KUL - CGK on Malaysia Airlines 737-800 business classYou are here
I had explained a lot about the mistake fare on my first review on the series, but here’s a recap: MH’s mistake fare was for CGK-KUL route ex-CGK, so I opted to try MH’s direct business class back to CGK.
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 3 for this flight)
Trip to KUL and check-in
Before I went to KUL, I went for some biryani for my lunch since I didn't eat much at the free breakfast by the hostel (plus, food downtown is far more varied than the one at the lounge).
Following that, I took the usual airport bus from KL Sentral, which costed me RM12 (~US$3) for the ~50 minutes trip.
As usual, I was dropped at the airport bus terminal.
The minimarket which once adorned the corridor towards the main terminal was since gone.
After reaching the check-in area I went to MH's premium check-in row, also shared by OD
The business class/Oneworld Sapphire counters were empty, so I was checked in no time.
Flying from KUL main terminal meant less queue on the immigration, and with my business class ticket I got through even faster thanks to the priority immigration.
After that is the customs check - despite the queue and its rather confusing flow (unlike proper security check, only bags needed to be put into the machine while everything else (including phone and belt) can still go through the metal detector) it was quite fast as well.
KUL transit area
2 out of 3 lounges accessible to me with my boarding pass were at the satellite terminal, so I went there using the people mover.
After the short ride I arrived there ready to do some quick lounge-hopping (I shouldn't have arrived at the airport 2 hours to the STD if I were to visit 3 lounges and still hope to get some shower).
FIDS of the late afternoon.
Lounge test #1: Cathay Pacific Lounge
As an international Oneworld business class passenger I received complimentary access to the Cathay Pacific Lounge.
Though MH had two flagship lounges in KUL, CX somehow still decided to get their own at KUL.
I went to the reception and was allowed to enter after showing my boarding pass.
The lounge was understandably small, but fortunately felt incredibly private, at least when there was no CX/KA flight around.
Seating in this lounge mainly consisted of sofas.
Some additional seats could be found in the empty yet well-equipped business centre.
Extensive periodical options were provided inside.
Wi-Fi used the same password as on CX's other lounges, which was as usual fast.
Taste-wise the food was your typical airport lounge grub, while the options were just fine as well. It's not as spectacularly bad as TKG's lounges or CI's lounge nearby, but being a small lounge it couldn't afford to have too many options either.
Drink options were also nothing especially compelling, but otherwise pretty good for SE Asia business lounge standard (save for BKK - that's simply on another level).
Lavatory was spot-clean, and like most of CX's outstation lounges didn't have a shower.
Lounge test #2: Malaysia Airlines Satellite Golden Lounge
As an international business class passenger I received complimentary access to the Malaysia Airlines Satellite Golden Lounge, which is also accessible even for flights departing from the main building.
If you have read my reviews, you'll find that together with GA's business class lounge in CGK this was one of my most visited lounges, and that's for two reasons: the lounge was quite decent, and KUL offered irresistibly cheap fares for flights on MH and KL.
MH's business class lounge in the satellite terminal was located right above the people mover station in the terminal.
From there I went to the reception and was directed to the business class section after showing my boarding pass.
The business class section started with a corridor leading to the bar and the main lounge proper.
Of course, no visit to this lounge was complete without a visit to the bar, the only place in the business class lounge where alcohol was served.
This time champagne was offered, which was de Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut. What's better, though, than a drink? A drink with a view, of course.
Having visited the lounge for the fifth time in the previous 12 months, this layout became all too familiar for me.
As usual, reading materials could be found at a couple of places in the lounge.
I went for the seats by the window, which offered good privacy and views of the southern side of the concourse.
A noodle station was tucked to the right side of the business class lounge entrance.
Lunch for me started with sampling their laksa. Being the unlucky person I was, the laksa was again sarawak laksa.
The laksa was as usual fine for airport lounge food standard, though its presentation was appaling compared to other servings I had.
There was a barista in the lounge offering espresso-based drinks, which I didn't try this time.
Soup as well as bread items were put together in the same section.
The main hot buffet had already changed from the usually just fine lunch menu to the dismal afternoon snack menu
Waffle and ice cream were apparently not a hit in the lounge.
Cold meal options also include salad and fruit cuts - apart from dinner, though, smoked salmon was nowhere to be seen.
A family room was set right after the food display.
MH's perpetually quiet nap room.
As I went towards the bathroom, I realized I only had less than an hour left to departure, so I skipped the shower part here and had one at the regional lounge.
Lounge test #3: Malaysia Airlines Regional Golden Lounge
As an international business class passenger I received complimentary access to the Malaysia Airlines Regional Golden Lounge.
This lounge was situated near the people mover station at the main terminal. I was let in after I had my boarding pass checked.
Reading materials were also provided in a few places in the lounge.
The lounge was almost like the one on the satellite terminal, although understandably less private thanks to the smaller footprint.
In fact, this lounge even also had a nap room and a family room despite its regional designation.
If anything, one of the things I loved about this lounge compared to the one in the satellite terminal was that the bar was located inside the lounge proper.
Food-wise, both lounges were exactly the same so I didn't get to nibble on anything.
Instead, I just took a shower, which came with a full bathroom like in the satellite terminal.
Lounge test verdict and departure
Apart from the more spacious lounge and darker nap rooms, MH's regional business class lounge offered exactly the same offering as the one in the satellite terminal for Oneworld business class or Oneworld Sapphire members so there isn't that much incentive to go there. However, this is not to say that one should avoid that terminal altogether - if you're looking for a lounge with tons of plugs, very private seats, and a couple of drinks not offered in MH's bar in the lounge, going to CX's lounge can still be considered.
After I refreshed myself in the lounge, I went to the gate nearby.
The plane for the day was 9M-MLF, an 8 years old 738.
The livery made me wonder, though: is this really what's dreaded by MH flyers, not unlike GA's PK-GE*?
The queue for the security wasn't long, it was extremely long given the almost full flight (remember, this was thanks to the mistake fare after all - who could resist Rp38.300 (~US$2.6) one-way flight on CGK-KUL with 30kg baggage and hot meal?)
Security took a while even after I joined the queue for the NKG-bound flight as there were only 2 shared checkpoints opened for flights to NKG and CGK.
After the 10 minutes queue I finally could go to the gate.
The gate seemed unusually quiet - but why?
Boarding was already well underway, and without further ado I was cleared to board.
We boarded using the right aerobridge,
The plane about to depart to NKG was the vintage-themed 738, but nonetheless wasn't the old(-looking) kind I was about to board.
Boarding was done through the aerobridge - there was no queue since most passengers queuing at the moment were at security anyway.
A glance of the nosewheel confirmed the plane registration.
In no time I reached the plane to start the last part of this series.
After I was welcomed by Pamela and Aziz, the two flight attendants serving the business class cabin, I went into the business class cabin. From my first impression, MH had successfully made even this still rather new plane look like an ancient contraption, on an equal if not worse footing than GA's infamous PK-GE* series.
The dreaded seat of the day.
Legroom was still half-decent like the rest of the fleet.
Unfortunately, that's where the good thing ends - there was no entertainment at all onboard.
There was not even a footrest, which makes it on par with a glorified economy class.
When I said no entertainment, I mean not even an audio entertainment.
The periodicals on offer for the flight was a weekly newspaper from the seat pocket and daily newspaper distributed by the cabin crew.
Otherwise, contents were exactly the same as what one would expect in economy class.
There was a storage available under the centre armrest, which unfortunately was useless since it's quite deep yet narrow.
Me on the seat.
Even the headrest sucked: I only managed to bring it up ever so slightly.
Service started with a welcome drink.
Being an ex-KUL flight, I went for the guava juice.
MH's old safety video was shown from the overhead screen, the only time it was actually used throughout the flight.
It was time to depart and we started our pushback and taxi to the runway.
Take-off was uneventful, and with that the scenery changed to lush plantations.
As we climbed we turned to the west, which afforded a view of the airport.
Where does the rainbow end? Not somewhere with a pot of gold, of course.
Our flight would mainly be over the Malacca strait, one of the busiest straits in the world with oil tankers, cargo ships, and of course ….
Cruise ship - starting from Singpaore along the Malacca strait cruise ships can visit Malacca, Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang, and as far north as Phuket.
The meal was served with the lids still on.
Pamela then offered me a selection of bread from the bread basket, and just like all my other flights on MH I opted for garlic bread.
Midway during my meal, I was offered an additional piece of bread as I had eaten the garlic bread before I finished the rest of the meal.
The dinner service for this flight consisted of: Appetizer: Salad with chili paste mayonnaise Bread: Bread basket Main course: Honey roasted chicken thigh with rice and stir-fried vegetables and fermented soybean cake Dessert: Orange cake Drink: Water / fruit juice / tea / coffee / soft drink
To start with the meal was the appetizer, which tasted ordinary and without enough spicy taste from the chili paste. I opted for the chicken with rice option, which was pretty good (not to mention that they used chicken thigh instead of breast, which made it all more flavourful) despite the ugly look - unlike most business class meals, this came across more as a hearty, home-cooked food rather than restaurant-style. Having tried two different breads from MH on that sitting alone, I'd still prefer the soggy yet flavourful garlic read rather than the muffin-like bread - it's a pity that only one piece was doled out given the size. Dessert was pretty fine, which concluded this acceptable business class meal.
When the meals started to be cleared, Pamela came around the cabin offering additional drinks.
View during the cruise was the dull, greyish sky.
I made my way to the lavatory, which was clean.
I also asked for a cup of pulled milk tea, which was soon delivered.
The view of the cabin from behind.
As we started our descent, the weather became more cloudy yet remained not bumpy.
Following the meal service the cabin was dimmed to allow some sleep.
Greater Jakarta had always been gloomy (except during Ied holiday when there was no smog), and this wasn't an exception.
In fact, the Java island could be seen only a couple of minutes before we landed.
As we approached the Pantai Indah Kapuk complex and the reclamated islands were in sight.
What does it mean when it's possible to see the entire turn of the airport expressway?
We would land at runway 25R, which also meant a view of the massive terminal 3 together with GA's planes queuing for departure.
During landing and taxi, the cabin remained as dimmed as during the cruise.
Among the other otherwise ordinary planes parked in the terminal 3 were GA's sole 7M8 as well as QF's 330 from SYD.
We were finally parked beside GA's 738.
It only dawned upon me that the first row had much more legroom upon deplaning, though it wasn't as if the legroom on my seat was abysmal.
I made my way into the terminal through the aerobridge.
This time I arrived at the old terminal 3 building, which meant passing through the building-like corridor instead of the glass tunnel like on the newer gates.
Arrival at CGK and post-arrival trip
Also unlike the new terminal 3 building, I passed through the interstitial corridor at the departure floor instead of the mezzanine floor.
From there I went down to the arrival floor.
Which terminal did I arrive at?
I took the buggy from the terminal's corner (between gate 4 and 5) to get to the immigration counter.
There were a couple of buggies stationed there, however most were unmanned.
QF's pilot could be seen proceeding to the immigration after their flight.
It took me 4 minutes from the buggy station to the immigration checkpoint, saving me a couple of minutes which could be valuable as it was the late afternoon arrival peak in CGK.
MH didn't provide any priority immigration in CGK, however I used the automated gates so I was through in a minute (assuming the gates didn't go funny, of course)
The arrival FIDS of the late afternoon.
CGK terminal 3's luggage claim was huge, and I needed to walk the entire length before even reaching the customs.
Customs was at least queue-free, so I quickly passed my customs form and was let through.
Most inbound passengers in CGK were assigned to this corridor on the left side instead of being subject to bag screening beside (this doesn't apply to any other Indonesian airport, though, where all bags were screened).
From there I exited at the southern end of the arrival floor.
It took a gruesome 5 minutes of fast walking in the warm Jakarta weather to get to the other end of the pick-up area, where the bus terminal was.
If that's not enough, I waited in the open air bus terminal for more than half an hour for my usual bus service to turn up.
Cathay Pacific Lounge
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Jakarta - CGK
If I ever need to subject myself to this onboard product I better get an irresistible fare, so low it resembled economy. While the opportunity for lounge-hopping was appreciated and the soft product wasn't that bad, the hard product was so disappointing it would be around the same, if not slightly better than full service economy class. In terms of the airports, both had their own pain points (e.g. security at KUL and the extremely long walk at CGK), but apart from that they were just fine to pass through.
On overall, I would need to seriously question whether flying on this product would be worth it on a normal fare.
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