Malaysia Airlines is about to upgrade its daily flight between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur from an old Airbus A330 to a modern streamlined A350.
But it’s not the MH A350 you may be expecting – indeed, it contains a much better business class seat, plus premium economy into the bargain.
That’s because this particular A350 used to be flown by Scandinavia’s SAS, until the airline filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2022 and chose to ditch several of its long-range A350s to escape their high leasing payments.
The Scandi jet has now joined the Malaysia Airlines fleet as its seventh A350, but apart from a fresh coast of paint on the outside, the interior remains in its original SAS form.
This means high flyers will see this comfortable, stylish and well-appointed business class seat, which is based on the same Vantage XL platform as the Qantas Business Suite, instead of the older Vantage model of Malaysia Airlines’ ‘native’ A350 business class.
One immediate advantage of the SAS A350 business class is a 1-2-1 layout which gives every passenger greater privacy and direct access to the aisle, whereas many rows of Malaysia Airlines’ own A350 business class see two travellers sitting side by side.
The only downside may be if you are fond of the solo ‘throne’ seats on the Malaysia Airlines A350s, at least for the daytime flights from Melbourne to KL (as they’re not always ideal for sleeping on the return overnight leg).
If you happen to be flying in economy, then this ex-SAS A350 has something special in store – 32 comfortable ‘SAS Plus’ premium economy seats which will be sold as standard economy class.
The premium economy recliners are nestled away in their own cabin, across four rows of a 2-4-2 layout – and as you’d expect they’re wider (by two inches) and have more legroom (38” pitch vs 31” pitch) than regular economy class seats.
Located in rows 20 through 23, these premium economy seats will be sold by Malaysia Airlines as “extra legroom” economy seats.
And these SAS seats will remain in place for at least the next two years, a Malaysia Airlines spokesperson tells Executive Traveller, “until the airline’s overall A350 fleet reconfiguration exercise commences in late 2025.”
(That refit will see all A350s take on the same doored business class suites as the new A330neo jets, which as previously reported is the Elevation model from manufacturer Collins Aerospace – the same platform used for British Airways’ Club Suite business class and Etihad Airways’ A350 Business Studio suite.)
For now, the Malaysia Airlines / SAS A350 will appear on the daily MH148/MH149 service between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne beginning December 31 2023 through to April 2024, when it will be “tentatively” swung over to the Kuala Lumpur-Doha route.