Reviews

Review: Malaysia Airlines' new Airbus A330 business class (Kuala Lumpur-Sydney)

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, March 24 2016
Malaysia Airlines' new Airbus A330 business class (Kuala Lumpur-Sydney)
Route

Kuala Lumpur - Sydney

Aircraft Type

Airbus A330-300

Airline

Malaysia Airlines

Flight

MH141

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

7A

Notes
The Good
  • Cooked-to-order food in the Golden Lounge
  • In-seat massage feature
  • Those amazing satay sticks
The Bad
  • Not every seat offers direct and uninterrupted aisle access
X-Factor
  • Fully-flat beds to replace the older 'sloping sleepers'
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Malaysia Airlines is on the come-back track, with the troubled airline replacing its slanted business class seats with fully-flat beds on all A330 flights to Australia by late September.

The first of the airline’s reinvigorated Airbus A330s is now in service with the rest of the fleet to be reconfigured with the new business class cabin, which made its debut this week on flight MH141 from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney.

Australian Business Traveller was aboard the inaugural business class flight to bring you this exclusive, world-first review of MAS’ new Airbus A330 business class seat.

Seat

On its newest layout, Malaysia Airlines’ business class seats alternate between a 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 layout, giving all but three passengers (2K, 4K, 7K) direct access to the aisle.

In a great improvement to MAS’ older A330 business class seats, each extends into a 52.3cm wide, 193cm long fully-flat, not angled-flat, bed…

… with the seat joining up with a small ottoman under the inflight entertainment screen to form that bed with a mattress pad, pillow and blanket supplied – but not pyjamas, which travellers are increasingly expecting to find in international business class.

To increase comfort while catching some shut-eye, the side armrest can be lowered…

… achieved by twisting the whole armrest clockwise and then pushing it down, rather than pressing a button or latch as with the previous seat:

Just be careful when slipping your mattress pad over the headrest or adjusting your pillow – the side edge of the plastic near the top of the seat (when in bed mode) is surprisingly sharp and created a small gash in this author’s finger, of which we’ll spare you a separate photo:

However, getting that seat in bed mode is a simple task with easy-to-reach shortcut keys aside the seat…

… with additional controls found on the side panel for lumbar support, legrest adjustment, mood lighting and also a massage feature: another aspect new to Malaysia Airlines’ A330s:

That side area is also where you’ll find the entertainment remote control, USB power, an adjustable reading light, a small storage pocket suited to very thin glasses cases…

… a larger storage cupboard with room for your amenity kit, headphones, small tablets and other bits and pieces, plus a mirror in the door that's usable when reclined in bed mode but not when sitting upright…

… and an open shelf above for more goodies, but which for many passengers is directly on display to those passing through the aisle, so think twice before placing valuables here like wallets and passports:

Larger tablets like the Microsoft Surface 3 slip into the literature pocket with a multi-country AC power outlet at the ready for easy charging…

… while smaller devices like smartphones are at easy reach when placed in a fold-down storage compartment directly in front of each passenger:

Last but certainly not least there’s of course ample legroom when sitting upright, and although the ottoman is out of reach unless in bed mode, the floor in front of your seat is on an incline and functions as a quasi-footrest.

Overall, this seat is leaps and bounds ahead of Malaysia’ Airlines older ‘sloping sleeper’ business class seats on the A330, and if you plan ahead and choose one of the many seats with uninterrupted access to the aisle, such as we did with 7A, getting some much-needed rest is an easy task.

Meal

The flight begins with a choice of juices pre-take-off, progressing to a full bar after wheels-up including the drinkable Philipponat Royale Reserve Brut NV Champagne…

… and an entirely Aussie wine menu boasting a Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon: all from South Australia.

With a 9am departure time from Kuala Lumpur (being midday Sydney time during daylight savings months), brunch is served – starting with a ‘breakfast’ course of fresh fruits, yoghurt, and a bread basket including warmed croissants with jam…

… proceeding to ‘lunch’ with a choice between a marinated chicken breast, a seafood red curry and a calamarata – but if you’re organised and plan ahead, Malaysia Airlines’ Chef On Call service lets you pre-select from an additional 17 dishes…

… ranging from brekky favourites like waffles and omelettes through to lamb, beef, cod, chicken, filet mignon, prawns, snapper, pasta…

… or even a traditional Nasi Lemak as we pre-ordered, which tasted just as you’d expect on the ground bar a boiled egg – so be warned, this dish is spicy!

Finishing up is ice cream or a decadently rich layered dark chocolate cake with cherry compote, strawberry and vanilla sauce:

Around 1hr 45m before landing a refreshment meal follows, begnning with a fresh roasted chicken salad with pepaya, carrot and red capsicum salsa and with dessert served at the same time...

... but consider leaving the dessert aside until after Malaysia Airlines' legendary satay sticks arrive!

Entertainment & Service

A respectable variety of movies, TV shows and music tracks are served up on a 16-inch HD monitor, controlled either by touch or a separate and almost redundant remote control, as the screen is within easy reach.

Unchanged from the old business class, however, are the sub-par noise-cancelling headphones which are frequently delivered with faulty cables that result in almost siren-like whirring in your ears, static and interference, and are incredibly sensitive to the slightest bump to the connector.

We witnessed many passengers requesting new headphones on both of our A330 flights and also went through several pairs ourselves before finding a set that worked as it should – Malaysia Airlines, take note.

The headphones are also collected before landing, so if your movie is close to finishing and it’s time to hand them over, you’ll have to catch the ending on Netflix rather than during descent when there’s little else to do.

Otherwise, service on our flight was warm with cabin crew addressing passengers by name (seemingly from memory) and engaging in polite discussion without being intrusive.

The odd plate was also removed prematurely, such as our bread plate before the return of the bread basket, while others were left sitting for collection on the side table and passed by several open-handed crew members before disappearing.

On the plus side, the crew distribute nifty Porsche Design amenity kits…

… stocked with an eyeshade, socks, a dental kit, mouthwash, Acca Kappa moisturiser, lip balm, and a fold-out comb, with shaving kits also available by request: more than enough for the eight-hour hop between Australia and Malaysia.

All in all, Malaysia Airlines’ new seat represents a substantial leap from its previous business class and proves an incredibly comfortable way to fly – and if not for a few relatively minor details that can easily be corrected, would easily tick all of the boxes for business travellers.

Also read: Up close with MAS' new A330 business class seats

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Kuala Lumpur as a guest of Malaysia Airlines

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!

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1379

Nice review.

Timing of the satay sticks appears weird - have always been used as an appetizer on the MH flights I have taken.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Indeed - on our flight from Sydney to KL they appeared soon after take-off, but on the return to Sydney, brunch was served first and then appetisers/refreshments towards the end of the flight.

djcz

djcz

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2014

Total posts 145

Looks really good! Too bad BNE pax wont be able to try it :( 

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

It's unfortunate that the non-stop Brisbane-KL flights were axed, although Brisbane residents can still connect via Sydney on Malaysia Airlines' Oneworld partner Qantas (or even Virgin Australia), as this Brisbane-based author did to complete the review. ;)

StudiodeKadent

StudiodeKadent

20 May 2015

Total posts 584

Looks like they've greatly improved their product. Good for them! Hopefully this should result in a successful turnaround.

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

Now that they've fixed the seats, get cracking on catering! The current MH catering in Business is woeful. Well behind the curve. I just got off a regional MH flight in Business where the only coffee on offer is instant! Goodness gracious! 

jubbing

jubbing

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 219

You're comparding regional Business vs International Business?

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

I'm talking business class generally. There should not be a distinction. That is the principle adopted by the likes of QF, CX, SQ, QR. 

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

Are you sure the airlines you've listed treat regional and long-haul flights equally when it comes to catering? I would beg to differ.

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

Not equal, but by and large similar. The difference for those carriers, in my opinion is immaterial. The difference with MH to me appears material. Now you can argue till the cows come home what constitutes a material difference. But what matters to me is the overall difference. So for example:

CX (SIN/BKK) and CX (MEL/HKG) is pretty consistent in terms of food offering and non-alcoholic beverage (espresso machines available on both sectors, where Illy coffee is served).

MH (MEL/KUL) and MH (KUL/BKK) is not consistent, where the food offerings on MEL/KUL is better than KUL/BKK. On MEL/KUL real coffee (plunger?) is offered (2 types; a Brazilian and Ethiopian blend). On the regional sector only instant coffee sachets are offered. Canned Oolong tea is offered instead of a brewed tea using a tea bag (even I don't expect loose leaf tea!)

I've never enquired on the booze cos I'm teetotal.

PerthFlyer

PerthFlyer

24 Mar 2016

Total posts 12

It will be great to have this improved option to fly to KL and to justify paying for BC and potentially on to Singapore with a OW airline on a wide body aircraft. Currently I am stuck with JetStar or Qantas to Singapore on a A320 / 737 if I want to earn SC's to credit to Qantas FF account. I am so sick of these flights to Singapore on narrow body aircraft and will not pay for Qantas business on a 737. Qantas really needs to offer PER-SIN on an A330 and JetStar PER-SIN on a 787. Currently AirAsia or Scoot fly to KL / SIN are frankly better options being on wide body aircrafts - A320 / 737 are ok < 4 hours - come on Qantas / JetStar - sort it out!

PerthFlyer

PerthFlyer

24 Mar 2016

Total posts 12

Great review - can you provide the seat map or link as I can't seem to find the new layout on the MAS website or via SeatGuru - Cheers Chris

Suzanne Wu

Suzanne Wu

11 Mar 2016

Total posts 5

I hope this helps PerthFlyer - The new layout isnt anywhere yet so I hope this will do for now. Suzanne :) 

PerthFlyer

PerthFlyer

24 Mar 2016

Total posts 12

Thanks

jubbing

jubbing

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 219

I'm surprised you guy's didn't feature any cabin shots post boarding, rather than the occasional stock photo shot used in your other article. I'd be curious to see how the ambiance of the cabin looks in comparison the the old purple and blue seats. 

Any shots of those?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

We don't take photographs of the cabin proper when other passengers are aboard for privacy reasons. The cabin lighting programs run by MAS appear to mirror that pre-reconfiguration.

Lifestobelived

Lifestobelived

27 Mar 2014

Total posts 40

Hmmm, so you mean its like American Airlines who also collect headsets before landing (which i find rather odd)..  At least they give you a set of ear bud speakers to finish listening to your programs but do Malaysian not even offer this??

 

So seats aren't bad, the only thing I have found with other airlines that use a similar seat is that while flying on your own its good to choose the single 'throne' type seat but as the footwell sits inbetween the two seats in front, the well is never as wide as for the side by side seats...

Cubes

Cubes

QFF Platinum

01 Jul 2015

Total posts 5

Flew the new business class over the Easter long weekend both, to and from, KUL on MH140/141. 

The seat itself is a major improvement over the old one - particularly in the sleeping position. I was able to get a decent sleep on the way to KUL although leg room was rather restricted when one changes position during the sleep. I was in seat 5A. I can't imgaine sleeping in those throne seats would be any good as the leg cavity is flanked by two seats in front. On the return leg, I was seated in the throne seat but in row 1, 1K. This is the seat to look out for as it has massive amount of leg room. The only drawback is that it is near the galley at the front of the plane which can be noisy at times.

One other major improvement is the storage available. The little compartment next to the seat was big enough to accommodate all the bits and pieces that I needed easy access to during the flight, without having to retrieve bags from the overhead compartment. 

THe J cabin is now smaller than the one previously, with the rest of the space of the old cabin devoted to "premium economy". THere is nothing premium about it - perhaps only the leg room. 

Also, to get to the two J class toilets at the back, one now has to go through the premium economy section - no big deal, but it also means that most passengers now go to the only one toilet at the front of the plane. So, if you are seated in the front, traffic movement is rather heavy. With the premium economy now just directly behind the J cabin, the sound of crying babies (if there are any in the premium economy cabin) is likely to be heard quite loudly in the J cabin (as was the case with my return flight from KUL), and particularly if you are seated towards the back of the J cabin.

All in all, the seat is a major improvement. The introduction of a premium economy cabin has changed the feel of the J cabin as it is no longer as spacious. Cabin crew service is still good even if the level and quality of service varies.

Booster

Booster

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

17 Feb 2016

Total posts 47

Thansk for the review Chris. I caught SYD - KUL on Easter Monday last week and scored the refitted interior. I sat in 1K and whilst initially impressed couldn't get over how narrow the seat felt. The single seat configuration is a nice idea however they have chosen not to provide thsi seat wiht any additionl width rather just padding the sides fo the seat out with more storage.I found the seat controls good and the net storage pocket was just teh right size for my smart phone and being MH no one had a problem with it being plugged in on take off and landing. I had some trouble getting the table out and the cabin crew didn't know how to do it either as it 'was their first time too' .Overall a massive improvement on the seat it replaces however I think the width whether percieved or otherwise may be an issue for J class travellers in teh future.

artcom

artcom

QFF - Platinum

23 Mar 2016

Total posts 9

On my flights last week and this week  -  KUL to SYD and SYD to KUL - much improved business class menu with more choices and an expanded eat at your leisure menu also - good to see

Now the old wine list just needs fixing :)

collopez

collopez

05 Jan 2017

Total posts 1

Hi Chris, I note that you mentioned that seat 4K doesn't have direct aisle access, however 4K is a standalone seat. I assume you meant 5K? We are flying KUL - AKL in a couple of days and were allocated 5H/K but have since requested to move to 4D/G after reading your review. 

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