Review of Malaysia Airlines flight Medan Kuala Lumpur in Business

Airline Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH865
Class Business
Seat 2K
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 01:05
Take-off 03 Nov 18, 16:50
Arrival at 03 Nov 18, 18:55
MH   #41 out of 132 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 179 reviews
Eric V P
By GOLD 561
Published on 16th June 2019
Report #67: MH865 - Lounging across the strait

This will be my report on flying on Malaysia Airlines business class from Medan KNO to Kuala Lumpur KUL, an ultra short-haul international flight within SE Asia, on board their Boeing 737-800.

Here are the 3 parts of the trip:

Routing



Background


I had explained a bit about the mistake fare on my previous review, but here’s a recap: MH’s mistake fare allowed me to do half a day “transit”/day trip at KNO and still fly to KUL at a rock-bottom low fare, so in search for the famed Bolu Meranti and for Medan’s good foods (can’t blame me for that since my entire family believes in traveling for good food as well) I went to KNO first and then take the international segment from there.

I randomly bought the business class ticket for CGK-xKNO-KUL-CGK for the weekend (before MH thought of cancelling the ticket, of course), which in total costed me Rp639.200 (US$42), of which only Rp181.400 (US$12) were the fare and carrier surcharge and the rest were all taxes (so at least I paid something to actually fly :p). In return, I received on all:
- Rp4.800 worth of points on an OTA,
- 64 Asia Miles miles from my credit card,
- 1635 GarudaMiles award miles (1308 + 25% status bonus),
- 4 GarudaMiles segments (earned on this flight; not that I needed them anymore for the year),
- 1185 Avios, and
- Access to up to 5 lounges on 3 airports (including 1 for this flight)
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Departure to KNO and check-in


I happened to arrive just a couple of minutes before the ETD for the 1.30 PM train, so I quickly bought my ticket and from there went on a fast walk to the train.
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The ticket costed me Rp100.000 (~US$6.5), which was expensive but at least provided me with the chance to try one more different airport train.
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I soon reached the platform, which was already empty.
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The train itself was basic though bearable, but keep in mind that there was no USB plugs (unlike the airport train in CGK) so with my nearly empty battery I just needed to suck it up.
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After leaving the airport train station it was time for preliminary security check, which was fast.
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Having done my mobile check-in I didn’t need to proceed to the check-in counter, but in case I needed to it was also queue-free.
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The check-in area featured a couple of branded shops, however they didn’t interest me so ….
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I just proceeded to the security, which was shared for domestic and international flights. There were some queue and no priority security either, so I ended up clearing them in 7 minutes.
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KNO transit area


KNO was arranged in the "standard" terminal layout, that is extending pretty long towards the left and right of the check-in and security area.
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Tucked below the ramp from check-in floor to departure floor (there was no elevator provided, for that matter) was the perpetually quiet movie theatre.
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I also passed by GA's lounge at KNO, which I didn't review since I was arriving at KNO instead of departing from there.
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After my first lounge test I was again transfered by the buggy near to the international security and immigration. Since the main security check proper was shared with those for domestic flights, this time security only involved checking bags for LAG. This kind of handling could be also found in some airports with few international flights like JOG, SOC, and LOP, so it's not unique to KNO.
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2 minutes later I was already in the international section after clearing both security and immigration, which was pretty fast.
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Lounge test #1: Saphire Blue Sky Premier Lounge


As a priority banking customer of an Indonesian bank I received complimentary access to the Saphire Blue Sky Premier Lounge. The lounge is accessible for both international and domestic passengers, though its location may make it inconvenient for international passengers.

Lounge service started from a golf car ride from the previous temporary lounge to the permanent lounge at the far end of the domestic departure area.
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After a couple of minutes of buggy ride, I finally reached the lounge and was let in after showing my boarding pass and credit card. This was quite a new lounge, having been opened only a couple of months prior to this flight.
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Being the sole contract lounge in the domestic departure area (and in a mid-sized Indonesian airport) meant that there were a lot of institutions (including Priority Pass) partnering with the lounge.
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A limited selection of reading materials could be obtained near the reception.
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Right after entering the lounge is the working area, not unlike what you'd usually see on a cafe.
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More ordinary lounge-style seats could be found further in, though the harsh lighting from outside the lounge may make it unappealing for some.
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Dining options started from fried snacks, vegetable salad with peanut chili sauce, and an Indonesian-style soup.
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The main hot buffet itself was limited in spread, but taste-wise was pretty good.
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Basic drinks and some additional nibbles for dessert was available, including .
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Last but not least, a half-decent cut fruit spread.
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The noodle corner was manned with the staff assisting to blanch the noodle.
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There was no barista even on GA's flagship domestic lounge, so I was pleasantly surprised to see one here. Naturally I asked for a cappuccino, which tasted fine.
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Further inside the lounge is a hallway with meeting rooms and the lavatory.
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The lavatory was clean and still looked quite new.
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Shower room wasn't absent on this lounge, and was arranged not unlike the other two Indonesian contract lounges with shower I've visited (Concordia Premier Lounge in SUB and Premier Lounge in DPS - both were international contract lounges, by the way) with a powder room and an actual shower room.
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Lounge test #2: Saphire Mandai International Lounge


As an international business class passenger I received complimentary access to the Saphire Mandai International Lounge, although otherwise my bank also provided me complimentary access.

This dated lounge was the sole lounge available for international business class/elite/Priority Pass customers in the airport. I was let in after showing my boarding pass.
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Unlike the previous lounge, the lounge was set around the dining offerings.
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The problem, though, was that its centrepiece didn't look good with so few items on the hot buffet, not counting the missing item.


Pre-plated meatball soup was on offer.
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A barista would be too expensive, so how about a fridge filled with pudding and bottled sweetened drinks?
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To complement that were some basic drink and snack options.
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I would prefer not to take a shower than to take one here, given the poorly-maintained bathroom.
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Lounge test verdict and departure


In most airports you would see the international business class lounge to be better than the domestic one - in this case, though, the domestic business class lounge beat the international business class lounge so far that while the earlier one could be one of the best airport lounges in Indonesia (given that GA's flagship lounge wasn't that great either), the latter was probably one of the worst international airport lounges around. On overall, if you can access both domestic and international lounges on KNO, go for the domestic one first and skip the international one.

The waiting room wasn't that crowded thanks to the low load for the flight
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The plane for the late afternoon was 9M-MSG (which has nothing to do with food additive), a 5 years old 738.
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Boarding was quick, and with priority enforced I went through the aerobridge to board the plane.
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I reached the plane in no time where the crew working the business class cabin greeted me.
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On board


Flight: MH865
Plane: 9M-MSG
STD/ATD: 16.50/16.51
STA/ATA: 18.55/19.00
Load factor: 38% J (6/16), 39% Y (56/144)
Seat type: Seat type: Recliner business class (window seat)
Details: https://flightaware.com/live/flight/9MMSG/history/20181103/1000Z/WIMM/WMKK

After I was greeted by the two flight attendants serving the business class cabin I walked into the business class cabin, which consisted of 16 seats.
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My seat for this flight.
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MH's newer 738 seats are actually pretty decent despite the rather uninspiring design.
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Despite what I initially expected legroom was pretty decent.
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Contents inside the literature pocket were nothing out of ordinary.
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In addition, an English local newspaper was also already put inside the pocket instead of being offered on what to read.
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Seatback consisted of a screen and literature pocket. The screen also proved to be touch-sensitive, which I appreciated.
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On the centre there is a static armrest - instead, the table was stored in the side armrest near the aisle or window.
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A business class IFE isn't complete without a remote.
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Like most recliners the seat can be manually adjusted.
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USB and AC power plugs were available at the front of the armrest together with the 3-pin business class headphone outlet.
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Me on the seat.
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If only all headrests can extend as far as the ones on KL's economy class, but sadly that's often not the case in business class, which become one of life's largest mysteries.
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The blanket was quite thin, so I used it in lieu of the pillow.
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Service continued with a towel being handed out.
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Even on such a short flight a welcome drink was offered, which was served in MH's normal glass.
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View from my window only consisted of IW's AT7 since there was no other international flight at the moment.
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One of JT's earliest 739, painted in Boeing's 787-style livery.
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MH's new yet shady safety video was shown as we pushed back.
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We quickly made our way to the runway.
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A last view of KNO's terminal before leaving for KUL.
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We waited for QG's 320 before we were cleared for departure.
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Takeoff roll was nothing out of ordinary and we soon climbed above the Deli Serdang regency.
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Is it just me, or the skyline looked as if it had just rained (or about to rain) somewhere?
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After the fasten seatbelt sign was switched of as I tried to get my phone charger from my bag I saw MH's headphone in the luggage bin, which I then took since there was otherwise no headphone provided for this flight (and yes, not even in business). While it did the job for the short hop, I was expecting for one to be provided for all passengers, at least in business class.
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I was soon served with my meal on a tray, which was the seafood meal option.
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The unwrapped meal.
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I had joked to one of my friends before departure that for such a short flight chances are I may get a bread with tuna for the seafood meal option since that's probably the most basic seafood meal availale, and I was somehow right.
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The seafood meal offering for the day consisted of:
Bread: Bun with tuna salad
Dessert: Whole apple
Drink: Water / fruit juices

As much as I often lament on GA's business class foods, the bread provided on this flight was barely fit for even economy class passengers as a snack. The whole apple was also rather cumbersome as a dessert on board, while at the same time the drink wasn't refilled. On overall, the meal and service wasn't fit for a short-haul business class.

As I had my snack we started leaving Sumatera island towards the Malacca strait.
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Having finished my meal, I went to check the lavatory, which as it's usually the case on MH's planes feature Acca Kappa toiletries but otherwise identical to the economy class one.
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Dusk was nearing as we started approaching the peninsular Malaysia.
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It was time to check out the IFE, featuring the standard moving map.
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MH's music selection wasn't top-notch, but based on my benchmark was still better than GA.


In the end, I settled for my usual pick of music.
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The purser announced the insecticide spraying for this flight before another walked along the cabin while spraying insecticide as we descended, which was the first time I had seen it done.
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After the spraying and cabin check the lighting was dimmed and both flight attendants serving the cabin sat at the jumpseats.
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Final approaches to KUL wouldn't be complete without a sighting of the plantation.
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Landing was soon followed by a quick taxi to the taxiway just after the satellite terminal.
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Being on MH's 738 meant that ….
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We were finally parked on some of the better gates in the main terminal, being quite close to the people mover station. The plane parked beside us was part of MH's infamous 9M-ML* series, which I had the displeasure to try on my next flight.
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It was close to Saturday evening after all, so like the rest of the cabin I queued in the aisle for the deplaning.
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After bidding farewell to the crews I made my way to the main terminal, as expected on most arrivals from MH's 738.
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Arrival at KUL and post-arrival trip


Since I arrived at the international/domestic gates I needed to go up to reach the international transit area.
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From there I reached the common transit area, which fortunately wasn't crowded and not too far from the arrival immigration.
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Following a short stroll I went down to the arrival floor for immigration screening.
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The normal immigration queue was quite long (not KLIA2-level long, but still long by main terminal standard), though with my business class ticket I received priority immigration and was cleared in 1 minute.
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After clearing immigration I passed through the duty-free store to get to the luggage claim hall.
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The luggage claim was crowded, but for a weekend trip I only needed my suitcase so that's another thing that I skipped as well.
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I went through the customs check, which was also fast and unlike CGK didn't require me to walk along the entire luggage claim hall.
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Unlike the rather quiet situation inside, it was pretty chaotic outside - not CGK-level, of course, but it's not the most welcoming arrival for sure.
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I made my way to the bus terminal right beside the terminal.
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From there I took a bus to the city centre where I had an appointment with one of my friends.
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See more

Verdict

Malaysia Airlines

5.5/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew4.5
Entertainment/wifi5.5
Meal/catering5.0

Medan - KNO

6.5/10
Efficiency6.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness6.0

Kuala Lumpur - KUL

7.0/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness6.5

Conclusion

Looking on what's on offer from taking this flight, my view is that product-wise this was quite mediocre. Though in fairness the plane still looked quite new and the IFE wasn't that bad, many aspects of the experience didn't match the business class label, from the outdated lounge, crews doing the bare minimum (think of no drink refills or newspapers being put on seats instead of offered individually), to snack service that looked fit for economy class. As much as I don't want to put MH on the wrong side here, GA managed to provide all that MH had and more on an even shorter domestic flight (find my CGK-TKG review on GA's business), so there's some room to improve here.

On overall, I won't repeat this flight except on the same kind of rock-bottom mistake fare and I wanted to visit KNO.

Related

2 Comments

  • Comment 508381 by
    emyrrs 67 Comments

    What a meal service onboard Eric! But glad they deployed the a/c fitted with PTV IFE, last year on April I flew with MH on KNO-KUL-KNO both with old airplane so yeah. But so shocked to see the load isn't that packed? wow!

    • Comment 508437 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 119 Comments

      Hi!

      What a meal service onboard Eric!

      I know, right? I'd still call it a day if I were to get one in economy, but in business, and even more so with a plate?

      ..., last year on April I flew with MH on KNO-KUL-KNO both with old airplane so yeah.

      I had the old plane on KUL-CGK, and even that's on business, so at least you experienced it on shorter flights and in economy.

      But so shocked to see the load isn't that packed?

      It's Saturday late afternoon after all - I wouldn't be surprised to see it being quiet since Kuala Lumpur would fit as a place for weekend getaway. In addition, most people on the mistake fare would pick the direct CGK-KUL flight rather than via KNO.

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