Review of Malaysia Airlines flight Kuala Lumpur Kathmandu in Economy

Airline Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH 170
Class Economy
Seat 14A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 04:35
Take-off 17 Jan 13, 11:00
Arrival at 17 Jan 13, 13:20
MH   #70 out of 122 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 191 reviews
TerryYong
By GOLD 9902
Published on 23rd October 2013
After disembarkation, we originally only had a short 50min to transfer to our next connection. However when checking the Flight Information Displays, our connecting flight was delayed for 2hrs from 0855hrs to 1100hrs! Approached the transfer desk to enquire regarding the delay and was informed that it was due to the morning fog in Kathmandu which necessitates the closure of the airport. I had read about the infamous Kathmandu fog and thus was not too troubled with the delay. The transfer agent also gave us a breakfast voucher each worth RM13, to be used at any restaurant in the airport.

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Went to Old Town White Coffee to grab a hearty Malaysian breakfast!

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The cafe had a nice view of the tarmac but unfortunately, there were not many interesting movements other than MHs and more MHs, until I spotted the MH Retro-jet 9M-MXA taxiing in! What luck!

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Three different MH liveries can be seen here.

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The morning SQ flight has also just arrived.

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17 January 2013
Malaysia Airlines
MH 170
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) - Kathmandu (KTM)
B737-800
9M-MXF
Economy Class


The next sector, MH170, would be departing from the main terminal building, where the bulk of MH narrow-body flights depart from. I had checked on the previous planes used on this sector and they were a mix of either leased B738 or MH's own B738s with Boeing Sky Interior and AVOD. Thus was keeping my fingers crossed that I would not get the leased planes. Luck on my side, the aircraft assigned to the KTM sector today was 9M-MXF, a new AVOD equipped B738!

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The boarding gate was rather crowded, mainly with nepalese worker traffic. Only a few tourist faces. MH musty be really doing very well on this route, especially with such high load factors even for a newly launched flight. Guess it would soon increase to daily if the high load factor continues (Currently, MH has increased KTM flights to 2x daily!). Boarding was soon announced, by status followed by row numbers. It was enforced strictly, so much so that it was amusing to see a number of nepalese workers hesitating to board when their rows were called after watching a few turned back when they tried to board during the priority boarding.

Boarding the aircraft.

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Was welcomed by the leading crew at door, who started a small conversation, asking if we were going to Kathmandu for holiday. Apparently we and a few others stood out from the mainly workers traffic.

Passed the 16-seater Business Class cabin with blue leather seats.

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Into the Economy cabin with seats in pristine condition. It was a drastic difference from the previous sector where the seats were even in worse condition than budget airlines. Blankets, pillows and headphones were pre-set on every seat.

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With personal IFE available as well. Now, this is how a 5-stars airline should be!

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My seat at the emergency exit row 14A, with tons of legroom! However, do note that even though this is the 2nd emergency exit row, the seat also could not be reclined, similar to Row 12 in front. But I am satisfied with the more than adequate legroom as the normal rows do not seemed to have too much seat pitch (only 30 as written on MH's website). The PTV is touch-screen enabled, with the handset below the screen. There is also a USB port, as well as electrical point in between each pair of seat. Seats are all upholstered in leather and are comfortable.

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Similar contents in the seat pocket as on the previous flight. No duty-free purchase available on this flight either.

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While at the gate.

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Boarding in progress. The cabin of this B738 with Boeing Sky Interior really felt more spacious and modern and any other narrow-body aircraft I had flown on. There were 6 crew on this flight, 2 in Business Class and 4 in Economy Class. Guess MH staffed their longer flights with one additional crew.

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Very soon. boarding was completed and we started out pushback with safety video shown. Flight time was announced to be 4hrs 15min. No flight map available on the IFE even though there is the option.




Taxi to the departure runway, passing a MH B744.

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Takeoff from Rwy 32R. Spot the all-white MH A380 in the video!




Climbing above the clouds.

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After takeoff safety and service announcement.




After seatbelt signs were switched off, I made a visit to the lavatory to check it out. It was modern and rather well stocked with amenities.

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Moisturizer and colognes were also available, but no toothbrushes and combs.

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Cabin view again. It was an almost full flight!

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Very soon after takeoff, crew came down the aisle with trolleys to serve brunch. 3 crew manned 2 trolleys to serve meals, while the 4th crew remained in the galley to replenish meals.

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No menus available but 2 choices were on offer today by the crew. Spicy minced chicken with prata or omelette with sausage and hashbrown. We chose one of each. Accompany on the tray were fruits, yoghurt, orange juice, a packet of aftermint and a Mars dessert bar. I also had a tea to go along.

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Meal revealed. Metal cutlery were used as well!

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Spicy minced chicken with peas and prata. It was a bit hot but good enough.

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Omelette with mushrooms, sausage, hashbrown and grilled tomato. The western selection was of both higher quantity and quality. Tasty omelette!

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Fresh fruits consisting of melons, papayas and a grape, along with yoghurt.

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Mars bar and an interesting South Asian aftermint. Overall, the meal was substantial and satisfying, though not gourmet quality.

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Cruising.

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More drinks were offered during tray collection.

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After trays were collected, I settled into the inflight entertainment. Even though this was the latest system on MH, the offerings for english movies were quite lacking. Apparently MH offers a smaller selection of english movies on shorter regional flights of up to 6 hours. The full selection, which would be comparable to other major carriers, would only be available on long-haul flights. This, I find, is rather unacceptable, and affects the consistency of service. Only 2 out of 16 latest release films and 9 out of 44 favourite films available on this flight. The rest of the asian films and tv programmes are available though. Games are also not available on B738 aircrafts. And as mentioned, the flight map is just an empty screen. Kind of reduced my choices by quite a bit. Not sure of the logic behind this but I suspect it is due to the cost of film copyrights. I eventually settled for a Japanese comedy for the flight.

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Took a short nap halfway through the film as I was pretty tired and even with the upright seat, it was still rather comfortable for napping. Crew came around once or twice during the flight offering water, though they would also respond to call bells immediately.

Nearing Kathmandu, the Himalayas could be seen from the right side of the window. Alas I was on the wrong side, but the F seat were all taken when I checked in. However still managed use my camera's zoom function to grab a shot.

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Pliot came on to give some arrival announcements and crew prepared aircraft for landing. Headsets were collected back by the crew, though the IFE was not switched off. We then started our descent into mountainous Nepal.

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Turning circles in a valley.

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Video of the descent.




Final approach was rather interesting as the gears came down very early and descent angle was very steep as we flew across the hills into Kathmandu valley!!

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Note the steep angle of the descent.

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Landing in Tribhuvan Airport Rwy 02.




Had a rather long taxi to the parking stand as we need to backtrack along the runway to avoid the QR plane that would be taxiing in the other direction via the single taxiway. Apparently planes at KTM could take off towards either direction of the runway depending on their destination.

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TG B772 from BKK. I guess this is the largest scheduled aircraft to land in KTM.

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Parked at the stand beside Gulf Air A320. No aerobridges at this airport and so would be disembarking via the traditional way!

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Waiting for disembarkation.

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Down the stairs. 2 flights of stairs ensured a smooth disembarkation.

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9M-MXF from the ground.

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Tarmac towards the boring-looking terminal building.

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Another shot of GF A320.

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Under the wings.

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China Southern A319 bound for Guangzhou and Qatar A320 taking off. There are up to 4 flights by QR to Doha daily! Surprised that Emirates do not fly here.

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Just before boarding the bus with passengers still disembarking.

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The bus brought to the arrival building and we were fearing long queues as the TG flight has just landed before us. Surprisingly, yes, there were long queues but only for the local and visitors with visas lane. The queue for visa-on-arrival facilities was almost non-existent! As we had prepared our photo and visa-application forms prior to landing, it was just a payment of USD$25 each at the counter, visa stuck onto passport and we were across within 5 minutes!! Ironically, the queue for locals and travellers with pre-obtained visas were snaking in the immigration hall. Guess now is really not the tourist season.

Off to the carousel belts to pick up luggage, of which there was only 4. Turned out 2 were broken and we were left with 2 usable ones to handle the load of arrival flights. On screen, TG bags were supposed to arrive on Belt 3, but all ended up on belt 2 instead.

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And as the baggage belt it not very long, bags can only be loaded onto it after those on the belts had been retrieved, resulting in quite a wait.

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It was almost an hour wait for most of the TG bags to clear before MH bags appear on the belt. By then, Silkair has also arrived and using the exact same belt. So now we had bags from 3 flights appearing on one belt. A huge mess!! Welcome to Kathmandu!!!

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And so my Kathmandu adventure begins!

Boudhanath Stupa is just a 10min walking distance from my hotel. The biggest stupa in Nepal and a really interesting area with Tibetan culture to visit. Many nice cafes around the area too with wonderful views of the stupa!

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Locals, pilgrims and tourists circling the stupa and turning the prayer wheels.

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Prayer wheel

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All sorts of incense on sale.

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Tibetan-style trinkets

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Dinner by the stupa

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Lots of places to visit on Day 2! First up, Swayambhu Monkey Temple.

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Monkeys everywhere! But they are rather harmless as long as not disturbed.

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Little monks having fun

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Lighting butter lamps.

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Rather hazy day.

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Other than monkeys, lots of dogs too!

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Next up, Durbar Square.

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Spot the buffalo

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School outing

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The goat is just like a puppy!

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Buffaloes roam free.

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Indra Chowk shopping street.

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Lunch time!

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Along Thamel

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Patan Durbar Square

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Nice dinner!

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Day 3: Walk through a local neighbourhood uphill to Kopan Monastery, the monastery which inspired the movie Little Buddha.

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Wonderful view of Kathmandu valley from Kopan Monastery!

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At Kopan Monastery

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Words of Dalai Lama

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Many little monks

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Pagoda of thousand Buddhas

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Great views

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Turning giant prayer wheel

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Don't mess with the cute doggie. It can really bark!

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TG B772 preparing to takeoff from Tribhuvan in the distance.

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Buffaloes as pets!

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Another monastery ahead.

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Walking back towards Boudha

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Nepalese snack

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Selling popcorn and nuts.

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A small monastery in Boudha.

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Boudha again

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Giving light offerings

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Dinner beside Boudha again

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See more

Verdict

Malaysia Airlines

8.5/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering8.5

Kuala Lumpur - KUL

8.1/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

Kathmandu - KTM

6.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.0
Services4.0
Cleanliness5.0

Conclusion

The flight on MH to KTM is rather comfortable and value-for-money, considering that competing carriers are charging obscene prices. No problems with the service and food was reasonable. Inflight entertainment is not as good as many carriers but with competing carriers on the route not offering IFE as well, guess not much of an issue here.

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