British Airways returns to Kuala Lumpur – EXCELLENT Avios availability

After a 14 year gap, British Airways announced yesterday that it is resuming flights to Kuala Lumpur.

The service will begin on May 27th 2015.  It will be operated by a four class Boeing 777 which will include First Class.  BA has stated that it intends to prioritise the route for a Boeing 787 aircraft later in 2015.

The flight times are both overnight.  The outbound will depart at 20.15, arriving at 16.00 the following day.  The plane will then sit on the ground for seven hours (an expensive option when dealing with $200m aircraft) to depart at 23.05.  It lands back in London at 05.25.

Given that Malaysia Airlines joined the oneworld alliance last year, this is a slightly surprising move.  Malaysia Airlines is operating TWO A380’s from London to Kuala Lumpur each day, each of which will have substantially more capacity than a 777, and which features Malaysia’s latest seating.  You can earn Avios and British Airways Executive Club tier points on either service.

Let’s look at the redemption opportunities.

Avios availability to Kuala Lumpur is excellent.  In fact, I have NEVER seen such good Avios availability on any route.

Here is a screenshot looking for 2 Club World seats:


As you can see, there are two seats every day for this period.  In fact, from what I could see there are – in general – seats in EVERY class on EVERY day at the moment.  Club World tends to have 4 seats available, First Class has two.

Kuala Lumpur is, of course, very close to Singapore and it is easy to connect between the two by numerous modes of transport.  This offers an additional opportunity for anyone looking to connect to the British Airways Singapore to Sydney service down to Australia.

(What I don’t know is if you could use a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher to fly London-Kuala Lumpur and then Singapore-Sydney.  My gut feeling is no.)

Malaysia Airlines also runs a number of routes to Australia and New Zealand from Kuala Lumpur.  These include (subject to change at the moment) Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Auckland.  You could therefore use your 2-4-1 voucher to fly to Kuala Lumpur on British Airways and then book a second Avios redemption, at full price, for a connection on Malaysia.

Comparing taxes

If you are simply looking to fly to Kuala Lumpur and do NOT have a 2-4-1 voucher, I would give British Airways a miss.  The taxes on a Club World return ticket from London to KL will be £558 plus 140,000 Avios.

If you take the Malaysian Airlines service (on an A380 remember, with flat beds) in business class, from Heathrow, you will pay just £442 in tax – saving £116.

For an even bigger saving, head over to Amsterdam or Frankfurt or Paris (Paris is an A380 city).

Because Amsterdam is closer to Kuala Lumpur, you only need 120,000 Avios in business class.  The tax is only £279.  This saves 20,000 Avios and £279 in tax per person!  This is a Boeing 777 route.

From Paris, the tax is just £330.  You would get an A380 here.  From Frankfurt, it is £321 with a Boeing 777.

Note that some of these routes are at risk in the current Malaysia Airlines restructuring, now that the airline has been renationalised.  You may, though, come out on top if that happens as you may be able to get rerouted from London without needing to pay additional taxes or Avios!

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  1. Why does the UK Govt impose a tax of £558 on BA Business class seats but just £442 on MH?

    • They don’t. The difference is due to fuel surcharges. BA imposes higher fuel surcharges than MH.

      • But the article identifies them as ‘taxes’ five times and there’s no mention whatsoever in there of ‘fuel surcharges’. Surely, Raffles knows his stuff???

        • I think ‘taxes’ is just short-hand for those bits of cash that get added to what is offered as the base fare. I’m quite certain Raffles knows his stuff, but is just presenting things simply for his readers, who lack his detailed expertise!

        • Yes, we’ve had this discussion before! I know precisely what I mean when I write taxes, but I don’t like to write out ‘and surcharges’ every time I use the word. At the end of the day, you have to pay it and that it is the key fact. What you are actually paying for – and whether you should morally and legally be paying it – is a different story.

        • Why not just call everything fees? Basically they are just fees to use Avios, because BA could pay the tax on your behalf, as they (unlike FR) might do when an APD rise is announced to take effect before you fly but after you book.

  2. Could be handy for getting to SW Thailand via Langkawi.

    Also useful for getting to Perth, WA

    • MH has flights to Krabi and Phuket from KUL falling under 650 miles. AI r Asia to just about anyplace in Asia.

  3. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Tbh I had assumed that this was going to be ahead of an announcement that MH are dropping LHR.

  4. is this an early indication that mh are going to go down to 1 daily , or even stoping lhr all together?

    • I doubt Malaysia has firm plans but BA may be taking advantage of their difficulties to turn the screw. Hard to see how 2 A380s and a 777 can be filled each day.

      • probably thats why they are putting the 787s on the route. i imagine malaysian willl drp down to 1 a380 / day visiting lhr

      • I doubt MH will drop London! They’re still very popular amongst the large Malaysian community here in the UK. Flew with them last month and the flight was definitely full. No doubt there will be a dip in MH passenger numbers, but I’m also expecting a dip from Malaysians flying UK-KUL with EK (3x daily to KUL), EY (2 daily) and QR..

        • Agreed. MH, being the airline of a former British colony, is as unlikely to drop LHR as Garuda is to drop AMS, like QF and NZ. BA can’t think like this though.

    • Have no idea what their loads are but I am guessing still okay from London if award availability is anything to go by. This is less readily available to London than other routes. That said, they have been releasing the odd F seat lately. I snapped one up a few weeks ago to replace my QR flight which proved to be right move as launch date do a 30th is now 10 October on QR 3 and 4 and probably January for QR 1 and 2. I am not superstitious and looking forward to sleeping night away instead of connecting in Doha. MH in J is good for couples with pairs of seats in conventional layout. Those with option are best to redeem AA miles as only 52.5 and 75k required each way in J and F from UK to all over Asia. I am surprised at BA using a slot for this instead of code sharing. Incident. Great J fares ex UK to Asia on MH at moment. Probably even much better from AMS. OT: good fares across all classes on Etihad exEDI after they launch next year.

  5. I would book this as one ways If your looking to venture further into SE Asia returning through KUL can reduce taxes even further. eg If returning from DPS Bali to LHR with Malaysia Airways Taxes are £ Zero and from BKK only £13.

  6. lots of new options to pop home as i am currently based in and around KL – nice

  7. Mr Bridge says:

    I am not normally superstitious, but everyone knows bad luck comes in 3’s. Thats why MH is not an option for many people

  8. Odd – I keep checking and can’t find any reward seats at all. Off to check directly on now.

    • The data used by the Avios app, and therefore baredemptionfinder, is always a few days old. These flights were only announced yesterday.

  9. I’m fairly new to all this but what difference does the model of aircraft make between 777, 787 and A380? I understand some will be different seat arrangements, age of aircraft etc. But which is most preferable when looking at booking?

    • A380 is very quiet and you can hold a conversation with travel companions at normal volume. By contrast 777 is a very noisy plane, even in the front row. If you are lucky enough to fly premium cabins a380 feels very spacious with exception of BA. First suites grnerally tend to be better than F seats offered by same airline on smaller aircraft. Havr not flew economy on a380 but note many airlines offer pairs of seats on upper decks or nose of lower deck. Pairs of seats in economy are otherwise increasingly difficult to come by except on a330s. All a380 economy seats are newish so tenf to have the latest dpec. Always thought 777 was a wrird bird, economy cabin felt cramped with 9 seats across and now the norm is 10! Even in J many aitlines have 7 actoss, especially for rehional. Do uou get dreaded middle seat syndrome in both economy and business. Business cabins can even feel cramped. Many old 777s around with dated seats and fittings despite retrofits. I have heard many cabin crew hate 777s but don’t know their reasons. I have found my a380 flights yo be much smoother than any other aircraft. Have not yet flown 787 so cannot comment much. A lot of hype in American media about supposedly new stuff like mood lighting that has be around for years. Has larger windows but see little value in those at 35k feet or ehrn you are sleeping. Has high ceilings but personally i feel more comfortable with more between me and the outside despite knoeing it makes no difference. Given a choice of aircraft to fly a480 would be my first choice by large margin, followed by 744. Bottom of list woulf be 777 and 767.

      • Thanks James, we are on the 777 F to HKG in Jan and ret in Feb. Was hoping it would be a nice experience. Maybe we might even get OF and get compensation avios! Are all the 777 ; cabins now upgraded yet ?

        • Relax, F will be a great experience on any aircraft. I am guessing you are going BA givien comments about retrofit? If so, keep an eye on a380 availability. If it comes up I would say worthwhile paying 2 x £35 to change so you can experience and compare both aircraft for yourself. If you are going CX in either direction then their F cabin is older than their J but is currently getting minor update to upholstery etc. I am guessing BA retrofit is complete as comp for old F only applied to a few routes while on others it is now sold as CW. Should definitely be fine to HKG, even if scheduled aircraft goes tech. IMO new F not much of an improvment over old. If this is your first trip to HK I recommend you forget airport express, taxis or limos and jump on front upstair seat on public bus. Be sure to study routes and choose hotel that is close to one of the HK or Kowloon airport routes; all the details are readily available on the web.

        • Thanks again, v reassuring…trust you are an old hand on the Asia routing, I follow your comments v closely, as we do Asia once or twice a year. Doing HKG again as a jump off to Bali on a 241, so appreciate your travel tips. Love the sharing ethos that Rob promotes and that we help each other out.

  10. Eshaq Choudhury says:

    I did a one-way search from KUL-LHR and business is coming back as 70000+£169 tax while first is 105000+£15 tax. Why would first class have lower taxes?

    • Yestweday I searched date in October ow LHR-BKK and it was under £1500 J including tax at their own website. If you have the flexibility try a connecting flight A-KUL-B; I have found this is often much cheaper that direct to/from KUL.

    • Yes, this is an odd anomaly, i have a KUL to LHR flight booked for January in business, and I’m searching for a first class seat becoming available to get some cash back!

  11. Have just bagged 4 F for next August using 241. Had doubts last night when it looked like I would need to take 2 in Club world which I hate but today all the J gone and F doubled up to 4. Happy chappy as I really wondered how I was ever going to get any value out of the 241’d availability had been so bad.
    I take the point re real fares and the BKK option and if those are better in The next sale I can cancel and book cash seats. The opportunity to get 4 in F on a single flight was however to good to pass up.
    I too would prefer that raffles and others called BA surcharges and rip off fees exactly what they are and not tax which is a fraction of what BA charge.

    • I agree, we just phoned up to cancel a Mid East fare of £492, and were told we would get just a miserly £96 back, couldn’t believe it, they even keep the fuel surcharge, if you don’t fly. Am truly shocked which makes me even more determined to make the avios system work. So now sticking to our original plans, but what shocker. They just call them Fees, so Rob is justified in calling them a cover name of fees, as that’s what BA call them. They just keep them all! Outrageous!

      • you will be able to change the dates at about a £120 fee pp

        • I know, it was to cancel completely, and change a previous return flight to come back later! We hoped to dispose of the final flight completely , but not to be.. Anyway we have learned from this! Just push on with avios and gain flexibility, not just from Lhr but ex eu too which is a fantastic option.

  12. Paul Irving says:

    This is great news.

  13. The website had a good (in depth) discussion of MAS route cuts and one world partners stepping in.

    There had been talk of BA flying to KUL and then onwards to Jakarta, would seem a good use of the spare time for that plane standing on the tarmac.

    MAS are short of cash and selling one slot at LHR would bring them millions. I think BA restarting this route is an indication of MAS dropping one flight. The number of flights to the west of out KUL must be resulting in pressure on routes to europe, Emirates have 3 flights to DXB and onwards connections. However, just to contradict myself, i do hear that MAS oversell economy and often compensate pax to travel on their other flight.

    The MAS cabins on the A380 are ok, but don’t compare well to their competition. The business class seat isn’t quite fully flat, first is spacious but there is only 4 rows. The service offered by the cabin crew makes up for the shortcomings.

  14. Terima Kasih Encik Raffles for timely blog-flash yet again. Three First tics on same flight in the bag for balik kampung/summer hols ’15. Bit OT but an acquaintance managed four First tics on same flight to PVG for Easter ’15, is BA BA?

  15. Brilliant thanks Raffles, I was looking for a way to do Vietnam next summer. Using 2 241s to get 4 of us together in Club World to Kuala Lumpar is a fantastic result.

  16. Can you advise where you are accessing this availability? and Explorer doesnt come up with KL at all, in any class, at any time.