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Report #73: OD318 - Lite business class with a touch of First
This will be my report on flying on Malindo Air business class from Kuala Lumpur KUL to Jakarta CGK, a short-haul international flight within SE Asia, on board their Boeing 737-800.
KUL to CGK is a very competitive market with prices being constantly pressured by AirAsia (AK/QZ)'s economy class on the low end and KL's fifth freedom business class on the high end. Somewhere on the middle lies OD's well-priced business class, which I had also reviewed a couple of years ago. Though a couple of amenities had been adjusted (for example, there was no complimentary lounge access this time and the luggage allowance was cut to 30kg except for their flexible business class), the price this time was pretty low at RM400 (~US$100) one-way, only RM50 (~US$13) more than economy class on the same flight, so I decided to pick that. In return, I received Rp140.520 (~US$10) cashback from an online travel agency.
Just like almost all my ex-KUL flights, I first went to KL Sentral.
Naturally I went for the bus terminal downstairs.
In the recent months the fare had increased from RM12 (~US$3) to RM15 (US$3.7).
In return, however, i had seen more 3-abreast buses being deployed compared to what was previously exclusively 4-abreast.
This kind of seating is the standard for intercity trips rather than for city to airport trips, so it's definitely a plus - I managed to catch some sleep before I worked on the review.
Around 50 minutes after we departed the airport terminal could be seen.
We arrived on schedule, 1 hour after the departure.
From the bus terminal it was a short walk to the terminal building itself.
OD's check-in area is located beside MH's premium check-in area.
As a business class passenger I received priority check-in, even on their promo fare - I was checked through in no time compared with the economy class check-in queue beside. The check-in agent told me that there were only 10 empty seats in economy class and none in business class for the flight.
Product-wise, the main difference between the promo business class fare and flexible business class fare lies in the lounge access - I didn't receive any by virtue of my ticket alone, so I was only handed with this boarding pass.
With nothing else to do landside, I went straight to the ticket check.
Immigration followed immediately afterwards. While there was some queue in the normal immigration counters, as a business class passenger I received priority immigration (and no, being an elite member doesn't count).
Afterwards it was time for the customs check, which if anything was superficial.
I first needed to go to the satellite terminal.
View from the people mover.
Just like most of my ex-KUL flights, I found myself at the mezzanine floor.
My credit card provided me with Priority Pass membership including one free annual lounge access to the normal Plaza Premium Lounge. From there I then upgraded for RM69 (~US$17) for access to the Plaza Premium First lounge using their promotional offer. I could pay RM80 (~US$20) for access to the Plaza Premium Lounge itself using my ride-hailing loyalty program's benefits instead of using my visit allowance, but that would be ineligible for the upgrade.
As I needed to process the Priority Pass visit as well as the upgrade, I needed to go to the normal Plaza Premium lounge. To say that the reception was packed would be an understatement - the queue even went outside. To be fair, it was not only a Priority Pass lounge, but also the lounge for elite or premium passengers for a number of carriers (including GA, so that's one more reason to avoid GA on this sector), but still I don't think that should ever happen.
It took me ~5 minutes to get to the reception, and the procedures afterwards was as follows:
- My original Plaza Premium visit was first cleared,
- The upgrade surcharge was then applied to my card,
- A receipt was issued to be shown to the Plaza Premium First lounge,
- The reception staff called the team on the other lounge telling them of the upgraded customer, and
- I was handed with the receipt to show to the other lounge.
At that time the reception staffs were pretty overworked and even started telling people that the normal lounge was almost full, though at least they cleared my upgrade in a couple of minutes.
The receipt I was supposed to show to the Plaza Premium First lounge.
As both lounges were not colocated, I needed to go outside and take a short walk before I finally made my way in. After I showed my receipt I was then showed my way in.
Naturally, Wi-Fi was provided and quite fast.
I was offered to take a seat at their dining room, which was more akin to a restaurant if anything.
A menu was handed to me as well. I also asked them if it would be possible to have more than one item, to which the staff said yes so I decided to sample quite a few things on their menu.
The first dish I had was the satay. While the satay itself was okay, the rice cake left something to be desired.
Following this I had their steamed barramundi, which was good, typical of Chinese-style fish preparation.
I then sampled their chicken steak with wasabi sauce, which was equally good - some additional kick would help, but I devoured it too fast to take a picture of it.
Noodle followed afterwards, which for me was the least favorite dish - I tend to like dishes with stronger flavors, and the dish felt almost flavorless. Worse, though the broth was light, the portion didn't reflect it even I got almost full after having the noodle.
My last main dish was Hainanese rice with grilled chicken. This was a twist of the usual steamed or roasted chicken you'd find on Malaysia or Singapore, which I especially liked.
Their alcoholic drink options were also pretty extensive for a contract lounge, even including a house mocktail.
I tried their white wine and mocktail, which didn't disappoint.
For lighter options, salad and soup were offered on the buffet. I didn't try the soup, but I tried the salad, which felt like they've been there for a while.
A limited selection of ready-to-eat pastries and desserts were on offer - no toast here.
Other drink options didn't disappoint either, from Dilmah tea, canned soft drinks like what you'd find on MH's lounge, to Asahi draft beer.
Before this turned to a food blog, let's continue with the rest of the lounge review: the view of the apron was a tad different from the one at MH's lounge, given that it was at a different side of the airport.
Though the lounge didn't have a business center, it had a number of seats with proper tables, thus completing the seat-power-table combination.
The seats and mini-tables were all Plaza Premium's standard ones, so the upgrade was more on just how quiet this lounge is.
All seats are near to the windows, even the innermost ones.
I asked the lounge staff for the shower room, and after taking note of my name was directed to the bathroom and upon reaching immediately posted the do not disturb sign - there was no one using the bathroom anyway, but still a nice touch.
The bathroom had pretty much all amenities covered, from body lotion, all the way to hair dryer. Though the lounge was already more than 1 year old, it still looked like brand new.
The single use amenities can easily match those offered by hotels, and available without first requesting for them. (take note of that, MH).
Shower also used Elemis shampoo and soap, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The water flow was also pretty good, just like the one on MH's satellite lounge.
This has to be one of the better contract lounges around - I even dare to say that despite its size this is better than MH's and GA's flagship lounges, and almost on par with CX's lounge in BKK. Not only are the amenities plentiful despite the small size, the lounge itself was really tranquil with only a handful of guests at any time, service wasn't a large issue (not to the level of QR's BKK lounge, but there were more than enough staff I didn't need to wait), and the foods decent by lounge standard.
When I have my next complimentary visit posted, this will be quite high on my to-visit lounges if the price is right.
After the lounge visit I went back to the main terminal for boarding using the people mover.
From there it was a short walk to the gate, being the closest one from the immigration.
There was fortunately no queue at security, so I was through in a couple of minutes.
After I had my ticket checked I went straight to the waiting room.
I didn't even get to sit there, though, as boarding started to be called, starting from special needs passengers and then business class passengers.
Priority was enforced, meaning that I could cut through the queue and after showing my boarding pass was let through.
We boarded using the right aerobridge only.
There were still few people boarding, meaning that it was still not chaotic yet.
In a couple of seconds I managed to reach the plane.
Load factor: 100% J (12/12), 93% Y (140/150)
Seat type: Recliner business class (window seat)
After being welcomed by the cabin crew I made my way to the business class cabin, consisting of 12 leather recliners.
My seat for this flight.
Legroom was fine for recliner business class standard.
As you would expect, there was no seatback screen, just a seat pocket.
At the outside armrest a table could be taken out.
Contents inside the seat pocket.
Note the buy-on-board menu, which was provided even in business class. Naturally, no sales was made throughout the flight.
A pillow was provided by default, with blanket available on request.
A cocktail table was also not absent, together with the button to secure the IFE screen at the center armrest. Somehow, though, mine couldn't be locked so it straight popped up when I opened the armrest.
Power plugs were provided, which I used to charge my phone and worked.
The screen was almost akin to what was provided in economy class, and when taken away was pretty warm as it didn't turn off at all when stowed.
All the seat controls were manual yet at the same time didn't provide enough tactile response when engaged.
View from the window.
Me on the seat - as usual, the headrest wasn't extensible by much.
Time to move on to the rest of the flight: boarding was underway and done through the .
Welcome drinks were brought around, which consisted of water, orange drink, or apple drink. I picked the apple drink, while my seatmate preferred the water.
We soon pushed back, but not before the plane I rode a couple of years back showed up.
Safety demonstration was surprisingly manually conducted - time for a safety video like ID?
Can you see MH's regional Golden Lounge?
The cabin was darkened right after the safety demonstration for departure.
Takeoff proceeded without any issue and we were airborne in no time.
After the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off, Panasonic headphones were distributed for business class passengers, which normally retailed at US$17. It wasn't the best one on the market, but still did its job and worked on my phone.
Just like other OD/ID flights, their entertainment offerings were pretty crap - think of no music on offer and non-interactive moving maps, though to be fair they had a couple of movies for most major countries they fly to.
As for TV shows, they're split by episode and tend to be scattered, so no movie binging here - I'd rather listen to some of my classic options on my phone.
Dinner was served, starting with tablecloth being put and our drink of choice served.
The flight attendants took the orders during boarding, and afterwards brought the trays to each passenger by hand Naturally, drink refills were offered, though it's still the same crap. Following was the menu for the flight:
Appetizer: Green salad with vinaigrette dressing
Bread: Whole grain bread roll with butter
Main course: Lamb biryani, chicken with curry dish, or vegetarian mock meat dish
Dessert: Vanilla yoghurt and chocolate cake with nuts
Drink: Water / orange juice / apple drink / tea / coffee / soft drink
To start the meal I had the salad, which didn't exactly taste fresh. My meal continued with the lamb biryani, which despite the seemingly full of rice look had a decent amount of meat inside. Taste-wise it wasn't bad (if anything, it's slightly muted compared to biryani I had on the land), though typical of lamb it was slightly chewy on some parts. Bread was pretty abundant I doubted that the butter could make it (which for the record was an upgrade over canola margarine they used before), though I only had one of them. Desserts were pretty bad - while the chocolate cake was okay, the yoghurt was already lukewarm (and awkward since it's dinner time) and there was even no spoon to eat those dishes so I asked for a teaspoon just to have my desserts. As for "juices", it's still the same Tropicana Twister drinks as before, which I don't think count as juice anyway. On overall, I found this to be an overly substantial yet mediocre single tray meal.
Which fork is for which part of the meal?
Instead of at the start of the flight, I had my hot towel after my table was cleared.
After the meal I went to the restroom, which was pretty poorly cleaned.
I for sure wouldn't expect this in economy class, let alone business.
After the meal I decided to take some nap and after around 40 minutes we were approaching Banten province.
After the fasten seatbelt sign was turned on, the cabin was checked and just like before the cabin was quickly dimmed again.
As we were nearing CGK, the bustling region became all more apparent.
Which airport did we land at? On a side note, we landed on runway 07R, which meant some pretty long taxi to get to terminal 2F.
The terminal was pretty packed, given that it was Sunday evening.
After a 10 minutes taxi it was time to alight from the front door.
Following my farewell to the crew I took the staircase to the tarmac.
On my way to the arrival gate, I also took the chance to take a photo of the plane I flew on.
We arrived from gate F4, which meant a long walk to the immigration counter.
Immigration took around 5 minutes to clear, but only after they opened a couple of counters for Indonesian passport holders. The lack of automated immigration gates didn't help either, so I still went away with one additional passport stamp.
Following immigration was the dingy luggage claim hall.
OD/ID's business class passengers' bags are being collected by the ground staff for faster collection. Priority was followed, however my bag was among the last ones for business class passengers.
After I filled the customs form, I went to the customs officer and after passing on my form was let through without bag search.
My trip ended with a ride-hailing ride back to my residence.
Just like before, this was an uneventful shuttle flight, delivering most of the basics from a hot meal, entertainment, plush seats, and priority services throughout the journey. Just like before, though, it's the refinement of the experience that felt lacking, from the lack of lounge access, mediocre IFE, and average quality meal. In terms of the lounge that I accessed separately from the ticket, it was pretty decent and worth the additional fee.
On overall, I'd fly on something like this if the price was right.