Malaysia Airlines first class upgrade guide

Malaysia Airlines first class upgrade guide

Business class is a comfortable way to fly, but if you’re taking a Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 flight, there are many ways you can swap your business class seat for a first class suite.

Whether you have Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles to spend or are prepared to pay for your bump-up, here’s what you need to know to snag a first class upgrade on your next MAS flight.

Malaysia Airlines first class upgrades 101

As is standard on most airlines, upgrades on Malaysia Airlines are all one-class, which means you’ll need to be flying in business class to have a shot at a first class upgrade, while economy flyers can only upgrade to business class, not first class.

(Travelling in economy? Read our Malaysia Airlines business class upgrade guide instead.)

In any case, first class upgrades are only available on Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A380s – being the airline’s only jets fitted with first class seats – and the availability of upgrades can vary from flight to flight, and may not be available at all on some departures.

We should highlight that even though Malaysia Airlines and Qantas are partnered via the global Oneworld airline alliance, you can’t use Qantas Points to upgrade on Malaysia Airlines: only to book Malaysia Airlines flights outright.

Instead, you’ll need Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles – earned in the air or via credit cards like American Express Explorer, Westpac Altitude Black or St. George Amplify Signature – or money to spend on your upgrade.

Booking an upgradeable Malaysia Airlines business class fare

Not every business class ticket can be upgraded using Enrich miles, and unfortunately the Malaysia Airlines website doesn’t highlight which tickets are eligible during the booking process – but there’s an easy way to tell before you pay for your trip.

When making your booking on, click on the fare price you’re interested in buying, then click ‘booking details’ to the right:

Then, scroll down until you see ‘Class:’ in the list.

Malaysia Airlines allows points-based upgrades on all paid business class fare types except the lowest-cost ‘Z’ fares – so if the letter here is anything other than ‘Z’ (in our example, it’s ‘C’), the ticket is eligible for an upgrade using Enrich miles.

(Note that flights which were originally booked using frequent flyer points are not eligible for points-based upgrades: only paid business class fares corresponding to the ‘J’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ fare types.)

Should you encounter a ‘Z’ fare, you can consider choosing a more expensive fare type in order to upgrade (but remember, upgrades aren’t necessarily guaranteed), or you could request an upgrade using money, covered further below.

Again, Malaysia Airlines offers first class only aboard its Airbus A380s – usually found flying between Kuala Lumpur and London – so while you won’t be able to upgrade to Malaysia Airlines first class on flights between Australia and Kuala Lumpur, you may be able to upgrade on the longer leg to London if you’re flying the Kangaroo Route.

Upgrading to first class using Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles

How many miles you’ll need for your first class upgrade depends on the type of business class fare you purchased.

On Kuala Lumpur-London flights, passengers booked on the most expensive tickets (being ‘J’ fares) need to part with 85,000 Enrich miles, while those on mid-range business class fares (‘C’ and ‘D’ classes) require 90,000 Enrich miles for the same.

Again, book a ‘Z’ fare, or use points to book your original business class ticket, and you won’t be able to upgrade to first class using Enrich miles.

Upgrades using Enrich miles can be requested via the airline’s website or the Enrich contact centre (13 26 27 within Australia), and if an upgrade is available on your flight, it can be locked in as soon as your booking is finalised.

There’s no easy way to check if first class upgrades will be available on any given flight – so if you’re only booking your business class ticket to upgrade it to first class, we’d suggest contacting Malaysia Airlines to confirm upgrade availability before you make a paid reservation to avoid disappointment.

MHupgrade: bid for first class upgrades

Don’t have any Enrich miles to your name? That’s ok – the ‘MHupgrade’ system allows most business class passengers to bid for a first class upgrade.

Eligible passengers are sent an email roughly 48 hours after making their booking – but even if this doesn’t appear, you can check your eligibility to bid by plugging in your booking details into a special portal on the Malaysia Airlines website.

How much you bid is entirely your call, provided you remain within variable minimum and maximum amounts displayed during the bidding process. Higher bids have a greater chance of success, although at least in the case of upgrading from economy to business class, we’ve had success in offering only the minimum amount.

Bidding closes 72 hours before a flight’s scheduled departure time, and you’ll learn your fate approximately 48 hours before wheels-up.

Buying a first class upgrade at the airport

If you haven’t managed to swing a first class upgrade using miles or money through the airline’s bidding system, you may be able to purchase an upgrade to first class at the airport as a last resort.

There’s no guarantee that this will be offered on your flight, and the asking price may vary every time you travel – but it doesn’t hurt to keep your eyes peeled for signage around the check-in area advising that paid upgrades are available, or simply ask the check-in staff.

Whether the asking price represents good value largely depends on your budget and how much you (or your company) paid for your original business class ticket: but for special occasions or if you’ve never flown first class before, the opportunity could well be one to take advantage of.

When flying from Kuala Lumpur, you can also request a paid first class upgrade via the business class lounge service desk until 45 minutes before the flight’s departure.

(If you’re flying Australia-Kuala Lumpur-London, that’s often the best way to go, as Australian airport staff may not be able to upgrade your KL-London leg before your journey has begun – so make a beeline for the lounge while in transit and ask what’s possible.

However, with so much of the first class service centred around fine dining and top-shelf wine, be aware that your ability to enjoy these may be limited if you upgrade at the last moment, rather than by using miles or the upgrade bid system further in advance.

That’s because most airline catering orders are finalised a few hours before departure – roughly around the time that check-in opens, if not a hour sooner – so first class will have been catered for the expected number of passengers, meaning your meal and beverage orders may get last preference as you weren’t expected to be flying at the very front.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin (ChrisCh)

[email protected] / @ChamberlinChris

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!


  • Jason Gehrke


    28 Jul, 2017 02:40 pm

    Hi Chris,
    I remember reading somewhere recently that Malaysia Airlines may be considering resuming Brisbane-Kuala Lumpur direct flights. Are you able to shed any light?
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  • Chris Chamberlin


    28 Jul, 2017 02:48 pm

    Hi Jason, as we always say, when we have news to report, we'll report it - and the most recent news is that which you mention.

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  • Bert Bartleson

    Bert the Banker

    4 Aug, 2017 03:59 pm

    Good to see the Berhad Boys getting their act together!
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21 Jul, 2018 07:45 am

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyers will enjoy have access to Qantas Clubs around Australia under the newly-forged alliance between the two airlines.

As of October 28, 2018, Airpoints Elite and Gold members booked on a codeshare flight with Qantas will find the doors swing open for them at the two dozen Qantas Club lounges in Australia's capital cities and regional centres. They'll also be permitted to bring in one guest.

But it won't be as easy as flashing your shiny Airpoints card, as the following conditions apply:

  1. you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
  2. it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
  3. and this must be booked as part of a trans-Tasman booking

This arrangement replaces Airpoints access to Virgin Australia lounges following the dramatic bust-up between the two former allies.

However, there appears to be no Qantas Club lounge access for Koru Club members, nor can AirNZ frequent flyers cool their heels in the more upmarket Qantas Business lounges.

The Qantas / Air New Zealand alliance covers selected flights on the domestic network of each airline, however trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement.

Read more: Qantas, Air New Zealand alliance will take on Virgin Australia

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

1 Comment

  • henrus


    20 Jul, 2018 05:31 pm

    Doesn't it seem a bit odd that Koru club won't get access (something that the VA deal provided) . I guess there will be no access for QF Club cardholders in NZ either?
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21 Jul, 2018 07:45 am

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

Cathay Pacific will roll out its new 'business class dining concept' this month, with the meal service taking a step closer to a first class experience.

Meals will be individually plated and delivered to passengers by hand rather than by trolley, as the airline adopts more personalised and upmarket approach.

Cathay also expects this will result in a "quieter and calmer cabin environment", especially on late night flights.

Passengers will have a choice between three appetisers and "up to six main course choices" on flights over ten hours in the initial launch of the service to the likes of Chicago (on July 30), London/Gatwick (in August) followed by Frankfurt, Manchester and Washington DC (September); Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg (October), Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona (November) and London/Heathrow (December). 

And, being very much on trend, light and healthy 'wellbeing options' feature in every main course.

On flights from Hong Kong the menu will be changed every month, with a quarterly menu refresh for flights to Hong Kong.

Fights from Hong Kong (but not, for now, the return leg) will also see a new range of Hong Kong Favourites inspired by local dishes, such as

  • Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, seasoned soy sauce, spring onion and ginger (shown below)
  • Wok fried seafood in lobster soup with ginger, spring onion, crispy and steamed rice
  • Beef brisket with flat rice noodle soup
  • Mango with pomelo and sago

But before all that eatings starts, business class passengers will notice the new-look menus.

Printed as eight pages on quality paper, they not only detail the meals and drinks available on that flight but include foodie-friendly articles such as 'Anatomy of a Laksa' and feature a local chef revealing their favourite eateries both in Hong Kong and around thr world.

There will also be a breakfast menu card which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.

However, these are set menus rather than allowing travellers to pick-and-mix from a wide selection of items.

In addition to what's described as 'traditional' Chinese and Western breakfasts, there's also a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.

Refreshments will be revamped as a selection of 'most loved dishes' available throughout the flight as a snack between meals on services to North America and Europe, including the airline's signature burger and popular soup noodles. These will also appear on the main meal menu.

Next year will see Cathay's 'new business class dining concept' extend to medium-distance routes, with plans to include Sydney and Auckland in February 2019 and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth in May 2019.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Skipp


    20 Jul, 2018 12:48 pm

    Look forward to the new meal service in business class coming within the next 12 months - it will make a nice change.
    I just hope (for the future) that Cathay Pacific will stop serving the exact same economy class meals in "Premium" economy class.
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  • MissBasset


    20 Jul, 2018 01:34 pm

    Why bother with the white linen tablecloth if they are serving it on a plastic cafeteria tray? The promo pictures show all set up to eat off the tray. Euww.. I will take it all off the tray and set it up like other airlines J class. FAIL for presentation, CX.
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  • mrj


    20 Jul, 2018 02:42 pm

    I recently suggested to Cathay that their business classs food is amongst the worst of all airlines. Interestingly their response failed to mention this planned revamp.
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    20 Jul, 2018 02:57 pm

    I'm really glad they're going back to classy, glossy paper stock for the menus versus the uncoated groundwood paper they switched to a few years back. Now if they would only bring back that trademark chocolate box at the end of the meal...
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  • David Flynn


    20 Jul, 2018 03:25 pm

    I was on CX a few weeks back and the chocolates made an appearance on every flight...
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  • Manjit Sadhwani

    Manjit Sadhwani

    20 Jul, 2018 03:19 pm

    It's about time
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  • HKAus


    20 Jul, 2018 03:41 pm

    CX Catering is bar far the most outdated and leaves an overall cheap and poor guest experience of most International airliners. CX have unfortunately chosen over the last decade to reduce their overheads where guests can see and feel the difference. Personally after 5 years as a Diamond CX member I have moved to competitors; poor catering, moody crew members, consistently delayed flights (due to over use of planes with no margin for delays) and ridiculous pricing have enabled me to now enjoy such operators as KLM, Virgin Australia, Qantas & Lufthansa; all with an overall better "J"Class experience. Interestingly as a result of my change in travel I was dropped to Gold and this year even though I should have dropped another tier, they obviously are trying to get pax like myself back because they extended my gold status.
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  • Rkwm


    20 Jul, 2018 04:39 pm

    It was taken CX far too long to make changes to the atrocious F&B that has annoyed their long term supporters . The plastic cafeteria tray certainly brings the enhancements down a few levels can’t, understsnd who approved this inclusion . Totally agree with HKAus, supported CX for over two decades but over the last two years the deterioration in service , punctuality and value has been palpable.

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  • Tony OBERON


    20 Jul, 2018 04:48 pm

    Looks marginally better - but CX are you seriously going to use a plastic tray? At least put a cloth on the tray - if for no other reasons than hygiene! I’m a germophobe and I cringe to see cutlery sitting on a plastic tray, which cannot be washed at the same high temps as crockery. Lysteria et al here we come.
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21 Jul, 2018 07:45 am

 Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Very few watches can claim true originality, and the Cartier Santos is among those few.

The Santos made its debut way back in 1904 as a personal timepiece for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, making it both the first pilot’s watch and one of the earliest known men’s wristwatches.

The story

As we've previously detailed, the Santos was borne from a request by Brazilian flyer Santos-Dumont, who told his friend Louis Cartier – then a Parisian watchmaker – of the challenge of timing flights using the then-conventional pocket watch, as pilots needed to keep both hands on the aircraft controls.

In response, Cartier designed a large square-faced watch and fitted it to a strap so it could be worn on the wrist – quite a revolutionary concept at the time.

The first commercial Cartier Santos watches went on sale to the public in 1911 with solid gold cases and ultra-thin mechanical movements designed by French clockmaker Edmond Jaeger.

(In order to produce this movement for Cartier, Jaeger worked with Swiss movement manufacturer Jacques-David LeCoultre, a partnership that would lead to the birth of storied brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.)

The enduring design of the Cartier Santos was reimagined in the late 1970s as a luxury steel sports watch, later adding two-tone steel and gold and the now-iconic screwed bezel with exposed gold screws along the bracelet for a modern, industrial aesthetic.

The style

For 2018, Cartier has once again re-invented the Santos.

The distinctive screw-set bezel now tapers at both ends towards the bracelet to create an organic, integrated look.

The satin-brushed case features a wide mirror-polished bevel along its length, extending all the way to the gracefully curved crown guards at 3 o’clock. A square watch the Santos may be, but there’s hardly a sharp edge or straight line to be found.

The case has been slimmed dramatically from previous incarnations of the Santos, allowing this watch to disappear easily under a shirt cuff when needed.

The bracelet is fitted with a new 'QuickSwitch' system allowing for easy swapping with the included tan calfskin strap or Cartier’s alternative crocodile straps, providing some style versatility.

Adding or removing bracelet links has also been made easier with a new 'SmartLink' design which allows the wearer to expand the bracelet during a hot summer’s day without requiring a tool.

While the bezel, case and bracelet have all been modernised, the dial remains classic Cartier. With Roman numerals, a railroad minute-track and heat-blued hands, it’s hard to imagine a more traditional look.

The 2018 Cartier Santos can serve dress-watch and sports-watch duties equally well, and boasts a history that few timepieces can match.

The details

• In-house mechanical movement with automatic winding
• Seven-sided crown set with a faceted synthetic spinel
• Silvered opaline dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 10 bar (approximately 100 metres)
• Medium version case width: 35.1 mm, thickness: 8.83 mm
• Large version case width: 39.8 mm, thickness: 9.08 mm
• Pricing from A$8,750 for the Cartier Santos Medium in steel, to A$52,500 for the Cartier Santos Large in solid pink gold with matching pink gold bracelet. For stockists, visit

Jason Swire

Jason Swire (Jason Swire)

[email protected] /

Jason Swire is a Sydney-based writer, watch collector and author of 'Timely Advice', a beginner's guide to fine timepieces. His non-watch passions include hi-fi and whiskey, in that order.

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21 Jul, 2018 07:45 am

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair will launch inflight Internet on its European flights this week, with travellers able to enjoy the high-speed satellite service free of charge during a two-month trial period running through to the end of September.

The Oneworld airline has already outfitted six of its single-aisle Airbus jets with technology provided through partner Viasat, which also provided the backbone for Qantas' Australia-wide WiFi system.

By the end of northern summer some 20 aircraft will be upgraded, with Finnair's entire single-aisle Airbus fleet slated for WiFi by mid-2019.

The system will be available on a gate-to-gate basis, so passengers won't even need to wait for their jet to reach level flight – which will maximise time online for many of Finnair's relatively short European hops.

However, parts of some European routes will present black spots to the satellite network, including above the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, while some restrictions also apply over Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Belarus and Russia.

Over the two-month testing period Finnair intends to "gather information on system functionality and feedback on the overall customer experience."

"In entering the passenger testing phase, we’ll be gaining the critical insights needed to further optimise our service to ensure Finnair customers get a unique experience built around their needs, interests and usage behaviours," explains Viasat vice-president Don Buchman.

The airline has yet to reveal what pricing it will charge for its sky-high WiFi once the trial period ends, although frequent flyers will no doubt hope that some sort of monthly pass is available as an alternative to paying on a per-flight basis.

Finnair already offers WiFi on its long-range 'intercontinental' jets, with the first hour free for business class and Finnair Plus Gold members, then €3 (A$4.70) for three hours or €20 (A$31) for the entire flight. Finnair Plus Platinum frequent flyers are provided with free Internet access for the whole flight.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • eight10man


    20 Jul, 2018 06:19 pm

    Not sure how you can have black spots when using satellite internet.. especially when those black spots happen to be above the sea. Could it be this system is actually and ground-to-ground system maybe?
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  • readosunnycoast


    20 Jul, 2018 10:35 pm

    Just flew BKK>>>HEL, A350 with wifi. Couldnt get a connection of any sort. Just kept message, don’t close the browser. I do hope it gets better for the next lot of passengers
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21 Jul, 2018 07:45 am


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