Reviews

Review: Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350 business class (Kuala Lumpur-London)

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, March 20 2018
Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350 business class (Kuala Lumpur-London)
Route

Kuala Lumpur - London (Heathrow)

Aircraft Type

Airbus A350-900

Airline

Malaysia Airlines

Flight

MH4

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

11A

Notes
The Good
  • Double-daily service to London
  • In-seat massage feature
  • Good range of pre-flight food in the Golden Lounge and on board to suit your schedule
The Bad
  • Poorly-positioned power outlet
  • Solo travellers may be stuck next to another passenger in rows 3, 6 & 10
The Unexpected
  • Some seating options for couples travelling together
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Bringing fully-flat beds with direct aisle access onto its London flights, Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350 business class service offers Australian travellers a familiar and consistent experience on their journey from Down Under to the UK.

That's because these 'new' seats are very similar to those already flying in Australian skies aboard the airline's refreshed Airbus A330 jets, which have been zipping between Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide since 2016, along with Auckland, among other places.

AusBT review: Malaysia Airlines A330 business class, Kuala Lumpur-Sydney

Join Australian Business Traveller as we put the airline's newest aircraft and business class seat to the test on a recent flight from Kuala Lumpur to London Heathrow.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: Malaysia Airlines Enrich (Oneworld), but if you'd prefer to earn Qantas Points and status credits on eligible fares instead, just attach your Qantas Frequent Flyer number to your booking.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 40kg across any number of bags, boosted to 45kg for Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers (including Qantas Gold) and also Enrich Silver members; 60kg Oneworld Emerald cardholders (such as Qantas Platinum and above) and Enrich Gold, and 80kg (plus an additional 15kg for golfing equipment) exclusively for Enrich Platinum members.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags at a combined total weight of 14kg, plus one small item like a laptop, handbag, briefcase or camera bag.
  • Airport fast-track: Priority check-in, boarding and baggage delivery as standard. You can also use the 'business class' lines at Malaysian passport control on presentation of your boarding pass (look for the red carpet), and the 'fast-track' lines at Heathrow for which you'll receive a fast-track card.

Lounge

In Kuala Lumpur, business class passengers can access the Malaysia Airlines Regional and Satellite Golden Lounges in the airport's Main and Satellite terminals, respectively.

If you're connecting from Australia to London, such as from Sydney on flight MH140 (which lands here at 3:50am), you'll need to go to the Regional Lounge first, pictured below:

That's because the Satellite Lounge currently doesn't open until 5am, although the food and beverage offerings between the two lounges are relatively similar anyway, except that the Satellite Lounge is larger and has a noodle bar.

AusBT review: Malaysia Airlines' business class Golden Lounge, Kuala Lumpur Satellite Terminal

Both lounges have shower facilities, so take your pick: unless you're a Qantas or Enrich Platinum frequent flyer or other Oneworld Emerald cardholder, in which case you'll want to visit the airline's recently-revamped Platinum Lounge in the Satellite Terminal, which is open from 5am:

Unlike some airlines flying into London, Malaysia Airlines doesn't offer arrivals lounge facilities at Heathrow: but if you have an AMEX Platinum Charge Card or a Priority Pass card, you can access the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow's Terminal 4.

That's the terminal you'll arrive into from your Malaysia Airlines flight, and you'll find the lounge by turning left after clearing UK Customs and heading up a clearly-signed escalator, to find a small but comfortable space equipped with WiFi, charging ports and showers.

In lieu of buffet dining, guests here can enjoy a complimentary three-course meal, plus barista-made coffee and a range of other drinks. Having eaten on board, I kept things simple with a latte and a very British fish and chips for an early dinner:

Prior to your flight home from London, you'll have access to Malaysia Airlines' own Golden Lounge at Heathrow, or could use your business class boarding pass for access to the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in the same terminal, in line with Oneworld rules.

Seat

As with Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A330s, business class on its newer A350s alternates between a 1-2-1 and a 1-2-2 configuration.

This means if you choose an 'A' seat, such as 11A in my case, you're guaranteed to be by yourself...

... and if you choose a 'D' or 'G' seat, you'll also have direct and uninterrupted aisle access. However, if you're in rows 3, 6 or 10, you might consider avoiding the 'K' seats unless travelling as a pair, as these are the rows with the extra seat between the window and aisle, labelled 'H'.

In any case, each seat transforms into a 78-inch (198cm) fully-flat bed at a width of 22 inches (56cm)...

... for which a mattress topper is provided (pictured below), along with a comfortable pillow and blanket. As for pyjamas, it's BYO.

In the space next to you is a large shelf: great for plonking your laptop to charge overnight, or to keep books, papers and accessories within easy reach:

Just above, a cupboard that's large enough for headphones, passports, amenity kits and other goodies, plus a mirror on the swing-out door for any quick tweaks:

An open space on top provides added storage during the flight...

... although there's a dedicated pocket for your smartphone: and if you want to charge it here, just turn your device upside down to access its charging port:

Right next door is an adjustable and dimmable reading light and a holder for your water bottle underneath: but for anything else, there's an extra storage pouch in front of you

Just pull it down, and it retracts automatically:

Below that, the floor surface is angled which serves as a built-in foot rest throughout the flight, and when your seat is in bed mode, the padded cushion at the top forms the tail end, going flush with the seat:

To the side is a further storage space suited to shoes, plus a literature pocket which is where you'll find the inflight menu (and which can fit tablets like the Microsoft Surface):

Hidden in this area is a combined international AC and USB power outlet: it's hard to spot and you won't find it unless you really look for it...

... but unfortunately, its placement has been poorly-considered. Given its orientation and location directly below the shelf on top, it's physically impossible to plug in many common chargers, such as for that Microsoft Surface, because there's simply not enough room.

Other standard chargers that do fit into the plug, such as the international travel charger for the iPhone, also obstruct the outlet's high-powered USB port above it: so you can't plug your smartphone in to charge via the AC outlet, while simultaneously using your tablet's USB cable to charge via the USB port: it's one or the other.

While we're on the design of the seat, my perch at 11A had a sizeable gap between the upper storage shelf and the cabin wall, and it wasn't long before several of my items had bounced over the side and needed to be fished out from down below:

On the plus side, I was able to use that area as hanging space for my coat when it was returned prior to landing, so that it wasn't in my way and didn't block my view of the inflight entertainment screen.

Speaking of space, there's plenty of it in the cabin, as Malaysia Airlines has opted not to install central overhead lockers in business class – which means higher ceilings yet still plenty of space for bags, as the lockers on the outer sides are considerably larger than on other planes:

Back to the seat, there are shortcut keys for common positions such as sleeping, relaxing and take-off/landing, along with lighting controls and a massage feature:

A larger control panel adjusts the seat's other functions, including a 'cushion firmness' feature that's new to the airline's A350s...

... but there's still no button to simply 'recline' the seat: you have to hold down the 'relax' button until the seatback is in a suitable position, and then adjust the legrest manually.

Also upgraded on the A350 is the seat's inflight entertainment controller. Rather than being an older-style remote that's 'on display' at the side (as pictured here on the A330)...

... the remote is more modern, and tucked away below the armrest: not that you'll need it anyway, as the screen in front responds well to touch.

As an entirely-daytime flight, I spent most of the journey working and enjoying movies, but when I did decide to head to sleep for a few hours, found it very easy to get comfortable and dozed off quickly.

Meal

As I take my seat, I'm offered a refreshing 'Wau Emas' drink, blending pineapple juice and pandan syrup with lime, soda water and mint...

... followed by a drink from the bar after take-off – in this case, a glass of the Champagne Comte Audoin du Dampierre Grande Cuvee NV: not a drop I'd tried before, but which I found perfectly acceptable for business class, and which the crew kept proactively refilling until asked otherwise:

The first meal (brunch) came about two hours into the flight, starting with fresh fruit, yoghurt and bakery items, plus cereal if desired (which I skipped, having eaten in the lounge pre-flight)...

... with a choice between Nasi Lemak, Dim Sum selection, a Spanish omelette and crepes as the main meal.

Normally, I'd opt for the most 'local' dish to an airline – in this case, Nasi Lemak – but found the crepes calling my name, and they were delicious: adorned with mixed berries, banana compote and vanilla cream:

Not that you need dessert after that, but if you'd like it, a mango Creamosa mouse slice completes the meal, served with fresh fruit:

Being a 14.5-hour flight, a 'dine anytime' menu runs throughout the journey, from which you can order the following light and substantial bites – including during the brunch service if one takes your fancy:

  • Egg noodles in a vegetable soup with shredded chicken, prawns, bean curd, fish balls and Asian greens
  • Chicken Caesar croissant sandwich
  • Cheese and oven-dried tomato focaccia, served warm
  • Selection of ice cream by Kapiti
  • Seasonal fruit
  • Selection of cheese with crackers and accompaniments
  • Cookies

I opted for the focaccia about half way during the flight, and while it's a very simple item and presented as such, it hit the spot:

Espresso coffee is available too, and while it certainly doesn't rival a good barista-made coffee on the ground, the latte I ordered was also acceptable by aircraft standards:

Roughly two hours before landing – at around lunch time on the ground in London – the second meal is served, with a helping of Malaysia Airlines' signature satay sticks kicking things off:

Read: How Malaysia Airlines makes those amazing satay sticks

That's followed by a starter of marinated prawns with pomelo and a mango salsa. While the prawns were nice, the salsa wasn't to my taste – although no complaints were to be had about the garlic bread from the basket!

For the main course, a choice between a pan-roasted rack of lamb, Nasi Dagang, a grilled beef sirloin and linguine with basil pesto.

Having eaten plenty of Malaysian food during my transit in KL, I opted for the beef, which was nice and tender, and came served with a miso mustard sauce, steamed Japanese rice with sesame seeds, shiitake mushrooms and diced pumpkins:

With that, I paired a glass of the Chateau Reysson 2012 red (AOC Haut Medoc, Bordeaux), but declined a second round of dessert, where the options were seasonal fruit and other items from the 'anytime' menu, such as cheese.

We'll also point out that passengers can often pre-order their preferred main course or a selection of other dishes not normally on the printed menu via the airline's Chef on Call service, although this must usually be done at least 24 hours in advance.

Entertainment & Service

Directly in front of your seat is a high-definition, 16-inch display...

... loaded with plenty of movies, TV shows, games and music, in an interface that's also been refreshed compared to that found on the A330s:

An interactive 'moving map' allows you to explore your surroundings and simulate 'views' from the windows on either side of the aircraft, or the cockpit: particularly useful if you're stuck in a middle seat...

... and you can also access the aircraft's external downward-facing camera. The plane's other forward-facing cameras are blocked from passenger access, and there's not much to look at when on the ground (except for oil stains and line markings), but during take-off, landing and when there's no cloud, the view can be more interesting.

Active noise-cancelling headphones are provided and were of an acceptable quality, although I always bring my own Bose QC35s, and was pleased that there was ample space around the seat's headphone plug to accommodate Bose's larger airline adaptor.

The cabin crew on today's flight were friendly and attentive, but perhaps too attentive early in the journey, as I'd been asked "how is everything?" no less than five times when I was only up to the brunch fruit plate.

My Champagne was also initially not very cold when served, but when I mentioned this to the crew, they went and put the bottle on ice and came back later with bubbles much more chilled, resolving the issue.

As the flight progressed, the service became faultless, and the line of "how is everything?" questions fortunately ceased, as I'm sure the crew could tell I was getting annoyed by the constant interruptions.

And that's what good service is about: adapting to a passenger's needs and preferences, and fixing any problems along the way: except for the issues with the at-seat power supply, which is beyond the powers of the cabin crew.

Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of Malaysia Airlines.

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Eli

Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 90

MH offers good service onboard. I flew them from HKT - KUL a couple of years ago, I was nervous but figured it was just 2 hours. The new J cabin looks great, but it stops there for me.

[Comment edited by AusBT due to offensive and insensitive remarks]

dm12

dm12

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 37

I'm sorry but that's a little offensive to those who might work for them. There's no evidence that the airline had anything to do with anything. I appreciate that for some there may be some nerves, but it really should stop there, on this forum at least. I've always found MH to be fantastic and that's that.

jrfsp

jrfsp

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 111

Not sure how 500 can be justified.

MH370 remains a mystery...

MH17 was shot down, essentially by terrorists. This could have easily been AI or SQ which had aircraft very close by, MH were unlucky.

Chris_PER

Chris_PER

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

What a ridiculous comment. Please can we have this removed.

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 149

Just a small correction regarding lounge facilities at LHR T4 - you cannot use the Qatar Premium lounge in T4 unless you have a QR revenue ticket for travel in J or F. They will redirect all other eligible lounge passengers to the Skyteam lounge.

freshthoughts

freshthoughts

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

Actually, one can use the Qatar premium lounge in T4 if one as a one world J or F ticket. does not need to be revenue or on Qatar. They cant use it however, based on status alone

Selfie

Selfie

British Airways - Executive Club

18 May 2017

Total posts 11

You can access the Qatar premium lounge at T4 if flying business on MH - I did so last year. Great lounge!

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1127

What a strange, ill-considered placement for the power outlet.

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

lol some idiot looked at that and said "yes that's a good place to put the socket"

HusseinAl98

HusseinAl98

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 10

Its because the Australia prongs input is upside down on international socket. This wouldn't be an issue for literally every other country's plugs. MH should've considered Aus though seeing as they fly here enough.

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

"And that's what good service is about: adapting to a passenger's needs and preferences, and fixing any problems along the way"

I agree, but what makes an excellent airline is knowing the passenger's needs and preferences in the first place and not needing to adapt in the first place, although that's essentially unrealistic to expect.

twkgill

twkgill

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2015

Total posts 10

"Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of Malaysia Airlines."


I'm sure initially anyway it was related to this and the crew wanting to leave a good impression on the guest/reviewer.

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2925

elchriss0: Indeed, and that distinguishes 'good' service from 'great' service, thus our deduction of one star.

puppy79

puppy79

06 Dec 2017

Total posts 112

best of luck.i have flown mas down the back in economy on their now long departed 777's and most recently the a330's and great carrier.sure there have been a few issues in the presses but that should not put one off flying them.if i was rich enough to always fly business class to london.i would use the a330 to kl and then get this onwards on either the mh2 or mh4.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

This five across J configuration is inferior to Philippine Airlines 1-2-1 A333 out of Melbourne and Sydney yet that's an airline you don't appear to have reviewed. Can you please do so given it's about to raise frequency from MEL to 5x week, and already flies daily from Sydney?

The placement of the 'large shelf' obstructing the window view from some MH J seats doesn't seem great design.


You did a great job with the photos (as we might expect, but I bet some are hard to take.)

I have only ever flown on the MH A333s in Y and found their service pretty average, but luckily once scored four empty seats in the middle that was almost as good a bed as in J class on most airlines, and at a considerably cheaper fare given I was paying out of my own pocket.

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2925

Hi Traveller14, you'll be pleased to know that David recently took a flight with Philippine Airlines on their new business class product and will be publishing a flight review when he gets a chance (along with a review of the airline's lounge in Manila).

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

ChrisCh, many thanks. Great. Its Manila lounge is poor - some would say 'very poor' - but the inflight magazine claims that a new one is being built. Much needed - that's one area where most other airlines including MH (an exception is BI) are streets ahead of the Filipino flag carrier.

poopbunny

poopbunny

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 21

Before my afternoon MH flight ex MNL, the OW JAL lounge opposite was open. The food was much better, lounge less crowded, cleaner and less tired.

K-SYD

K-SYD

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Mar 2013

Total posts 8

Thanks for this timely review. I'm living in London now and need to take a trip to KL soon so was considering options. MH status/points earn to QFF is poor, but the A350 product looks superior to BA, which is the other direct flight option. Otherwise I'm looking at status run with UL (long transit in CMB) or QR. What may decide it is the food review you have posted!

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 480

Given the awkward design / placement of the power port and it's consequent obstruction of the high-power USB port, I wonder if using an adapter between the charger and the power port would provide concurrent access to the USB port?

Yes, it is poor design and not optimal, but I would suggest that most travellers would have an adapter or two in their carry-on kit. Annoying to have to dig around for one .. but it may well solve the problem.

Otherwise, great review and looks like a very comfortable A350 experience from MH.

Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson

18 Mar 2016

Total posts 23

It doesn't matter what Malaysian do with the A350, they can

not beat the "small " J cabin on the A380 for comfort, intamacy and HUGE toilets.

Days are gone when their F on the 747 was the best in the air.

traveller99

traveller99

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 105

Hi Chris in the A row, which seats are against the window, with the table to the right?

074061

074061

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

Hey traveller99, based on photos it seems like the left window seats 3A, 6A, 8A and 10A are directly against the window. In the seatmap posted above, those would be the same rows with two-seaters on the right.

alicewonderland

alicewonderland

29 Mar 2018

Total posts 1

Is the A350 replacing the A380 routes?

Hope so, looks loads better than the A380 business offering which I thought was a bit on the grubby side when I flew with them last year.

puppy79

puppy79

06 Dec 2017

Total posts 112

looks good.i might not get to fly this unless i win a lottery in the future but it's a great product regardless.

Guest2018

Guest2018

09 Apr 2018

Total posts 1

Nice review. I travelled in seat 10K with my husband in 10H and can confirm that it is an extremely tight squeeze to get in and out (especially as there is little storage in those seats so our possessions were on the floor and the little table in the middle leaving even less room to manoeuver).

Definitely avoid these seats if you're travelling alone as your seat mate will have to get up every time you want to leave and even with them out of the way you still have to negotiate their and your belongings. I found it very awkward and am petite and was travelling with my husband - dread to think what it would be like if you were larger or seated next to a stranger!

pointyendmark

pointyendmark

Qatar Airways

06 Jul 2016

Total posts 40

I flew LHR-KUL return last week in J and was appalled by the lack of space when flying as a couple in 6H/K. Came back in 7D/G which is better but there's still very tight access to the seat/bed. I asked Flight Supvr if he prefers A350 or A380 and he and another FA immediately shouted "A380 much better". He says they get a lot of complaints about J seating on A350

DGP

DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 169

I just found in the GDS that Malaysia Airlines have scheduled the A350 to Sydney from 24SEP daily.

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