CHECK-IN On the return leg, I used the KLIA Ekspres train to transfer to the airport, which runs direct from Sentral station. This service has a number of advantages; primarily that the journey takes just 28 minutes, with departures every 15 minutes, and costs RM35 (£5.50) one-way. It’s also clean, modern and, from what I saw, reliable, but possibly the biggest plus is that passengers can check in at the station. There was practically no queue for any of the Malaysian desks at the station, where there are separate areas for economy, business and first class. This meant I could go straight to the passport-check area (I arrived at 0855 for my 1005 flight) in the main terminal at KLIA. After security, it’s a short shuttle train to the satellite terminal.
BOARDING Flight MH004 was departing from Gate 34, and boarding had started when I arrived. I was directed to seat 47H on the main deck of the Boeing 747, we taxied promptly, and were airborne by 1020.
THE SEAT Economy is configured 3-4-3 and was almost completely full on this flight. My aisle seat was on the back row of the second of three economy zones, just in front of one of the emergency exits. Seats in economy have a pitch of 33-34 inches, depending on where you’re sitting, and a recline of seven inches. There is a 6.5-inch seat-back screen with the same AVOD entertainment options as in business. The table folds down from the seat in front, rather than from the armrest as in business, and a pillow and blanket are supplied. The seats did feel a little worn but functioned properly.
THE FLIGHT Lunch was served soon after take-off, with menu choices displayed electronically on the TV screen. I chose Mexican chicken with spicy potato wedges (the other options being pasta penne marinara and butterfish curry with rice), which came with plastic cutlery rather than the metal ones in business class. After the food had been served, a message flashed on the screens saying “happy eating and bon appétit?” (sic).
There are plenty of carriers that don’t have AVOD on the planes at all yet, so to be able to stop and start movies in economy felt like a bonus, even if the selection is not as large as that on Emirates or SIA. Having watched a couple of films and devoured the snack box that came around (containing crackers, cheese, dried fruit and a chocolate bar), it was then effectively time for the second lunch (we were going back against the clock). There was a choice of beef stroganoff, chicken and rice, or tomato pasta. The flight arrived 15 minutes ahead of time at 1600, and for once we were parked and off the plane within minutes.
VERDICT A perfectly adequate economy service with good IFE options, although the seats do feel like they’ve been in service for some time.