Review of Malaysia Airlines flight Kuala Lumpur Jakarta in Business

Airline Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH723
Class Business
Seat 2A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 02:05
Take-off 04 Nov 18, 16:25
Arrival at 04 Nov 18, 17:30
MH   #41 out of 130 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 178 reviews
Eric V P
By GOLD 659
Published on 23rd June 2019
Report #68: MH723 - Is this really my worst business class experience?

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

Here are the 3 parts of the trip:


Background


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)
photo ga180 03022018 ticketphoto ga180 03022018 receipt

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).
photo 20181104_112512

Following that, I took the usual airport bus from KL Sentral, which costed me RM12 (~US$3) for the ~50 minutes trip.
photo 20181104_121648

As usual, I was dropped at the airport bus terminal.
photo 20181104_132511

The minimarket which once adorned the corridor towards the main terminal was since gone.
photo 20181104_132630

After reaching the check-in area I went to MH's premium check-in row, also shared by OD
photo 20181104_132920

The business class/Oneworld Sapphire counters were empty, so I was checked in no time.
photo 20181104_132944photo 20181104_133600

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.
photo 20181104_133645

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.
photo 20181104_133957

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.
photo 20181104_134408

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).
photo 20181104_134830

FIDS of the late afternoon.
photo 20181104_144822

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.
photo 20181104_135030

I went to the reception and was allowed to enter after showing my boarding pass.
photo 20181104_135038

The lounge was understandably small, but fortunately felt incredibly private, at least when there was no CX/KA flight around.
photo 20181104_135150

Seating in this lounge mainly consisted of sofas.
photo 20181104_135209

Some additional seats could be found in the empty yet well-equipped business centre.
photo 20181104_140808

Extensive periodical options were provided inside.
photo 20181104_135230

Wi-Fi used the same password as on CX's other lounges, which was as usual fast.
photo 20181104_141234

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).
photo 20181104_140203photo 20181104_140227

Lavatory was spot-clean, and like most of CX's outstation lounges didn't have a shower.
photo 20181104_135852

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.
photo 20181104_141453

From there I went to the reception and was directed to the business class section after showing my boarding pass.
photo 20181104_141519

The business class section started with a corridor leading to the bar and the main lounge proper.
photo 20181104_141636

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.
photo 20181104_141646

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.
photo 20181104_141808

Having visited the lounge for the fifth time in the previous 12 months, this layout became all too familiar for me.
photo 20181104_142120

As usual, reading materials could be found at a couple of places in the lounge.
photo 20181104_143628

I went for the seats by the window, which offered good privacy and views of the southern side of the concourse.
photo 20181104_142148photo 20181104_142408

A noodle station was tucked to the right side of the business class lounge entrance.
photo 20181104_142334

Lunch for me started with sampling their laksa. Being the unlucky person I was, the laksa was again sarawak laksa.
photo 20181104_142217

The laksa was as usual fine for airport lounge food standard, though its presentation was appaling compared to other servings I had.
photo 20181104_142444

There was a barista in the lounge offering espresso-based drinks, which I didn't try this time.
photo 20181104_142802

Soup as well as bread items were put together in the same section.
photo 20181104_142822photo 20181104_142824

The main hot buffet had already changed from the usually just fine lunch menu to the dismal afternoon snack menu
photo 20181104_142838photo 20181104_142905

Waffle and ice cream were apparently not a hit in the lounge.
photo 20181104_142950

Cold meal options also include salad and fruit cuts - apart from dinner, though, smoked salmon was nowhere to be seen.
photo 20181104_143605

A family room was set right after the food display.
photo 20181104_143450

MH's perpetually quiet nap room.
photo 20181104_143459photo 20181104_143507

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.
photo 20181104_143518

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.
photo 20181104_144852

Reading materials were also provided in a few places in the lounge.
photo 20181104_145816

The lounge was almost like the one on the satellite terminal, although understandably less private thanks to the smaller footprint.
photo 20181104_144930

In fact, this lounge even also had a nap room and a family room despite its regional designation.
photo 20181104_145743photo 20181104_145755

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.
photo 20181104_145807

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.
photo 20181104_145019photo 20181104_145108

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.
photo 20181104_145918

The plane for the day was 9M-MLF, an 8 years old 738.
photo 20181104_150025

The livery made me wonder, though: is this really what's dreaded by MH flyers, not unlike GA's PK-GE*?
photo 20181104_150051

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?)
photo 20181104_150200

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.
photo 20181104_150225

After the 10 minutes queue I finally could go to the gate.
photo 20181104_151103

The gate seemed unusually quiet - but why?
photo 20181104_151119

Boarding was already well underway, and without further ado I was cleared to board.
photo 20181104_151133

We boarded using the right aerobridge,
photo 20181104_151301

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.
photo 20181104_151321

Boarding was done through the aerobridge - there was no queue since most passengers queuing at the moment were at security anyway.
photo 20181104_151329

A glance of the nosewheel confirmed the plane registration.
photo 20181104_151341

In no time I reached the plane to start the last part of this series.
photo 20181104_151354

On board


Flight: MH723
Plane: 9M-MLF
STD/ATD: 16.25/16.24
STA/ATA: 17.30/17.22
Seat type: Recliner business class (window seat)
Details: https://flightaware.com/live/flight/MAS723/history/20181104/0835Z/WMKK/WIII

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.
photo 20181104_151422

The dreaded seat of the day.
photo 20181104_151433

Legroom was still half-decent like the rest of the fleet.
photo 20181104_151556

Unfortunately, that's where the good thing ends - there was no entertainment at all onboard.
photo 20181104_151611

There was not even a footrest, which makes it on par with a glorified economy class.
photo 20181104_151623

When I said no entertainment, I mean not even an audio entertainment.
photo 20181104_151748

The periodicals on offer for the flight was a weekly newspaper from the seat pocket and daily newspaper distributed by the cabin crew.
photo 20181104_151948

Otherwise, contents were exactly the same as what one would expect in economy class.
photo 20181104_152119

There was a storage available under the centre armrest, which unfortunately was useless since it's quite deep yet narrow.
photo 20181104_152235

Me on the seat.
photo 20181104_153551

Even the headrest sucked: I only managed to bring it up ever so slightly.
photo 20181104_153614

Service started with a welcome drink.
photo 20181104_151706

Being an ex-KUL flight, I went for the guava juice.
photo 20181104_151742

A cold towel then followed.
photo 20181104_152705

Menu was also available for me to peruse.
photo 20181104_153813

While the menu was basic (don't expect anything remotely close to what KL offered on this 2-hour flight), this was already comprehensive enough.
photo 20181104_153836photo 20181104_153848

The view from my window.
photo 20181104_154022

MH's old safety video was shown from the overhead screen, the only time it was actually used throughout the flight.
photo 20181104_154312

It was time to depart and we started our pushback and taxi to the runway.
photo 20181104_154529

Take-off was uneventful, and with that the scenery changed to lush plantations.
photo 20181104_155248

As we climbed we turned to the west, which afforded a view of the airport.
photo 20181104_155302

Where does the rainbow end? Not somewhere with a pot of gold, of course.
photo 20181104_155420

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 ….
photo 20181104_155804

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.
photo 20181104_155844

The meal was served with the lids still on.
photo 20181104_161416

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.
photo 20181104_161526

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.
photo 20181104_162036

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.
photo 20181104_162222

View during the cruise was the dull, greyish sky.
photo 20181104_164139

I made my way to the lavatory, which was clean.
photo 20181104_164828photo 20181104_164834

I also asked for a cup of pulled milk tea, which was soon delivered.
photo 20181104_165313

The view of the cabin from behind.
photo 20181104_165442

As we started our descent, the weather became more cloudy yet remained not bumpy.
photo 20181104_170751

Following the meal service the cabin was dimmed to allow some sleep.
photo 20181104_172054

Greater Jakarta had always been gloomy (except during Ied holiday when there was no smog), and this wasn't an exception.
photo 20181104_172830

In fact, the Java island could be seen only a couple of minutes before we landed.
photo 20181104_173047

As we approached the Pantai Indah Kapuk complex and the reclamated islands were in sight.
photo 20181104_173147

What does it mean when it's possible to see the entire turn of the airport expressway?
photo 20181104_173218

We would land at runway 25R, which also meant a view of the massive terminal 3 together with GA's planes queuing for departure.
photo 20181104_173322

The old days when JT's last remaining 744 was still flying and SQ still used the terminal 2.
photo 20181104_173421

During landing and taxi, the cabin remained as dimmed as during the cruise.
photo 20181104_173526

Among the other otherwise ordinary planes parked in the terminal 3 were GA's sole 7M8 as well as QF's 330 from SYD.
photo 20181104_173757

We were finally parked beside GA's 738.
photo 20181104_173856

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.
photo 20181104_174148

I made my way into the terminal through the aerobridge.
photo 20181104_174201

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.
photo 20181104_174223

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.
photo 20181104_174257

From there I went down to the arrival floor.
photo 20181104_174317photo 20181104_174416

Which terminal did I arrive at?
photo 20181104_174433

I took the buggy from the terminal's corner (between gate 4 and 5) to get to the immigration counter.
photo 20181104_174547

There were a couple of buggies stationed there, however most were unmanned.
photo 20181104_174600

QF's pilot could be seen proceeding to the immigration after their flight.
photo 20181104_174748

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.
photo 20181104_174923

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)
photo 20181104_174949

The arrival FIDS of the late afternoon.
photo 20181104_175102

CGK terminal 3's luggage claim was huge, and I needed to walk the entire length before even reaching the customs.
photo 20181104_175113

Customs was at least queue-free, so I quickly passed my customs form and was let through.
photo 20181104_175224

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).
photo 20181104_175259

From there I exited at the southern end of the arrival floor.
photo 20181104_175543

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.
photo 20181104_180000

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.
photo 20181104_183429
See more

Verdict

Malaysia Airlines

5.1/10
Cabin3.0
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi3.5
Meal/catering6.5

Cathay Pacific Lounge

6.0/10
Comfort6.5
Meal/catering5.5
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services5.0

Kuala Lumpur - KUL

6.4/10
Efficiency5.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness6.5

Jakarta - CGK

6.3/10
Efficiency7.0
Access5.5
Services6.0
Cleanliness6.5

Conclusion

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.

Information on the route Kuala Lumpur (KUL) Jakarta (CGK)

5 Comments

  • Comment 508605 by
    emyrrs 67 Comments

    UGHhhh... MLx isn't fun at all... But I heard MH regularly flying out their A330 to CGK? to answer your question - "I would need to seriously question whether flying on this product would be worth it on a normal fare." I guess it will worth the price TBH if the aircraft wasn't MLx and swapped to A330 ;)

    • Comment 508656 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 117 Comments

      Hi!

      But I heard MH regularly flying out their A330 to CGK?

      What type of 330? As far as I understand, it's mostly 332 to CGK with its coffin-like seats (check my review of the seat from KUL to BKK). I really prefer the 333/359-style seats since they're wider and come with legrest, though in all fairness the seats on 332 felt more private.

      ... I guess it will worth the price TBH if the aircraft wasn't MLx and swapped to A330 ;)

      That's a trick question - 1. Why settle with MH when you have KL? 2. I'd take business class only if they offer outstanding value for money (e.g. mediocre product at rock-bottom fare or excellent product at lower than normal fare) anyway.

  • Comment 508665 by
    JW19 107 Comments

    I'm curious as to why the cabin crew was given such low ratings despite not seeing any rants from your usual reviews.

    Anyway as I am aware, these planes are the leased ones and are due for return once the maxs are in service with direct aisle access J class seats. They, like the 332s inherited old seats from previous operators, to save cost. MH is in such financial desperation that I doubt refurbishing the seats are in high priority.

    Nevertheless they are a good way to attain OW status which is significantly more useful than any St status and they are normally quite a lot cheaper and more punctual than GA in my experience. For me that is a trade off I am willing to accept.

    • Comment 508729 by
      Eric V P GOLD AUTHOR 117 Comments

      Greetings,

      ... why the cabin crew was given such low ratings ....

      My average rating tend to be a bit low, but you're right - the crew wasn't that bad after all so I've changed it a bit.

      They, like the 332s inherited old seats from previous operators

      So that explains the crap hard product for the time being, though from what I also understand the 738 was delivered new instead of used like the 332, which made it confusing for me.

      Nevertheless they are a good way to attain OW status which is significantly more useful than any St status and they are normally quite a lot cheaper and more punctual than GA in my experience.

      If only I could get other elite status, but then my travel pattern made me frequently fly on GA and their top-tier status (Elite Plus-equivalent) offered me domestic lounge access among others and could be earned by only 17 flights in flexible economy class (which is the sole fare GA is selling now for domestic flights) regardless of distance (for example, DPS-LOP or CGK-KNO are both counted equally) so that's one of, if not the easiest elite status around.

      Thank you!

      • Comment 508755 by
        JW19 107 Comments

        If only I could get other elite status, but then my travel pattern made me frequently fly on GA and their top-tier status (Elite Plus-equivalent) offered me domestic lounge access among others and could be earned by only 17 flights in flexible economy class (which is the sole fare GA is selling now for domestic flights) regardless of distance (for example, DPS-LOP or CGK-KNO are both counted equally) so that's one of, if not the easiest elite status around.>

        Good to know such a programme is available. Something to seriously consider on my travels to Indonesia.

Login to post a comment.