Review of the impressive new Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge (International Satellite) in Kuala Lumpur

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This is our review of the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge in the international Satellite Terminal in Kuala Lumpur, which reopened in March 2018 following refurbishment.

Rob says: It is part of Jamie’s series of reports from his trip to Indonesia, flying on various oneworld airlines in Business Class using Avios tickets.  His review of the British Airways Galleries Club South lounge at Heathrow is here and his review of his British Airways Club World flight to Kuala Lumpur on a Boeing 787 is here.

I was happy to run this article and the forthcoming flight review as we have never given Malaysia Airlines the coverage it probably deserves as a British Airways partner.  The Head for Points bucket list includes Malaysia Airlines business class from Heathrow and a visit to their lounge in Heathrow Terminal 4.

Over to Jamie …..

“Having just arrived in Kuala Lumpur from London, I had a couple of hours in transit before my connecting Malaysia Airlines flight to Jakarta.

Malaysia Airlines has several lounges at Kuala Lumpur airport, situated in both the domestic and international terminals.

I landed at the international terminal satellite building which houses the flagship Golden Lounge. This is a brand new facility which only (re) opened in March 2018.  This is the lounge you are most likely to be using unless you are taking a domestic flight.  It was too good an opportunity to miss and gave me a direct comparison with the British Airways Galleries South lounge I experienced around thirteen hours earlier.

Here are the access rules for the Golden Lounge, courtesy of Australian Business Traveller:

  • Business class and first class passengers of Malaysia Airlines and other oneworld airlines
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairmans Lounge on oneworld flights
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich Gold and Platinum cardholders on oneworld flights
  • Other Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald cardholders on oneworld flights
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus members on China Airlines, KLM, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines flights only
  • Vietnam Airlines LotusMiles Gold (SkyTeam Elite) members on Vietnam Airlines flights only
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich Silver and Blue members choosing to purchase lounge access with miles or money (270 Malaysian Ringgit, around £50)

It also appeared that any Malaysia Airlines passenger could purchase access for 270 Ringgit.

If you are flying in First Class, there is a separate area with an a la carte dining room.

After disembarking I proceeded to find my way there which took about ten minutes. Signage was poor, however, and I felt like I was wandering around unnecessarily for some of that time. I did have a quick stop off to admire the jungle boardwalk, a mini living rainforest centrally located in the terminal within a domed greenhouse.  As you do.

Review Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge satellite terminal Kuala Lumpur

And of course there is an indoor waterfall too (library picture as mine did not come out well):

Review Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge satellite terminal Kuala Lumpur

The lounge is situated on the upper mezzanine floor (level 2) above the terminal transit train.  There are many other airline lounges on this level but is by far the biggest according to the airport map.  It is reportedly 4,000 square metres in total, including the First Class area.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

The entrance reception was impressive. It had a classy timeless feel to it.  Modern and stylish – not surprising, given that it has only been open a few months – with warm Asian decor.  It was flawlessly clean, spacious, and welcoming.

Once through, there was a short corridor adorned with Asian artifacts leading to the lounge itself.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

On the left before entering the main space was a bar. This was the only place to get an alcoholic drink as far as I could see. I only actually noticed this bar on the way out and by then I had a flight to catch so didn’t make use of it. Up until that point I’d assumed the lounge was alcohol free like many in this part of the world.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

The main space itself was spacious and bright. It felt crisp and clean. It was also surprisingly quiet for 4.30pm on a Monday afternoon. There were no more than a handful of guests around the whole time I was there.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

There were windows along the left side of the lounge providing plenty of natural light and views of the airport. I chose a comfy chair on this side to relax in.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

There was no shortage of seating to suit your needs, whether working, eating or relaxing.

The lounge was square with various areas of seating around each side. There were some nice private pockets and also some wall length tables suited for working. Most areas seemed to have charging points close by with multi plug sockets. Some areas also included direct USB charge points. At first it did seem like sockets were lacking but a closer look revealed some were located at ankle level and some were integrated into the floor under seating.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

There were plenty of flight information screens around. No flight announcements were made which added to the peaceful atmosphere.

There was a family room with a dedicated TV.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

A large television in one corner was playing a replay of that weekends Arsenal Premiership game, which luckily are slightly less painful to watch at the moment!

There were also male and female sleeping areas where you could relax on a lounger.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

Showers were available and looked nice and well maintained:

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

Yesterday’s British newspapers were available (Sunday Times / Sunday Telegraph) which was impressive, along with other English language titles. All the magazines were of Malaysian origin.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

Wifi was available but I did have some trouble initially logging in on my iPhone. Once it was working I had to log back in quite often which was irritating. The internet speed was fine, however.

I’d eaten on-board not long before my flight arrived so wasn’t feeling at all hungry. This was frustrating because the cooked breakfast on my British Airways Club World flight was poor and the food offering here looked really impressive. Sadly, my lack of appetite means I can’t vouch for the quality of any of the food here as I didn’t try it.

On the right as you enter the lounge was a noodle bar, designed in a simple cafe style.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

I liked the fact it had a different look to the rest of the lounge and meant you could eat here before retiring to one of the more laid back sections. It created more of an experience than just sitting in a lounge. Three freshly made noodle dishes were served here – Nyonya Curry, Laksa and Won Ton noodles with vegetables or chicken dumpling.

If Asian noodles are not your first choice, there was also a central food station where chefs prepared the other options.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

There were made to order sandwiches – grilled cheese and tomato on panini, grilled spicy tuna on rye bread and a potato and curried pea wrap. Several pasta dishes were also available.  Potato samosas, potato curry puffs, chicken dim sum, vegetable curry and pasta with mushrooms formed one side of the self service hot buffet.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

Chickpea soup and bread rolls were located next door. This is the salad and fresh fruit bar:

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

I couldn’t help but think back to the sad looking salad offering in the British Airways Galleries South lounge. The quality of presentation here far outdid anything available back at Heathrow.

A limited variety of carbonated soft drinks was available.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

Pineapple and mint water and ice lemon tea could also be found on a separate table next to a small selection of mini desserts.

Review of the Malaysian Airlines Golden Lounge Satellite

Hot drinks were available from a counter at the central galley. I’m not sure what kind of coffee they served as I had a green tea (and a biscuit).

There were numerous smartly dressed staff throughout the lounge. The ones I encountered I found to be courteous, professional and welcoming.

Conclusion

Overall I was very impressed with the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge in Kuala Lumpur. It was modern, nicely designed and spacious. It was well lit and the atmosphere was calm and relaxing, perfect for resting or working.  Quite the opposite of Galleries South!

The food offering was outstanding and looked high quality. This is especially true considering what British Airways has available to eat at 4.30pm in the Galleries lounge. The difference is glaring.

The lounge was also spotlessly clean. Yes, it was very quiet in there but I can’t imagine the staff allowing this standard to drop when busy. There was an air of pride about the staff and they clearly wanted to make you feel special during your visit. It worked for me and I would not hesitate to head back there if the opportunity arose.

That being said, I wouldn’t pay to gain entry as I think £50 is too much for any lounge unless you are hoping to use the nap area.  If you have oneworld status or a business class ticket it is well worth arranging your schedule so you can spend some time here.

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Comments

  1. “This was frustrating because the cooked breakfast on my British Airways Club World flight was poor ”

    You do surprise me! Poor food on BA…. hold the front page …. shocker…. not!

    I have never had a bad meal in Malaysia, the food is fabulous ever eating from the hawker stalls would be better that BA’s catering.

    The KUL lounge looks fabulous and as is now generally the case demonstrates just how poor the BA home base ground product is and just how exploitative BA are of their protected position at fortress heathrow. Rip Britain again!

    • I visited the lounge a couple weeks after re-opening. I was excited as it looked (and still looks) fantastic in the photos. I was terribly disappointed as it all seemed style over substance. A few issues:

      1) The bar for example is big but is only stocked with literally a few bottles so drinks offering are completely limited to the basics (so I question why have a bar).
      2) The self serve food is simply basic sandwiches or pre-cooked noodles dumped into a wishy washy broth (so I question why have live cooking stations when there’s no cooking!).
      3) WiFi was terrible and still is apparently. Every time your screen goes off you’re dropped off the WiFi and have to login in again.
      4) Lounge feels too big and atrium like for me.
      5) No spa treatments.

      I disagree with Jamie and actually think BA Galleries T5 is the better lounge.

      • I agree – this lounge was meh. This article is massively overselling it.
        In the First bit, the food and drink selection wasn’t great, although the shower suites were good. The Biz lounge was a little more interesting with different areas – barista coffee would have been nice, but not at midnight before a long night flight home

    • I think expecting a decent cooked breakfast on an aircraft is extremely optimistic.
      Very, very few hotels can manage it unless it is cooked to order, and even then …

  2. Good review Jamie, and tallies with my experience. Good to see Malaysia Airlines getting some wider exposure.

    Poor signage seems to be a common feature of Malaysia – they just don’t seem to be able to get it right for some reason. But KLIA is an easy airport to get around once you’ve got the hang of it 😉

    For those with access to the First lounge – may be useful to know that the coffee in the Business section is much better! The First offering tastes like Nescafe instant or some such, while the J lounge has proper fresh-ground filter coffee. The staff (who are brilliant all-round) will happily go and get some for you though.

    You were probably lucky to be there at a quiet time – when busy it tends to get a lot noisier, largely because (pet peeve of mine, and by no means unique to this lounge) too many people seem to think it’s ok not to put their phones on silent mode so you get non-stop ringing and bleeping (not to mention the usual “I’m so important” shouted phone calls 😉

    Small typo in the conclusion – it’s the Golden Lounge, not the Golden Circle Lounge (are you writing from a Shangri-La? 😉

    Enjoy Jakarta – good luck getting into town from the airport… 😉

  3. Nice review – looks like a great refurb from the previous version of this lounge

  4. Antony bevan says:

    Ive use this service several times and found it really nice to use. it a bit out of the way and i did have to ask where it was

  5. You state that you are likely to use this lounge unless taking a domestic flight. That’s not actually the case. Quite a number of regional flights depart from the main terminal and use the smaller lounge there.

    Also intrigued by your comment “I’d assumed the lounge was alcohol free like many in this part of the world.”. While I accept there are some lounges in Asia that are alcohol free, I’m not sure I would say “many”. That came across as a bit of of a prejudiced comment.

    • The MAS lounge setup is confusing, but perhaps BA should copy at Heathrow. He used the satellite lounge which is where international flights depart. Then for international but ‘regional’ flights i.e. SIN, BKK etc these usually leave from the main terminal and you access the Regional lounge (which is very good), then there is another lounge for domestic passengers. Prior to the renovations i preferred using the regional lounge (which had been renovated).

      Yup, bit off with the alcohol comment, most countries/lounges in SE Asia are ok with alcohol. Malaysia is a bit different as it is a muslim country – but i have ordered drinks from the lounge bar before and then taken in to main lounge, never been an issue. In the First lounge there is a waiter service for drinks.

      btw the hot drinks counter does teh tarik and kopi tarik (pulled tea and pulled coffee), both are really good.

      • And we can vouch for the Laksa. Superb. Been through this lounge twice in past couple of weeks. Staff will get drinks etc once asked. Great experience. Much needed.
        No alcohol tho in the kul domestic one to bki. Nor in PEN plaza premium.

    • Isn’t Malaysia a majority Muslim country?

      • Yes but alcohol standard in biz lounges. Look at mid east lounfes..lots of choice in those places.

      • More a secular muslim attitude in the big cities and west coast of West Malaysia but definitely more fundamental in the east coast of West Malaysia (Tioman etc)

    • Gordon – apologies if my comment came across as prejudiced. That description came purely from my experience on this trip. I took around fourteen flights and visited quite a few lounges (via Priority Pass). More than half were alcohol free.

  6. Lounge looks great….not sure about NH mind….check out josh cahill’s latest video on YouTube and it might put any vlogger off for good!

  7. Axel Heyst says:

    Good review.

    Looking forward to Jamie getting into Jakarta and maxing out his Amex for points. Jakarta Money Changers offer a “cough cough” service where you can get cash straight from your credit card. Amex doesn’t see it going through as cash though, wink wink. The charge is usually about 5%, though you can get your employer to pick up this bill I’m reliably informed by HfP.

    It’s a great way to hit your £10k spend bonus. To request this service simply say – Pak mau tukar Amex buat uang tunai, in your best Betawi accent and negotiate the fee.

    • c tracey says:

      Never ceases to amaze me that people would “get your employer to pick up this (5%) bill”. As an employer, I scratch my head at this type of behaviour. Maybe its just me!?

      c55

  8. Was using the first class section of that lounge in August. It’s Ok. Definitely better than any BA lounge. But still notthing amazing.
    Malaysian Airlines is quite possibly the worst One World alliance partner, will never use again. The only thing going for them are their hard products and the food in the lounge. Air Asia are miles better.

    • Agree with comment.
      I have been through the first class lounge twice this summer – service in the ‘dining area’ is pretty stuffy (and not very good) and food nothing to write home about. The atmosphere and arrangement is verging on the formal – I’d rather just chill – I much prefer the T5 CCR.
      Selection of snacks etc in the main area of the first class side are decidedly poor.

  9. Barry McNally says:

    I was here end of October for the evening BA departure. The lounge was heaving, there was not a spare seat. The food offering was simple sandwiches or noodles in broth – nothing was being cooked or made fresh. The toilets weren’t particularly clean even with a full time attendant outside. It looks great but didn’t really provide much of a quiet resting place or a premium experience – I actually think there public terminal areas were quieter!

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