The airline with the best average rating is Malaysia Airlines with 7.5/10.
The average flight time is 2 hours and 33 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
This will be a buy one get one free flight report! Yes 2 in 1 :)
I've incorporated our return flight on MH2613 back to KUL in this report as it was just more of the same and didn't warrant a separate report.
I've previously briefly recounted our less than wonderful transfer experience at the end of the CGK-KUL report, so I'll highlight it again.
When flying SQ/BR/GA there were agents positioned either on the jetbridge or at the end of it to help people with transfers and tight connections. This seems like a smart idea to avoid holding up otherwise ontime flight and avoiding the dreaded IRROPS for as many people as possible.
MH did absolutely nothing to help us with our connection.
It was fairly tight at 65 minutes so nothing drastic but enough given the requirement to clear immigration transiting from Intl to domestic.
As we left our aircraft we were hoping for some direction to get us where we needed to go. There was nothing, no MH staff anywhere to be seen so as we left the jetbridge and were out into the airport we were left to our own devices.
Now I'm a reasonably experienced traveler and can find my way around any airport, generally I find airports to be well signed and helpful in getting people to where they need to go.
Well I couldn't find the transit immigration or security for the life of me. We walked towards the main part of the terminal from the outer piers and there was nothing. Rather than aimlessly wondering around getting lost I found an airport information desk and asked for help.
I clearly explained we had arrived off an International flight and were transferring to a domestic flight where did we need to go. We were told to go down an escalator to the immigration hall, so we duly did except at the bottom of the escalator I noticed that we were in the main immigration hall and I was looking for signs to transit or for connections. Nothing to be seen. We clearly didn't want to clear immigration here and end up in the arrivals hall so I got into a queue at a side desk which was related to some other immigration matters. Fortunately after explaining our situation the agent there gave us directions to the right place, so back up the escalator we went, walked a bit more and down another escaltor and we were at the immigration area for transit and connecting passengers.
From here on it was smooth sailing and we easily found our gate for the next flight.
Altogether a bit of a fail from airport information. They easily cost us at least 10 minutes which on a super tight connection could have been all we needed to mis-connect. Very disappointing.
Fortunately we arrived at our gate in good time and just prior to the aircraft arriving on stand.
Obviously no time for a lounge visit this time.
Airline: Malaysia Airlines
Flight Number: MH2606
Departure: Kuala Lumpur KUL
Departure Time: 2003
Arrival: Kota Kinabalu BKI
Arrival Time: 2241
Flight Time: 02:38
Travel Date: Thursday September 20th
Class: Business Class
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
After the last MH flight from CGK I was feeling really bad about MH and not looking forward to this flight. Had we not been on such a tight connection I would have definately considered cancelling the rest of this ticket and booking Malindo or AirAsia to BKI.
I certainly had my sights on our return flight in 5 days time as one to change.
The experience was so poor my feelings towards MH had been severely tainted.
As this flight was longer at 2 and a half hours in the dark I was desperately hoping we would get a newer aircraft with IFE.
A quick scan of FR24 showed us our aircraft was 9M-MXL and it was coming in from BKI. I let out a sigh of relief as this was one of their newer aircraft and I knew we would be good.
The aircraft arrived on stand slightly late but nothing drastic and the crew were efficient at turning it around.
Boarding was interestingly marked at 1855 on our boarding pass for a 1955 departure. Now I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure that you can board a 737-800 in way less than an hour!
Boarding began around 1940 and priorities were well respected and we were among the first to board.
Thankfully as we boarded I could see the Boeing Sky Interior and knew this would be a much improved experience over our previous flight.
It's a standard 2-2 recliner seat, although this one at least came with recline and legrest, footrest and lumbar adjustment and was quite comfortable if not exactly the height of luxury. Legroom was very good.
Ahhhh an IFE screen! Thank goodness!
At least this seat wasn't falling apart, and it came with power ports as well. Also the aircraft seemed in much better condition and was nowhere near as filthy as the last one. A much more pleasing and enjoyable experience already.
The crew came by to offer a welcome drink of water or juice off a tray and handed out newspapers. A short while after a very welcome hot towel was received and menus were handed out.
By this stage I was feeling tired as we had been up since 7am and it was already past 8pm soit had been 13 hours of traveling and unfortunately my trip reporting skills hit a rapid decline. Sorry no menu shots!
After pushback only 10 minutes late we were on our way again for the last of 3 flights on this long day.
We made a short taxi to 32R and made a spirited takeoff with a quick turn to the East to head out over the South China Sea. Almost all of this flight would be over water in the dark so there would be nothing to see out of the window, and hence my relief at having an IFE equipped aircraft on this leg.
The service on this flight was a little better than our last one but again it did seem to end pretty much after the dinner service. This seems to be the norm now on MH with little to no care of the cabin once dinner is done.
The dinner service and drinks were done at the same time. As usual at less than 3 hours it was only a choice of soft drinks/coffee/tea/water with no alcohol, even for purchase.
The dinner again wasn't terribly inspiring, but it was edible. Not sure why they need such an enormous plate for bread.
This was some kind of chicken dish if I remember but not entirely sure what it was. The salad was bland and the salad dressing was in a cheap plastic container that wouldn't have looked out of place in a local take out. A bag of peanuts was also handed out.
Drinks on MH are an issue for me. For some reason they are so stingy. On my other flights I've had meals with multiple drinks, like on AC I had at one time champagne, white wine and water on the go. With MH you get one drink with dinner and that's about it.
I don't recall another drinks service after dinner but I can't be certain so I'm not going to be definitve on that.
Overall the service once again was disappointing and the food/drinks nothing more than average
After dinner as I mentioned the trays were taken away and the curtain was pulled and the crew went into hibernation.
I'm sure if the call button was pressed they would have appeared. Also I'm not saying that the service was rude at all, the lady and gentleman who were attending to business class were friendly and smiling but as on my last flight it just seemed like all they wanted to do was the care minimum. Not once did I recall any kind of proactive service or going out of their way.
Example, towards the end of the flight the Business toilet broke and couldn't be flushed. So we were all directed to use the toilet at the back of the airplane. Again things break but it was an irritation that the only other toilet was 38 or so rows behind and there would likely be a long queue. I decided not to bother. But rather than make a PA announcement or come by and mention it to the passengers it was left to us to tell each other as time after time a J Class passenger would go up to the front, be told about the problem and turn around and re-appear from behind the curtain. I only found out because my wife went up and was told.
Again it just kind of smacked of not really caring much and doing only what was required.
I would say that would be my overall impression of MH is that the service now is we will do what we are told we have to provide and absolutely nothing more. It's almost like the service comes off a card with written instructions…………Here's what you have to do and when and that's the extent of it.
Given my memories of MH of the past this is a massive change and very sad to see. I lay the blame for this 100% at the door of the abysmal management of this once proud airline. They need a CEO with a vision and really to decide what MH's place in the market is. Are they trying to be an up-market legacy carrier like SQ/TG etc or are they trying to be a low cost airline like AK/JT. Because at the moment they are neither and they are adrift at sea with no direction or plan.
Anyway enough of my opinions!
The IFE was really good, I liked it a lot and for a 737 was certainly at the better end of what I've seen. This was more like it!
The screen was high resolution and the selection was pretty good with a good choice of movies and TV. Headphones were also handed out, I don't think they were noise cancelling but they did a decent job. Overall the IFE was a highlight and after the last flight a very welcome addition.
As there was nothing to see out, I watched a movie and had a little nap and after 2 and a half hours it was time for approach into beautiful Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, the Malaysian part of Borneo island. I've been here before many years ago and its a lovely place.
The night approach over the sea left little to see until the lights of the city came into sight on our long base leg to Runway 02
We landed just a little behind schedule and were able to get through the airport very quickly as there wasn't a great deal of activity.
Kota Kinabalu is a great little airport and this was my first time in the new revamped terminal. Most things were closed at almost 11pm but one thing I did like was that to get a taxi into the city you go to a booth and get a ticket depending on the type of taxi you want (either cheap and basic or mid range or high end) and you pay a fixed price and get a ticket you give to the driver. I like the fixed price system as it stops people getting ripped off and it stops tout activity. Its possible to pay by card as well and its all taken care of before you get in the taxi.
A quick taxi right in the light traffic and I felt so happy to be back somewhere that I had such fond memories of.
This time we were staying at the Le Meridien in the KK downtown core. Last time I was here it wasn't even built. I've stayed before in Sutera Harbour and at the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru and the hotels here are of a really high standard.
KK and Sabah itself are real gem's and I'm so happy to have had the chance to go back and visit again.
Flightaware and FR24 plots for the flight back to KUL:
Airline: Malaysia Airlines
Flight Number: MH2613
Departure: Kota Kinabalu BKI
Departure Time: 0942
Arrival: Kuala Lumpur KUL
Arrival Time: 1211
Flight Time: 02:26
Travel Date: Monday September 24th
Class: Business Class
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
I've decided not to write a report on our flight back to KL on MH2613 as by then there wasn't much of interest left in MH and it was an early morning departure. MH was just more of the same and there's no point repeating myself a third time.
Infact had Malindo Air had better timings I would have cancelled this and flown with them. Sadly their morning departure was incredibly early at around 0600 and then the next one left me uncomfortable about our connection in KUL as it left around 10am an hour after this one.
It was a shame as I was more than willing to give them a try, but I didn't want to be at the airport at 4am nor did I want to take any risks with our onward flight to TPE which was on a separate ticket.
We had breakfast at the LeMeridien and then got a taxi to the airport. We checked in, passed quickly through security and then immigration (although Sabah is Malaysia it has its own immigration on entry and exit) then we visited the MH Golden Lounge at BKI.
This lounge was pretty basic and didn't have a great deal going for it.
Again there's no "adult beverages" so I was stuck on Coke.
The food buffet was incredibly uninspiring and frankly we just had a couple of drinks, used the free wifi and used the washrooms.
We left for our gate early as there was just nothing to keep us in the lounge.
Fortunately BKI has a great terminal with huge windows overlooking the apron and runway so I got some good spotting in!
FR24 fortunately told me that our aircraft would once again be a newer one and was soon arriving from Sandakan on a domestic leg right on time.
The breakfast options were so awful neither myself or my wife bothered, and I just took a tea.
Again the service while not being unpleasant was just going through the motions. It was all very meh.
What the service was lacking though the views made up for.
Departing Runway 02 at BKI makes for some stunning departure shots
Look how beautiful that sea is!
And here's an overview of the whole KK city with the iconic Mount Kinabalu making an appearance on the left
In flight was pretty neat as well
Mother Nature's IFE can't be beaten.
We arrived in KUL on time with one of the most brutal landing's I've yet experienced. I think its almost unfair to cal it a landing, it was more of a semi controlled slam onto the runway
And so thankfully ended our 3 flights with MH. My harsh assessment of them is that they are a shell of what they used to be and are now one of the worst legacy airlines in Asia.
If you are looking to fly J in this area my advice is to fly Malindo/Lion/Batik Air or look into AirAsia with their angle flat seats on their A330s or get an extra legroom seat on their narrowbodies.
I wouldn't bother with MH. They are cheap and you get what you pay for. I'll be avoiding them in future.
I love Kota Kinabalu, its one of my favourite places.
This was the view from our bedroom. Features the port and fish market of KK
We stayed in the LeMeridien. Had a lovely room and its a very nice hotel with excellent service
While we were there they were adding a new floor to the top of the hotel which would be an executive floor with a new lounge. The construction did not disturb us once, they did a great job of managing it.
One of the things KK is most famous for is its incredible sunsets. I'm not sure I've ever been anywhere so impressive at sunset.
I'll just leave these here. These are raw off my phone and completely unedited except to resize down to get under the 3MB upload limit
I could watch this every night
Those colours, OMG
After the abysmal CGK-KUL flight on MH I was not looking forward at all to this leg and was dreading getting another ancient aircraft with no IFE.
Fortunately this time we got a newer aircraft with the much nicer Boeing Sky Interior and seat back TV's.
This flight was significantly better than the last one although some negative themes carried through to this flight.
Flight was on time, we got safely from A to B and the cabin and seat on this aircraft were massive upgrades over the last one. The seat was comfy and the legroom decent.
Again however the food was average and the drinks selection poor. Service was friendly but disinterested again. MH crew seem to do just the bare minimum and that's it. If you are seeking proactive and attentive service then MH is not for you.
Last flight my tray table was broken, on this flight the J Class toilet broke which meant 1 toilet for 180 or so people and that was right at the back of the aircraft. I'm sensing that MH does just enough maintenance wise to keep their planes airworthy but the inside of the aircraft isn't a huge priority.
Overall this was a much better flight but in context the bar had been set so low that only not flying at all could have been any worse.
Our return flight from BKI-KUL was more of the same. Food so awful we didn't even bother, going through the motions service and just an all around forgettable flight that offered nothing in terms of value for money.
Again compared to their rivals in the full service sector in this part of the World, MH is lagging miles behind. Someone at MH needs to decide where this airline is going and which part of the industry does it want to be in, because right now its a bit of a shambles with no direction and no plan and its really showing in all aspects of its operation.
MH needs strong leadership in the worst way possible.