned about how he was taking his dad from London to LAX in BA First using Avios.
Now honestly I'd never really had a clue about miles, points etc and how the whole thing worked. Boy did I ever waste a lot of years! I'd always wondered how so many people could afford to pay the insane prices airlines charged for F and J. Little did I realise that many of those people were there for pennies on the dollar.
After diving into the whole scene full blooded I'd unlocked the key to do this on a big scale. So less than a year after starting I was able to put together a trip around Asia all in Business.
The YYZ-ICN-BKK flights cost 75,000 Aeroplan miles. The TPE-YYZ flight also cost 75,000 Aeroplan miles and for reasons I'm not entirely sure I understand I wasn't able to make my multi-city itinerary accept my return flight KUL-TPE-YYZ so I had to book KUL-TPE as a separate leg. This was highly annoying however the blow was softened by a 30% transfer bonus on my SPG points, so that effectively made the flight free in the end.
I used 15,000 BA Avios for the BKK-SIN leg on Cathay which is a crazy good value.
However my terrible luck bit me again on this flight which frankly I booked because it was on the A350-900 and I was yet to fly on one and with the rave reviews it was getting was to be a highlight of the trip for me.
Of course about 2 months before we left ExpertFlyer delivered the brutal news that there had been an aircraft change to an A330-300.
I was gutted especially when I checked EF and found that of the 30 days in September the A330 was operating on only 2 of them. The day after I traveled it was an A350-1000 which would have been even better. I thought long and hard about changing plans to fly a day later but it was just too much hassle. While my wife is nice and understanding even she has limits on how much she will accommodate my avgeekness!
The rest of the flights were cash bookings.
The most expensive flights was the SIN-KUL return on SQ. I originally booked in Y as the cost difference between Y and J was too much. However not flying in J was eating away at me and I started to wonder about how often I would get the chance to fly SQ J again and I buckled and upgraded the flights. It was crazy for a 50 minute flight, but our travel decisions are not always made with the head are they?
It ended up about $775 return.
KLM was about $390 for SIN-DPS, Garuda was about $260, Malaysian CGK-KUL-BKI was $330 and BKI-KUL was $190
*All prices per person in CAD
After a fabulous flight on Garuda one of those flights that you wish was about 6 hours longer it was time to de-board and say goodbye to the wonderful crew and head off into Jakarta airport. Its fair to say CGK hasn't enjoyed the best reputation over the years, so I was a little apprehensive although my mind was more at rest when MAS announced they were moving all their operations to the new T3. That meant we would arrive and depart the same terminal and as we were on separate tickets that would make our lives so much easier given we would have to collect and re-check our bags.
After the great Garuda experience on arrival we made our way up to the departures level and hunted for the MH check in.
There was no wait and we were checked in quickly and our bags checked all the way through to Kota Kinabalu and we were handed boarding passes for both legs. I was far more stressed then normal as we only had a 65 minute connection in KUL, which for veteran frequent fliers is nothing but for me is way beyond my comfort zone. I wasn't sure about booking this connection but as the next flight to BKI wasn't for 2 hours after our flight I figured that worst case scenario MH would rebook us on that flight if we mis-connected. Given CGK's reputation for delays to be honest I was more than prepared for exactly that scenario to play out.
Now before I get too far into this its time for a little history…………..
I first flew MH back in 2000 and 2002 and at that point they were by far my favourite airline. I flew 12 legs with them on the 747-400 and 737-400 all in Economy and they were are an airline that was impossible not to love. Right up there with SQ in my mind. The crews were amazing - just one example here - So on one flight, it was either an LHR-KUL or KUL-LHR leg I had a real problem with the meal choice. I think there was a beef or fish option and being a picky eater the fish was something that I really disliked. When it came my turn I asked for the beef and of course they were out. I said I didn't want the other option and I was OK, I would just go without. I didn't make a fuss. I was frustrated but didn't let them know that. One thing about Brits we don't like making a scene!
So I had resigned myself to 14 hours without a meal but whatever, I really didn't want the other choice so that was that.
Then a while later the purser appeared with a meal tray. He told me that he couldn't see me going all flight without having something so he found a beef business class meal that hadn't been taken and he brought it for me.
I honestly couldn't believe it. I didn't ask for it, it was done completely of their own initiative but it spoke volumes to the kindness and thoughtfulness of MH's service and crew.
So my nostalgic memories of MH were tinged with rose coloured glasses. My favourite airline that had been through the most awful luck imaginable and it was time to fly them again.
Spoiler Alert: Like ex-girl/boyfriends its best to leave happy memories in the past and not try to rekindle an old relationship. By the end of this flight I wished I'd never set foot on the aircraft and was actively dreading our next 2 flights so much that I actually looked into cancelling them and re-booking with Malindo Air.
I don't find it enjoyable writing such negative things, its always much easier to talk about a positive experience but I have to be completely honest about my experience. Now of course opinions are like a**eh**es, everybody has one and like every review this is totally subjective and my opinion only. Some things I found awful someone else may not find a big deal. But this is my perspective as I saw it and experienced it.
Perhaps too my thoughts were influenced by coming off such a fabulous flight with Garuda, but it highlighted the enormous gulf in class between the 2 rivals quite nicely.
CGK airport T3 was actually really nice to use. I think they've done a fabulous job with it. It was light and airy and while busy never felt crowded. It was architecturally impressive and a real feather in the cap for Indonesian aviation. Combined with my feelings about Garuda it really looks as if things have turned the corner from a difficult past.
I had an adventure at immigration. When I arrived in Bali the immigration officer stamped my passport as usual with my tourist visa on arrival, which as a UK citizen was for 30 days from the date stamped in my passport.
The problem was the officer had set his stamp wrong. He had set it a week into the future so the problem was now I was trying to leave Indonesia after 5 days, or in other words 2 days before my passport said I had arrived. I did joke to the the officer at CGK that I wasn't a time traveler but things stalled for a while as I don't think he knew quite what to do. There were some phone calls and then he took a picture of my passport and the stamp on his cell phone. Finally I was stamped back out and allowed to leave. The officer was actually really nice, he seemed to find the whole thing as strange as I did and I'm not convinced anybody knew how to handle this. I'm guessing they got a lot of practice eventually because anyone else that officer in Bali stamped that day would have the same problem!
After that drama it was off to the Saphire Plaza Premium Lounge located right by the MH gates near Gate 5.
This was a really nice lounge and again apologies for the lack of photos.
We were welcomed in and given information about the lounge which I immediately forgot all about as I found seats at the front windows which looked out over the apron and runway so that was me set for 2 hours.
The buffet was actually quite good, although having had such a superb lunch on Garuda I wasn't in need of food. I had a can of coke and spent the time taking photos and cursing heat haze.
There were shower rooms and good sized washrooms. The facilities here seemed excellent and considering this was a Priority Pass 3rd party lounge its quality was for better than I was expecting. I would even say this was actually quite a nice place to spend a few hours.
Sadly my day was about to get a whole lot worse
Before we go any further, I just want to make clear……..Yes these are First World Problems. I'm not saying this is more important than child abuse, poverty, homelessness and the myriad of other problems in the World, but this is a flight review website and if you book business class that comes with a certain expectation that you will get a better experience than you would if you bought a ticket on Spirit…….
<sarcasm>What an interesting cabin</sarcasm>
My first clue that things were not going to be great was when our 737 arrived at the gate still in the old MAS livery. I suspected that meant no Boeing Sky interior and a high probability we were getting one of MH's oldest 737s with no seatback TV's.
My fears were confirmed when we boarded into what can only be described as something that looked like it could have been a viable alternative for Noah had his Ark not had enough room.
What greeted us was an old, tatty cabin that was filthy and looked as if the last cleaning could be measured in months not hours.
I sat down in my seat hoping it would not give out under my weight and of course found no seatback TV. OK I thought its only a 2 hour flight, at least the flight map should be on the drop down screens……….You've probably figured out how that went already.
OK so lets see what features this chair has then shall we?
Ummm, where's the rest of it?
OK well getting comfy was not going to happen, I'll just find a power port and watch something on my phone.
Surprise, surprise there were no power ports, no USB chargers.
Hmmm, what's this? Surely not inflight entertainment? Aha maybe something will show on the drop down screens after all
Except of course, the drop down screens played the safety video and then disappeared for the rest of the flight.
Yup, no headphones provided because there were no screens. They didn't even drop the screens to show the map.
There was literally nothing to do at all. At this point I thought maybe there is wifi and before I finished the thought I realised to myself how stupid that sounded. I did ask the cabin crew just to be sure (never assume!) and she shook her head. I asked is there anything to do on this aircraft, because there is no TV, the shared screens are not being used, no wifi, no power ports, not even music through headphones and she said that there was the inflight magazine? I felt bad because she looked so embarrassed and that wasn't what I was trying to do. Its not her fault that the airline operates flights with aircraft that belong in the last century.
I honestly can't believe this was a 737-800. MH have managed to make a next gen aircraft look worse than the 737 Classic. I swear the old MH 737-400s were better than this. I mean 9M-MLH is only 8 years old! Yet inside it looks like it served in both World Wars……….the level of things that were old, tired and broken was ridiculous. If someone had been trying to absolutely beat a 737-800 to within an inch of its life I don't think they could have done this well.
Legroom…………..The only thing this seat has going for it
Excuse the hideous sight of my legs and feet, it was hot!
So if you get stuck on one of these old aircraft you can look out of the window and any other entertainment you have to provide yourself.
Like playing spot the cabin crew after the meal service, or how much could I have saved if I'd just booked AirAsia and paid for an exit row seat or I wonder how long it is until we can get off this heap of s**t. Fun little games like that
Boarding was a zoo, after the Business passengers boarded it was the usual scrum down the aisle as the economy passengers boarded and of course every 60 seconds or so the line would stop while someone put their bags up in the overhead bins but the push through the door wouldn't stop. Someone stood on my wife's foot and then she got clubbed in the head by someone's bag. What fun.
During this melee the cabin crew attempted some kind of service offering newspapers and drinks.
Of course MH has a policy of no alcohol on flights under 3 hours, so not even a glass of wine with dinner. So cheap.
The PDB I took was water and thereafter we were given a cold towel through the throng of people still crowding the aisle.
That was about it for service highlights. The crew served the meal later in the flight then disappeared behind the curtain.
My impression was that the crew were going through the motions a bit. I guess there is only so much you can take of trying to provide service with management tying one hand behind your back. I've heard that a lot of the senior MH cabin crew have left the airline to cut costs and because of the service reductions. I actually felt bad for the crew it must be so frustrating when your bosses just undercut what you are trying to do.
Airline: Malaysia Airlines
Flight Number: MH720
Departure: Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta CGK
Departure Time: 1549
Arrival: Kuala Lumpur KUL
Arrival Time: 1848
Flight Time: 01:59
Travel Date: Thursday September 20th
Class: Business Class (Allegedly)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
This was the highlight of the flight, a sighting of the Lion Air 747-400. Yet again I swore at myself for not having my camera with me. Stupid, stupid idiot!
Mercifully there was not a long delay at the holding point and we were soon on our way off 25L. I love flying. I can't really remember having negative thoughts about any flight, but I was already eager for this flight to end as soon as possible.
Gallery of taxi shots taken on my GoPro:
1: Pushing back from Gate 5. AirAsia and Saudia already on their way
2: A pair of Garuda 738's on their way into the massive T3
3: One of the T3 Regional ramp areas
4: Yup in the right place!
5: The much older T2 with Garuda, Sriwijaya Air and Etihad visible
Lining up on the "piano keys"
View of the construction of CGK's 3rd runway
You can see here how utterly enormous T3 is. Its a magnificent terminal though
Even though it was a crappy flight, I'm still never happier than when on a plane traveling somewhere. I mean with views like this what's not to love. The magic of flight I don't think will ever leave me. Never, ever take it for granted
The only service was a drinks service that came with dinner all done at once. Most J Class service has a PDB, then a drinks run then food service then a second drinks run does it not?
No prizes for guessing that Mr.Boring here had the grilled beef.
This single page was it for drinks. This is all you get on any MH flight under 3 hours. Underwhelming would be a compliment
Here's where I discovered the next little "quirk" of my seat. Hands up if you guessed broken table
Anyway this was dinner. All served at once on one tray, which isn't unreasonable for a 2 hour flight I suppose. It was tasty thankfully but I would hope on some of the 5+ hour legs they serve something a bit more than that. Otherwise you best grab something to eat in the airport
Its a little difficult to show the broken table. I had to keep one end of the table resting on the opposite arm rest otherwise my tray would have slid off it. In this image there is about a 1 inch gap under the tray in the middle where the table sags with no support. So I had to be very careful pressing too hard on the meal dish
And here is the table in its full broken glory. you can see the table on the right side is significantly lower than the height of the armrest. I had to take this quickly before the tray started its descent towards the floor.
Here's my best shots of the IFE on this flight
I spent the rest of the flight wondering where we were, how much longer we had left to endure and if it was looking good for making our connection (It was yay!)
After the food trays were cleared away that was it. The crew left and were not seen again. No more service, no cold towels not a thing until it was time to check the cabin for our arrival.
Mercifully after just shy of 2 hours we started our approach into KUL. The Sun was starting to set which meant some amazing golden hour views
Not going to lie, could not wait to land and get off this aircraft. Can you spot the AirAsia A320 making a parallel approach on Runway 33?
The best thing about this flight was we made our connection and as far as positives go that was about it.
The crew were dis-interested although its hard to blame them when their bosses seem hell bent on driving this once proud airline into the gutter as fast as they possibly can. The cost cutting, the lack of stability at the CEO and the terrible mis-management of the airline have all come home to roost and I can comfortably say this is one of Asia's worst offerings. There is absolutely no reason to choose MH over AirAsia, Jetstar, Malindo etc. Infact Malindo looks to have a significantly better J product and next time I go back to wonderful Malaysia that's who I will choose to fly with. BA tier points are not worth the equipment lottery that might see you consigned to spend your flight in an aircraft that literally has nothing on it bar seats and lavatories.
For my fare difference from Y to J I got a seat in a 2-2 chair rather than 3-3 and had a decent amount of legroom. I also got a small and average meal. And that was it wasn't it? I can't think of anything else on aircraft that was any different can you?
Its laughable the difference between Garuda and Malaysian, the 2 could not be more different than night and day.
This was an awful experience and I felt that my money had been wasted.
Once we had gotten off the aircraft things didn't get any better. We were on quite a short connection to a domestic flight and of course there were no MH staff anywhere to be seen to guide or offer any information. After wondering aimlessly for a few minutes trying to find the right place we asked at the airport information desk where we had to go. Now maybe he didn't understand me but we were guided to completely the wrong place and the wrong immigration area. Fortunately the agent there gave us the right information and we eventually found the transit area to the domestic side. We lost a good 10-15 minutes though with all of this and if our flight had been late I think we would have been screwed. Of course we didn't see any MH staff anywhere to help with transits or connections, you're left to fend for yourself.
This is an airline that has gone downhill fast, I would advise to think long and hard before choosing MH. If like me you remember their glory days beware, the current incarnation of MH bears no resemblance at all to that airline
An utterly horrible experience from the moment we boarded until the moment we left the ancient relic of an aircraft we were unfortunately stuck on.
The only positive things I can say about this flight was it was on time, the crew were not actively rude and we were still alive after we landed.
For Malaysian to offer this abysmal product and sell it as International Business Class that I paid good money for is a disgrace.
I've flown in Premium Economy that is light years better than this, and frankly Malaysian's Economy product from 16+ years ago was better than this.
In 2018 to sell this as Business Class is shameful. What horrified me even more was that while thankfully our flight was over in under 2 hours this same aircraft showed up later in the month at Taipei while I was spotting there, which is a 5 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. I'm sorry but spending 5 hours on this aircraft would have sent me over the edge. I can't think why anyone would want to inflict such misery on fellow human beings.
There is absolutely nothing competitive about Malaysia Airlines Business Class. They don't serve alcohol on flights under 3 hours, their catering is at best average and there is a chance you will end up on a tatty old dump of an aircraft with nothing to do but look out of the window and the crew seem to have checked out. Forget about 2018 J Class standards MH isn't even in 2008 standards!
With all of the rival airlines in MH's area I cannot think of any reason why anyone would fly with them unless it was to chase cheap BA Tier Points because MH certainly is cheap and for good reason. The product is absolutely horrible and more comparable to AirAsia than Singapore Airlines.
This ticket cost CAD338 each for CGK-KUL-BKI in Business and it was an absolute waste of money. I would have had just as satisfying flight in Economy because other than no middle seat and better legroom that's basically what this flight was.
I won't be looking at MH again for Business Class flying around Asia.