Follow along on the return sector of our report on MH 148 from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur. This time, it’s MH 129, the day flight operated by Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne with the new A330-300 in Business Class.
This report starts at the very good airport hotel, the KLIA Pan Pacific (stay tuned for an upcoming review). The Pan Pacific provides a golf buggy service to transfer you and your luggage to and from the terminal building, it’s also a short walk if you’re up for it and don’t mind the heat.
The previous Business Class check in has unfortunately been replaced with a more scaled back version setup over a larger space. Not sure why. The large space accommodated Business Class, First Class (which is on very few routes now), along with Enrich Platinum, Gold and Silver members. The comfortable couches with drinks fridges had all but gone, and the stylish ‘special’ desks were all but replaced with something more traditional. It was a shame as the previous offering was something quite special and not seen at the home base of many carriers.
Entry to the premium check in area
The former human gatekeeper was replaced with this
The old system where a ticket was given and you sit and wait for your number to be called is now just line up at any desk marked ‘Business Class’.
As always the other lines moved faster while my desk was slower due to passengers with special requests. Even Economy-style queuing ropes that feed into multiple desks would be better than this.
With check-in done, it there was no time to waste in getting straight to the Golden Lounge in the Satellite Building as the sun was rising.
Views of the lounge
I had some items to sort out in the business centre, where there were great writing kits
Sadly many destinations featured are no longer served by MH-such as Dubai, South Africa, Rome and Buenos Aires.
More lounge views as the sun comes up
PH-BVC arrived from AMS as KL 811, and was quickly turned around and sent back as KL 812
Lounge dining- a nice sandwich selection with green tea ice cream (a new favourite) and some cheese
I headed to the gate about an hour before departure
The ride to MEL, 9M-MTC
I was admitted to the gate holding area quickly and easily and took a seat close to the action.
The ground staff opened the doors then left leaving the jetways unguarded for anyone to walk through. That wouldn’t be allowed in Australia.
There were plenty of others in the holding area taking an interest and plenty of photos
Boarding began at around 9:45am for passengers needing assistance through Door B, and J class could board through Door A. It seems to be rare to have two aerobridges going to the new A330-300 but with what seemed to be a full flight, this was the case today.
Date: 9 December 2012
Flight: MH 129
Route: KUL (WMKK) – MEL (YMML)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-323X
|View Large View Medium Photo © Darren Koch||View Large View Medium Photo © Richard Zhou|
Quick facts: First flight was on 26/05/2011. This aircraft is 1.5 years old. It was delivered on 10/06/2011 after using a test rego ofF-WWYJ
Scheduled / Actual Departure (gate): 10:15am / 10:23am UTC+8
Scheduled / Actual Arrival (date): 9:10pm / 9:07pm UTC+11
Flight Time (gate to gate) / Scheduled: 7h55m / 7h44m
I arrived at the door and was directed to 6K
View from my seat
A welcome guava was promptly delivered, by this point I had a seat mate which was a rare thing- it was all thanks to the fact that today was a full flight
The J cabin filled quickly- Malaysia Airlines seems to do really well on this route
Soon every seat was taken, it was shame to be in such a heavily loaded cabin for the last flight of the trip
The safety video was the old ‘safety to children’ video, showing that the new video was created only recently.
Passing an MH A380 with the livery missing something…namely the blue stripes at the rear of the aircraft
Take off was a few minutes late waiting for some traffic, but we soon lifted off from Runway 32R
Crossing the coast of Malaysia- see you again soon hopefully
Amenity kits and headphones distributed
Putting on some music on Select
Brunch started with a tea and coffee service
Turning to the menu revealed that the offerings were similar to my flight on MH 129 back in April
For main I had to order the Nasi Lemak. It seemed to be very popular today but luckily with the full cabin there was plenty in stock.
First course- the MH classic of fruit, yogurt and the breakfast pasty basket
Dining as we track towards Jakarta
Champagne, water and coffee
Nasi Lemak- as good as always
Cabin during the service
With this design of seats, the person in the window gets somewhat wedged in if the person seated next door wishes to sleep or put their feet up, so whenever my seat mate got up I jumped at the chance to walk and use the toilet.
Galley after the meal
Later on, ice cream came around
Almost at the coast of Australia
And crossing the coast of Australia
Like the last flight, nobody had bothered to update the IFE again for December, so I decided to do some work instead
The seat is a great workstation with the power point easy to reach, a tray table big enough to hold my laptop and a comfortable seat position.
Finally mood lighting is used for what it was intended- to replicate the sky at that time at the destination. This was adjusted during the flight, but they were about an 1-2 hours in front of what was really happening in MEL
About two hours before landing the sun started to come up
There’s no choices for this meal, but here’s the menu anyway
What else would you have as an appetiser?
Malaysian satay for the last time
As expected there were no seconds and the main meal was brought
The cold cuts plate was enjoyable
St Peter Island- we’re taking a southerly track today
Dessert- mixed berries calafoutis
Final drinks run
A word on the crew on this flight- they generally did a good job but with a full cabin they sure had their work cut out for them. In a full cabin you tend to lose that special, personalised treatment that makes MH so great…and then you are left with just the hard product- hemmed in by the sleeping seat mate next to you (SQ, Cathay and soon Thai seats with direct aisle access- where are you???). It was still a good flight but probably the least impressive of the series which is a shame to end on. If the load had been lighter I’m sure this flight would have been excellent.
Coffee and a Baileys
Leaving the coast and heading inland- it’s still sunny at 8pm at night local time with the summer solstice just around the corner and daylight savings in force
The inflight entertainment program was interrupted for a ‘helpful’ video on Melbourne. The right way to approach this would be to say ‘a helpful video on immigration procedures can be viewed on channel X’ rather than taking over the IFE and having the video broadcast over the P/A. As an Australian citizen I didn’t really care about the video having entered Australia countless times.
The video started off all helpful and informative
Then when it turned to talking about the extensive duty free options and shopping it became clear that MH was making a tidy sum from forcing us to watch this
And then it went on to local tourist attractions skewed infavour of those sponsoring. On looking at their site http://flyingvisit.net/aboutus.php I learnt that they promise companies that people like me are the “lucrative international traveller” who are “conditioned to buy”. Top stuff.
Maybe such videos are acceptable in Y where everyone wants a bargain airfare…and if flying is to be subsidised by advertising so be it. Butin J it’s a different kettle of fish where I don’t think your average business traveller would appreciate being bombarded with ads.
About to leave the coast and head inland to Melbourne
The airshow chooses some odd places to show over others
Flying over my one of my solo cross-country routes during my flight training
The headphones were collected and the cabin was secured quite early- perhaps they started off early due to the full load. Anyhow,everything was organised about 20 minutes before landing leaving the crew to wander up and down the aisles looking for extra rubbish.
It was time to head under the cloud base
Lights being dimmed for landing
The airshow strangely went off for landing, but it became clear that we were doing a straight in approach via ARBEY to Runway 16. Sure enough, a few minutes early, we did our landing from the north and touched down.
MEL terminal scenery
After thanking the crew I disembarked and proceeded to immigration. As my physical being didn’t match the passport photo enough to satisfy the autogates, I had to head to the ‘assistance desk’. This desk was closed which meant the line fed into the very front of the visiting passport line, with staff inviting me to cut in and be served first. Apologies to those visitors to Australia that I cut in front of. My appearance satisfied a real person, and I was admitted back into the country, and went to collect my bag which had just arrived on the far carousel. Customs was easy with me being waved through, but there was no clear line for the express card holders. And very quickly, this marked the end of my trip.
Watch the flight video
You’ve read the report- now watch this video.
IMPRESSIONS OF MH 129
Check-in: New J check in a real step down. A little disorganised without proper queuing, no more porters but otherwise good.
Departure: KUL was on song again
Lounge: The Golden Lounge would be the best on this trip
Onboard: Full cabin meant MH was a little exposed in its marketing plan of focusing on soft product. Hard product acceptable.
Food and Beverages: Good across the board
Arrival: MEL arrival good- being an Australian national helps
In general as a flight, this one goes in the good to very good range, but for a premium flight this one was probably a little behind the competition. It’s great to rely on the crew to deliver Malaysian Hospitality, but when the crew is busy due to a high workload, you need hard product to back you up. MH will need a hard product refresh on these new A330s in the coming years. I would take this flight again as I still feel MH offers good value for money.