Malaysia Airlines' first class lounge gets fresh focus on service

Malaysia Airlines' first class lounge gets fresh focus on service

Malaysia Airlines’ new flagship first class lounge at Kuala Lumpur International Airport will reemphasise five-star service with specially-trained, tech-savvy staff on standby to help passengers resolve any problems with their laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Whether there’s an issue connecting to a company’s VPN service or difficulties getting onto the WiFi itself, staff will be able to assist – as they will if you’ve lost or misplaced your usual charging cables and need a new one for the road.

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller at a media lunch in Sydney, Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew shares that the top issues travellers are expressing in lounges are that “my (charging) cable is broken”, “I’ve lost my cable”, and that “I’m having trouble getting through on my VPN”.

“These are very important issues... (particularly when) your transit passengers are relying on being able to send or receive an email… so we’re hiring new staff over the next few months: some fairly tech-savvy people,” which Bellow acknowledges are not unlike those you’d find at an Apple Genius Bar.

And, when it comes to the hardware itself, "we can source really good cables for around about US$0.50 each, so why don’t we have 10,000 of them ready… because often you forget your cable, you leave it in a hotel.”

With refurbishment works to be completed by the end of 2017, the first class lounge itself will become a brighter, larger and more lively space, with menus tailored more closely towards the tastes of individual first class travellers.

“We’re increasing our service for those customers at the top premium end… we’re going to start periodically calling them in advance, asking them if there’s anything they particularly want to eat in the lounge and on their flight, or that they don’t want to eat… and if they need an iPhone cable!” Bellow quips.

The current spa in the airline’s Kuala Lumpur lounges will remain, but will decrease in size as relatively few travellers use the facility. Treatments will continue to be chargeable for all passengers, including first class flyers.

These refurbishment works are part of a broader overhaul of Malaysia Airlines’ global lounges, with an upgrade to the airline’s London Heathrow facility set to be completed by February 2018.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

13 comments

  • Worldflyer90

    Worldflyer90

    4 Aug, 2017 06:33 am

    I use the current MH F lounge in KL maybe once a month, and more often than not the cubby-hole style charging station has been monopolised by the lounge staff's own phones. The staff are nice enough, and the facility is pleasant enough, but I'm always blown away at the vast gap in both service and product between MH and their regional neighbours. 
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  • antkleve

    antkleve

    4 Aug, 2017 07:00 am

    They should place more priority on dealing with the cockroach infestation in the men's bathrooms and their staff who sleep in the lounge. And while on this rant, their pilots who smoke during the flight. As long as these issues are present they will always be a third world airline along the same lines as Egypt air and Vietnam airlines.
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  • Richard R

    rcnr25

    4 Aug, 2017 07:05 am

    What's common with Apple Genius Bar and Malaysian Airlines First class lounge? 😉
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  • russell

    russell

    4 Aug, 2017 08:13 am

    I would have thought this airline faces greater issues across all parts of its operations than that of supplying passengers phone chargers...
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  • Yvan J Drake

    MRYJDrake

    4 Aug, 2017 09:02 am

    People will feel better about a poor overall experience, if they felt that at one point a staff member picked them out and went out of their way to help them
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  • PK

    PK

    4 Aug, 2017 10:11 am

    There are way way way bigger problems with Malaysian's so-called premium service than trying to get a phone charger in the lounge. It's great that MH keep on announcing this stuff, but the staff on the ground have NO idea. Take for example the Chef on Call service. Why, on the overnight flight to Sydney, do they serve your booked dinner at 9am in the morning just after serving breakfast? Total lack of oversight of the experience...
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    Copland

  • Strvdv86 Cop

    Copland

    4 Aug, 2017 11:41 am

    Exactly, premium is a misnomer.  Their flagship lounge has always been lacking and impossible to find.  I would suggest, that if you have any issue you contact their customer service team.  They guarantee you a response in 3 months, even if they have changed the departure time for your flight in 2 months.  That's if the email system doesn't break and lose (?) your email (as apparently happened to me twice), or if the 4 customer service agents you have spoken to forgot to note down all previous conversations, or action any requests (or call you back, as promised).  Want any icing on the cake?? The Perth KL route is now serviced by 737, so when i bought tickets for an a330 flat bed, Chef on Call service,  I was actually paying  top $$ for a reclining chair (737), no Chef on Call (and no notification of the change) on an overnight 6 hour flight (in addition to more flight time changes).  Air Asia offer a better 'premium' hard product (with angle lie flat), cheaper than MAS too, on all Perth-KL flights now. Hope they can turn things around, but doubt i will fly them again to judge.
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  • Marcus Lip

    Nadiguru

    4 Aug, 2017 12:48 pm

    MH have spent millions renovating their lounges over and over again with little or no change (that alone improvement)!! They tell a great story line, get shareholders approval (now government approval as its been privatised) to spend the money, then do the very minimal at very highly inflated prices. The lounges are only a small part of the agenda. THe same goes for all other aspects of the airline from construction to engineering to maintenance.
     Its such typical behavior and attitude that's so culturally ingrained at MH that there's very little hope for the airline to turn around. Each management team will go in, reap what they can get, then get terminated and the new team will repeat the process.
    I have no doubt the reworked lounges would be almost the same (if not worse) and the current lounges.
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  • Matt J

    MattJelonek

    4 Aug, 2017 04:13 pm

    PER to KL in their new J and then KL to LHR or Europe in F would be a grand delight!
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  • Bert Bartleson

    Bert the Banker
    Banned

    4 Aug, 2017 04:17 pm

    Whilst I am a long-term fan of MAS Berhad (as the company was formerly known), I do think they need to improve some aspects of their service to match the really serious carriers. 

     
    I noted recently, for instance, that staff uniforms for male employees are very drab.  Their pants are too long and their shoes...
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  • kt74

    kt74

    4 Aug, 2017 06:26 pm

    Hey AusBT, do you know when the different KUL and LHR lounges will be closed for refurbishment please?
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  • bsb

    bsb

    4 Aug, 2017 11:08 pm

    If their intra-Asian J prices keep going on sale for a song, I will put up with a lot to get my swag of status credits for QF. But I'd never pay full price on MH anywhere, or fly them from here to Asia (unless the price was half of QF). 
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  • Derek Conway

    artcom

    9 Aug, 2017 08:37 pm

    I live in KL and have for a number of years and I fly with MH 5-6 times a month
    Some of these comments do not, in my view, reflect the changes being made by the new management which is infinitely more customer focused than before
    The product and customer experience is improving month on month - hopefully they will be given the freedom to continue what has been started
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Guest

23 May, 2019 10:04 pm

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