Tried & Tested

Malaysia Airlines A330-300 Business class

31 Oct 2014 by Clement Huang
CHECK-IN I arrived for check-in at 1930. As I was confirmed for economy with a conditional upgrade status, I lined up for the economy counter, where there were six passengers in front of me. My upgrade did not come through so I accepted a separate invitation to visit the Plaza Premium Lounge on Level 4. I was on airside by 2000. THE LOUNGE There are five facilities operated by Plaza Premium at this airport, and the one I visited is located next to the MAS lounge. It’s a short walk and one floor up from after security check. Although small, this facility has everything one needs. The interior design is in the same colour theme and style as other Plaza Premium lounges around the world, with well defined relaxation areas and three work desks equipped with power outlets. The food offerings were reasonable, and they included a salad bar and a selection of hot dishes – at the time of my visit, they included chicken navarin and zeera rice. You can help yourself to water and soft drinks from the fridge and there is also a bar counter, from which you can request simple cocktails and wine. The free wifi – which one can access by obtaining a code from reception – was stable. There was a range of English-language newspapers and magazines available but most seemed to be locally published – I couldn't find any big international titles. BOARDING I left the lounge around 2230 to make my way to the gate, stopping by a store for some last-minute browsing along the way. I arrived at the gate 10 minutes later and found an MAS staff member from the check-in area waiting for me – my upgrade came through and he scribbled my new seat (5A) number onto my boarding pass, and wished me a nice flight. That, however, caused momentary confusion with the cabin crew member who greeted me at the plane door. Still, I settled into my seat at around 2245. Juices and soft drinks were immediately offered. THE SEAT Business class configuration is 2-2-2. There are two sockets located between the two seats near the floor, but they are so close to each other there could be problems when two passengers tried to use them at the same time, given that plugs tend to be so clunky these days. There is a reasonable-sized shared cocktail table between two seats, and an adjacent panel for adjusting the seat position. The seat can be reclined into an angled lie-flat position, which is actually uncomfortable after a while as you feel like you're sliding down. I adjusted it to a lounge chair-like reclined position and found it to be much more conducive to resting. The in-flight entertainment can be controlled with the handset stowed right under the cocktail table, the selection of movies was only so-so. I counted about 30 of them, a lot of which I had already seen. In terms of storage space, there is a literature compartment next to the personal TV, wide enough to place my MacBook Air and iPad, and there is a water bottle holder on the other side. Otherwise, I simply kept most of my loose items in a simple canvas bag and stored it underneath the TV, together with my shoes. WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I had a window seat, so getting in and out would have presented a slight challenge if my neighbour was in a reclined or lie-flat position. But on this flight there was no one next to me. The first row gives you more room, but the personal TV would feel rather far away as it is mounted on the wall in front of you. THE FLIGHT The plane pushed out at about 2255, and took off 15 minutes after. Within five minutes seat belt sign was off. We were served the signature satay (vegetarians may choose the tian of mushroom) about 20 minutes later, followed by the choice of main course. Wanting some comfort food, I went for the Andhra vegetarian biryani, which had a nice kick to it (but just right as the yogurt balanced it out) and felt very hearty with the helping of black lentils. Other choices were pan-seared salmon in garlic lemon beurre blanc, and murgh makhan palak (chicken with tomatoes, cream and spinach, dried fruits rice and sautéed vegetables). For drinks I went for the Drappier carte d'or, and the other wines were Vasse Felix 2013 semillon sauvignon blanc; St Hallett Faith shiraz 2011 (Barossa) and Château d'Arche 2009 (cru Bourgeois). The meal service lasted less than an hour,  and 15 minutes after my tray was cleared the lights dimmed. I reclined and relaxed to watch X Men: Days of Future Past, and then I dozed off. About three hours later the lights slowly came back on, as it was announced that landing was being prepared. ARRIVAL The aircraft touched down at 0620 local time – more than half an hour early – and it arrived at the gate in 10 minutes. Disembarking was smooth and I was in the terminal building minutes later, greeted by staff from Plaza Premium. VERDICT In terms of hardware, this business seat is not the best I have experienced, especially with it being angled lie-flat. But I found the food delectable and the service efficient and friendly. I would definitely go for it again, especially at this price point. FACT FILE  
  • SEAT WIDTH 20in/51cm
  • SEAT PITCH 60in/152cm
  • SEAT RECLINE 12 degrees sleeping angle
  • PRICE A return ticket for weekday flights in mid-December is priced at INR51,776 (US$846), including tax and surcharges.
Reggie Ho
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