Okay, so Kuala Lumpur isn’t really far. But if, like myself, you’re continuing eastward to some other far-flung region, a better test of Malaysia Airlines business class is at hand. Did it pass?
I was quite happy. The plane we climbed into was clean and well maintained and the staff apparently happy enough to see us (not to be taken for granted, especially when one has experience of the European and American carriers). The entertainment system took some figuring out but was perfectly adequate, with a good mix of movies and other options. The wine list was short but serviceable, but the real standout was the food. They make a big fuss about their stay on this airline, and I have to admit, it’s pretty good. Served hot on skewers (choice of meat, naturally) with lashings of peanut sauce and a big napkin to protect your front (they should consider aprons). The staff charged about filling orders and making us more and more comfy, and before I knew it, we were in KL.
The Delhi flight I took arrives at a great time in KL (6.50am), so one has the superb lounge pretty much to oneself. The small-eats selection is immaculate; there are shower facilities and La-Z-Boys, and even a spa, if one has time and the inclination. International newspapers, wi-fi, a place to snooze and get a foot rub: what more do you want from a lounge?
Onwards, then, to Auckland: a good ten-plus-hours test of an airline’s ability to deliver business-class passengers to their destinations in a semi-lifelike condition. The food post KL is spectacular, with the satay scaling new heights and the breakfast nasi lemak authentically fishy and spicy. My mood was good, my readiness for a nap immediate, and down went the seat. Where the big problem presented itself: the seats are the infamous ‘lie-flat’ variety, which means that you’re semi-prone at best. At worst, you’re in dire danger of slipping off the edge of the world. Also, they’re curiously narrow, so turning about isn’t really an option. Still, I fell asleep readily enough, and stayed that way till quite close to journey’s end.
So, there are pros and cons to this airline’s business class. Super service, good food and an excellent home base in KL are mitigated by a route network that, while serviceable, doesn’t really soar above its Asian competitors like SQ, Cathay and Thai. The good news is that Malaysia Airlines is joining the one world alliance this year, so its loyalty programme will become that much stronger. Bottom line? It’s a good and relatively inexpensive option if you’re headed east, especially to the Far East and Australasia and as far afield as the west coast of the US.