Malaysia Airlines – MH 3 – LHR – KUL
Seat 37A (Upper Deck)
Flight time: 10:00 – 07:00 +1 (10:03 – 06:49)
Duration: 13 hours 00 minutes
14th February 2018
O V E R V I E W :
Having missed out on Chinese New Years celebration back home for the past 4 years ever since I came over to the United Kingdom, I have been looking forward to this flight home the day I booked my flights after my manager at work approved my leave. It was not easy securing leave for this time of the year given the nature of my job where it is peak season, thus the extra sense of joy and excitement being able to celebrate the start of my zodiac year, the year of the ‘dog’ back home! I have always wanted to fly Malaysia Airlines on the London route but the price for their tickets are always on the higher end of the range. That said, luck is on my side this time round when booking was made as I finally get to try MH’s long haul product and their A380 (just in time before they get replaced by the A350s entirely on both flights daily) with a return ticket home for £510 which was a bargain for this direct flight home. On the day of departure, which was rather interesting as it was Valentines Day. What better way for an avgeek to spend most of Valentines with bae (the A380). 😛Rather empty check in counters at LHR T4, where Malaysia Airlines is based at Heathrow. I joined the queue for the online check in counter having checked in online.I was disappointed to know that the upper deck cabin was blocked off for seat selection when online check in was made (in which I got to know later that these seats are only available for pax who paid a premium for seat selection) even though there are still plenty of seats available (per my dummy booking attempt), however after trying my luck with the check in agent on a possible change of seats to the upper deck, which came with a surprise yes without additional charges after a brief discussion with his supervisor. Hooray to this ”upgrade”, which will be my very first upper deck experience on the A380!Check in complete, time for security clearance. Thanks to my Lounge Club membership I was able to enjoy the comfort of the Plaza Premium Lounge here at LHR T4 before my flight, review of the lounge is available here. Boarding gate buzzling with people as the boarding time approached, seemed like it is going to be a pretty full flight. Thanks to the ”upgrade” to upper deck, I was able to board through a separate door with a much shorter queue as it is only for Business Class passengers and the few lucky ones in Economy. 😛Good to see this literature rack present at the boarding gate, a very useful supplement for a long haul flight. A rather dirty MH A380 bringing me home to Kuala Lumpur, excited to board the plane via the upper deck. Just passing by. . . Arrived at my little cabin towards the rear of the aircraft. Love the colour scheme of the seats on MH’s 380.Very good legroom on the upper deck Economy seats. Note the 2-4-2 configuration on the upper deck which differs to the 3-4-3 on the main deck. Window seat view, decided to go for the window seat instead of my usual aisle seat on a long haul knowing that I will only have 1 seat mate next door hence it should not be too much of a hassle if I were to leave my seat. Boarding was completed and it was a very light loaded cabin on the upper deck Economy Class cabin and pretty much everyone could have a couple of seats to themselves. It was then that I got to know from my seat neighbour that she actually paid for seat selection to enjoy the privacy and spaciousness of the upper deck seats! Pushback commenced soon after whilst safety demos were screened. Taxied pass Terminal 2 with brothers from the same mother for SQ and TG spotted!Still in awe how this superjumbo can lift off even after numerous flights on it. Time for some seat content exploration, beginning with the pillow and headphones already present at the seat upon boarding. Seat pocket contents being the usual. Drinks service commenced shortly after the seatbelt sign went off with the signature MH salted peanuts that I happily took a picture of and then kept aside thanks to my allergy. If only all airlines start replacing them with biscuits/non-nuts snacks going forward. 😦Another unique feature of the upper deck, these additional side compartments to store your personal belongings. After the drinks service ended, the crew came over to confirm my special seafood meal order which was subsequently served ahead of the other passengers. I was addressed by my name as the meal was served, I suppose this is due to the small number of passengers in this cabin, which made me feel like I was travelling in Business Class. Thumbs up! Food wise, the prawn cocktail starter and my fish main both tasted good and portions were decent. Another useful function of the additional storage compartments on the side. Time for a lavatory visit after meal service ended. A very basic WC with bare minimum amenities, which also has signs of its age.Decided to roam around the lower deck Y cabins after that with the approval of the cabin crew guarding the upper deck back galley, who removed the barricade before I was able to go down stairs. My initial cabin selection when online check in was performed before I was bumped upstairs upon request. 🙂 Load factor in Economy was really healthy with just a couple of unoccupied seats, possibly due to the festive season. Interesting discovery during my short exploration of the lower deck Economy cabin, which was actually my first time seeing such signage on a flight. Had a chat with the crew upon returning to the upper deck and tried my luck asking for a tour of the 380 given that it was my first time on MH’s superjumbo and possibly my last too (given the news of their retirement at that point in time), which the crew happily agreed. First stop was the crew bunk which is located at the upper deck’s after galley just behind my cabin.The resting cubicles are arranged in a 3 tier basis, and given that it was still early hours of the flight, the crew rest shifts have not started hence the rather tidy bunk. It definitely looked spacious but possibly not for the claustrophobic. Nevertheless, an interesting first time visiting a crew bunk onboard an airplane! 🙂Part 1 of the tour complete where I was told I will be notified when it is convenient for the tour of the rest of the superjumbo hence I retreated back to my seat to explore the IFE selections onboard. Decent selection of movies / music but definitely no where close to what Emirates’ is offering, and some features within Select (IFE name for MH) seemed a little redundant (ie, the inflight menu as above) as they did not work. Cabin light was dimmed shortly after whilst we were flying over the alps and I took the opportunity for a snooze, which did not last long given this was a morning flight. Proceeded with catching up on some movies after waking up and was surprised during the snack service by the amazing crew who was looking after my cabin. The usual box as you see above is what typically gets served to passengers but as the crew knew about my peanut allergy (post chatting in the galley earlier), and was worried I might not be able to enjoy the party snack pack hence the additional goodies (crackers and fruit) to ensure I still get filled up. Malaysian hospitality at its best here. Fast forward to the second meal service approximately 2 hours before touching down in KL, where I requested to relinquish my seafood meal in order to satisfy my Nasi Lemak cravings even before landing which was served again with a very personal touch noting my name. That said, the portion of this meal was a little shocking though tasted good, especially the meat, can you guess how many piece(?) of chicken I got?! And no, I did not eat anything before taking the shot above…Just after meal service completed as we were descending into KLIA, I was invited to proceed with part 2 of my superjumbo tour, passing through the Business Class cabin on the upper deck, with stops in between for photo opportunities in conjunction with CNY with the the other crews onboard for MH’s internal circularisation, which later appeared on the story of MH’s official Instagram page! 😛 As I take my first steps down the iconic front stairs on a superjumbo, into the first class section of MH’s A380 and was greeted by the IFS (In-flight supervisor) who insisted I took a picture on the stairs which looked like a spaceship he quoted which I happily agreed. Interesting to note during my tour that the First Class lavatories are of the same size as Business Class ones and did not seem to be very fancy at all (in contrast to the middle eastern superjumbos). Given the light load in F, 2 out of 8 seats occupied if I remember correctly, I was given the opportunity for a quick seat test, which were indeed really comfy and wide. Hopefully I will get to try them for the entire flight one day…More photos taken as I return to my seat with the lovely bunch of crew onboard with other passengers just before our final approach into KUL. “To all visitors, welcome to Malaysia and to all Malaysians, a warm welcome home”, marked the end of my virgin direct flight home from London. Final look at the beauty that brought me home as I disembarked through the aerobridge attached to the upper deck.A special mention to FSS Rita for the excellent service throughout the flight who also handed the above to me mid-flight after I told her my family members love them, thank you very much!
C O N C L U S I O N:
Being my first flight back on Malaysia Airlines having not flown on MH for 5 years, I did not have too high of an expectation prior to this flight given the mixed reviews with inconsistent experiences I read in the recent years. My experience on MH3 was overall very good despite the noticeable cost cutting measures implemented when comparing to other full service carriers which needs to be addressed if MH is aiming to be back in the Skytrax 5 Star Airline category (ie: plastic cutleries, no hot/cold towels, no printed menu, inconsistent food portions etc.), the ”upgrade” to the upper deck at the check in desk to the very personal service in Economy which is not the norm and the very lovely bunch of crew onboard which definitely showcased ‘Malaysian Hospitality’, in some ways made up for the lack in other areas. In terms of the hard product, the superjumbos that MH have despite only being in operations for a number of years, are starting to show their age on some parts of the interior, which I was not expecting given they are the “younger” superjumbo produced, the additional leg room on the upper deck Economy class was greatly appreciated and I definitely enjoyed being in this rather exclusive section in Y (mostly thanks to the light load). Noting that the IFE system on MH’s A380 is not of the latest generation, it definitely has room for improvement (content wise and user experience) when comparing to the older generation of IFEs for award winning airlines like Emirates or Singapore Airlines. Finally, the soft product was no doubt amazing, I have to say I might be lucky with the very personal service I got being in a very light loaded cabin, but if what I experienced is consistent throughout the MH brand, I am pretty confident that MAS would be able to regain it’s World Best Cabin Crew title in the near future!