Book your flight on Malaysia Airlines here.
Introduction (Booking, Equipment, Configuration)
I booked the flight using 70,000 AA miles. I originally planned to fly from Asia to the West Coast using Singapore Airlines but I had to go to Europe first for this trip.
Malaysia Airlines's A380's are just about a year old and have gotten some initial good reviews. Plus it provided me a convenient connection to Germany out of Kuala Lumpur.
I made the booking via the AAdvantage desk about 18 hours before departure. The agent said it will be ticketed soon – I should not worry. I called Malaysia Airlines for seat assignments 12h before departure and they could not find me and sure enough no eTicket number had been sent to me. So another call to the AAdvantage desk made clear something went wrong with the setup in the first place and a friendly agent pushed through the booking system while I was still on the phone.
Good that I called or I would have been at loss at the airport the next day. AA ticketing with partners can be really slow – so it's a good idea you call for seat assignments directly to the partner which will usually confirm if your ticket has issued correctly.
The suites configuration always transform the space available into cubicles making it less appealing at first glance. Also the seat colors are not the best choice in terms of design in my opinion. They look a bit weird and worn though they are brand new.
However the cabin was spotless clean including the bathrooms.
Seat (Space, Adjustability)
Very wide seat – almost like Singapore Airlines First Class. Very good cushioning and very few, clearly marked buttons. As longer the flight lasted the more I fell in love with the seat. There is also an ottoman which allows someone to dine with you theoretically.
While there is no overhead storage there is storage under the ottoman. There is also a number of smaller cabinets, while not huge (looking at you Qantas A380 Business Class!) they are very organized and easy to use.
The table is huge and folds away in a rather practical way (this is always a challenge for each flight attendant, getting the table out and back).
IFE (User Interface, Movie selection, moving map)
Big, very crisp screen. Many of the latest movies and a good selection of older movies. Quite a good selection of TV shows though often just one episode of each show.
The screen was excellent in all lighting conditions. The remote is one of the best out there – responsive, easy to work with and clearly organized.
The moving map worked well though it had too many different views and layers. While the outside camera was available during takeoff I could not find it in teh IFE during teh flight.
Food (Presentation, Taste, Selection)
Now I did not expect that but the food served was clearly one of the best I ever had.
There are 5 choices of appetizers and the flight attendants allow you to select multiple appetizers if you ask nicely (if they are available).
Both fresh fish based courses I tried were fantastic with the caviar blending in nicely. It was fresh and finely attuned.
I then tried the Beef Curry and the Chicken Biryani. The beef curry was done well but not my taste. The Chicken Biryani was fantastic – flavorful and just about the right amount of spice.
Malaysia Airlines features Dom Perignon 2003 as champagne and I made good use of this offer 🙂
I also found the warm nuts served before the appetizers really great – almonds, Macadamia and Walnuts all had a different non-sweet marinade. Never had that before – it was delicious!
I also had a chicken instant noodle sup which was (to my hungry surprise) equally fantastic!
Sleeping (fully flat, comfort, mattress, side sleeping)
The seat goes really, really fully flat! It's like your mattress at home (well almost). I had no trouble sleeping on my stomach or on my side. Fantastic equipment!
I feel they could use a thicker additional mattress and a real comforter instead of a souped-up blanket. This would certainly help adding to the atmosphere of sleeping.
Pajamas and slippers were handed out before takeoff. Both were doing their job just fine.
Service (Friendliness, Responsiveness)
Well if you see the pictures you may have a hard time thinking they are Malaysian flight attendants and not Singapore Airlines. And the similarities do not end there – I received fantastic service before takeoff and meal service. It was efficient, fast and enjoyable. It was easy to communicate (yes Malaysia has good English speakers) and felt very comfortable.
A flew flaws though – no water bottle was offered after the meal for drinking. Also when I rang the call button it took a while until someone appeared and often they would simply turn it off and disappear for a minute or two to actually hear my request. Given that the cabin was just 4 out of 8 full it was a bit strange.
I noticed that the First Class cabin wasn't as quiet as in the Lufthansa A380. Lufthansa has extra material to reduce noise but also nobody ever walks through the F cabin. Not so with Malaysia airlines – being close to the galley – there was a constant buzzing with activity going on just behind me.
What a nice surprise! I really wasn't sure about Malaysia Airlines and their A380 product but it is one of the best in the sky! Given the small size of the Malaysia Airlines' fleet this is even more surprising!
Currently the A380 fly to London and Paris from Kuala Lumpur. The only US flight (via NRT) is not planned to be operated by an A380 currently as there are no landing/gate slots available for the A380 at NRT/LAX according to a flight attendant.
United Mileage Plus currently has the better deal by allowing you route from the US to Asia with a stop iN Europe. American Airlines has a much more restrictive routing but you can cut don on flight times this way.
A good variety of First Class products would be Cathay from the US, Malaysia from Asia to Europe and American or BA (fuel surcharges!) back to the US. This will cost 210,000 miles but it's all one-ways and date changes are free at American (if more than 21 days out).
Book your flight on Malaysia Airlines here.