Bringing fully-flat beds with direct aisle access onto its London flights, Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350 business class service offers Australian travellers a familiar and consistent experience on their journey from Down Under to the UK.
That's because these 'new' seats are very similar to those already flying in Australian skies aboard the airline's refreshed Airbus A330 jets, which have been zipping between Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide since 2016, along with Auckland, among other places.
Join Australian Business Traveller as we put the airline's newest aircraft and business class seat to the test on a recent flight from Kuala Lumpur to London Heathrow.
- Frequent flyer program: Malaysia Airlines Enrich (Oneworld), but if you'd prefer to earn Qantas Points and status credits on eligible fares instead, just attach your Qantas Frequent Flyer number to your booking.
- Checked baggage allowance: 40kg across any number of bags, boosted to 45kg for Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers (including Qantas Gold) and also Enrich Silver members; 60kg Oneworld Emerald cardholders (such as Qantas Platinum and above) and Enrich Gold, and 80kg (plus an additional 15kg for golfing equipment) exclusively for Enrich Platinum members.
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags at a combined total weight of 14kg, plus one small item like a laptop, handbag, briefcase or camera bag.
- Airport fast-track: Priority check-in, boarding and baggage delivery as standard. You can also use the 'business class' lines at Malaysian passport control on presentation of your boarding pass (look for the red carpet), and the 'fast-track' lines at Heathrow for which you'll receive a fast-track card.
In Kuala Lumpur, business class passengers can access the Malaysia Airlines Regional and Satellite Golden Lounges in the airport's Main and Satellite terminals, respectively.
If you're connecting from Australia to London, such as from Sydney on flight MH140 (which lands here at 3:50am), you'll need to go to the Regional Lounge first, pictured below:
That's because the Satellite Lounge currently doesn't open until 5am, although the food and beverage offerings between the two lounges are relatively similar anyway, except that the Satellite Lounge is larger and has a noodle bar.
Both lounges have shower facilities, so take your pick: unless you're a Qantas or Enrich Platinum frequent flyer or other Oneworld Emerald cardholder, in which case you'll want to visit the airline's recently-revamped Platinum Lounge in the Satellite Terminal, which is open from 5am:
Unlike some airlines flying into London, Malaysia Airlines doesn't offer arrivals lounge facilities at Heathrow: but if you have an AMEX Platinum Charge Card or a Priority Pass card, you can access the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow's Terminal 4.
That's the terminal you'll arrive into from your Malaysia Airlines flight, and you'll find the lounge by turning left after clearing UK Customs and heading up a clearly-signed escalator, to find a small but comfortable space equipped with WiFi, charging ports and showers.
In lieu of buffet dining, guests here can enjoy a complimentary three-course meal, plus barista-made coffee and a range of other drinks. Having eaten on board, I kept things simple with a latte and a very British fish and chips for an early dinner:
Prior to your flight home from London, you'll have access to Malaysia Airlines' own Golden Lounge at Heathrow, or could use your business class boarding pass for access to the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in the same terminal, in line with Oneworld rules.
As with Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A330s, business class on its newer A350s alternates between a 1-2-1 and a 1-2-2 configuration.
This means if you choose an 'A' seat, such as 11A in my case, you're guaranteed to be by yourself...
... and if you choose a 'D' or 'G' seat, you'll also have direct and uninterrupted aisle access. However, if you're in rows 3, 6 or 10, you might consider avoiding the 'K' seats unless travelling as a pair, as these are the rows with the extra seat between the window and aisle, labelled 'H'.
In any case, each seat transforms into a 78-inch (198cm) fully-flat bed at a width of 22 inches (56cm)...
... for which a mattress topper is provided (pictured below), along with a comfortable pillow and blanket. As for pyjamas, it's BYO.
In the space next to you is a large shelf: great for plonking your laptop to charge overnight, or to keep books, papers and accessories within easy reach:
Just above, a cupboard that's large enough for headphones, passports, amenity kits and other goodies, plus a mirror on the swing-out door for any quick tweaks:
An open space on top provides added storage during the flight...
... although there's a dedicated pocket for your smartphone: and if you want to charge it here, just turn your device upside down to access its charging port:
Right next door is an adjustable and dimmable reading light and a holder for your water bottle underneath: but for anything else, there's an extra storage pouch in front of you
Just pull it down, and it retracts automatically:
Below that, the floor surface is angled which serves as a built-in foot rest throughout the flight, and when your seat is in bed mode, the padded cushion at the top forms the tail end, going flush with the seat:
To the side is a further storage space suited to shoes, plus a literature pocket which is where you'll find the inflight menu (and which can fit tablets like the Microsoft Surface):
Hidden in this area is a combined international AC and USB power outlet: it's hard to spot and you won't find it unless you really look for it...
... but unfortunately, its placement has been poorly-considered. Given its orientation and location directly below the shelf on top, it's physically impossible to plug in many common chargers, such as for that Microsoft Surface, because there's simply not enough room.
Other standard chargers that do fit into the plug, such as the international travel charger for the iPhone, also obstruct the outlet's high-powered USB port above it: so you can't plug your smartphone in to charge via the AC outlet, while simultaneously using your tablet's USB cable to charge via the USB port: it's one or the other.
While we're on the design of the seat, my perch at 11A had a sizeable gap between the upper storage shelf and the cabin wall, and it wasn't long before several of my items had bounced over the side and needed to be fished out from down below:
On the plus side, I was able to use that area as hanging space for my coat when it was returned prior to landing, so that it wasn't in my way and didn't block my view of the inflight entertainment screen.
Speaking of space, there's plenty of it in the cabin, as Malaysia Airlines has opted not to install central overhead lockers in business class – which means higher ceilings yet still plenty of space for bags, as the lockers on the outer sides are considerably larger than on other planes:
Back to the seat, there are shortcut keys for common positions such as sleeping, relaxing and take-off/landing, along with lighting controls and a massage feature:
A larger control panel adjusts the seat's other functions, including a 'cushion firmness' feature that's new to the airline's A350s...
... but there's still no button to simply 'recline' the seat: you have to hold down the 'relax' button until the seatback is in a suitable position, and then adjust the legrest manually.
Also upgraded on the A350 is the seat's inflight entertainment controller. Rather than being an older-style remote that's 'on display' at the side (as pictured here on the A330)...
... the remote is more modern, and tucked away below the armrest: not that you'll need it anyway, as the screen in front responds well to touch.
As an entirely-daytime flight, I spent most of the journey working and enjoying movies, but when I did decide to head to sleep for a few hours, found it very easy to get comfortable and dozed off quickly.
As I take my seat, I'm offered a refreshing 'Wau Emas' drink, blending pineapple juice and pandan syrup with lime, soda water and mint...
... followed by a drink from the bar after take-off – in this case, a glass of the Champagne Comte Audoin du Dampierre Grande Cuvee NV: not a drop I'd tried before, but which I found perfectly acceptable for business class, and which the crew kept proactively refilling until asked otherwise:
The first meal (brunch) came about two hours into the flight, starting with fresh fruit, yoghurt and bakery items, plus cereal if desired (which I skipped, having eaten in the lounge pre-flight)...
... with a choice between Nasi Lemak, Dim Sum selection, a Spanish omelette and crepes as the main meal.
Normally, I'd opt for the most 'local' dish to an airline – in this case, Nasi Lemak – but found the crepes calling my name, and they were delicious: adorned with mixed berries, banana compote and vanilla cream:
Not that you need dessert after that, but if you'd like it, a mango Creamosa mouse slice completes the meal, served with fresh fruit:
Being a 14.5-hour flight, a 'dine anytime' menu runs throughout the journey, from which you can order the following light and substantial bites – including during the brunch service if one takes your fancy:
- Egg noodles in a vegetable soup with shredded chicken, prawns, bean curd, fish balls and Asian greens
- Chicken Caesar croissant sandwich
- Cheese and oven-dried tomato focaccia, served warm
- Selection of ice cream by Kapiti
- Seasonal fruit
- Selection of cheese with crackers and accompaniments
I opted for the focaccia about half way during the flight, and while it's a very simple item and presented as such, it hit the spot:
Espresso coffee is available too, and while it certainly doesn't rival a good barista-made coffee on the ground, the latte I ordered was also acceptable by aircraft standards:
Roughly two hours before landing – at around lunch time on the ground in London – the second meal is served, with a helping of Malaysia Airlines' signature satay sticks kicking things off:
That's followed by a starter of marinated prawns with pomelo and a mango salsa. While the prawns were nice, the salsa wasn't to my taste – although no complaints were to be had about the garlic bread from the basket!
For the main course, a choice between a pan-roasted rack of lamb, Nasi Dagang, a grilled beef sirloin and linguine with basil pesto.
Having eaten plenty of Malaysian food during my transit in KL, I opted for the beef, which was nice and tender, and came served with a miso mustard sauce, steamed Japanese rice with sesame seeds, shiitake mushrooms and diced pumpkins:
With that, I paired a glass of the Chateau Reysson 2012 red (AOC Haut Medoc, Bordeaux), but declined a second round of dessert, where the options were seasonal fruit and other items from the 'anytime' menu, such as cheese.
We'll also point out that passengers can often pre-order their preferred main course or a selection of other dishes not normally on the printed menu via the airline's Chef on Call service, although this must usually be done at least 24 hours in advance.
Entertainment & Service
Directly in front of your seat is a high-definition, 16-inch display...
... loaded with plenty of movies, TV shows, games and music, in an interface that's also been refreshed compared to that found on the A330s:
An interactive 'moving map' allows you to explore your surroundings and simulate 'views' from the windows on either side of the aircraft, or the cockpit: particularly useful if you're stuck in a middle seat...
... and you can also access the aircraft's external downward-facing camera. The plane's other forward-facing cameras are blocked from passenger access, and there's not much to look at when on the ground (except for oil stains and line markings), but during take-off, landing and when there's no cloud, the view can be more interesting.
Active noise-cancelling headphones are provided and were of an acceptable quality, although I always bring my own Bose QC35s, and was pleased that there was ample space around the seat's headphone plug to accommodate Bose's larger airline adaptor.
The cabin crew on today's flight were friendly and attentive, but perhaps too attentive early in the journey, as I'd been asked "how is everything?" no less than five times when I was only up to the brunch fruit plate.
My Champagne was also initially not very cold when served, but when I mentioned this to the crew, they went and put the bottle on ice and came back later with bubbles much more chilled, resolving the issue.
As the flight progressed, the service became faultless, and the line of "how is everything?" questions fortunately ceased, as I'm sure the crew could tell I was getting annoyed by the constant interruptions.
And that's what good service is about: adapting to a passenger's needs and preferences, and fixing any problems along the way: except for the issues with the at-seat power supply, which is beyond the powers of the cabin crew.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of Malaysia Airlines.