Good day friends! Welcome to this series of flight reports, which includes four flights: SIN-KUL-TPE-KUL-SIN. This time, I will be travelling on Malaysia Airlines (MAS). Follow me and discover how was my journey on-board four MAS B737-800 aircrafts!
This is my rather indirect routing from Singapore to Taipei, and back.
My reason for choosing MAS on this trip was extremely simple, and I am sure you can guess it quickly – its extremely competitive pricing! When I was booking the air tickets for this trip, I did a rather extensive research to decide which airline to travel on for the exact same period from 9 May 2014 to 24 May 2014. The candidates included: Jetstar, Scoot, Tiger, EVA Air, China Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Malaysia Airlines. The various considerations I had in mind were (1) Ticket Pricing, (2) Baggage Allowance, and (3) Mileage Accruals (oneworld or Star Alliance).
I wouldn’t delve too deeply into the decision process, however, being a oneworld member airline that allows a generous 30kg baggage allowance with an extremely worthwhile ticket pricing of SGD467.20 (incl. seats selection fees and taxes), I immediately decided on booking a return trip for myself on MAS and a one-way ticket for my mom. Do note that this particular price was much cheaper than what Jetstar had to offer (air ticket + the plus bundle necessary for Qantas points accrual + 30kg baggage), with such an attractive alternative – who will be able to resist it?
I do agree that the transit time at Kuala Lumpur on my return trip is a little too long, standing at an extremely long duration of 3 hours and 15 minutes! I am wondering if I will be able to keep myself occupied with some photography of planes and the airport for that duration of 3+ hours, we shall see…
My 3rd Flight with Malaysia Airlines – Experiencing the Short Hop from SIN to KUL for the First Time!
This report was completed on 19 May 2014, in Taipei, Taiwan. Note: All the time stated in this report are UTC+08:00.
Malaysia Airlines MH602 Aircraft Registration: 9M-MSF Origin: Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) Destination: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) Date: Friday, 09 May 2014 Boarding Time: 0610h (UTC+08:00) ETD: 0640h (UTC+08:00) ATD: 0642h (UTC+08:00) ETA: 0740h (UTC+08:00) ATA: 0732h (UTC+08:00) Estimated Duration: 01:00 Actual Duration: 00:50 Flight Distance: 191 miles / 307 km
0430h (UTC+08:00) Status: Left Home 01:40 to Boarding Time 02:10 to ETD
Leaving home slightly more than 1.5h to boarding time – sounds crazy isn’t it? No worries! Don’t forget this was a super-duper early morning flight and we will be “flying” through empty highways all the way to Changi Airport on this early Friday morning.
Indeed, about half an hour later at 0500h, after travelling on the expressways at an average speed of around 80km/h, we were there at the airport! Amazing.
0507h Status: Checking In 00:37 from Leaving Home 01:03 to Boarding Time 01:33 to ETD
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) operates from Changi Airport’s Terminal 2. However, I apologise for being unable to fulfil my promise of bringing you through the journey to the staff canteens that I mentioned in my previous reports. (See: http://flight-report.com/en/report-6882.html) First, it was extremely early in the morning; I do not believe that those canteens would be opened. Secondly, I was kind of late for my flight that morning, so we just made do with a simple breakfast before clearing departure formalities.
Here are photos of the relatively crowded check-in counters for MAS flight 602 bound for Kuala Lumpur. From my judgment, many passengers were bound for destinations other than Kuala Lumpur. Instead, they were connecting for other MAS flights from Kuala Lumpur just like us! After all, most people bound for Kuala Lumpur didn’t really have to wake up so early just to arrive before everyone else even started work.
As you can see, there were only four counters in operation for this short flight covering the SIN-KUL sector. Two were dedicated for economy class passengers, one was for those who completed online check-in, and finally the last one for business class passengers and Enrich / oneworld members. (The counter on the extreme right was not in operation apparently.)
I would like to draw your attention to this screen. I believe it reflects very clearly that apart from passengers on business class, Enrich members of a silver tier & above, and oneworld members of a ruby tier & above could also utilise this priority queue.
As this was the first time I travelled with a oneworld airline (apart from Qantas) after attaining Qantas’ silver status last year, I specifically took the initiative to confirm my eligibility, as a oneworld ruby member, of utilising the priority queue. As it was stated very clearly on oneworld’s website – the answer is yes, I could.
However, shortly after the agent at the counter checked my documents, she used a rather unpleasant tone to inform me that “I should not have queued here, but since I was already there, she would just do the check in for me, but please (in an extremely sarcastic tone) do not do such a thing in future and join the normal queue”.
At that moment, I really thought I made a mistake and thus apologised. However, I was quite unhappy with her attitude because she didn’t allow me to finish my sentence when I tried to clarify about what was displayed on the screen.
Well… Check in was still completed nevertheless. After the journey, I went to double check the status of my membership, my member card and oneworld’s website. After confidently confirming that I did NOT “queue at the wrong line” that day, I sent a feedback letter to MAS reflecting the incident and the overall experience with MAS on the two flights, which were rather disappointing. Up till date as I write this report, there are no replies from MAS yet.
Anyway, it was good that MAS provided “transit information guidance” for passengers transiting at their main hub!
0529h After we were done with checking in for the flights, my family and I walked around Terminal 2 to search for somewhere to have our breakfast quickly before my mom and I proceed to our gate.
This is the departure information board displayed at the departure hall of Terminal 2. I like it. (Note: in less than 1 hour, two Tiger Air flights were cancelled.)
We found no suitable place for breakfast on the departure hall level, thus we went downstairs to the arrival hall.
No, we didn’t choose McDonald’s.
Instead, we decided on “Coffee & Toast”.
Breakfast for 4 people – these weren’t exactly cheap in terms of a Singaporean standard.
0557h Status: Clearing Departure Formalities 01:27 from Leaving Home 00:13 to Boarding Time 00:43 to ETD
After a quick breakfast, we proceeded back to the departure halls.
What you see here is one of the newest attractions in Singapore – Gardens by the Bay. Personally, I didn’t find the place exceptionally interesting nor attractive, contrary to the claim made by various parties.
Changi Airport is really a busy airport – as you can see, a slight queue had formed for passport checks.
From Terminal 2 alone, ten flights were departing between 6am and 7am that day! Busy airport, indeed.
0605h Status: Proceeding to the Boarding Gate 01:35 from Leaving Home 00:05 to Boarding Time 00:35 to ETD
Something that I am unsure about – I was wondering why boarding time was scheduled just half an hour before departure. Isn’t it the norm for it to be one hour before at Changi Airport? Was it because a narrow-body aircraft operated MH602?
Either way, we headed quickly to gate F51 after visiting the washroom.
Akin to Terminal 1, arriving passengers are not separated from departing passengers. Here, you see the arrival immigration counters that I will be using in two weeks’ time.
It was a pity I didn’t have much time to look around this terminal that I am rather unfamiliar with.
MAS wasn’t exactly strict about its cabin baggage rules – 2 bags, up to a total of 7kg. These two belong to my mom and I; thus, we actually adhered with the rules.
Moving on, we proceeded to find the gate. And… Lucky us, F51 is once again the first gate along the corridor.
However, it seemed as though Terminal 2’s corridor was a little bit narrower than that of Terminal 1’s.
0613h Status: Queuing for Security 01:43 from Leaving Home 00:03 from Boarding Time 00:33 to ETD
Apparently, boarding began way before 0610h, and when I saw two flights sharing a same gate, I immediately realised that we would be boarding via a remote stand that morning. That was my first time doing this at Changi Airport!
The gate was already closing 3 minutes after the boarding time.
My boarding passes for both flights – MH602 SIN-KUL and MH366 KUL-TPE.
This extremely long queue for security consists of passengers for two flights; not just MH602, but also another Tiger Air flight bound for Bangkok.
Flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur operated by MAS, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir are very “aggressively” code-shared with other airlines.
0623h With 17 minutes left to the ETD, we finally got pass security.
Down the staircase – queue again for the bus!
0626h I seriously thought the flight wouldn’t be able to move off on time. From this photo, you can see that SilkAir also made sure that they had a part to play on MH602.
There may even be American Airlines passengers on-board MH602!
0628h Two minutes later, our bus moved off heading towards our aircraft.
0635h Status: Boarding 02:05 after Leaving Home 00:25 after Boarding Time 00:05 to ETD
With 5 minutes left to departure, the bus carrying the last batch of passengers for MH602 (including us) arrived at the aircraft.
9M-MSF operated MH602 on that early Friday morning after a night’s rest at Changi Airport – explaining why it was parked at a remote stand.
0641h Status: Boarding Completed 02:11 from Leaving Home 00:01 from ETD
Eventually, the highly efficient operations at Changi Airport made it! The aircraft door was closed just 1 minute after ETD.
9M-MSF was just about 11 months old when I travelled on it. From the moment I boarded, it was very evident that the aircraft is an extremely new one. I strongly believe that this was one of the newest aircrafts that I have travelled on.
Parked next to 9M-MSF was SilkAir’s 9V-SLM.
SilkAir / 9V-SLM / A320-200 / MI566
As I was checking the data, I came across this rather interesting routing for MI566. It seems like this aircraft operated MI566 that day and the route was SIN-CEB-DVO-SIN, all with a same flight number.
0642h Status: Push Back 02:12 from Leaving Home 00:02 from ETD
With a mere 2 minutes delay, MH602 pushed back and its engine started. Meanwhile, I tried to stretch my leg to experience how “bad” will a 30-inches seat pitch be.
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t that bad.
0651h Status: Take Off 02:21 from Leaving Home 00:09 from ATD
The best thing about boarding from a remote stand at Changi Airport would probably be that it seemed much nearer to the runway. The aircraft took just a short while before it began speeding down the runway, taking off towards Malaysia.
Very quickly, the seatbelt signs were turned off 5 minutes after take off.
The view of sunrise was pretty nice!
0659h Status: Climbing – Snacks & Drinks Service Commenced 01:59 from Leaving Home 00:17 from ATD 00:41 to ETA
As the actual flying time was just slightly more than half an hour, flight attendants commenced the drinks service very promptly after take off. Peanuts were distributed first and drinks were offered. The process was completed very quickly as most passengers were catching up with their sleep after waking up so early in the morning for the flight.
I took some time to take pictures of the seat pocket contents.
Personal IFE screens are also available for AVOD on the new B737-800s, but not all aircrafts have them. I prayed hard to be able to travel on those installed with personal IFEs, so far so good!
However, for this extremely short flight, earphones were not provided.
In my opinion, it is also a plus factor to have USB charging points on-board.
Because of the touch screen function, I didn’t really bother to take out the remote control.
Looking at the different parts of the aircraft, it was very clear that 9M-MSF is indeed very new.
I also spent something taking pictures of the air show. It was quite comprehensive, but definitely still not as good as Emirates’ air show.
However, altitude was only displayed in terms of metres, instead of alternating between metres and feet. (Isn't this a practice only evident in China? Apparently not, because it was the same on my next flight.)
The direction and distance to Mecca will also be displayed on all MAS flights that have this screen on their air shows.
We are about halfway through.
And the cruising altitude was 22,000 feet.
For this very short flight, the flight attendants were really quite hardworking and busy. In this photo, you can see the stewardess collecting the used cups and trash.
Oh, but did I mention that the flight attendants looked a little tired – all of them. It must have been really tiring to wake up so early in the morning for flight preparation…
At this point in time, there was nothing much to see outside of the window.
Therefore, I continued to explore the IFE. I looked through the selection of movies. It was quite good, but certainly not as extensive as some other airlines that boast their wide variety of IFE.
Then, I also wanted to take a look at the airline’s current fleet.
It’s alright. I will just flip the magazine then!
0711h Status: Cruising – Announcement from Flight Deck 02:41 from Leaving Home 00:29 from ATD 00:29 to ETA
29 minutes from departure, the captain came on the PA to provide us with the flight information. I didn’t quite understand what he was saying though.
As this was a short flight and I was seated on the window seat of a B737, I didn’t have the opportunity to leave my seat. I didn’t want to disturb my mom and the other passenger seated on the aisle seat (both were sleeping).
So, I just took a look at the rear of the cabin with my camera. There were quite a few empty seats at the back. The aircraft may probably be even emptier if MAS did not codeshare with so many other airlines – SilkAir, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and China Southern Airlines. I did a quick check, for different SIN-KUL flights operated by MAS throughout the day, there are a few more other airlines that codeshare on specific flights.
0713h Status: Descending – Landing Preparation 02:43 from Leaving Home 00:31 from ATD 00:27 to ETA
To me, this feeling was really kind of amazing – the feeling of flying on such a short flight. Before I even actually managed to settle in my seat, descend already begun! Previously, I thought flights between Melbourne and Sydney are already very short. I guess I am wrong!
Descending pass 13,430 feet.
Descending pass 11,500 feet.
Welcome to Malaysia!
The beauty of the sky, early in the morning.
Slowing down for final approach.
The sun was welcoming us to Malaysia too!
A smooth and beautiful landing into Kuala Lumpur International Airport, an airport designed with the concept of “Airport in the Forest, Forest in the Airport”. Do note how long it took the aircraft to taxi from the runway to our gate. (Also, I am sorry for the poor quality of the video. I'll take note of it next time!) Also, I found the music played during landing and taxiing really nice.
0723h Status: Touch Down 02:53 from Leaving Home 00:41 from ATD 00:17 to ETA
Our aircraft touched down at KLIA just about 3 hours after I left home. I must say, this was definitely one of my “most time-efficient” flying trip. Just take a look at my previous departure from Singapore – 3 hours after leaving home, I was still waiting for boarding to commence.
For this trip, 3 hours after I left home, I have already completed my first flight of the day – but of course, this is also possible because of the extremely short sector between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur!
0732h Status: Arrived at Gate 03:02 from Leaving Home 00:50 from ATD 00:08 to ETA
MH602 arrived at the gate 8 minutes before schedule. We sat in the cabin for a while before it was our turn to disembark and I took the opportunity to snap a few photos of the “land of MAS”.
I also managed to capture the precious picture (albeit the fact that it’s really unclear – I zoomed in to the maximum possible) of a MAS B747-400. This aircraft was stored since May 2013.
Malaysia Airlines / 9M-MPP / B747-400
Soon, it was our turn to disembark. This screen was shown on the IFE screens.
While we disembarked, 9M-MSF was being refuelled for its next journey to Kota Kinabalu via Labuan as MH2608.
It was really a pity that I just couldn’t get a good and nice photo of the cabin.
After we got into the terminal, I checked for the status of our next flight and confirmed that its boarding gate will be H10.
This concludes my first experience along the SIN-KUL sector. It was a nice flight and I sat on the window seat (which is something rare for me, as I usually prefer the aisle seat on longer flights). Service from the crew was comprehensive but there wasn’t any “personal touch” in my opinion – as I have pointed out, most of them looked rather tired. The purser and another flight attendant at the aircraft door also did not really bother to greet or acknowledge passengers as we boarded the aircraft.
In short, I couldn’t quite catch any evidence why MAS is rated as a 5-stars airline. If I do strictly want to compare, I would say that many other Asian airlines would be much better in terms of service. And as a frequent passenger on-board Qantas and Emirates flights, I would actually find services on these 4-stars airlines much better. But of course, there are many other factors to be considered.
Will my opinion be changed after the next flight to Taipei? Please do continue to read my report for the connecting flight!
Malaysia Airlines has definitely got good products on its newest B737-800. The seats are certainly acceptable for regional travel and even with the absence of adjustable headrest, it doesn't affect the comfort level much. However, a grade of 7/10 would probably be the maximum it can get because of the legroom - 30 inches. The crew on this sector seemed really tired. There wasn't any 5-stars service but they definitely did whatever they had to do. A cup of apple juice with some peanuts will suffice for such a short flight. I didn't find the peanuts nice though - doesn't matter. The IFE was good, I would have awarded 8/10 if it hadn't been unresponsive during and just after take-off. Lastly, the on-time performance gets a full grade.
Changi Airport's security was a little less efficient this time round. I don't quite agree with combining the security screening of two different flights together (given that security only takes place at the boarding gates), the queue was just a little too long. Also, since my dad was able to drive us to the airport, the accessibility of the airport was certainly good given the light traffic on the expressways in the early morning. However, the only other alternative form of transportation would be taxis, if one was to depart on such an early flight. Regarding this point, I still feel that Changi Airport is in need of a 24-hour public transportation link to the city. The options available for us to catch our quick breakfast were reasonable.
At Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), security was also done at the gates - and basically, it was flawless. Smooth and efficient. From what I know, there are many options that passengers can choose to get from the city to KLIA and vice versa. I will assess this more thoroughly during my KL trip in June. KLIA has a good range of F&B options and duty free shops, it probably wouldn't be as boring as transiting at airports like.... Darwin? (Haha!) But regarding the cleanliness of the airport, some improvements are definitely required in the toilets. In all other areas, it was relatively okay. Maybe except for the seats in the boarding lounge that looked kind of dirty? (3 marks deducted for the rather un-cleaned toilet and half a mark lesser for the stained seats.) Other than that, KLIA is an okay airport to transit in.
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