Malaysia Airlines mulls business class without points, lounge access

Malaysia Airlines mulls business class without points, lounge access

Malaysia Airlines could let business class passengers reduce their fare by opting out of lounge access and frequent flyer miles.

Also on the cards: easier ways to book a single itinerary with mixed travel classes, such as business and economy on different flights.

Newly-minted Malaysia Airlines CEO Christoph Mueller tipped the new "pick'n'mix" scheme on the sidelines of this week's International Air Transport Association meeting in Miami.

"Customers might book a business-class seat, but opt out of the miles or lounge access," Mueller tells Aviation Week.

"Or they could take a day flight in economy to Australia and return in business overnight."

"We want to go modular so that people can build their own product," Müller explains, although this would require a new IT system because "our current systems cannot deliver that."

Müller has previously outlined investment in IT as a cornerstone in his 'reboot' of the troubled airline, which will include adopting a new name from September 1st, cutting unprofitable routes and selling or leasing two of its near-new Airbus A380s.

Malaysia Airlines has racked up debts approaching $1.5 billion since 2011, with a dire situation worsened by last year's twin tragedies of the disappearance of flight MH370 and the shooting down of MH17.

The airline was nationalised in late 2014 by Malaysia's government-owned investment arm Khazanah Nasional, which has pledged a A$2 billion injection to fund the dramatic restructure aimed at returning the airline to profitability by 2017.

Earlier this month Mueller confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the airline would upgrade its Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 jets with new business class seats which he described as "a world-class leading lie-flat seat (with) very large dimensions, and be positioned above the industry standard for business class."

Read: Malaysia Airlines: all-new business class for A330s, Boeing 777s

Mueller also revealed  that some of the airline's Golden Lounge airport lounges around the world will close, but those which remain open – including its flagship lounges at Kuala Lumpur, plus London Heathrow and Melbourne – will receive a much-needed upgrade.

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David Flynn
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.
 

11 comments

  • watson374

    watson374

    8 Jun, 2015 09:34 pm

    I could certainly go with the ability to buy an Economy fare and then purchase lounge access.

    I'd imagine the pricing would need to vary, with (say) ex-KUL fares attracting a stiffer lounge cost than say, ex-CGK.

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  • Skippybear

    Skippybear

    8 Jun, 2015 09:40 pm

    With respect, I assume it was a slip of the pen when the lounges were called Golden Wing. Sadly those AN Lounges disappeared from 2001/2002. MH Lounges are just plain Golden Lounges, and from my experience in the past are just that; plain.

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  • Shasluck

    Shasluck

    8 Jun, 2015 09:47 pm

    When are we likely to see prototypes of the new business class? When will the first install likely happen?

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  • BizTraveller

    BizTraveller

    8 Jun, 2015 10:34 pm

    The interesting thing about the airline industry is desperate times call for new ways of thinking - its innovations like this that keep things fresh and interesting - good on them for thinking outside the box!!

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  • Satoshi Takayama

    Michael Kao

    8 Jun, 2015 10:47 pm

    I can live with that! Many people actually buy miles to fly business class that won't earn any mile anyway. Most people just need a good seat during flight and lounge access, good champaign...etc are secondary. 

    I have priority pass so I'll have lounge access on most non australian airport anyway. 

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  • KULMELflyer

    KULMELflyer

    8 Jun, 2015 11:08 pm

    I actually do enjoy the system that CM has in mind that a pasanger could build its own product because we're currently living in an age of consumer personalization where you do business on you own term rather than the business term. But the new system does has a major flaw. Being a business passagner, you would like to have acess to lounge because apart form the food offering, you could be at your own ease minding your own business rather than being in the open.  Plus the reason why business class prices are high is to create a desirability barrier in between those who can afford and those who dream of affording it thus making the business class desirable to those who can't afford. Reducing the barrier will certainly scare away it previous loyal business class passanger. I think MH got it all wrong of what Business Class flying experience ought to be. I think CM just want to shut the lounge in foreign airport that MAS is currently serving due to economic viability 

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  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    9 Jun, 2015 12:11 am

    It's too early to speculate. We shall have to see the pricing difference and premium attached to the "full service" but in principle customisation is always a good thing. 

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  • Mal

    Mal

    9 Jun, 2015 11:13 am

    It would be interesting to see the price scale on this when it comes to the 'full business class' package vs business class without certain options like points or status credits or lounge access, if MAS gets the numbers right then it wil be very tempting to some travellers. For example I mosty fly with Qantas so I have QFF Platinum status which means I can get into a MAS lounge on my own, and MAS has a terrible rate of return on QFF points so I could also skip earning any points. Take points and lounge access off my ticket and it doesn't bother me, and for a decent saving I would bite.

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  • sagidec

    sagidec

    9 Jun, 2015 02:07 pm

    Since they don't have Premium Economy, one way J and the other Y seems a good idea to have a good balance for the occassional traveller.

    Also, wouldn't mind dropping the miles on J class for a cheaper ride.

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  • D_C

    D_C

    10 Jun, 2015 03:03 pm

    Really interesting strategy by removing the "loyalty" points in favor of a cash saving.  I envision some businesses would prefer the saving over the points and lounges.  Keen to see how successful it is.

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  • Ryan Stephen

    RaptorNation158

    10 Jun, 2015 05:23 pm

    Well a percentage of people who fly J don't know they have something called a lounge so I think for some people it's the same deal, although now cheaper.

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17 Jun, 2019 03:14 am

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