New MH in J: where's the malaysian hospitality gone? KUL-MEL

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by westernways, Feb 14, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. westernways

    westernways Active Member

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    Introduction

    Malaysian Airlines seems to have been dragging its heels for a little bit. They’ve fallen behind their other South East Asian legacy carrier competitors (aka. Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways), and even carriers like Garuda seem to be making biggsoer strides than Malaysian. And with the success of Air Asia out of KUL, you’ve got to wonder how MH is still managing to fill its aircraft. The recent agreement between MH and AirAsia was perhaps the scariest of news. Though the CEO’s of both airlines insisted that the partnership would no way affect competition between the two airlines, and routes served, you’ve got to wonder which party is getting the better deal out of the arrangement. Either way, with MAS’s new A380 being fitted and finished, and the second one having just rolled out of assembly line (at time of writing), there may be some exciting times for MAS ahead. Even their narrowbody fleet of ageing B734’s is being replaced by 737-800’s with lovely new seats. Not to mention their new A330 product as well, and (sadly) the retirement of some of their B747’s on some routes (replaced by either new A330’s or existing B772’s). The services to and from MEL have recently recieved an equipment change from Malaysia's ageing (but still very capable) B772 fleet to the smaller but more modern A330's in Malaysia's new livery, and with new seats as well..

    The purpose of this trip was coming home for Christmas to see my parents after having spent some time in HKG finishing my sommelier qualifications. The previous flight with MH from HKG-KUL had been pleasant. Whilst the product in their regional A330's is very.reminiscent.of the early 90's, it was extremely comfortable, and had an excellent cabin crew. I had a lot of luggage coming back from HKG, and booked the flights at the last minute, so Y options with QF, CX and SQ were pretty expensive. MH had some good last minute J fares, plus it would mean that I would be able to catch up with a friend in KUL that afternoon..

    Check in
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    Premium MH pax at KUL can go straight to the dedicated First and Business check in areas. It’s styled a little nicer to all the other checkin desks, and as you go in your greeted by a gatekeeper who kind of politely, but also firmly, asks if you’re in business class, though it's made fairly obvious with all the signs
    The gate keeper gives you a number which is displayed on plasma screens, directing you to which desk you’re meant to go to. Think, lining up for a cut of meat at a busy butcher. There are couches and a fridge filled with sprite, coke, and other strange Malaysian aloe-vera-esque drinks. I never had to wait too long to be served.

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    The agents politely ask where you’re going, and your passport, and seem to do the rest for you. Though interestingly, I was never asked if I had seating preference, I had to ask myself. Whilst didn’t bother me, but I know some travellers can be a little fickle, and would make an issue out of not being asked..

    Premium PAX at KUL are also given priority slips for customs. Though both times I used them they were useless because the first time the priority desk wasn’t manned, and the second time, the priority line was larger than the normal line..

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  2. westernways

    westernways Active Member

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    Lounge

    MH has 3 lounges at KUL. The satellite golden lounge, in the satellite terminal (used for long haul pax), the regional lounge (in the main terminal, for short haul international) and then the domestic lounge.

    I've included photos of the Satellite Lounge, as well as a video tour of the lounge



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    The Satellite lounge is Malaysia Airlines flagship lounge, and is used for all long haul departures. The lounge is BIG, and never seems to get too full. The entrance hall is nice and spacious, and the staff behind the front desk are nice and friendly. One nice touch is that after you go in the first time, they recognize your face, so because I was going in between the lounge and spotting, I only needed to flash my boarding pass once. Business class passengers are directed to the left, and first class to the right. Another nice touch is a big locker storage room in the hallway, so if you feel like escaping the lounge for a while and don’t wont to carry your bag, just ask the lounge attendant for a key, and pop your bag in a locker.

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    The lounge is a great place for spotting if you can get a couch by the window, these always seem to be in high demand. The toilets and showers are towards the back of the lounge, a small dining area sits in the middle of the lounge facing the bar area and the noodle bar, whilst the very large self serve food and bev area take precedent in the centre of the lounge, separating the two sides.

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  3. westernways

    westernways Active Member

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    The lounge is a great place for spotting if you can get a couch by the window, these always seem to be in high demand. The toilets and showers are towards the back of the lounge, a small dining area sits in the middle of the lounge facing the bar area and the noodle bar, whilst the very large self serve food and bev area take precedent in the centre of the lounge, separating the two sides.

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    The lounge is well lit, well laid out and well staffed. Staff were constantly buzzing around collecting dirty glasses and plates as soon as they were finished with.
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    The area where both lounges stand out is generous food offerings. First, I’ll start with the buffet. The hot food offerings were plentiful, there was a few Asian options like Chinese Herbal Duck Soup, Beef with Ginger, and a big rice cooker with traditional Malaysian condiments like Sambal, etc so you can make your own Nasi Lemak. The western style offerings weren’t bad either, potato and leek soup, Pasta with Nepolatana sauce, and a few others I can’t remember. Also available were a number of smaller savory things like Samosas, small chicken pies, and cheese tarts.

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    In addition, there are big trays of sandwitches, coldcuts (such as proussuito, ham, saucisson, salami, etc). There was a toast making station, with lots of different bread types (rye, sourdough, white and grain) with lots of nice French jams, honey, marmalades and butter.
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    As far as sweet things go, the buffet has a big selection of Malaysian kueh style deserts. If you’ve never heard of kueh, they’re little bit sized desserts, usually steamed and made out of glutenous rice, and are unique to countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia..

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    There are lots of French style pastries as well.. Small pastries like danishes, apple scrolls and croissants are provided near all the breads, as well as other things like small cream tarts, mini opera style gateau, chocolate fondant. All very yummy.

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  4. westernways

    westernways Active Member

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    Oh, and not to mention a fridge full of Haagen-Dazs. Green tea is my favorite.

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    However the BEST part about the MH lounges at KLIA is the noodle bar. They’re run for Malaysian byNÖÖÖDLES,.a franchise noodle house that has outlets in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the UAE. You simply go up to the station, place your order, and they’ll. bring it over to you. There are different offerings for breakfast (plain congee, fish congee, chicken noodle soup or prawn kuayteow), and some yummy lunch options as well (mee jawa, green noodle soup, chicken curry mee, and taiwanese beef noodle)..

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    Drink offerings are a little iffy at the lounges. Both lounges have a manned café style bar area, where you can order coffees, hot chocolates, and iced drinks as well. They actually made a pretty good café latte for me, which is hard thing to get in Asia. They also make iced coffees (Malaysian style), and TehTarik (Malaysian style ‘pulled’ tea). Behind the bar they also have a decent wine selection, with some nice South Australian reds. But no cocktails. Alcoholic drinks are a bit hard to find, there is no centralised alcohol area. There are a few random little bars scattered around the lounge, and the spirit selection is a little meagre too. Basics like Gin, Whisky, Vodka are covered. Real Piper-Heidsieck chapagne was nice to have, but Heidsieck tends to be a bit more tart and.savoury.for most peoples tastes, so perhaps not the best choice for the lounge..

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  5. westernways

    westernways Active Member

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    Flight

    Route: KUL-MEL
    Aircraft: A330-300
    Flight: MH149
    Registration: 9M-MTD


    Boarding was called on time, passengers with children and special needs were invited first, and Business class passengers were invited to board at their leisure using a separate jetbridge.. Upon boarding, I was given a disinterested hello, and went and found my seat myself (not hard… 1D). I was one of the first to board so managed to snap some pics of the seat and the cabin.

    Seat

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    The seats themselves are rather standard issue recaro angled sleepers. They recline flat, but at a bit of an angle. The angle is comparable to MKII Qantas Skybeds, but not as bad. They’re essentially the updated version of the MH J seats on the B772’s. The seat is comfortable in landing and takeoff position. When you select any of the reclined positions (position 1 or 2 on the main panel), the seat itself seems to raise quite high, and it takes a bit of manual adjusting with the hidden panel to get comfortable. The seat is not bad to sleep on, but the cushioning is a little thin, and the headrest protrudes kinda uncomfortably when you’re sleeping. There are no storage pockets (except for the seat in front) anywhere on the seat which makes storing things like phone and wallet a little bit harder..

    The seats are controlled by the panel on the center divider.

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  6. westernways

    westernways Active Member

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    Or using the manual movement panel under the tray table flap.

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    IFE remote is tucked away on the right hand side of the seat.

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    Pre-flight drinks were served. Actually, given to us. No order was taken for the preflight drinks. FA’s just came around with big trays of juice and placed them on everyones seat without any words being said… or any kind of smile. It was a pink fruit juice concoction, similar to one of the Lassi’s I had in the lounge. Luckily it was good, and what I felt like, but would have least liked to have been asked if I wanted champagne, or water…
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    Anyway, drinks were collected, hot towels distributed, and we pushed back. Towels collected, took off into night sky, and ambient light was switched on to a pale blue color. The colors seemed to have changed throughout the flight. Soon after we took off, the passenger next to me decided to take off his shoes (not a good smell) and open his suitcase right along the bulkhead. I did what any other self respecting passenger would do, and found a free row and moved..

    Mains choices were Chicken Biryani, Braised Beef, Pan Fried Cod or the Stir Fried Sea Food. I chose the chicken biryani. No order was taken for aperitif which was a bit annoying.

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    Amenity Kit
    After orders were taken, amenity kits were distributed. They were in white pouches, which revealed a dark blue Clarins MH bag.

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  7. westernways

    westernways Active Member

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    It contained mouth wash, a few Clarins serums and creams…

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    A toothbrush, and a pair of socks…

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    Meal

    First up on the menu was what I’d been looking forward to the most. Satay! Satay is provided for all J pax on MH, trays come around with plates of lamb and chicken satay and with awesome peanut sauce. I’d never tried MH’s on board satay before, but had heard good things. It didn't dissapoint, the satay was truly awesome. I haven't had satay on the ground that had tasted as good as this!

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    Next up was the appetizer. Similar to the one I had on the flight from HKG, but with the omission of the prawn, and with oyster mushrooms and marinated asparagus instead. Was accompanied by cute salt and pepper shakers, butter, and fruit plate. As you can see my cut of salmon wasn't the best. The dressing on the mushrooms and salad was relatively bland as well..

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  8. westernways

    westernways Active Member

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    Next up, mains, the chicken biryani. This was excellent. Spicy and flavorsome.

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    Desert was a small baked pumpkin pie, which was excellent, and the vanilla sauce was great too. A nice way to end dinner..

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    Service

    I had been flying MH quite extensively the few weeks prior to taking this trip. Mainly short and medium hall routes along south east asia, in a mixture of business and economy. In both classes, service was excellent, probably some of the most attentive and genuine i've recieved whilst flying. However this crew didn't seem to be particularly happy to be on the job that evening. Upon boarding for example, there wasn't really anyone to greet business passengers. Two of the flight attendants were present, but both seemed to be busy rummaging around with the trolleys. Once they finally saw me, one quickly turned around and checked my boarding pass, but that was it. No greeting or anything along those lines.. Another issue was the cabin manager who seemed a little sour once she figured out that I had switched seats shortly after takeoff, she said something along the lines of “you should have told me you wanted to move” in a very disapproving tone..

    After the Satay trolley had done it's first rounds, there was a lot of Satay left because the cabin wasn't full. On a previous flight with MH in business, when this happened, all passengers were offered seconds. This time, after the satay was distributed the extra satay mysteriously vanished. However the Satay is so good that I wouldn't blame the crew if they kept it for themselves..

    During the rest of the flight, the crew were efficient in carrying out there job, but it was missing the warmth and personal touch that I had perhaps come to expect from a Malaysian crew after my previous excellent flights. It's understandable that sometimes crews can be in a bad mood, everyone has off days, but when you're paying for a full fare business class ticket, I don't feel like being given a dressing down by the cabin manager after switching seats..

    Another annoyance was that as we were making our descent into MEL, an extremely annoying video made for tourists was played on all the IFE screens and blasted loudly over the PA. The video seemed to go on for an age, and was played at an ear-splitting volume level, and was not something you wanted to endure after just waking up from a rough sleep. The video was heavily sponsored, and all the hot ‘tips’ and great ‘activities’ in Melbourne were all those offered by the video sponsors. While I’m not a Melbourne resident myself, my partner lives there and nothing in the video is anything that any self respecting Melbournian would recommend to any tourist. I don’t think that kind of cheap advertising belongs on a full service carrier, let alone in their premium class. It went forever, couldn’t be switched off, and was generally painful to listen to.

    Conclusion

    The new A330's and seats are a welcome change to Malaysia's previous B777 workhorse product. Service on the ground at Kuala Lumpur, from check-in to the lounge is excellent. Similarly, Malaysia's catering is hard to fault. Having experienced excellent crews with Malaysia before, I can definitely say that grumpy crews are not standard across the board. But anyone coming away from this flight having flown Malaysia Airlines before might not choose to fly with them again, especially considering Emirates also offer direct services on this route as well..
     
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  9. moa999
    Original Member

    moa999 Gold Member

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    Great report and great video...
     
  10. kw335
    Original Member

    kw335 Silver Member

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    Excellent report, westernways! Can't wait to try MH once it joins oneworld :)
     
  11. NEVERhome

    NEVERhome Silver Member

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    I love those A330, Garuda has them too and I enjoy it when I score one in Malaysia or Indonesia. i get the grumpy crews every now and then, but it seems to coincide with one of my off days, so I ignore them. I did like your report, I have been flying a lot on Singapore this year, must say your food looks better than mine and I have always promoted the lounge as the best I have come across for an age, especialy if you are on your own and like watching what's going on
     

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