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Review: I try Malaysia Airlines Business Class to Kuala Lumpur, as the country reopens

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This is our review of Malaysia Airlines Business Class on the Airbus A350-900, between Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur.

With the Malaysian borders now open and welcoming tourists again Malaysia Airlines was keen to get us back in the country – so keen, in fact, that we ended up being the first international press trip to the country in two years.

This was my second time flying Malaysia Airlines and I was happy to return. My trip to Malaysia in 2019 was my first long haul assignment at Head for Points and I had fond memories of both the airline and the country. I was keen to see what, if anything, has changed.

Malaysia Airlines A350

Malaysia Airlines is, of course, a British Airways partner in the oneworld alliance and you can earn and spend Avios – and earn British Airways tier points – when you fly with Malaysia Airlines.

Which lounge does Malaysia Airlines use at Heathrow?

Right now – and until Heathrow Terminal 4 re-opens – Malaysia Airlines operates out of Terminal 2 and uses the Plaza Premium lounge (review here).

As this is a temporary arrangement I won’t go into the details, except to say that there was virtually no queue to check in regardless of cabin class. Even in economy there were only a handful of passengers when I arrived two and half hours before my flight.

Sadly, when, Malaysia Airlines does move back to Terminal 4, it won’t return to its Golden Lounge (you can read my review from 2019 here). This is a shame – it was a spectacular lounge with great views – but with just two flights per day and hefty costs I can understand why it was closed.

Fortunately, Malaysia Airlines will send you to the lounge of your choice – either the Qatar Airways lounge in Heathrow T4 – review here – which has just been refurbished or the Plaza Premium lounge on the floor above. You should choose the Qatar Airways lounge – this is an exceptional business class lounge – up there with the Cathay First lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3 unless the refurbishment went horribly wrong – so we aren’t complaining.

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class

The A350 is now the flagship of Malaysia Airlines’ fleet and is used for its longest flights.

The aircraft features four Business Suite ‘First Class Minus / Business Plus’ seats which I reviewed in 2019. The airline rebranded its First Class seats to get around the reluctance of some customers to be seen booking First, but little else changed. The only snag is that these seats cannot be booked as Avios redemptions because they are no longer categorised as First.

Behind this are 35 lie-flat business class seats in two cabins of six and three rows:

Malaysia Airlines A350 seat map

Malaysia’s business class configuration features the staggered 1-2-1, 1-2-2 Vantage seat. This is the exact same seat that Aer Lingus has on its A330s and which I reviewed two months ago, albeit with different finishes.

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class cabin

Despite not being the latest model it is a good seat, although your experience can vary significantly depending on the seat you select: anything from a throne seat to a middle pair.

Malaysia Airlines A350 throne seat

I was sat in 2K, on the front right of the forward cabin in a ‘throne seat’. This is great for two reasons. Firstly, the throne seats offer the most personal space of any seat in the cabin, with side consoles left and right:

Malaysia Airlines A350 throne seat business class

And secondly, as this is a bulkhead row, the foot cubby hole is significantly larger than you would otherwise get. Here is my leg room in 2K:

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class legroom

…. versus my last review:

Malaysia Airlines business class legroom

The good news is that eight out of thirty-five seats feature the additional leg room given the spread across two cabins, so you have a one in five chance of getting it.

My seat in 2K also came with two windows:

Malaysia Airlines A350 windows

The seat features a three-point seat-belt for take-off and landing. You can uncouple the shoulder strap during flight:

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class seatbelt

Throne seats get a lot of storage space – far more than many others – including a little cupboard at shoulder level suitable for something headphone-sized:

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class seat control

There is a mirror on the inside of the door. You can also see the IFE remote, reading light, and seat controls in the photo above. A plug and USB socket are underneath the side table.

Opposite the seat is a 16″ IFE screen, which is a little on the smaller size compared to newer cabins such as BA’s Club Suite but still perfectly acceptable:

Malaysia Airlines A350 film selection

For a greater sense of space in the cabin Malaysia Airlines has chosen to install overhead lockers only above the window seats. A side effect of this is that only these seats get overhead air nozzles:

Malaysia Airlines A350 overhead vents

I find that most airlines up the temperature of the cabin overnight so I am always glad to have personal air vents that I can control. On my return flight I was in a middle pair and got a bit too hot – although the crew did lower the temperature slightly after I asked them.

Waiting at my seat was a mattress pad, blanket, noise-cancelling head phones and bottle of water. After take-off the crew came round handing out slippers:

Malaysia Airlines A350 slippers business class

…. and the new Aspinal of London amenity kits:

Malaysia Airlines A350 amenity kit drink

These amenity kits are a BIG upgrade from the previous stock and get a big thumbs up from me. The contents includes socks, eye mask, ear plugs, mouthwash, dental kit and comb, as well as Payot lip balm and body cream.

What is the seat like to sleep in?

There is no turndown service, but it’s easy enough to make your own bed with the included mattress pad and duvet. It’s quite smart:

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class bed

There’s loads of leg room if you have a bulkhead seat, as you will have seen above.

It’s comfortable enough to get a decent night’s rest – and I say that as someone who sleeps in the recovery position with my knees sticking out left right and centre. The pillow in particular is very comfortable – not massive but one of the better pillows I’ve used.

…. but are there enough toilets?

Somewhat surprisingly, Malaysia offers just two toilets for its 35 business class passengers on the A350. This is in contrast to Iberia’s four lavatories for its 32 passengers or Finnair’s 46 business class seats.

Whilst this is fine on a day flight, there was a big run on the lavatories in the morning after breakfast on the night fight. Two just aren’t enough on a busy flight, especially when people are changing and brushing their teeth etc.

In-flight entertainment and wifi on Malaysia Airlines

I have to say I was quite impressed with the film selection on Malaysia Airlines, which contained a number of new releases as well as a pretty good back catalogue covering all the major bases.

Malaysia Airlines A350 film selection

I ended up watching The Lost Daughter with Olivia Colman, as well as Oceans 11. On the return I watched Just Mercy and King Richard. Some of the films have hard-coded subtitles in English or Chinese, which is a bit annoying.

Malaysia’s A350s are also equipped with satellite wifi and 3G, although you’ll have to pay. Here is the wifi pricing structure:

  • Lite Plan: 10MB at 200kbps for $2
  • Social Plan: 50MB at 512kbps for $10
  • Business Plan: 200MB at 512kbps for $25

None of these are particularly generous or appealing, especially when you consider that Aer Lingus gave all its business class passengers a free voucher for 700MB on my recent flight. Even the Business Plan seems a little light at 200MB.

You can also use the 3G service from Aeromobile which is billed by your mobile network. Finding pricing for this is a challenge as it varies carrier to carrier and they don’t all have clear pricing online, but for Three, the rates are a stonking £6 per MB.

That’s assuming the wifi even works. On my return flight there seemed to be widespread trouble connecting despite the crew rebooting the system several times. This is not a Malaysia Airlines issue but a widespread industry problem. Unfortunately, inflight wifi is not smooth sailing quite yet.

When the flight landed in KL, we were shown a video from the Malaysian Minister of Health looking very trendy in a batik shirt and welcoming passengers back to Malaysia:

Malaysia Airlines A350 health secretary

You wouldn’t see Sajid Javid (or Matt Hancock ….) doing this!

Food service on Malaysia Airlines business class

On a long flight like this (13.5 hours) the meal service can make or break the experience and I’m pleased to say that Malaysia Airlines exceeded my expectations.

When boarding you are first given a choice of juice, followed by champagne (Bruno Paillard, both normal and rose):

Malaysia Airlines A350 boarding drink business class

After take-off a second drinks round is made, plus you get a small bag of peanuts. This is also when orders are taken.

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class welcome drink

At the moment Malaysia Airlines is not providing an inflight menu as a result of covid, but I hope these are brought back as soon as possible. A menu makes life much simpler for crew and passengers alike, as well as setting expectations for the meal service throughout the flight.

Lunch and dinner on Malaysia Airlines always starts with satay, which I still think is one of the best satays I have had, ever. This is brought around on a trolley and served at your seat which is quite fun:

Malaysia Airlines A350 satay trolley

and

Malaysia Airlines A350 satay

The peanut sauce just hits the spot. Following the satay (and with a fresh table cloth because the satay is a bit messy!) you get a starter and side, delivered on a tray, in this case smoked salmon:

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class starter

This is followed by the main. On my flight there was a choice of beef, chicken or fish, and I went for the beef cheek:

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class beef cheek

This meal is actually quite impressive – I’ve had worse on Qatar Airways. Take a closer look and you’ll see why. This is not a meal that has been thrown in the oven and then brought to my seat. From what I can tell, the staff actually assemble this in the galley, which results in meal with far better presentation than you would find if had it been done by the ground catering staff. I was seriously impressed – it puts BA’s current single-tray service to shame.

You are offered a choice of bread with the main, including garlic bread, white and brown rolls.

This is followed by dessert which has again been put together by the cabin crew:

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class dessert

It is very impressive. As I said above, I’ve had worse meals on Qatar Airways flights, which has a very high standard of catering.

The flipside of this is that it is a fairly long meal service, albeit on a 13.5 hour flight this is less of an issue. It is more of a problem for the pre-flight meal (breakfast in my case) which is served a whole 2.5 hours prior to landing. However, this is also impressive.

First up is some fruit, pastry and/or a yoghurt:

Malaysia Airlines A350 breakfast fruit

This is followed by a cooked main, either egg-based or traditional Malaysian Nasi Lemak:

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class breakfast

Hot drinks are served and there’s also a delicious smoothie available in addition to the usual bar cart items.

Interestingly, I do think the catering out of Heathrow is marginally better than that out of Kuala Lumpur.

Conclusion

So, how was my post-covid Malaysia Airlines flight?

All things considered I was very happy. Whilst the hard product is fairly standard – the Vantage business class seat isn’t my personal favourite, but it’s lie-flat and offers a mix of seating for both the solo and group traveller – I was very impressed by the food and service.

If I had to nitpick then I would want to see the return of menus on-board, and looking back at my 2019 flight it’s also clear that the newspaper trolley has been culled, at least for now. Conversely, Malaysia’s business class now features upgraded Aspinal of London amenity kits and a better film selection, so some things have definitely improved in the past three years.

With British Airways having pulled its direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines is now the only airline to fly direct to London. Based on my experience last week I wouldn’t hesitate to fly it again.

Later this week I’ll be taking a look at the hotels I stayed in during my trip.

Comments (54)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • tony says:

    Feel obliged to add my usual comment about MH. This is the airline that, when you buy a non-refundable ticket, it means exactly that. So when *they* cancel the flight you’re booked to travel on – indeed in my case it was the entire route – they won’t give you your money back.

    Even when the credit card company did a chargeback on the basis it was an egregious breach of the merchant agreement, MH still pushed back, repeating that I had bought non refundable tickets so the money was theirs to keep.

    I got there in the end, but it’s difficult not to see their approach as having been criminal. I also know I wasn’t the only one in this position.

    • numpty says:

      Air Asia also refused to provide refunds.

    • Jonathan says:

      They should be reported to the CAA

    • Alex says:

      I can only echo that although I the hard and soft product may be good, the customer service in case of disruption, cancellations, refund (back office) is non existent.

      At the moment they are regularly cancelling one of their two London flights. And offering very little in the way of alternatives. A friend was forced to do a 24hr layover in KUL, as they rebooked the London flight but wouldn’t rebook the Melbourne leg. Mas refusing to pay for the hotel or any incurred expenses.

    • polly says:

      Tony,
      How did you get there in the end, where did you challenge them? U.K. or Malaysia? We will have a few MAS flights in Asia in November, but am backing them up in the light of their recent cancellation policies, unfortunately. Tnx

      • tony says:

        In the first instance I approached MAS. The flight involved was 5 revenue J tickets from Kota Kinabalu to Taipei as part of our historically bat shit crazy Asian holidays – which I fear are now consigned to history.

        When I exhausted that I went to Virgin who issued the MasterCard. They refused to do anything as it was several months before departure even though the flight and route had been cancelled,

        I then referred the case to the FOS and presumably once they’d had a word, Virgin then lodged the chargeback with MasterCard. The refund hit about the original departure date but a month or so later Virgin rang me back to say MH had disputed the chargeback, but because they were in breach of the merchant agreement there was no contest.

        As I recall, the Malaysian regulator had approved the stance taken by MAS, which doesn’t really help Malaysia’s sim to be seen as a grown up country.

        And given the CAA’s inability to sanction MAS over this – https://amp.theguardian.com/uk/1999/may/11/vikramdodd – I figured they wouldn’t be interested in my 4 figure dispute…

        • polly says:

          Wow, that was some battle, let’s hope more of us don’t end up in similar situations. And since BA have stopped flying this route, more of us could be victims of their crazy policy. Well done on your successful outcome. Am taking note, as a precaution! Tnx for sharing, really useful to know your process.

          • tony says:

            It would be quite insightful for Rob & Rhys to ask their PR buddies at MAS for their take on how they felt they handled the situation. I mean if HfP is pedalling what a great airline this is, presumably we as readers deserve to know that such shenanigans won’t happen again?

    • Lady London says:

      Well TBF Qantas did pull that same nonrefundable trick when they mass cancelled flights.

      • Antman says:

        Yup, agree. Qantas have proven themselves to be total snakes in the grass. Sure they’d refund your ticket IF they cancelled the flight, else it’s a flight credit. But right up to the night before my flight, they didn’t cancel my QF flight to Brisbane in August 2020. Eventhough, the borders were closed and as a non-citizen I could not enter Australia. Thus it was either ris a ‘No Show’ penalty or take a credit, which I did last minute. To add insult to injury, I recently tried to redeem that credit for a flight but when you enter the old booking reference, the fare ‘magically’ increases HUNDREDS of dollars. Total scam.

  • EwanG says:

    Looks a good way to use my Avios!
    @Rhys, just a small typo:
    “breakfast on the night fight”

  • modestpointscollector says:

    Pretty sad to read Tony’s comment above, probably the best set of flights i’ve ever had were to Melbourne and back a few years ago on the A350 in the throne seat. They would definitely be my preferred choice next time I go down under to see family based on this, but there’s simply no excuse for keeping customers money in that situation. Given my aversion to flying ME3 and high cost of other obvious carriers i’m not sure what other options there are. I did Vietnam one time but the layover times are insane and the lounge is bad.

    That said it is a new world post the lockdown years so will just have to see how it pans out over the next 12-24 months.

  • numpty says:

    My worst ever long haul business class flight was with MH on AMS to KUL, last of the angle lie flat seats. After take off they kept the seat belt sign on due to ‘turbulence’ and never for the entire flight switched it off again on what was a smooth flight – so everyone ignored it, including the crew who were happy to stand next to me having long conversations with a staff passenger whilst I wanted some sleep. Everyone walking in the aisles but when I asked for a cup of coffee (interrupting one their conversations) I was told that wasn’t possible whilst the seat belt sign was on. I know someone who was senior crew with MAS and they confirmed the seat belt sign had been a tactic (at the time MAS crew were incredibly peed off with the company), but that I should have been offered a half filled cup of coffee. At KLIA in the First lounge I also had a very helpful and overly attentive staff member then ask me to fill in a feedback form for her – happening during a round of redundancies.

    Oh, and in April MAS were refusing access to their KLIA lounge for pax on QR flights and asking them to use the Plaza Premium First lounge (which due to covid has a very poor food service).

  • Ben says:

    Iberia’s A350-900 also has only 2 toilets, not 4, for it’s business class cabin. They have slightly fewer seats though (31, I think).

  • Jon says:

    Good review, Rhys. You got the best seat in the cabin 😉 Minor correction – Business Suites *can* be booked with Avios (if you can find availability) – I did it a couple of months ago, booked about a week before travel. 144,000 Avios one way.

  • Iain says:

    All good, I like the airline, apart from prices, I flew to KL 4 weeks ago on Qatar in business for an expensive £6500 but Malaysian was asking £8000 (3 years ago it was around £3000)

  • QFFlyer says:

    Good review, all going well I’ll be flying this (albeit A330) ex-MEL very soon, looking forward to it (my last booking on MH HKG-KUL on the A330 was swapped to a B737 – in March 2020, for obvious reasons demand had dropped off).

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