Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class Review Bottom Line
My Malaysia Airlines A330 business class review on their medium haul flights shows they’re good, but there is still some room for improvement! Although not the flashiest business class out there, Malaysia Airlines offers easy and quick connections from their hub at Kuala Lumpur airport. Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class is good and I found it a better value-for-money than Korean Air’s 2x2x2 seating. If you can snag one of the throne seats, you basically have a suite to yourself.
The Good: Throne seats and great Satay in the Sky.
The Bad: No wifi, catering mistake, and no amenities provided for a 5-hour flight.
The Noteworthy: The satay was great!
Note: I took all of these flights in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since travel and work slowed down substantially in the last few months, I took time to catch up writing these reviews. Hope y’all enjoy! This flight is from mid-2019.
Arrival at ICN
After spending the day in Seoul, I arrived at Seoul Incheon Terminal 1 about 2h30m hours before my flight’s departure. Oddly, there were no check-in agents, although online, MH’s website said there would be agents from 3h before departure. While I waited, more people wondered why there weren’t agents at the MH counter. By the time check-in opened 2 hours before departure, there was a solid line of 40 people for economy and 4 for business class. Once checked in, I proceeded through security and passport control.
Lounge at ICN
Malaysia Airlines passengers have access to the Asiana Business Class lounge. Although I did visit the lounge for a while, it was insanely crowded. There were no open seats in the dining area, and I had to sit at a long table. It had power outlets, at least, and allowed me to get some work done before my flight. Overall, the lounge experience was neither noteworthy nor exciting, so I am only adding it as a note here.
Gate and Boarding
My flight was scheduled to depart from Seoul’s Terminal 1. It was quite a walk to the gate, and even then, we would be departing from one of the lower level gates. There were people already lining up in the economy class queue, knowing that boarding would not start for over 30 minutes more. I sat down and people watched a bit and noticed a large number of families on this flight. When boarding was called for premium passengers, all hell broke loose. The people in the economy class queue began pouring into the business class one. They were all systematically denied early boarding by the gate agent and turned around. This made boarding a lot slower, considering that people kept thinking they would be able to sneak by. I was finally able to board, and from there turned left to the business class door.
Seat and Cabin
The cabin itself is arranged in a rather odd 1x2x2 or 1x2x1 configuration, on alternating rows. Other airlines use this configuration, and it means not all seats are created equal. The best seats are the throne seats on the right side of the aircraft. I was able to snag one of those. They are basically open suites, and you have a ton of personal space.
The seat is not very wide, but it’s well padded. The foot cubby is tiny, I don’t have big feet and still found it hard to get my feet there. I could not turn my feet sideways, because they would not fit. This was a major design flaw for me, as I like to sleep on my side. There are seat controls on the aisle side of the seat, as well as an IFE control. Waiting at my seat were two blankets (one thicker than the other) and a pillow. In the side compartment, there were a pair of headphones that were supposed to be noise canceling, but they were so bad you could barely hear the movie dialogue. The IFE screen was crisp and high quality, one of the largest ones I have seen on this type of seat.
Departure and Take Off
As boarding continued, the cabin service director introduced himself to the passengers. He was really kind and very enthusiastic considering the late departure of the flight. The flight attendant who would be working my aisle came by offering water, champagne or Malaysia Airlines’ signature drink. I can’t recall what it was made from, but it tasted of kiwi and lemon and was very refreshing. Boarding was finished about 10 minutes before our scheduled departure time. Push back occurred about 2 minutes later, and we taxied in the cloudy Seoul night to the runway.
This flight was an odd one in terms of dining options. After departure, the airline serves their quintessential satay service, and then a breakfast meal before landing. The menu read as follows:
The flight attendants came by and ask passengers what they wanted to drink, and I just wanted soda so I ordered a Coke. The drinks came with packaged nuts. Soon after, the Satay trolley came by, and I was offered three skewers with chicken covered in a rich peanut sauce. I was still really hungry after the mini satay, so I ordered ramen. I was expecting one of those cup ramen they serve on other airlines, but I was surprised with a properly plater ramen bowl with fix-ins. Although I like my ramen saltier than this one was, it hit the spot.
Later on, closer to arrival, the flight attendants served breakfast. I had pre-ordered a meal via the Malaysia Airlines website, only to find out it had been mis-catered at ICN. I ended up picking what they had catered for me, which was just okay. The meal started with fruit and cereal. The fruit was as pale it could have been, and the cereal was plain corn flakes with a bit of milk. I skipped the fruit and ate cereal in case my meal was not good.
The meal I had ordered, Malaysian Nasi Goreng, was mis-catered for something that looked like a Korean short rib. It wasn’t terrible, but the meat was chewy and the rice overcooked. The wilted spinach tasted like nothing. Overall, quite disappointing.
The throne seats on Malaysia Airlines A330s business class are comfortable enough for the short flights they use their A330s on. The seat isn’t the softest or widest in the sky, so if you have back issues, it might be a bit uncomfortable. Another issue I had was the footwell was really small. I am a size 11 shoe (US) and I couldn’t lie my feet sideways. The blanket was warm enough, as the cabin was kept cool. The pillow was plush enough to make it comfortable for sleeping.
Note on IFE, Amenities, Crew, and Wifi
Malaysia Airlines does not offer wifi onboard their A330s, at least for now. The IFE is pretty extensive but not as good as Studio CX on Cathay or Singapore Airlines programming. Just because I slept most of the flight, I had the moving map on whenever I was awake.
The airline did not offer any amenities for a 5-hour flight. I asked if they had any sleeping masks or slippers, and the crew said they were not stocked for flights this short. It was surprising because, save their Sydney and London flights, this is one of their longest routes.
The crew was very attentive and kind, however, they were not very proactive. They often passed through the cabin to make sure that passengers had everything they needed, but didn’t proactively offer anything to passengers. This was the only issue I had with the crew, as they were otherwise very kind and passed often through the cabin during meal times.
Landing and Arrival
As we prepared for landing and KLIA, the captain informed us that there was a storm just south of the airport. Since this was our angle of approach, he advised the crew to prepare the cabin for arrival earlier than usual. Landing preparations were done with 25 minutes to touchdown. The captain was not kidding when he said there was a storm, as the descent was very turbulent. Once we broke the cloud cover, it was a normal overcast night above KLIA. We parked at our gate at the international terminal, and within minutes I was on the train to immigration.
Malaysia Airlines has a good product on their A330s. Considering they fly mostly regional routes, the product offered onboard meets the standard of most of its competition. My only qualm was the lack of amenities, which for a longer flight would have been appreciated. I personally wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again in business class, I would just avoid selecting from the pre-order meal to avoid another catering mistake. Overall, a pleasant flight and a good experience.