I am feeling surprisingly fresh, all things considered. I woke up at 05:30 on 26 December to catch my flight from Zürich to Paris. And save for two hours’ sleep on the flight from Paris to Kuala Lumpur, I’ve been awake the whole time.
I step off the A 380 that brought me in from Paris and make my way to Malaysia’s satellite lounge.
The Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge
Location: One floor up from the public area, above the metro station that connects the satellite with the main building.
Type of Lounge: Malaysia Airlines First Class lounge.
Facilities: Toilets, showers, separate dining area, workstations.
Internet: Available for free, password required.
There is a common reception area for the Malaysia Airlines lounges in Kuala Lumpur. The Business Class lounge is to the left of the counter, while the First Class lounge is to the right. Even though my onward connection to Brisbane will be only in Business Class, the lounge dragon still grants me access to the First Class lounge once she has checked the PNR for my trip.
The lounge itself is pretty empty and it seems to me that the place has been renovated or refurbished recently. The toilets look much newer than the last time I was here. Then again, appearances can be misleading…I decide to have a shower to freshen up before the next flight. At close inspection however, the showers look badly maintained and not particularly clean. What can I say? I am a doctor’s son, so perhaps I may be a tad picky when it comes to hygiene. So eventually I decide to give the showers a miss.
I leave the lounge roughly forty-five minutes before departure because I still have to go through security to enter the holding area of my gate. When I arrive at C16, from where my flight will be leaving, the place is a complete mess. A beautiful Iraqi Airways Boeing 777-300 has just pulled up at the gate next to ours. As the passengers of that flight disembark, they are blocking the way for passengers queuing for security for gates C16 and C17.
Eventually, by the time I manage to get into the holding area, boarding for my flight has already started. There is no separate queue for security. There is however, a separate exit to the aircraft for Business Class.
Configuration: 2 + 2 + 2
Seat: The first thing that strikes me about the overall cabin is that it is very dirty. There are even stains of food on the wall paneling and there are crumbs of food all over the place. The seat’s hard shell back is quite low. Consequently, it does not offer much in terms of privacy. But at least there is a divider on every pair of seats. Storage space is also somewhat limited.
Pitch: 60 inches.
Width: 20 inches.
Facilities: USB port and power supply (115 volt).
Length as a bed: 75.2 inches.
Audio and Video: Touch screen audio video on demand.
As I enter the cabin and reach my seat, there is hardly any room to sit. The space is taken up by a large pillow, a thick blanket and a thin mattress on every seat.
What a nightmare. I really think it is safe to say that I have never experienced such an awful crew in all my life, on any airline. During the boarding process, assisting passengers with their luggage and helping them stow all the blankets, pillows etc. does not seem part of the crew’s job description and they generally have an attitude of could not care less.
There is a large group of Indian businessmen on the flight today and they are, admittedly, behaving rather badly. Nonetheless, the crew are so apparently pissed off with them that they first start ignoring the passengers, then start being rude to them, move on to yelling at them and eventually end up doing all of the above at the same time.
After take-off the vanity kits are distributed. The content is more or less the same as in the First Class kit I received on the previous flight.
Welcome drink on the ground: Guava juice.
Hot towel before the meal: Yes, scented.
Pre-meal drink: Water.
Choice: There are three choices for the main course, but no menus are distributed, so I have not idea what was on offer. I just had the chicken.
Type of meal: Good question…
The meal service is a chaotic mess. One flight attendant approaches passengers and asks them if they have already made a choice, which seems just a bit dumb given that no menus were distributed on the flight. When passengers ask what the choices are, the cabin crew roll their eyes and mumble something about ‘chicken, salmon….’. Ah, so much better.
Mixed chicken and beef satay with accompaniments.
The First Course
Something (tuna?) with raw peppers and celery.
The Main Course
Chicken Indian style.
At least the service does not take too long to complete. The trays are cleared away, the cabin lights are dimmed and most of the passengers go off to sleep. And so do the crew. There is one guy among the crew on this flight who spends most of his time sitting in one of the Business Class seats reading the paper. At some point he passes through the cabin, presumably to keep up appearances, sees my empty tray and instructs one of the other cabin crew to pick it up and remove it, rather than simply doing it himself. Another crew member is sleeping on the jump seat, with his legs sprawling across the aisle. I have to climb over him to get to the toilet.
The Second Service
The second service is hardly worth mentioning. It consists of two rather small and bland canapés – one with cream cheese and the other with a strange combination of marinated spicy chicken, tomato sauce and pineapple.
By the time we start our descent into Brisbane it is already getting dark outside. Our approach sees us approaching the airport from the west and then executing a left-hand 270 degrees turn to land in a southerly direction.
The international terminal is deserted when we arrive. Malaysia Airlines hands out express cards for immigration and customs to their Business Class passengers. But the airport is so quiet this evening that the express lane for customs has already closed down.
Getting into Town
Departs from: Taxi rank in front of the terminal building.
Journey time: 25 Minutes.
Fare: AUD47.- to New Farm.
There are bus and train services that frequently run from the airport into the city and to Gold Coast and Surfer’s Paradise. But according to Google Maps the journey by public transport to where I am going will take more than an hour. So I think I shall take a taxi, if that is all the same with you.
Good heavens, what on earth was that? I mean Malaysia Airlines, really? As I already mentioned in my previous post, their First Class product on the A 380 is a lot more like a Business Class experience on other Asian carriers, although the hardware on the A 380 is excellent. But this last flight from Kuala Lumpur to Brisbane in Business Class was a complete and utter nightmare. I am aware of the fact that the carrier has been brought under government control in a bid to stabilise the company before moving ahead with privatisation. But to be perfectly honest, as far as I can tell privatisation has definitely put the carrier in a downward spiral it may not recover from. Especially on the last flight it became apparent that the staff’s motivation has reached rock bottom. Paired with the fact that their hard product in Business Class is no longer competitive with the likes of Thai, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Emirates, it seems hardly unlikely that Malaysia Airlines will rise from the ashes the way the Malaysian government is intending. Pity.