As I had some time during my break, I’ve decided to write a review on this interesting business class product that has been liked and disliked by a lot of people. This is a flight from a few months back, featuring Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A330-200, flying from Guangzhou to Kuala Lumpur.
Here we are again, long time no see Terminal 1…
Today’s flight was supposed to be flown by a Boeing 737-800; however, with a large number of emigrants that are mostly bound for Indonesia via Malaysia, MH has sent the older, but surely cooler A330 into Guangzhou.
I am grateful to be able to secure a business class seat for this particular flight, as the rest of the economy cabin would be relatively packed. Anyways, here’s the empty airside of Terminal 1 at Guangzhou, seeing that most of their international flights depart from the newer Terminal 2 (T1 was more or less this quiet, even in the pre-COVID times)
While I am not exactly sure why this is the case, passengers departing internationally are to board the aircraft via buses and staircases, even though the aircraft is on a jet bridge stand.
Priority boarding? Yes. Business class van? Nope (apparently due to COVID regulations)
Disembarking the bus sure was a mess, but nonetheless, we were able to go up the jet bridge and make our way to the ride today.
Here it is: Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A330-200, registered as 9M-MTV. This airframe has an interesting service history, having served for Eurofly, Air Comet, TAT Nigeria, Israir, Meridiana Fly and Air Berlin, before being leased to MH. This aircraft is also the first of its kind to be delivered to MH in 2018 (followed by 9M-MTU a week later), though notably, MH used to operate a fleet of 5 A330-200s in the 2000s, with the final one retiring in 2013.
It may be obvious for some of you that this business class product is not originally by MH. Instead, they have refurbished the cabin with Air Berlin’s hard product, while only updating its Inflight Entertainment System and its livery.
This picture was taken 2 years ago, where I flew on the exact same aircraft, but in the economy cabin. The “XL Space” by Air Berlin is now advertised as the “Extra Legroom Seat”, which requires additional fees while booking the flight.
(And yes, the seat markers are also from Air Berlin)
Anyways, the friendly cabin crew handed over the Hygiene Kit, which is provided for all passengers. Not surprisingly, there were masks, sanitiser wipes and so on. I was also told that there were only 4 passengers in the business class cabin, making the load factor of this flight at around 70%.
A more detailed view of the business class seat, it is definitely comfortable for a 4-hour flight, but I am not so sure about long hauls, especially knowing that this aircraft primarily flies to Auckland, at least before COVID times. 11-12 hours of this could be quite painful.
After some chit-chatting with the cabin crew, we were on our way. Bye home, and hello home.
Several minutes after passing 10,000 feet, the cabin crew started the meal service procedure, and of course, I have to choose the iconic Milo over anything else. Following that, the most anticipated dish arrived - satay. Fun fact, MH was awarded the best Signature Dish by Skytrax, with satay being the representative!
For the main course, I chose some kind of grilled chicken, but I cannot recall the exact details. It may not be the best dish among all airlines - taste or appearance wise, but as @LordWizrak said: “It’s a hit or miss, but it tastes like home, so can’t complain”.
Casually enjoying the rest of the flight at FL390 as the sun is about to set.
And time does fly when one enjoys so much, particularly when flying is a luxury in these trying times. We commenced our descent into KL, and safely touched down at Runway 14R right before 8. Kepada warganegara, selamat pulang ke tanah air. To Malaysians, welcome home. (Apologies for the quality, these were taken on an iPhone while recording the landing.)
So to conclude, it was definitely one of the best flights in terms of cabin crew, low load factor and a relatively smooth ride (South China Sea travellers know what I mean). I have to say, the Air Berlin product was not as good as Malaysia Airlines’ original product (which are on the A330-300 and A350-900), but sure, having a 1-2-1 configuration was just enough, and the overall experience was positive for this medium-haul flight. Thanks again to the cabin crew for giving me extra packs of peanuts and some snacks/drinks for my quarantine!
Hope this gives you an insight on Malaysia Airlines’ rather special aircraft in the fleet, and stay safe wherever you are!