Malaysia Airlines A330 revamp: inflight Internet, fares, Chef on Call

By Chris C., March 31 2016
Malaysia Airlines A330 revamp: inflight Internet, fares, Chef on Call

Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A330 fleet is now undergoing a long-awaited revamp to replace the outgoing sloped business class sleepers with fully-flat beds, with two aircraft being refitted every month through September 2016.

That’s when the airline’s entire A330 fleet will feel like new, but will also feature just 27 seats in business class, down from 36 at present.

At the launch of the new seats in Kuala Lumpur, Australian Business Traveller sat down with Malaysia Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer Paul Simmons, to ask whether business class airfares will rise as a result and to see what other amenities business travellers can look forward to in the years to come.

Malaysia Airlines: business class fares

“There’s no plan to push the pricing up,” Simmons quickly counters, adding that “we’re just hoping to improve demand, get our customer satisfaction higher as well and get more people on board.”

Also shared is that Malaysia Airlines typically fills 60-70% of its business class seats on Airbus A330 flights, “so there is room to take (some) seats out to upgrade to a better product.”

To help balance the equation, MAS is utilising a mix of 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 seating in the new layout, giving all but three passengers direct aisle access and all but six travellers uninterrupted access to the same.

“There is a compromise to be had when losing seats,” Simmons continues. “This set-up is flying on Aer Lingus, for example, and if you look at seat maps there aren’t negative comments on these seats.”

Malaysia Airlines: Kuala Lumpur lounges

With new seats often come new lounges, but the difficulty for Malaysia Airlines is that some flights depart from the main pier at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and others from the satellite gates, requiring separate lounges for each pier, rather than one truly flagship facility.

“We’re trying to, where we can, put more flights into the main terminal, but frankly we’re a bit too big to just move everything there,” Simmons explains, “so we’re having to split a bit, but in time we’d like to put more into the main terminal.”

As a result, expansion works to Malaysia Airlines’ current Kuala Lumpur main pier lounges are under consideration, with additional weight given “if a large part of the travelling public moves that way (towards the main pier from the satellite)”.

“We’d need to make the lounges in the main terminal a bit bigger,” Simmons admits.

Malaysia Airlines: inflight WiFi, Chef on Call

Chef on Call’, similar to the wider-known ‘Book the Cook’ service on Singapore Airlines, allows MAS’ business and first class passengers to pre-order their inflight meal before travelling – including from up to 20 dishes not normally available from the regular inflight menus:

“It’s something we’re still kind of working on… it’s been around for a year or two, but we’re actually looking to refresh it and make it more relevant so you get a much better range of choices and exactly what you want to eat,” Simmons shares.

But as for sky-high inflight Internet on Malaysia Airlines, don’t get your hopes up any time soon.

Simmons doesn’t share a timeline, instead noting that “it’s something we’re working on… it’s clearly something that we know our customers will appreciate, so we’re looking at it when we can.”

Also read: Malaysia Airlines' new A330 business class review, KL-Sydney

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Malaysia as a guest of Malaysia Airlines

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

12 Apr 2011

Total posts 71

I've only been to the Golden Lounge in the Satellite Terminal. Is the lounge in the main terminal better? I wasn't able to find that lounge - it looked to me that you had to exit into the domestic section to get there.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

The main terminal lounge is geared more towards regional international flights rather than long-hauls which tend to use the satellite.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 123

A few months back there was news about Malaysia Airlines providing a custom business class fare option, with cheaper fares for giving up lounge privileges etc. I find this appealing because I do not need all the perks depending on time of day. All of these new service options sound really nice though. If Malaysia Airlines does this right, they'd be the airline of choice both in transit to London and to Kuala Lumpur. 

21 Oct 2015

Total posts 26

the MH F Lounge in the satellite is pretty good. I think the QF F lounges are better, but the MH F lounge has tons of rooms, always seems to have open showers, etc. The food is only ok; I think they could step it up some there, but overall, it's not bad.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1248

I really hope prices don't rise too dramatically.  At the moment MH really needs the edge of being price competitive.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 186

I noticed a huge change in the lounge in the satalite terminal from three years ago, to last year. My first trip I found the lounge well stocked with different foods, fresh sandwiches, loads of desserts. The lounge was clean, and a number of staff cleaning and removing glasses.  Last trip the food was pretty bland, no sandwiches, one dessert choice. Carpets were worn and torn, staff were using forks to try and get table lamps to work.

The lounge in the main terminal was cleaner, but a "non boarding call lounge" staff did approach us to advise that out flight would be boarding in a few minutes, but not to rush.  And whilst smaller, did appear a higher standard.

Nice to see Mr Muller trying to get things back in order.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Malaysia Airlines A330 revamp: inflight Internet, fares, Chef on Call