This was the first leg home flight on a trip to Singapore and Malaysia. The introduction of this FR will explain why we flew Air France on the way in, and Oman Air on the way back.
Initially, we wanted to visit various friends in Singapore. Long story made short, we decided to make it a Singapore + Malaysia trip, partly because the flights from Paris are nearly always cheaper to KUL than to SIN, partly because there is much to visit in Malaysia.
My wife was less than happy when I told her that the cheapest flights from CDG to KUL, with decent schedules to boot, were with WY. She did not know what Oman Air allegedly stands for (On Most Airports Notify Allah In Rescue), but thought likewise.
I used a rather favorable report on FR to convince her, and on February 26th, I bought two round trip tickets on WY at 518 EUR each. WY's website is well designed, has no hidden fare traps, does not indulge in IP tracking and allows you to select your seats in a cabin in a couple-friendly 2-4-2 layout which was then completely empty (apart from bassinet seats). This was going to be mostly night flights, but I nevertheless selected window seats away from the sun's direction for me, not overwing for best picture opportunities, and the associated aisle seat for my wife who doesn't like being stuck in a seat on long haul flights, not too close to the galley to avoid disturbances. The checked luggage allowance was a generous 30 kg each, although we would not need it. What more could you want, eight months before the trip ?
That was on 26 February; the next day, the fare went up to 578 EUR, and another day later to 628 EUR.
Only a couple days before the flight did I realize that there was a pre-flight procedure to authenticate the credit card (sending scanned copies of documents to their office in MCT), but I was able to do that just before the deadline. You should always read all that boring fine print at the bottom of airlines' e-mails.
Departing on Friday night requires leaving the office early when it is nowhere near the airport. I was fortunate that a meeting was cancelled, but my wife was unfortunately stuck in an unscheduled meeting at the wrong time.
No problem with the OLCI, apart from Gmail rating my BPs as spam, but not my wife's. I nevertheless managed to print them. An hour margin to drop the bags seemed good enough, and I targeted ETD-2h. All goes well, no incident on the infamous RER rail link to CDG (apart from the train being an omnibus). It was 20h56, i.e. 54' before check-in closure when I took this picture of the FIDS at the exit of CDG2's rail station.
The flight was confirmed on.
A long walk through Terminals 2C and 2A which were rather empty, apart from this row of EK staff holding signs bearing the name of passengers, possibly for limousine transfers.
We reached WY's check in area at 21:05: there is a longish line of passengers who have not checked in on the internet. There are only half a dozen OLCI users in front of us, waiting to drop their bags.
I did not take a picture, but that is where I discovered that flight WY132 is going to make a stop in Milan. I wondered if I had missed something when I had booked our tickets, and my only thought at the time was that we would not get much sleep on the way to MCT. I could not be further way from the truth….
For a staff passed around to distribute hand luggage tags. We had three of them (my laptop case and two rather small daypacks) despite the one per PAX limit, but she did not raise an objection (It's OK, that is reasonable), then asks : Aren't you the passengers to KUL?. Yes, we are, and that changes everything:
The plane is going to make an unscheduled stop in Milan to pick up passengers whose plane has a problem: you connection in MCT won't work but we have a solution for me. Come immediately with me to the sales counter.
There she was, going back to the check in area after dropping us at WY's tiny sales counter.
There were already passengers to DLH there; a staff asks for our passports (hurry up !), types for quite a while on his keyboard and eventually comes back to us: Sorry, we had a solution for you on Etihad, but you arrived too late: they have just closed the flight.
It was the only fallback available that evening, and we were going to wait for a long time, a very long time until they had solved the issue with the Indian passengers, who were very loudly complaining about the situation. On the right, this is the only WY uniform that I saw that day, that of the local manager or a similar post – I forgot what was written on her company name badge.
The clock keeps ticking while the terminal empties. I understood why our hand luggage had been rated reasonable when I overheard a staff say: can you believe it, this passenger had a cello with her; she did not book a seat for it and does not want to check it in !. Yes, I remember a cello teacher who had to book two seats each time she was invited to Taiwan for master classes and concerts.
There is now nobody left in the check in area
It was somewhat eerie to see Flight WY132 depart, even though we had a valid ticket and had been there way before the flight closed, frustrating to see Flight EY038 which could have been a fallback flight and that we had narrowly missed.
We could have taken off that evening… - If the aircraft operating Flight WY142 (MXP-MCT) had not had a technical problem - And if Flight EY0138 had closed a tiny little bit later - And if the ground staff had located us ten minutes earlier, - Or if we had reached the check in counter earlier, which meant:
- If we had had a direct train to the airport - Or if my wife had not been stuck in her office - Or if WY had tried to reach us before the flight
There are days when you are powerless against Murphy's Law.
Meanwhile, and since wifi internet access is now free without any time limitation in CDG, I took a picture of the corporate screen.
We had rejected the proposal of boarding and being hosted in a hotel in MCT at WY's expense and wait 24 hours for the next flight to KUL. I knew that a EU citizen can receive a visa on arrival in Oman, but we thought little of spending a day in Muscat unprepared (I was aware that the city is interesting to visit)
My wife suggested to the staff to put us on a direct flight the next day. It took some time, and the supervisor was less than happy when she discovered that later. My wife overheard her ask: How did they know ?[=that we could possibly book them on a direct flight of another airline, obviously]. Flying WY, with or without a hotel night in MCT would of course have been much cheaper, but we would have made it much later to our final destination.
My wife was not very happy to learn that there was space on the MH flight, while I was rather excited about it, because I knew that MH operates an A380 which is nearly empty since the MH accidents, so much so that this route may soon be abandoned. The MH flight also landed in KUL eight hours before the AF flight.
Bad luck for me, good news for my wife: there was a computer snag and the Paris MH office was closed, so there was nobody here to solve this problem. So we eventually would fly AF and lose a full day of vacation.
The terminal was nearly empty, apart from a regular three man military patrol. We had spent two hours there, to not leave Paris.
We returned home, in a train which was equally empty, and once more not direct.
This looong introduction was to explain why we did not fly WY on the way in (and also why we reached KUL very early on the way in, but we had no good reason to delay our departure to the airport anyway).
This FR now begins with the OLCI on WY's website
Or rather by the non-OLCI. I know better than stressing about failed on line check-in. Even self check-in machines at the airport regularly fail to provide me a BP
On D-Day, we made a last tourist visit before the daily monsoon pouring rain in mid afternoon. The timing was slightly wrong in that we made it back to the hotel under the said pouring rain, but we fortunately had dry clothes in our luggage. We left by taxi to KUL, a.k.a. KLIA in local parlance. Being two, the KLIA Express rail link would have been marginally cheaper, but significantly less convenient and more time consuming, because we left before the evening rush hour.
It was a not so smooth ride in a taxi where chastity was de rigueur.
What made the ride no so smooth were the worn-out shock absorbers of that car which had accumulated a commendable mileage on KL's street network.
The fork where you must choose between to KLIA and KLIA2, the latter being the LCC terminal on the other side of the runways.
The Malaysians do it like in Beijing and park on the emergency lane to wait for the phone call of the passengers they are going to pick, in order to wait for them without being charged for parking in KLIA.
Arrival in KLIA three quarters of an hour after leaving the city center
The control tower
There is nothing especially attractive about the outside of the terminal
KLIA2, in the distance
A 738 at the terminal, photographed while there was light, since night is early and fast at that latitude.
If I had been a smoker, that is where I would have gone for a smoke, because this poster at the entrance of the terminal warns that infringing smoking bans is a serious matter in Malaysia. It would be an easy choice for me between a 10,000 RYM (~2,500 EUR) fine and two years in a local jail, but I am not sure the choice is given.
The FIDS from a distance
And from close up: OK, no special information about the WY flight (that had been my wrong deduction on the way in)
A screen wall, showing a rotating earth and the weather in a large number of cities. Quite an interesting display.
It will be cold at our destination, compared to the equatorial temperatures in KUL and SIN.
Still nothing special to report about flight WY824
WY is at the M check-in counters, at the far end of the terminal
Next to other airlines which barely escaped being exiled to KLIA2
This time, we were so much ahead of time that check-in had no started (but would shortly begin). So I went around in the terminal landside to kill time, leaving all our luggage under custody of my wife. The waiting time at immigration control was obviously minimal.
What about the toilets ?
The baby care room is accessible to all, but a sign warns that this facility is meant for people who need to care for their babies (excluding Flight Reporters and other onlookers?), and a pictogram that it is apparently forbidden to use a luggage cart to carry the baby in the room.
The male toilets are spot clean
With flowers in the entrance
And like in SIN, users can comment upon them
I described this as being completely uninteresting in my report to my wife
A peculiarity of KUL is that all the signage is trilingual Malaysian / English / Japanese
Check-in started right on time, i.e. ETD-3h for J passengers
And for Y passengers too
I wanted to check in on line, but WY didn't want me to
A short wait in the line. There is a line for a Jetstar flight to SIN next to us
One of the passengers saw me take the previous picture, and the whole group took a spontaneous pose for the second shot. So friendly !
Our red suitcases took on some weight (but we emptied our hand luggage), but we were only halfway to filling WY's generous 30kg allowance in Y
There is a problem with your itinerary, please go to Counter 6.
Counter 6 was manned by a female staff who was continuously typing undisclosed information, and a supervisor who was engaged in endless cell phone inquiries and in the same time reassuring us with a big smile: Do not worry, we'll solve this problem.
The problem was that our involuntary no-show and flying Air France the next day on the way in had created a mess in our passenger records, with two different e-ticket numbers for the KUL-MCT and MCT-CDG segments. This is a situation where you are happy to have a paper copy of your ticket, and also of having bought it directly from the airline, removing an intermediary which could complicate matters. I had much more tricky situations in the past, and waited all the more quietly that this was no time to stress my wife who had to be imperatively in the office on Monday.
Waiting there provided me an opportunity to take a snapshot of another airport Hello Kitty fan
Her younger brother had a Cars luggage. That family had strong gender stereotypes.
Humans under stress (are we going to board this time, or not?) tend to take on weight, but luggage fare even worse. Our suitcases took on nearly twenty kilos extra weight in that ordeal, according to this scale.
But they were at long last reassured: after 45 minutes of anxious waiting, they received the tag which would allow them to go home in Paris.
Their owners (with a much lower stress level) received in turn their checked luggage tags – sorry, their economy BPs, also for both flights.
It seems this time that we have a good chance to take a selfie at the Eiffel Tower, like in this add of a telecom operator, just before the immigration controls. Immigration was as efficient and smiling as in Taipei (the top level in my scale on such matters).
My wife made an immediate pit stop after immigration controls at the first duty free shop. Stress results in added weight for suitcases, and loss of weight for wallets.
After increasing the volume of our carry-on luggage (but not really its weight – these items are so expensive per kilogram), we proceeded to the people mover and the airside area.
Stress can unfortunately have more severe consequences on some. Just after the arrival of the people mover, there was a passenger who was likely to be declared no-show on his flight. I set a connoisseur's eye on the resuscitation actions which are the same in Taipei, Paris or Kuala-Lumpur.
KUL like SIN has as a safety check per boarding room, in which there is nothing per seats, which is a strong deterrent from going there early. It actually opens shortly before the plane is reading for boarding.
I went around to explore the terminal, but did not venture that far after discovering this fruit stand.
水果之王 (The king of fruits) : even this shop name sign is bilingual English / Japanese (here, it could have been Chinese too)
I could not waste an opportunity to bring back this smell from our vacation ! (if you never smelled a fresh durian in a shop, you cannot understand this)
Durian flavored chocolate is really much more exotic than Ferrero chocolates that you can buy in any neighborhood shop in Taipei before Chinese New Year. It was actually delicious.
A staff riding a Segway passes by at high speed behind the durian flavored treats shop
The interior architecture is what is most interesting at night in KUL…
… because plan-spotters have to deal with ubiquitous reflections and a poorly lit tarmac. An MH 777 in standard livery
An MH A330 MH in OW livery
And an SQ A330 SQ
SQ is not always on time
KUL provides two hours of free internet access by wifi. See the little girl in the background. She continuously played with the travelator, followed by her father who kept saying now it's over and kept letting her do it again. It was a typical case of a parent having forfeited any parental authority, and that was a bad omen for the flight.
The security check at the entrance of the boarding room opens, with part of the crew going coming here.
And we are then in a room with a showy carpet, without toilets, without power plugs, without anything.
Edit: it provides a view on WY's A330 which would be good if there were not that many reflections on the windows
Plane registration geeks will be happy to know that this flight was operated by A4O-DG, delivered in May 2011.
HSBC was too late in KUL
We would wait a short amount of time before boarding the plane. Passengers who had not realized that there would be a child noise background during the flight got a reminder from these trolleys in the jetbridge.
The plane doors Arabic – English indications.
A brief look at the J cabin when entering the plane
You may have guessed from a discreet clothing hint that this was not my wife going through the first Y cabin.
The second Y cabin
The seat pitch before other passengers settle in. The aircraft will be very empty, with a load ratio barely more than 30%. If I had not been with my wife, I would have take a central seat area to sleep. You know how couples are: they prefer sleeping in a so called large bed which (at least in Europe) is actually much narrower than two single beds. It is the same in planes.
From the rear
Portable media players are allowed, cell phones aren't: this is a 21st century plane
A close up on the reasonably sized IFE screen, with a cute animated GIF (the smoke) which may be eventually boring, but I liked it.
How about much is the seat pitch ? About 30 centimeters front the seat edge to the magazine pocket of the seat in front.
The width between the armrests
If you read my previous reports, you note that this is hardly more than a centimeter more than in an AF 777, but that centimeter does make a difference in comfort.
On the other hand, there is no arguing about the size and quality of the IFE: it simply belongs to another century, the current one. The contents are another matter.
Another view of the cabin
I am not convinced by the female FAs' uniform, but it is a matter of personal taste.
On the other hand, WY's communication department has a much more conservative view of the standard attire of their passengers.
A full length black robe and an equally black veil; the child's clothing is also very traditional.
The passenger switched to blue clothes in the safety demonstration on the IFE
Her son is playing with a gaming console
… and he is less than happy to have taken from his hands by his mother
No, this is not a aren’t you mad gesture
… but a motherly invitation to please listen to the safety demonstration, which is played twice, first in Arabic with Arabic subtitles (there are many mutually unintelligible dialects, hence the subtitles) , then in English with English subtitles (non-native speakers claim that there are many mutually unintelligible dialects, hence the subtitles).
A tiny but warm oshibori was distributed before the safety demonstration
Some plane spotting before departure
It is better with manual focus. WY winglet in the foreground and JL behind
What are we going to eat during this flight?
The IFE is not going to tell us
This aircraft has a belly and a front camera.
Bye bye, KUL!
It is a night flight, mostly above water, so there is not much to expect from the view outside on the way.
KUL passes by under the dark wing, faster than my camera's sensor can manage.
With some more altitude, the angular speed decreases and allows me to share the beautiful view of Kuala Lumpur by night.
Distribution of rather complete amenity kit, by Y standards, in a pocket whose fabric is much thicker than that of GA (for instance), and which has an unusual triangular snap hook. These are ear plugs in the foreground; they turned out to be unfortunately not up to the job.
The headphones are not very different from those provided on other airlines in economy.
A significant difference with a large number of airlines is the presence of a power port.
It was actually one of my criteria for flying WY. The power supply was far from being continuous, on both this flight and the connecting one to CDG. Consequently, I left my laptop plugged in at all times, including while eating or sleeping, in order to catch power whenever available, and this way, my battery lasted to my destination; I did not need more than that.
Distribution of a pack of various dried nuts
The airshow provides the direction of Mecca at regular intervals
Like GA (among the airlines that I patronized recently), WY provides a wifi internet connection for a fee.
Better restrain your use, because the rates are expensive – I let you calculate the cost of watching a movie on line if you are not satisfied by the IFE's offering.
The movie that we did not like was that played by the kids seen in the boarding room. Bad luck: they were two rows ahead of us, and since one of them was below 2 years old, and had therefore no seat of her own, her mother took an empty central seat one row closer, and in direct view. They cried, pestered, howled until very late in the night.
The dinner was served two hours after take-off, i.e. around midnight, which means very late even though the low load factor should have speeded up the service.
The Marathons chose different hot meals. We do not have very precise remembrances, in the absence of a printed menu, but it was OK.
With that came a small bottle of water with WY markings (and also various drinks like in any economy class)
The cabin was then switched to night mode, but not the kids ahead of us. Not in the least:(
Since sleeping was not an option, I went to the toilets, in order to provide matter to the aficionados of airliner flooring. The connection between the cabin and the galley had been done in a rather sloppy way.
And the floor of the galley had not been cleaned of late.
I refrained from playing with the IFE system management screen
Like on AF, only women are supposed to change the nappies of infants, but on WY, it is also forbidden to indulge in an Angry Birds pause on your smartphone while in the toilets.
I would have had the courtesy to the next passenger of using my towel to wipe off the washbasin…
… had WY had the courtesy of not plugging that washbasin, which prevented my wife from having the courtesy to me of using her towel to wipe off the washbasin. That there were no towels left did not help either, and I have good reasons to believe that my wife was not to blame for that.
The washbasin was plugged; on the other hand, the door beneath it on the left was not closed well, which provided me an opportunity to show what it usually hides to aircraft plumbing geeks.
I dare guess that the restaurants patronized by the FAs on the ground are more comfortable than that aloft.
Back in the cabin in night mode. The kids took a looooong time to get the message.
The FAs distributed this snack at 3:20, i.e. an hour and a half before landing. My wife chose the vegetarian version
… and I the chicken option
So THAT is what they woke us up for?: this reaction of my wife summarized our welcome to this stodgy thing, often called wrap in airline catering parlance. I wish they had distributed it later, since it could not take that much time in a very empty plane.
Because once we had eaten and drunk that, we had another 1h22' of flight, but we managed to sleep an extra half hour because the kids had at long last set to sleep.
We slept approximately up to there
The aisle, as seen by my wife
The Qurm neighborhood, during the descent over Oman (thanks to Google Maps)
Al Shati Highway
Kiss landing worthy of a flight manual video at 4:51, local time
Going through the business class on the way out
And joining the buses, which provides picture opportunities of the plane, evidently mostly WY, but I also saw a BA. (MCT is currently building a new terminal with jetbridges)
I like WY's logo on the reactors
This information could be useful to passengers who forgot where they were actually going or connecting
They would be unable to tell where that airport is after quickly going through the security check: these luxury duty-free shops are like any other around the world.
This is the end of this FR, and the beginning of a tourist bonus that you can choose to skip if you are less interested by KL than by KUL.
The Petronas Towers are now part of the image of KL: I was dubious about them, but I admit that the night lighting is great.
The Museum of Islamic Arts is a splendor: all displayed items are first class, very well laid out, with systematically bilingual explanations.
Like this Koran, for instance, but there are dozens of others, equally as beautiful.
A picture for amateurs of land transportation means: this is one of the monorail lines (it runs on rubbed wheels on the top section of the concrete rail, with horizontal guide wheels on each side. The power supply rail can be seen under the guide wheels level).
A suburban train, where one car out of three is for women only. The pictograms clarify that they can be with male and female children. The color of all this signage is a stereotypical rose.
Merdeka (= Independence) Place, in the heart of KL
The gigantic Sultan's Palace which is alongside the square
A giant screen displays news, advertising, and suddenly this message – I barely had the time to take my camera
Doa dan ingatan kami untuk(Our thoughts and our prayers are with them) : an homage to the victims of Flight MH17. I saw two billboards on the same them on expressways during our vacation.
Let's go back to religious matters with St Mary's Cathedral, located at the north end of Merdeka Square, built in English gothic style.
The National Mosque was built a few steps away from the Islamic Arts Museum. Its beautiful architecture strives at integrating Malaysian aesthetic traditions in this place of worship.
My wife's clothing was modest by Western standards, but it was not enough here and she wore one of these ample gowns made available in mosques likely to be visited by non-Muslims. We saw the same in Penang, too. Some male visitors had to wear them too, but my clothes were long enough to meet local standards.
There are actually few religious constraints on the configuration of a mosque – think of Xi'an's Great Mosque, a Chinese building quite far from Western stereotypes. The architects chose here to have a prayer hall without any pillar, under a ribbed dome recalling an umbrella shielding from the monsoon rains.
These triangular stained glass windows connecting the dome to the walls repeat the name of Allah and of His prophet.
Apart from the ban on images of living beings, a mosque must have a mihrab, the recess which materializes the direction of the Kaaba. (The only mosque which does not have one, for good reason, is the Grand Mosque in Mecca, where the Kaaba is.
The mosque was closed to tourists during prayers, but the volunteer guide who had welcomed us proposed us to stay there, as a courteous homage to People of the Book respecting a faith other than their own.
You all know that this other worshipping place is more familiar to me: 観音寺, written the old way from right to left, means Temple of Guanyin. Curiously enough, the characters are those used in Japan, where she goes by the name of Kannon. In Chinese, it would be 觀音寺.
The Buddhist bodhisattva of Mercy appears here in the thousand arms form (there are never a thousand of them, but forty in the canonical representation, and much fewer here), which relieves a thousand pains of the world.
These red plates and platters are used to lay the fruit brought to come and pray in the temple.
Blessed by the prayer of the devout and by the incense, these fruit are sometimes left there, but more often brought back to be offered to others in order to share that blessing. I sometimes received thus fruit from Taiwanese who knew that I knew the meaning of that gift.
But even though it was less easy to reach, the worship place to be visited was this one, from my point of view:
Frequent readers of my FRs will have identified a Taoist temple devoted to the most respected deity in Taiwan:
… the Queen of the sky, i.e. Matsu, protector of sailors
Under the high and highly ornate vault…
… the towers of cells lit one year each for each donation are so tall that the staff need a telescopic man lift to reach the top.
Like in most Taoist temples, these long wood sticks are used to obtain a random number which will be that of the drawer containing the relevant oracle.
Could you imagine a building which is both a synagogue and a Christian church? The Taoist temples often harbor Buddhist prayer facilities – this is the case here because this statue in the garden is that of Guanyin, represented as most often in Taiwan pouring water off a narrow bottle.
This temple is located at the top of a hill; its terrace provides a good, albeit somewhat remote, view on KL's city center.
No matter which god or goddess our prayers for a safe return had been directed to, they had been heard!
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Muscat - MCT
Fairly good, but could be better: this is the synthesis of my impression two weeks later. The seat was rather comfortable, but one of the toilet sinks was plugged. The IFE quality is good, but the meal choices were unavailable and the airshow could not be customized. The FAs were smiling and efficient. I did not take into account the snafu on the way in for grading the on-time performance (I did it in the FR on the MCT-CDG leg, in French so far), but I did take into account the 45 minutes needed to issue our BPs. What if we had arrived at the airport with even less time to spare than on the way in?
Now, once I listed the above, the quality was good and the fare was particularly attractive nine months before flying, which results in an excellent qulity price ratio.
KUL is quite far from the city; the express train is marginally cheaper than a taxi ride shared by two passengers, outside rush hours. The terminal is vast and the staff is smiling at both security and immigration checks.
The bus transfer was not a nuisance at the arrival in MCT, and the security check was very efficient there.
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