Malaysia Airlines is on the come-back track, with the troubled airline replacing its slanted business class seats with fully-flat beds on all A330 flights to Australia by late September.
The first of the airline’s reinvigorated Airbus A330s is now in service with the rest of the fleet to be reconfigured with the new business class cabin, which made its debut this week on flight MH141 from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney.
Australian Business Traveller was aboard the inaugural business class flight to bring you this exclusive, world-first review of MAS’ new Airbus A330 business class seat.
On its newest layout, Malaysia Airlines’ business class seats alternate between a 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 layout, giving all but three passengers (2K, 4K, 7K) direct access to the aisle.
In a great improvement to MAS’ older A330 business class seats, each extends into a 52.3cm wide, 193cm long fully-flat, not angled-flat, bed…
… with the seat joining up with a small ottoman under the inflight entertainment screen to form that bed with a mattress pad, pillow and blanket supplied – but not pyjamas, which travellers are increasingly expecting to find in international business class.
To increase comfort while catching some shut-eye, the side armrest can be lowered…
… achieved by twisting the whole armrest clockwise and then pushing it down, rather than pressing a button or latch as with the previous seat:
Just be careful when slipping your mattress pad over the headrest or adjusting your pillow – the side edge of the plastic near the top of the seat (when in bed mode) is surprisingly sharp and created a small gash in this author’s finger, of which we’ll spare you a separate photo:
However, getting that seat in bed mode is a simple task with easy-to-reach shortcut keys aside the seat…
… with additional controls found on the side panel for lumbar support, legrest adjustment, mood lighting and also a massage feature: another aspect new to Malaysia Airlines’ A330s:
That side area is also where you’ll find the entertainment remote control, USB power, an adjustable reading light, a small storage pocket suited to very thin glasses cases…
… a larger storage cupboard with room for your amenity kit, headphones, small tablets and other bits and pieces, plus a mirror in the door that's usable when reclined in bed mode but not when sitting upright…
… and an open shelf above for more goodies, but which for many passengers is directly on display to those passing through the aisle, so think twice before placing valuables here like wallets and passports:
Larger tablets like the Microsoft Surface 3 slip into the literature pocket with a multi-country AC power outlet at the ready for easy charging…
… while smaller devices like smartphones are at easy reach when placed in a fold-down storage compartment directly in front of each passenger:
Last but certainly not least there’s of course ample legroom when sitting upright, and although the ottoman is out of reach unless in bed mode, the floor in front of your seat is on an incline and functions as a quasi-footrest.
Overall, this seat is leaps and bounds ahead of Malaysia’ Airlines older ‘sloping sleeper’ business class seats on the A330, and if you plan ahead and choose one of the many seats with uninterrupted access to the aisle, such as we did with 7A, getting some much-needed rest is an easy task.
The flight begins with a choice of juices pre-take-off, progressing to a full bar after wheels-up including the drinkable Philipponat Royale Reserve Brut NV Champagne…
… and an entirely Aussie wine menu boasting a Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon: all from South Australia.
With a 9am departure time from Kuala Lumpur (being midday Sydney time during daylight savings months), brunch is served – starting with a ‘breakfast’ course of fresh fruits, yoghurt, and a bread basket including warmed croissants with jam…
… proceeding to ‘lunch’ with a choice between a marinated chicken breast, a seafood red curry and a calamarata – but if you’re organised and plan ahead, Malaysia Airlines’ Chef On Call service lets you pre-select from an additional 17 dishes…
… ranging from brekky favourites like waffles and omelettes through to lamb, beef, cod, chicken, filet mignon, prawns, snapper, pasta…
… or even a traditional Nasi Lemak as we pre-ordered, which tasted just as you’d expect on the ground bar a boiled egg – so be warned, this dish is spicy!
Finishing up is ice cream or a decadently rich layered dark chocolate cake with cherry compote, strawberry and vanilla sauce:
Around 1hr 45m before landing a refreshment meal follows, begnning with a fresh roasted chicken salad with pepaya, carrot and red capsicum salsa and with dessert served at the same time...
... but consider leaving the dessert aside until after Malaysia Airlines' legendary satay sticks arrive!
Entertainment & Service
A respectable variety of movies, TV shows and music tracks are served up on a 16-inch HD monitor, controlled either by touch or a separate and almost redundant remote control, as the screen is within easy reach.
Unchanged from the old business class, however, are the sub-par noise-cancelling headphones which are frequently delivered with faulty cables that result in almost siren-like whirring in your ears, static and interference, and are incredibly sensitive to the slightest bump to the connector.
We witnessed many passengers requesting new headphones on both of our A330 flights and also went through several pairs ourselves before finding a set that worked as it should – Malaysia Airlines, take note.
The headphones are also collected before landing, so if your movie is close to finishing and it’s time to hand them over, you’ll have to catch the ending on Netflix rather than during descent when there’s little else to do.
Otherwise, service on our flight was warm with cabin crew addressing passengers by name (seemingly from memory) and engaging in polite discussion without being intrusive.
The odd plate was also removed prematurely, such as our bread plate before the return of the bread basket, while others were left sitting for collection on the side table and passed by several open-handed crew members before disappearing.
On the plus side, the crew distribute nifty Porsche Design amenity kits…
… stocked with an eyeshade, socks, a dental kit, mouthwash, Acca Kappa moisturiser, lip balm, and a fold-out comb, with shaving kits also available by request: more than enough for the eight-hour hop between Australia and Malaysia.
All in all, Malaysia Airlines’ new seat represents a substantial leap from its previous business class and proves an incredibly comfortable way to fly – and if not for a few relatively minor details that can easily be corrected, would easily tick all of the boxes for business travellers.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Kuala Lumpur as a guest of Malaysia Airlines
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