My journey originated from Hong Kong on MH73 with a connecting flight to Melbourne on MH149, so the airline staff at the counter at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) had already checked me in for both flights and I made sure that my luggage was checked all the way through to the final destination. Thus, when I arrived at the Satellite Building of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), with my flight landing 15 minutes early, all I needed to do was to ensure that the boarding gate for my connecting flight hadn’t been re-allocated.
The airline has three Golden Lounges located within the airport. The one at the Satellite Building is on the mezzanine level, which is strictly for MAS’s premium international passengers. The first thing I noticed upon entering the lounge was the sheer space. Wide, cushioned seats are clustered around coffee tables in groups of twos and fours. Although free wifi is available, ?I could not be bothered to remove my netbook from its case, so I decided to use one of the internet-connected PC workstations to check my office emails and surf news websites. There are printing and copying facilities around the workstations which are available free of charge. The food counter in the centre of the room was a hive of activity, as it was dinnertime. The buffet spread offered Malaysian fare, a variety of Asian noodles, and a collection of sandwiches. I ate my sandwiches at a leisurely pace as I read through several glossy international women’s journals, which I took from the extensive magazine rack. With its muted lighting and its serene interiors, I had a great time chilling out.
I left the Golden Lounge 20 minutes before boarding time and made my way to gate C34 – which opened at 2040. All passengers had to go through an X-ray scan and document inspection before being ushered into the spacious pre-flight holding area. At 2110 the door that leads to the airbridge was opened as boarding started on schedule. I breezed through to the waiting Boeing B777-200.
I was assigned seat 3K. The business class cabin in this two-class aircraft has five rows with seats laid out in a 2-3-2 (AC-DFG-JK) configuration for 35 passengers. The economy cabin has a capacity for 247 passengers with seats arranged in a 2-5-2 layout. My first impression was that MAS has maximised every inch of space to fit as many seats. There was no storage at the side of my window seat as I was expecting so I heaved my netbook and hand-carry bag into the overhead compartment. The seat has multiple settings that can be electronically adjusted to one’s most comfortable position. The foldout dining table is wide and sturdy, enabling one to work on a laptop with ease during the flight. There is a built-in power socket that can accept multiple plug types, so there is no danger of draining the battery of any mobile gadget. The seat is lie-flat and reclines at an eight-degree angle.
Once seated, the flight steward started offering welcome drinks. Departure was delayed by 30 minutes, taking off at 2200, as the plane had to offload the bags of a no-show passenger. An hour into the flight, dinner was served. The attendant convinced me to try the airline’s signature Malaysian satay dish when I was all ready to bypass the appetiser and go straight into the main course. The charcoal-grilled chicken and beef skewers dipped in peanut sauce did not disappoint. Not wanting a heavy meal, I picked for my main a grilled Norwegian salmon with parsley potatoes, grilled vegetables and dill cream sauce. But not being partial to wine, I washed down my dinner with a soda drink. I skipped dessert, and with my table cleared, I spent the next two hours enjoying the up-to-date selection of movies and TV shows from the interactive IFE system on my 10.4-inch touch-screen personal television. Finally, it was time to catch a few hours’ sleep. My only gripe about the angled lie-flat seat was that I kept sliding down. With a few adjustments to the seat, I found a comfortable position and rested for the night. Two hours before landing, the cabin lights were switched on for breakfast to ?be served.
Flight MH149 touched down on time at Melbourne Airport at 0915. Unable to find the express immigration counter for premium travellers, I went for the regular queue. Even with heavy passenger traffic I was out of the airport and travelling to my hotel within an hour.
MAS’s efficient and friendly service both on the ground and in the air makes for a pleasant and worry-free start to a hectic business trip.
PLANE TYPE B777-200
SEAT CONFIGURATION 2-3-2
SEAT PITCH 62in/157.5cm
SEAT WIDTH 34in/86cm
PRICE The best available internet rate for a return business class ticket on this route in mid-June is RM8,256 (US$2,808)