First look: Malaysia Airlines' new Airbus A350 first class suites

First look: Malaysia Airlines' new Airbus A350 first class suites

Malaysia Airlines' first Airbus A350 has taken wing, with five more of the advanced jets to follow by July 2018 – and each is fitted with four first class suites of a unique design.

These are highly-customised versions of the Thompson Aero Seating's Vantage XL business class seat, which the airline maintains has been overhauled and upgraded specifically for its A350 – although it's very close to Thompson's Vantage Suite design (shown below).

Thompson Aero Seating's Vantage Suite

High walls and a sliding door provide privacy for each passenger.

The seats themselves are 22 inches wide – the same as the A350's business class seats (which in turn are based on Thompson's Vantage platform) – although Malaysia Airlines cites a bed length of 83 inches, compared to 78 inches in business class.

A long shelf runs along the side of each suite and contains three spacious bins for keeping assorted pieces of carry-on kit close at hand.

The bin which sits next to the passenger features a large mirror on the underside of its lid, while located just ahead of that bench are the seat controls and a handheld touchscreen controller for the 24 inch HD video display parked at the far end of each suite.

Here's Mark Ross-Smith, who heads the airline's Enrich frequent flyer scheme, sampling the new first class suite on the A350 delivery flight from Toulouse to Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia Airlines hopes that attributes such as privacy, a superior sleeping environment, direct aisle access and more detailed fitout – along with a true first class dining and drinks service – will warrant the extra cost over business class.

There's just one row of four suites at the pointy end of Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350s, behind which are ranked 35 business class seats, using the same Thompson Vantage design as the Oneworld member's Airbus A330s – including four 'throne' seats which are ideal for solo flyers.

Those are followed by an economy cabin of 247 seats, 27 of which are 'extra legroom' seats with 36 inches of pitch compared to a standard 31 inches.

The A350 also comes equipped with inflight Internet – a first for the Malaysian flag-carrier – with prices from US$1 to US$13, based on speed limits and data caps.

Malaysia Airlines will roster its first four Airbus A350s onto the Kuala Lumpur-London route as replacements for its Airbus A380s starting in January 2018.

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.


  • ScottB


    30 Nov, 2017 07:02 pm

    It's worth mentioning MH are doing some intra Asia familiarisation flights in December and January on the A350, and the new F seats are selectable on J fares. I was lucky enough to nab a pair on a SIN-KUL leg, but I believe they're also flying them to BKK and HKG. For more info check the Malaysia Airlines subforum on AFF.
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  • clarkysdonga


    30 Nov, 2017 07:24 pm

    Woh? Looks so stale and clinical, yawn...
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  • Jon747SP Speedbird


    30 Nov, 2017 07:59 pm

    MH is to be applauded for this. Whilst the hard product may represent somewhat of a ‘first class lite’ affair, it’s still admirable of them to keep a first class product rather than axing it all together as has been the case with so many airlines.
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  • Damien  Greene


    30 Nov, 2017 08:15 pm

    I think the only reason state owned MH kept the first clsss product was to keep the ruling party government elite happy
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  • autvlr


    30 Nov, 2017 09:32 pm

    Looking at the seat map it doesn’t look like the first row of J dovetails into the F armrests like the standard vantage suite shows. Is that correct?
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  • David Flynn


    30 Nov, 2017 10:06 pm

    That's correct, which is why this is more of a heavily-customised Vantage XL rather than an off-the-rack Vantage Suite (although seen from the other side of the equation, one could also call it a customised Vantage Suite to remove that first-to-business dovetailing).
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  • paperysomething


    1 Dec, 2017 11:24 am

    It can't really be compared to a Vantage XL though, as the business class arrangement is 1-2-2, 1-2-1 alternating. Therefore the seats will have less width then a Vantage XL configuration on the A350.

    I'm interested to know how exactly they engineered seat 1K, given that the business class seat behind it is a 'throne' seat, IE with shelf space both on the left and right. Is there just more aisle space?

    This blog has better pics -
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  • David Flynn


    1 Dec, 2017 12:52 pm

    First class is based on Vantage XL (1-2-1), business class is Vantage.
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  • paperysomething


    1 Dec, 2017 02:48 pm

    Even that can't strictly be true. If you look at AusBT's article on Vantage First -

    It can be seen that Vantage First is closely integrated with the Vantage XL seats in that the staggered seating in row 2 slides underneath the console of row 1. The fact that Malaysia Airlines has Vantage (non-XL) in row two means that the First seating would need to conform to the dimensions of the standard Vantage seat. Which seems to be the case given that the seat widths in F and J are the same. Hence was wondering how seat 1K would be engineered as the console would technically be in the middle (seat 2K is a throne seat).
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  • paperysomething


    3 Dec, 2017 03:51 pm

    Ah I see now, the Vantage business seats don't 'stagger' or integrate with the First seats at all. You'd think they'd make the first seats wider in that case, as well as the console a bit lower given there isn't a need to put feet underneath it.
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  • Ellis Vincent


    1 Dec, 2017 03:24 pm

    Fatherdamo, I could not agree with you more about the ruling elite up there, but you did forget the other reason for the retention of first class on this aircraft. That is that it will also be heavily utilised by senior management staff and the board member executive elite as well!! I give it 18months, then they will reconfigure it all business class. Really they are not being serious with a first class product with just 4 seats!!! Total white elephant!1
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  • Ric OSHEA


    1 Dec, 2017 06:07 pm

    How wide are those seats? They look rather narrow to me but that could just be the way they were photographed.
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    Mdm Milton

    2 Dec, 2017 01:09 am

    A bit narrow/tight for a First class Suite from the photos. Just not outstanding at all.
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  • Kevin Jackson

    Kevin Jackson

    3 Dec, 2017 12:59 am

    It doesn't matter what the new seats are like.
    Currently, the flight time out of Perth, 02.20, poor food, a 737 etc, who would want to travel in J Class, to join the A350 ?
    The flight is usually late arriving and departing. A once excellent airline has hit rock bottom.
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  • GuyBetsy


    3 Dec, 2017 06:12 pm

    F class is kept because there are a few Datuk / Datins who will only fly in F class... and that some government officials can still hope to be upgraded on their J class tickets when flying on government 'business'.

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24 Jul, 2019 12:56 pm


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