Review: Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class (KUL-AKL)

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

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UPDATE 10 January 2018: Since this flight I have flown in the Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class cabin twice more…but in a different seat to the one I had on this occasion. You should definitely read my second review (HERE) if you’re considering booking this product.

After a 12+ hour Malaysia Airlines Business Class flight from London I spent some time in the airline’s First Class lounge in Kuala Lumpur but, as I already reviewed that lounge earlier this year (here), I won’t be going into details here again.

Even before this trip started I was looking forward to trying out the Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class cabin more than the equivalent cabin on A380. While the A380 still offers a Business Class cabin that dates back quite a few years Malaysia Airlines has fitted an all new cabin to its A330 fleet and I’d been hearing good things about it.

After resting up in the First Class lounge I headed to the gate in good time for my flight and, as it turned out, it was a good thing I wasn’t cutting things fine because you have to clear security at the gate in Kuala Lumpur.

The lines were not short!

The gate didn’t open until an hour before scheduled departure but, to be fair to the security staff, passengers were processed pretty quickly and I boarded at 21:25 (35 minutes before our scheduled departure time).

The Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class cabin is set out in a way that only an image can truly explain:

While the port side of the aircraft offers a single seat at every window the starboard side alternates between 1 and 2 seats depending on what row you choose.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

I had seat 4K on the starboard side which is a solo seat and sometimes known as a “throne seat”:

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

A pillow, base sheet and blanket were already on seat when I boarded and an amenity kit was placed next to seat.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

The menus for the flight were already in magazine rack and were more colourful than what was supplied on the A380….although clearly these menus are reused too as meals for flights in both directions are included.

My first impression of the A330 was much better than that of the airline’s A380.

Storage around the window seat is not as obviously good as you get in a window seat on the A380 but there is a good amount if you look carefully…at least around the throne seat.

I had a cubby hole on the aisle side of my seat…..

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

….and a small tray above it…..

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

…and there was a medium-sized fixed table between the seat and the aisle which gave the seat a nice private feel.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

There was big fixed table between me and the two windows I had…..

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

…..and, under that, there was a large storage space which was perfect for shoes and for storing the blanket (before I needed to use it) plus it had a space that held my 15″ laptop perfectly.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

There was a couple sitting in the two seats behind me and I heard the gentleman complaining that “there’s nowhere to put anything” so it sounds as if the double seats are nowhere nearly as well equipped with storage space as the single seats.

Boarding + 9 mins: Pre-departure drinks of orange juice, apple juice or pink guava were offered and I chose the latter.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Looking around the cabin I noticed that the seats were fitted with the “car style” seat belts (as seen on American’s Dreamliners, for example) rather than the simple lap belt we usually see.

Boarding + 11 mins:  The flight attendants passed through the cabin with a choice of newspapers.

Boarding + 15 mins: Streaming hot towels were offered

While I was still checking out the seat and the cabin around me I couldn’t help but notice how very smiley and friendly the crew were….it was a very nice atmosphere.

Boarding + 20 mins: There was an announcement to let us know that our flight to Auckland would take approximately 10 hours and 10 minutes. 

Boarding + 23 mins: A flight attendant came over to me to take my order for a post take-off drink.

Other things I noticed at this point were that the entertainment screen was smaller than on the A380 (but it was a touchscreen)….

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

…..and the headphones were standard issue Malaysia airlines headphones and pretty basic.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Boarding + 30 mins: There was a cabin announcement to let us know that we were ready for departure and the seatbelt signs were illuminated.

There remote control, headphone socket and USB port were to my left and behind me….

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

…..as were the main seat controls (including a massage function)….

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

…..although there was also a more basic set of seat controls by my left thigh.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

As well as being able to charge various devices from the USB port the A330 also offers a universal power outlet which is by the magazine rack:

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Boarding + 42 mins: The safety video played and we were given instruction to switch off all electronic devices (airplane mode wasn’t good enough – devices had to be turned off)

Boarding + 48 mins: We pushed back 18 minutes late.

Once we’d pushed back from the gate we just stopped (presumably to let some traffic clear) and that gave me time to consider about the amount of leg space that’s on offer.

There was ample leg space when seated upright (in the image below my 6ft frame is stretched out from a seated position)….

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

…..but the area where your feet go when you’re lying down looked quite small….

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

….and I wondered if the Malaysia Airlines A330 would have the same issues with foot space as the American Airlines 767 Business Class seats and the Delta 767 Business Class seats.

Boarding + 1 hr: We took off and were on our way to Auckland

22:25 take off

Take off + 6 mins: The seatbelt signs were extinguished

Take off + 8 mins: The crew came around with New Zealand landing/arrival cards

Take off + 15 mins: The flight attendants brought out the white linen table covers for dinner service.

Table comes out from the wall dividing the seat from the aisle. Table swivels when down and isn’t particularly big….

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

…..but that’s doesn’t really matter in this particular seat-type because if all the other space around you.

Boarding + 25 mins: There was a lull in service at this point so I took the opportunity to change into the pajamas I had brought with me to beat the post meal rush (Malaysia Airlines doesn’t offer pajamas in Business Class).

Interestingly, because there’s only one lavatory in the front of the aircraft the crew lock off a lavatory on the starboard side just behind the Business Class cabin and unlock it when a Business Class passenger needs it.

When I got back to my seat I found that my post take-off choice of drink (champagne) and a bag of nuts were waiting for me.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Take off + 31 mins: The flight attendants served the airline’s famous satay skewers and, as I mentioned off-hand that this was one of the highlights of the flight, I got a massive portion!

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

They were delicious.

Shortly after the satay skewer service I was asked to choose my starter from the menus provided.

Food and non-alcoholic drinks:

Alcoholic drinks:

I could have pre-odered my meal online before we departed….

…but that had completely slipped my mind so I was left to choose from the menu…which wasn’t exactly a hardship.

Take off + 55 mins: The flight attendants served the first course.

I had chosen the roasted lamb loin with mixed capsicum salad, sautéed shimeji mushrooms and herb vinaigrette which also came with two-tone bread:

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class – Starter

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class – Starter

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class – Starter

The two-tone bread was good, warm and soft. The lamb was ok, reasonably tasty but nothing special.

For wine I had chosen the Bordeaux to go with my dinner…

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

….which was served a bit cold…but this was an airplane so I guess room temperature wasn’t really an option 🙂

Turbulence delayed service at this point

Take off + 1 hr 40 mins: Dinner service was restarted and my main course selection was taken.

Take off + 1 hr 45 mins: My main course of Chicken Rica Rica was served

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

This is a Sulawesi-style dish of braised chicken in spices served with tomato rice, and okra with onions.

It was great.

Hot, a bit spicy and very good flavour…and the rice was pretty good too.

While the starter had been just ok this I loved.

Take off + 1 hr 55 mins: The remnants of the main course were taken away and dessert orders were taken.

I wasn’t going to have dessert but cheesecake is a big soft spot of mine so I caved.

Take off + 2 hrs: The baked vanilla cheesecake arrived with a dried mango, pistachio and mixed berry compote.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class – Dessert

The cheesecake was ok…I’ve definitely had better but I’ve also had a lot worse.

After dinner was over I decided to make the bed (a lot easier to do than on the A380) and watch some of the onboard IFE.

The blanket was great – it was nice and big so it didn’t keep slipping off me – but the important test was about to come.

How comfortable is the seat when in bed mode and just how much room is there for a passenger’s feet? 

In truth, the space for a passenger’s legs and feet is quite confining and there really isn’t all that much room to move.

On the positive side there was enough height to the cavity to allow my feet to fit without being crushed….but the whole thing was very coffin-like.

When in bed mode the seat was easily long enough for my 6ft frame and, unlike on Malaysia’s A380, there’s enough room at the head end for a passenger to sleep on their front (i.e. there’s room for an arm)…. but overall it just wasn’t that comfortable unless I was on my back….then it was ok. Still coffin-like but ok.

The IFE screen doesn’t tilt so, when you’re reclined a good way back, the viewing angle is poor.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

With the poor viewing angle when reclined I didn’t play around with the IFE too much so I can’t really comment on the content….but I can say that with the touchscreen interface and the modern remote control the equipment was a huge step up from the airlines A380 offering.

Whether it was because I wasn’t all that comfortable or because my body clock was already a bit screwed up having recently flown from London to KL I didn’t get much sleep…so I decided to check out the Porsche Design amenity kit:

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A380 Business ClassMalaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A380 Business ClassMalaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A380 Business ClassMalaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A380 Business ClassMalaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

There wasn’t much to report from the next few hours until….

Take off + 7 hrs 35 mins: The cabin crew came around to take breakfast orders.

I asked one of the flight attendants what she would recommend and I went with her choice of Nasi Lemak (fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves served with prawn sambal and traditional accompaniments).

Take off + 7 hrs 55 mins: Breakfast was served.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class – Breakfast

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class – Breakfast

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class – Breakfast

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class – Breakfast

I enjoyed all parts of the breakfast – the fruit tasted fresh and crisp, the croissant was warm and flakey and the Nasi Lemak was very flavorful.

One of the benefits of traveling on an airline like Malaysian is that you usually have the option of spicy food….and spicy food holds its taste very well at altitude – that can be the difference between a plain, band and unappetising meal and one that’s actually nice to consume.

Take off + 9 hrs 30 mins: The cabin crew were asked to prepare the cabin for arrival, headphones were collected, unlike on the A380, there was no request to hand in the menus.

Take off + 9 hrs 55 mins: As I enjoyed the views as we approached Auckland the seatbelt sign was illuminated.

Take off + 10 hrs 5 mins: We landed in Auckland

Thoughts

Negatives:

  • There wasn’t much storage around the paired seats and I even heard a few passengers comment on this
  • When in lie-flat mode there’s a coffin-like effect going on with the seat and there isn’t much room to move your legs or feet.
  • The headphones aren’t great….but now I’m just being picky.

Positives:

  • The crew were smiley, pleasant and helpful – I couldn’t have asked more of them.
  • The satay skewers were delicious….and plentiful.
  • The meals were mostly pretty good – there were a couple of average bits but mostly it was very good.
  • The seat (in upright mode is very comfortable)
  • The blanket is excellent
  • If you’re in a “throne seat” there’s a good amount of storage around you.
  • The solo seats are nice and private.

Bottom Line

Despite the fact I didn’t particularly like the sleeping position, the Malaysia Airlines A330 is a definite improvement on the airline’s A380 Business Class offering and I’d rank it as a good middle-of-the-road option.

The crews I’ve encountered on my Malaysia Airlines flights have all been exceptionally nice and that goes a long way to making a flight pleasant and relaxing.

The product isn’t anywhere near as good as what you’ll find on the likes of Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines or the big Middle Eastern Carriers…but if you can get a good Business Class fare on a routing that works for you then there’s no reason to shy away from booking.

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