Tried & Tested

Malaysia Airlines B737-400 economy class

13 Dec 2012 by Jenny Southan

CHECK-IN I checked in online for both my Malaysia Airlines flights – the Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur leg and the connecting flight onwards to London Heathrow (click here for the review) – the same afternoon as departing.

I filled in the required personal information and accepted the seat assignment (8K) for the LGK-KUL sector and changed the KUL-LHR seat to 10K from 9H. I then had my boarding pass sent to my iPhone, which gave me the option of saving it in my Passbook application for easy offline access.

The airport was only a ten-minute drive from the resort I was staying at (the Meritus Pelangi on Cenang beach), so I didn't leave until 1800. My flight (MH1459) was departing at 1940, so I still had plenty of time. Once at the terminal, I had to put my suitcase (but not hand baggage) through an X-ray machine, and it was then labelled by an officer to show that it had been checked.

There were three check-in desks open (15, 16 and 17) and no one waiting so I was promptly processed – my bag weighed and through-checked to London and paper boarding passes for both flights issued. I checked that my request for a vegetarian meal on the long-haul route had been registered, and it had, however, the seat I had selected during online check-in had not shown up.

Instead it appeared as 11D – an aisle seat. As I prefer a window seat, I explained this is what I had chosen and he shrugged, saying that was what was on the screen. I accepted there must have been a glitch or I had made a mistake and asked if there were any more window seats free. There were, and he moved me to 11A.

I then headed for security, very close to check-in. A guard checked my mobile boarding pass and passport and ushered me to the security lane ahead. (Laptops out but not liquids.) There were only a couple of people ahead of me so I was through by 1820.

BOARDING The process was supposed to start at 1910 from Gate 3 but the plane was late arriving so didn't begin until 1935. Families with children were called first. I had chosen a seat at the front of the modest sized waiting lounge so was one of the first to walk across the tarmac to the plane after having my boarding pass checked again. I took the steps up to the front of the plane (there was also a set to the back) and was in my seat by 1945. A safety demonstration took place five minutes later, once everyone was on board. Jazz versions of Christmas carols played overhead until airborne.

THE SEAT I was in window seat 8F, near the front of the economy section. (The front row was five.) There were also four rows of business, beyond a curtain and partial dividing wall. Some seats were upholstered in turquoise blue fabric, while others were red, orange or green. Fold-down tray tables were stable enough to support working on a laptop and the legroom was decent for this short hop. The exit row seats (row 11 and 12) are configured 2-2 (B-C, D-E) and provide a bit of extra legroom, while the rest of the cabin is 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F). The flight was only about half full and I was glad to find that the seat next to me was free. (Click here to see the seat plan.)

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Choosing a seat near the front of the economy cabin will mean you disembark quicker, although you will have to wait for business class passengers to get off first.  Avoid middle seats B and E if travelling alone. Crew store their bags in the bins over rows five and 11, as well as 25 and 26. Note that bassinets can be fixed to the bulkhead in row five so sitting near here may mean having to endure babies crying. This was not an issue on my flight though.

THE FLIGHT Take-off was at 2000, and after ascending for six minutes, the cabin lights came back on. There was a quick refreshment service with cups of orange juice and small bags of peanuts handed out. I had time to do a bit of work on my laptop before the captain told crew to prepare for landing at 2040, as the plane would soon be starting its descent, and all electronic devices needed to be turned off.  

ARRIVAL The aircraft landed at 2110, the Christmas soundtrack came back on and passengers were disembarked from the front via an airbridge to the terminal. I was off by 2115 and queuing for immigration for international departures shortly after. There were about a dozen people ahead of me so it took about seven minutes to be seen.

I then had to take the shuttle (one minute's walk away) to the international terminal where the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge (I was booked in business for the London leg) and my gate C37 was located. There was a train about to depart when I got there so managed to hop on. The lounge was a short walk away, up a set of escalators and along a corridor.

VERDICT Although the flight was delayed by abut 20 minutes, it was a quick journey and the crew were friendly.

PRICE Internet rates for a return economy class flight from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi in January ranged started from RM274 (£55.60).




SEAT PITCH 30in/76.2cm

SEAT WIDTH 17in/43.1cm

Jenny Southan

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