I take a tour of the Malaysia Airlines A350-900 (which earns Avios and BA tier points)

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Malaysia Airlines invited me down to Heathrow last week to take a tour of their new Airbus A350-900.

I am hoping to do a proper review of Malaysia Airlines in the next couple of months, but for now you’ll have to do with this brief overview.

If you want to know more, there is a special A350 section on the Malaysia Airlines website which you can find here.

Malaysia Airlines is not usually ‘front of mind’ for people who are travelling to Asia and beyond and who want to earn Avios and British Airways tier points.  Cathay Pacific, yes.  Qatar Airways via Doha, yes.  Malaysia Airlines is, along with Japan Airlines, SriLankan and Royal Jordanian, one of the oneworld partners we seem to forget about.

This is a mistake.  Malaysia Airlines has recently switched its A380 fleet for brand new A350-900 aircraft on the London Heathrow route and the product looks very good.

I put together a short video, see below, which shows you around the cabin in detail.  Here are the three options:

Malaysia Airlines A350

Business Suite

First up is Business Suite.  Until recently this was First Class, but a push back against First Class by local Government officials led to the rebranding.

Malaysia Airlines Business Studio

There are just four seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.  The seat is an interesting design, with the IFE screen right at the back, quite a way from your head.

Malaysia Airlines Business Studio

Business Suite is no longer available for Avios redemptions.  You could book it when it was branded First Class but this is one of the casualties of the rebranding.  What you can do is book Business Class with Avios and then enquire at check-in for a cash upgrade, which will be in the region of £500-£600 each way I was told.

Business Class

Business Class consists of one small cabin of 35 seats.

The layout is a mix of 1-2-1 and 2-2-1.  On the ‘A’ seat side you only have solo seats, alternating between ‘next to the window’ and ‘next to the aisle’.  This is allow your feet to slot under the seat in front when the seat is reclined.

Malaysia Airlines Business Class

In the centre block, you always have two seats.  As the seats face fully forward – this is not a herringbone layout – you are nearer to your neighbour than you would otherwise be with, say, BA’s new Club Suite.  The middle block is best for couples whilst solo travellers are better taking a window seat.

Malaysia Airlines Business Class

On the H/K side of the plane, there is a mix of two seat rows and one seat rows.  The solo seats are ‘throne’ seats, in the centre of the row with storage areas on both sides.

Malaysia Airlines Business Class

Here is a view looking forwards which lets you see the footwell and IFE screen:

Malaysia Airlines Business Class

Economy Seats

Economy is not a big focus on Head for Points, but I wanted to point out one thing.  As you can see from the image below, the front three rows of Economy seating are a different colour.  This is because these are extra legroom seats.

Malaysia Airlines A350 economy class

There are 27 of these.  This is how much legroom you get:

Malaysia Airlines A350 economy class

Here is the smart thing.  Because these are standard Economy seats at the end of the day – just with extra legroom – you don’t pay any additional Air Passenger Duty.  One of the reasons that Premium Economy is always noticeably pricier than Economy is that it attracts the same Air Passenger Duty as Business Class and First Class.

This isn’t a problem here.  You get Premium Economy legroom but an Economy seat and service.  The upside is a saving of around £100 on Air Passenger Duty compared to calling these rows Premium Economy and upgrading the food, IFE etc.

Finally, just because I could, I went into the crew rest area.  Six crew members can sleep in here at any one time.  As well as the three berths at the front of the picture and the two to the sides, there was an additional one behind me.  You can see more in the video.

Malaysia Airlines A350 crew rest area

A video tour of Malaysia Airlines A350-900

I shot a short video showing the three cabins – click the image below to view it.  If you can’t see it, click here to visit the Head for Points YouTube page.  You can also subscribe to our channel via that link.

We’re hoping to bring you a full review of the Malaysia Airlines A350 in a couple of months.   In the meantime, click here to see the official A350 section of the Malaysia Airlines website.

I also visited their lounge in Terminal 4 as part of the same tour, which was a very pleasant surprise.  My review of the Malaysia Airlines lounge in Heathrow Terminal 4 is here.

Thanks to the Malaysia Airlines team for arranging the tour.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. I flew MH back in 2015 – redemption to KUL from CDG is cheaper than from LHR not only in cash terms due to taxes, but Avios too (it’s just under 6500 miles).

  2. Baracus says:

    I flew the MH A350 LHR-KUL-LHR last year. It is a big step up from the seat on their A380 but I found the seat controls are very touch sensitive and also located very close to the area where your arm naturally rests.

    It is therefore very easy to inadvertently with small arm movements when eating or reading to move the seat, switch on the lights or start the massage / lumber function. While this seems a minor inconvenience there is no where else to rest your arm so it becomes very wearing over a 10 Hour plus flight. I found it really annoying.

    • Couldn’t you put a pillow or blanket between your arm and then control panel?

    • +1. Also no air vents over centre business seats (have gone for the spacious appearance rather than extra overhead luggage space). Otherwise all was good KUL-LHR in August.

  3. When I saw the title this morning I was hoping somehow you had earned avios and tps on your promotional visit! That would be exceptionally cool if they’d ticketed you somehow.

  4. Dave H says:

    Just flown Malaysian DEL-KUL-SYD and return. The DEL legs were on tired regional 737’s, but the SYD legs were on the 950 and 330, found the 950 to be the better flight. Their menus seem a little lacking, you could pre book reasonable mains, eg steak, fish but onboard it was more snack items eg pie or toastie, decent wine choice though and the satay to start is good. I would recommend a decent meal in the lounge before boarding.

    No issues with TP’s and Avios, 140 per sector in business.

    The business suite looked good, we were offered an option to bid for an upgrade but didn’t bother, it did seem to get you first lounge access though.

  5. I always think that the window seats on business cabins like this with the seatmate look quite claustrophobic compared to say Qatar’s old 2 2 2 business class.

    Looks impossible to get out of without disturbing the aisle passenger if they’re sleeping in bed mode.

    And also, how come BA is always criticised for “8 across business class” when this is essentially 9 across?

    • Julian says:

      Totally agree that these solo business suite products do look very anti social indeed and seem to reflect the fact that nobody now seems to get on a long haul flight in business class hoping to strike up a beautiful new friendship with one of their fellow passengers.

      So all a far cry indeed from the days depicted in the PanAm series shown on BBC Two only three or four years ago.

      • Lady London says:

        I liked that series too, Julian, I was sorry it did not get another run.

    • It’s 4 or 5-across! BA is clearly 8-9 across.

      • Surely the width of the seats are the same?

      • I beg to differ.

        If you look at the footprint these seats take up, their width is roughly the equivalent of 2-4-3, i.e. the addition of the seats in two rows, given that each seat’s cubbyhole is the console of the seat in front.

        (I concede it’s “roughly” 2-4-3 because the cubbyholes are narrower than the seats, but so is the footstool area in the current Club World and everyone agrees that it’s 8-across, 2-4-2. Same applies to Iberia and all staggered and alternating configurations, they’re not a “true” 1-2-1 setup.)

  6. Julian says:

    Its quite amazing just how many of you seem to have already forgotten the sad cases of MH370 that mysteriously disappeared somewhere over the Pacific forever and MH17 that was shot down while flying over a known war zone in the Ukraine, even though both of those sad happenings are within the last five years.

    As both those incidents potentially reflect poor decisions made by Malaysian, first about their pilot monitoring processes (MH370) and secondly about their apparent lack of concern for the safety of their passengers vs commercial expediency on the cost of jet fuel (MH17) speaking personally I would still think very seriously about entrusting my personal safety to this particular airline no matter how comfy and low priced a business class seat they might appear to be offering (and one could argue they also have to do that given the significant concerns of some more informed business class passengers about travelling with this airline).

    • One assumes that you also do not fly Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Jet Airways, Thai Airways, Pakistan International Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates, and Austrian Airlines who reportedly flew through the same airspace as MH17 that day.

    • I think you are mixing up things. MH17 was shot down. EU airlines and other were also flying that airspace that day.
      About MH370 they tell us “they don’t know what happened” – but of course it was also shut down (US military was doing some activities colaboraciones with other countries, coincidentally, where the plane disappeared). But of course, it will take ages until US says “we have shot down a civilian aircraft”.

    • Scott W says:

      Totally unjustified to say Malaysian has any blame at all for MH17. At the time both Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa had flights on a very similar trajectory over Ukraine, so it was very much bad luck. The culpability for MH17 lies entirely with the Russian backed insurgents in the Donbass at the time, as nobody thought that the airspace over the region was in any way dangerous. MH370 is up for debate of course, and to be clear I am no supporter of Malaysian Airlines. I have flown it three times over 25 years and am in no rush to repeat it.

    • Oh go back under your bridge.

    • Would fly Lufthansa / SWISS / Austrian / Eurowings, where there is 100% proof that one of their pilots deliberately flew into a mountain and that Lufthansa Group had failed to pick up on signs of his condition? Because if you would, your complaint sounds a little racist.

      • Julian says:

        Rob,

        A fair enough point about Andreas Lubitz’s long running history of depression and Germanwings (ultimately owned by Lufthansa) failing to have the appropriate safeguards in place for German GPs to alert airlines of such issues recurring as a result of the German regulatory culture on personal medical history and other record confidentiality (a reaction to the opposite culture applying under earlier less enlightened totalitarian regimes in their country).

        But the pilot suicide issue hadn’t been properly addressed by even many western airlines up to that moment, whereas I think that now it almost certainly has been. Although of course the event was also partly caused by the additional security measures regarding cockpit door strength and locking systems post 9/11.

        Regarding MH370 there is a fairly reasonable chance that incident also resulted from pilot suicide (the considerable lengths gone to in order to shut off all the instruments that would have allowed continued flight tracking point quite strongly that way and there also significant personal issues in the life of one of the pilots) and I think its also fair to point out that at the time of the shooting down of MH17 neither British Airways or a large number of other western airlines had been flying across that war zone in the Ukraine for several months. So it wasn’t just bad luck that Malaysian was in the number of remaining airlines still overflying the area and thus also in the frame for being accidentally shot down. See for instance http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/18/airlines-avoid-ukraine-airspace-mh17

        Also when the full story is out on the 737 Max 8 crashes although the basic cause will undoubtedly turn out to be the fact that the airplane wasn’t properly re-certified as a new type to allow pilots to be properly trained to handle its differently functioning autopilot system I suspect that the fact that the crashes were at the hands of pilots from Indonesia and Ethiopia will probably turn out to be because they had not yet sufficiently trained their pilots in the dangers of trying to fight a strangely functioning auto pilot (lessons learned in several other previous crashes in recent years including especially Air France 443, Turkish Airlines 1951 and Aeroflot 593) rather than immediately shutting it off and flying the plane manually in such a situation. Whereas I believe US airlines flying the plane had already fully versed their pilots in this potential issue.

        I have no agenda for making racist points but as one who takes a considerable interest in air crashes and their causes the blunt fact is that if you fly a lot on airlines in third world countries (what constitutes a third world country, if indeed they still exist, is of course a matter of debate and clearly Malaysia is relatively economically advanced and at least partially democratic in nature but is still classified as being an Emerging Economy by The World Bank – the same classification that Greece was downgraded to in 2013 after its Euro crisis) and especially in Africa you are statistically a very great deal more likely to die in an air crash as in general they fly older aircraft (especially airlines in Africa) and have less money to maintain them and their overall standard of pilot training tends not to be as high, Whilst Ethiopian Airlines is undoubtedly one of the better African airlines it may still not yet have covered this aspect of the 737 Max 8’s characteristics with its pilots.

        But in view of recent Malaysian Airlines history I think its perfectly reasonable to ask if one is as safe as when flying on a European or American airline.

      • illuminatus says:

        Rob, I concur with your points, but please don’t play the race card – someone who does that in 2019 negates his/her point entirely straight away,

        • TrollBasher says:

          Julian

          You’re a First Class Troll.

          Consider yourself bashed.

          Shame on you.

      • Julian says:

        Rob,

        Am I missing something as I have never ever flown on either Lufthansa or with Germanwings or Eurowings. So how do you conclude that I am happy to fly with them but not with Malaysian?

        Arguably MH370 has also never been found because Malaysian Airlines and/or the government (the one is I believe heavily financially supported by the other) weren’t prepared to pay for the search operation to go on for longer or cover a bigger area and/or because the government (which has a large degree of control over the behaviour of Malyasian Airlines) has something to hide about the circumstances in which the aircraft vanished and so deliberately provided false information as to the aircraft’s last likely position.

        MH17 was also only able to be in a position to be shot down over Ukraine in the first place because it continued to fly through airspace known to be potentially unsafe noting from the Guardian article at the time that “it has emerged that several airlines had already chosen to avoid the area. A spokesman for Qantas said the Australian flag carrier had not used the route for months. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said it had been taking a detour for “quite some time”. British Airways, Korean Air Lines, Air Berlin, Asiana Airlines and Taiwan’s China Airlines had also been avoiding the east Ukraine route”

        With reference to both the more onerous Amex new signup points bonus criteria (which was surely bound to happen the more you encouraged your readers to churn and burn their various different membership cards) and your unwillingness to hear anything negative about Malaysian”s safety record it does appear that your editorial integrity is possibly somewhat compromised by your need to maximise click through revenue from the companies that you recommend your readers to do business with?

        I will certainly also be interested to hear how the Curve vs Amex saga goes although I think Amex may have a possible defence if they can argue that most of the transactions with Amex via Curve were not real new purchases but involved the recycling of existing credit card debt from one existing credit or charge card to another.

        • Julian – Malaysian Airlines safety record used to be one of the best. In the case of a rogue pilot they are not the only one to have suffered from this, its happened on a number of occasions and there isn’t much more any airline can do to resolve this. In the case of Germanwings incident all the evidence was there, but privacy laws in Germany prevents doctors from sharing it.

          In the case of a flightpath over the Ukraine, numerous other airlines also flew that same route on the same day. So please ensure you are critical of all those airlines too.

          Do you blame Ethiopian for the 737 crash? Do you blame Lion Air for their 737 crash?

        • Shoestring says:

          +1 – though I think there *is* more an airline/ aviation authority/ country can do to mostly stop rogue suicidal pilots.

          Not sure exactly what it is! But I bet they could learn from the best secret services in terms of psychological assessment, ongoing.

    • Charlieface says:

      Incidentally I flew Aeroflop 2 months later and actually flew directly over the same airspace, although the chances of an Aeroflot flight being shot down by Russian, sorry I mean unidentified, militia is obviously fairly low.

      • A Malaysian says:

        Julian,
        As it happens I flew on flights VS350 and VS351 LHR-BOM-LHR a few days before the MH17 incident over the very same area. There were other European airlines also flying on that route at that time. It made me wonder what would have happened if my flights had been affected – not that I would have lived to see it.
        So your criticism is not based on fact.

    • bhabhav says:

      perfectly said Julian

  7. Joe Murphy says:

    One thing worth mentioning for Malaysian Airlines is they don’t give tier points or Avios on some sale fares. I travelled to Bali last year with them on the A350-900 (lovely plane, very quiet and service is excellent) but no TP our Avios posted and I was told this was due to it being booked on a sale fare.

    This was an economy booking so I’m not sure if the same applies to Premium cabins.

  8. Thanks Rob for a nice review.

    I’ve flown with Malaysia Airlines three times now on the KUL-LHR route on the A350-900 in J, and I really, really like it. Prefer it now to the alternatives to LHR from where we live in SIN, and not just because it’s cheaper than BA, SQ or even AY.

    The hard product is far ahead of current BA J, and even that of SQ for me. Soft product, I’ve only ever been very, very happy.

    On regional J class fares it’s the only game in town for TP chasing on BAEC, with some sharp pricing especially through BKK, and a very sweet spot “just over long haul threshold” routing to TPE.

    And at home base of KUL, if you”re OW Emerald the First Class check in and Lounge (in the satellite terminal at KLIA) are very rather awesome. I fly SIN-KUL at least once a month on deep discounted economy which is made very tolerable by the Emerald bits.

    For anyone who might think Malaysia Airlines are not in the same league as other OW carriers, try it.

    And Rob, hope you liked the Golden Lounge at LHR.

    Jon

    • Julian says:

      Luxury is not necessarily the same thing as safety. Elites always enjoy very substantial luxury in less economically advanced and /or less democratic countries.

      Whereas Ryanair for all its annoying cost cutting and many unfair additional charges (especially for reissuing a boarding pass) has never so far had a fatal aircraft accident. Easyjet is also far from luxurious and is now a huge aircraft operation but again has never had any fatalities.

      And in my opinion neither Malaysian air crash was simply a result of bad luck.

      • Julian, you’ve expressed your opinion – now please let other people make their own comments without making this thread all about you!

  9. I have found Business Suite availability for redemption with AA. 90k points and books into the new correct fare class. Availability was sparse though.

  10. Flew LHR-KUL-MEL and back last December on these planes. Very comfortable with good (not excellent) service on all flights. Took advantage of the book in advance meals, and they were delicious, in addition to the always tasty Malaysian satay. Took the bulkhead throne seat on each leg (2K?) and had some pretty awesome sleeping, and obviously the foot “hole” is bigger than the ones further back as there’s no seat in front to make way for. Throw in a bit of lounge hopping at T4 (Ended up with the entire Qatar lounge to myself at one point which was weird/great) and the perfectly serviceable lounges in KUL and MEL and overall it was a great trip. Cost me £2500 and there were enough TP to take me from nothing to BA Silver. Would book again in a heartbeat but can’t seem to find anything close to that price currently. Had a quick snoop at the 1st/Business suite upon boarding at LHR and it seemed nice but not worth the price bump IMHO given the seat itself looked virtually identical. Makes sense they’ve bumped it down to premium business.

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