Review: Malaysia Airlines A330 business class (Sydney-Kuala Lumpur)
Satay and service with a smile from the Malaysian flag-carrier and Oneworld member.
Sydney to Kuala Lumpur
- Delicious inflight meals
- Throne seats for the solo flyer
- Warm and genuine service
- No inflight WiFi
- A second full meal service would be welcome
- The best way to fly between Australia and Malaysia
Malaysia Airlines is the only premium carrier offering direct flights between Australia and Kuala Lumpur – and as a member of the Oneworld alliance, and it’s also the obvious choice for Qantas and Oneworld flyers.
Of course, you don’t have to be going to KL itself: the airline also offers connecting flights from its home hub at Kuala Lumpur throughout Malaysia, to neighbouring countries and all the way to London.
Malaysia Airlines has standardised on the same business class seat for its long-range Airbus A330 and A350 jets.
The spacious and comfortable seat converts into a fully-flat bed, and the unique layout offers conventional paired seats for couples travelling together as well as a handful of ‘throne’ seats for solo flyers.
Travellers can collect points on Malaysia Airlines’ own Enrich loyalty program or in the frequent flyer scheme of any Oneworld partner airlines, and likewise use their Enrich Points or the equivalent currency of Oneworld members to book on Malaysia Airlines.
Business travellers should also consider joining into the airline’s MHBiz Pro corporate travel scheme: is a self-booking tool which also bundles in upfront savings and additional benefits.
(This is complemented by MHbiz Plus, designed for companies with high travel volumes managed by an appointed third-party agency.)
Through its membership of the Oneworld alliance, Malaysia Airlines offers access to Qantas’ Sydney international lounges before its flights set off on the 8h30m trek to KL.
Business class passengers and those with Oneworld Sapphire status – such as Enrich Gold and Qantas Gold – can enjoy a preflight respite at the Qantas Business lounge, while Enrich Platinums, Qantas Platinums and their Oneworld Emerald equivalents are welcomed at the Qantas First Lounge.
The return leg of your journey starts at Malaysia Airlines’ spacious flagship Golden Lounge at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (note that the lounge is in KLIA’s satellite terminal, not the main terminal) – when Executive Traveller travelled in April 2022, the adjacent first class wing remained closed, making the Golden Lounge to go-to for all lounge-worthy flyers.
I flew from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur on MH122, scheduled as a convenient daytime service departing Sydney at 1.25pm to reach KL at 8.15pm.
(At the time of writing this alternates with MH140, an overnight service which departs Sydney at 10.10pm to arrive into Kuala Lumpur at 5am the next morning – and that’s when the lie-flat business class beds will be especially welcome.)
Daytime flights to Asia are a particular favourite of mine: there’s less of a rush in the morning and you typically arrive in time for dinner or a light room service supper at the hotel, and after a solid night’s sleep your body clock has reset itself to your new timezone.
Malaysia Airlines’ flights between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur are usually handled by its modern Airbus A350, but in this early period of post-pandemic travel recovery the route has been given over to the slightly smaller and older Airbus A330-300.
Step on board Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A330 and A350 and you’ll find the same business class seat: the popular Vantage model from Thomson Aero, which has a unique layout across the A330’s six front rows.
The middle seats are all paired, as usual, although lacking a divider which can be retracted to make it easier to chat with your seat-mate when flying with a partner.
The seats on the left side of the cabin are singles, and their specific location alternates between being directly at the aisle (1A, 4A and 6A) with a shelf by the window, or immediately next to the window (seats 2A, 5A and 7A) with the shelf between the passenger and the aisle.
Seats on the right side of the business class cabin are a mix of doubles (at rows 2, 5 and 7), and singles (1K, 4K and 6K) which are flanked by two shelves.
These ‘throne’ seats are especially well suited to solo flyers who want a bit of extra personal space and business travellers who need room to spread out their work.
There’s ample legroom in front of each business class seat on Malaysian Airlines’ A330, even though the solo throne seats have a more constrained foot-nook compared to other seats.
This is especially noticeable when the seat goes flat and you’re trying to sleep – it makes for a very tight fit when lying down.
That’s something to bear in mind on an overnight flight – so the best position is to lie on your side and slightly curved up. If you can sleep only when stretched straight out, choose a different seat.
Seat adjustments range from bolt-upright to a relaxed recline and all the way to a lie-flat bed, although there’s no mattress topper to make the seat feel more like a bed.
This is another reason some travellers may prefer to avoid the throne seats – when in bed mode, the tall shelves on either side make you feel a bit hemmed in, whereas many other seats have one side side ‘open’ to the aisle.
Those observations aside, while Malaysia Airlines’ Vantage-based business class seats aren’t the latest word in design they certainly tick all the boxes that business travellers expect when it comes to overall comfort and personal space.
Tucked away in the wide shelf is a hidden compartment with a handy vanity mirror...
... with a recess atop this module, and another storage nook under the shelf next to the window.
The mandatory AC and USB power sockets make an appearance too, although the positioning of the AC outlet is not ideal for passengers needing to hop in and out of their seat.
Business class passengers receive an Aspinal of London bag containing Payot Paris skincare products, and all passengers will find at their seat a hygiene kit with face mask and alcohol wipe.
Given our 1.25pm wheels-up from Sydney, lunch was served very shortly after takeoff.
First up was an appetiser of Malaysia Airlines’ signature satay, offered with skewers of beef, chicken or both, and smothered with delicious satay sauce.
Another local favourite is teh tarik – a sweet milk-based hot tea. Yes, it’s instant teh tarik made from a packet, but alongside that satay it’s still a welcome taste of KL.
Lunch arrived as a single tray containing starters of salad and bread roll, plus the dessert.
The main course was next to arrive, with business class passengers on my flight offered a choice between
- chicken biryani
- beef with polenta
- barramundi with pumpkin and asparagus
Like many frequent flyers these days I’m leaning towards lighter healthier meals, so as much as I enjoy a good chicken biryani I opted for for the barramundi, which arrived steamed on a bed of grains.
While our meal trays were still in front of us, the cabin crew came around to offer ice cream – yes, a second dessert – along with coffee or tea, which meant time for another teh tarik.
A variety of lighter meals such as this wrap were available towards the end of the flight.
However, given the 8.15pm arrival into Kuala Lumpur, I expect most business class passengers would have appreciated an equally-substantive dinner be served prior to landing.
That shortcoming is certainly not exclusive to Malaysia Airlines – it’s sadly common among most carriers – but you’d think that business class in any premium airline merits two full meals when the flight is long enough to span lunch and dinner.
For what it’s worth, the return journey from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney serves up some very authentic Malaysian dishes, such as this spicy tongue-tingling nasi lemak.
Entertainment & Service
Each business class seat on Malaysia Airlines’ A330 is fronted by a 16” HD touchscreen, with content headlined by a selection of recent releases movies along with the usual mix of genres, TV series (including boxed seats of seasons).
Noise-cancelling headphones are supplied but these days, who doesn’t travel with their own pair of superior headphones or earphones?
Something missing from the A330s is WiFi, which is available on the A350s at plans from US$2 to US$25 depending on the speed and data required.
As for the service: there’s an inherent warmth in the manner of Malaysia Airlines’ cabin crew. Every request is met with a smile, and should the traveller exhibit interest in or appreciation of Malaysian food or culture, they can expect the crew to respond with not only genuine enthusiasm but to offer their own welcome first-hand suggestions of where to eat and shop.
The author travelled as a guest of Malaysia Airlines
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Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer
22 Nov 2019
Total posts 82
I am in KL regularly for work, although MAS is the only option ex Mel (unless you take AirAsia out of Avalon when its running - and I am not knocking Air Asia premium, its not too bad!), if Joyce ever made the Intelligent decision to fly to KLIA direct, I would still fly MAS.
11 Dec 2019
Total posts 2
There was no mention of Champagne or wine accompanying the meal. Were there served with the meal?
24 Oct 2010
Total posts 2555
Hi Loi - they were offered, I declined. But yes, I should have grabbed details of the wines and bubbles. After two years maybe not "match fit" LOL!
25 Jun 2018
Total posts 33
We flew KL to Sydney, daytime flight and were offered their superb satay skewers as starters before lunch, with lunch, during the flight and with pre-landing refreshments. Service with ‘many a smile’ and a hand written recipe for the satay sauce. Way to fly!
Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer
06 Oct 2016
Total posts 149
Must admit it has been a long time since I have done MH, back in the 2-2-2 days which use to be one of the cheapest ways to Europe on their 777's
No vegetarian options, but I do miss the Satay and they had a great Nasi Lemak
24 Nov 2020
Total posts 6
I know this service well, flying it many times on the A330 and it’s always been decent for the price however MH also operate a handful of ex Air Berlin A330’s which are in the old Air Berlin J class configuration. Although mainly dedicated to shorter intra Asia sectors I have seen them operate to Australia. Quite inferior to the MH configuration and no “throne seats”.
26 Sep 2020
Total posts 7
Does MAS still offer Business Class passengers access to the Qantas Business Class lounge? According to the MAS website and a recent review, they were sent to the Plaza "Premium" Lounge which closed an hour before the flight left at 22:00.