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I had just landed after my second favorite flight ever at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

See Trip Report: Paris to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia Airlines First Class on an A380.

It was 6:30 AM, and I was tired, hungry, and in need of a shower. Kuala Lumpur was my final destination, but I didn’t want to try to secure a check in at 8 AM at my hotel, so I looked for an arrival lounge.

How was the Malaysia Airlines Satellite Golden Lounge? How were the showers? How was the food? How can you use an arrival lounge to your advantage?

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I recently flew Malaysia Airlines First Class on an A380 from Paris to Kuala Lumpur. The service and food were incredible on the flight. The seat and bed were extremely comfortable and spacious, and the entertainment system on the huge television made the flight pass quickly.

I went into the flight with very high expectations. It was my first flight in First Class on an East Asian carrier, and I’ve heard the service is just better on the top Asian carriers.

I had never been to Southeast Asia, so I decided to fly Malaysia Airlines First Class on an A380 to Southeast Asia for two weeks, returning to Europe on a Thai A380 in First Class.

Having completed that trip, I can say that I am very happy I took two weeks off from Europe to travel in Southeast Asia and that the flight in Malaysia Airlines First Class is my second favorite flight ever, only behind Emirates First Class.

What was my take on the service, food, entertainment, seat, bed, and A380?

It’s been a long week for me as I have just spent a few days in Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The entire week was a blast and it was probably the best trip of my life. To make it even better, at the end of the week I was scheduled to fly Malaysia Airlines new A380 in their First Class cabin. Here’s how it went.

I left Paris around 9AM to catch my 12PM departure. Originally, I was supposed to be dropped off but the train seemed like a more viable option. I got to the airport at around 10AM and proceeded to look for the Malaysia Airlines counter for the next 15 minutes. Malaysia Airlines departs out of Terminal 1 at CDG and if you don’t know, the terminal is like a huge circle. I walked around for 10 minutes (in two full circles) until I realized that some airlines check in one floor below where I was. It was kind of odd, but I could see why they did that as soon as I got downstairs and saw the line. The economy line stretched so long that other airline counters were having trouble distinguishing who was flying each airline.

All the way to the corner was the check in desk for First Class. There was no line and I was checked in smoothly. As soon as I started walking away, the agent noticed that my bag looked a little big. She asked me to weigh it, and it weighed 12kg when the max was 7kg. I pleaded with her to let me take it on board and she replied “OK, just make sure you take your laptop out and put it underneath the seat.” I agreed knowing that my laptop doesn’t weigh 10 pounds.

After my boarding passes were checked, I was able to head to immigration/passport control. This is one part that could easily be improved as there is a priority line that is for frequent/premium passengers. However, Malaysia Air doesn’t give their premium flyers a card to access this line. I didn’t mind but the normal line stretched the length of the entire “circle” terminal and it took me an hour to get through just immigration.

By this time, it was 11:15 so I headed to the lounge.

The Malaysia Airlines lounge is the same lounge that Priority Pass users are granted access to, so anyone with an American Express Platinum can get in. It is called the Icare lounge and it has a pretty decent selection of food and snacks. It is a bit confusing to get to the lounge because right when you walk upstairs, a huge plaque tells you that Malaysia Airlines is actually partnered with another lounge. Either way, I made it and took a seat at which point I was served a croissant on a silver platter.

Twenty minutes later, boarding for First and Business class passengers was announced in the lounge. I headed to the gate and went through security. Afterwards, I immediately went to the gate and was let through to go to the plane. I was the first to board and I got to take a few pictures before anyone else sat down.

In some A380s like Singapore and Malaysia, the First Class cabin is downstairs, which I believe is a huge waste of space. While walking around the cabin, I noticed that there was a tremendous amount of wasted space by the front galley.

In addition, the First Class bathrooms were tiny! I was told by the purser to use the bathrooms upstairs as they are bigger. Upstairs they are the same size as Lufthansa’s A380 bathrooms, but without the bench. 

After boarding was completed, the purser brought by some pajamas for me to change into. She also noted that all my amenities were in the Malaysia Airlines bag that was on the ottoman. I think that the amenity bag Malaysia gives out is the best ever as often times, my suitcase is bulging with clothes and opening it midair means that I’ll never be able to close it again!

The amenity kit included a toothbrush set, socks, mouthwash and lotions by Bvlgari. It was a nice package with a nice toiletry bag. It also included noise canceling headphones.

I looked around my seat and found that the seat itself has immense amounts of storage space. There were 4 storage areas not including the huge storage area under the ottoman. In addition, every suite has it’s own built in closet! The seat itself is made of velour sidings.

Velour Walls

By this time, we were taxiing for takeoff. The MH A380 has an auto tailcam feature so that everyone can watch it at the same time while taking off. The tailcam is turned off about 5 minutes after takeoff and cannot be seen again until landing.

About 15 minutes after takeoff, the pilot came on air to inform us that it would take about 11 hours and 15 minutes to reach Kuala Lumpur. Right after, the lunch service began. The purser came around to my suite and chatted with me for about 15 minutes during which I learned a lot of things. Firstly, the crew at Malaysia Air only flies to the US once a year! That means that each crew member only goes to Los Angeles (their only North American destination) once a year. I’m not sure how they do that as I believe Malaysia Air has service to Los Angeles 3x a week! Her take was that Malaysia Air wasn’t really prepared for this plane when they got it because they only placed orders for the A380 due to competition from other airlines. By doing so, Malaysia will lose a lot of money in the long run. They did however, have a nifty app on their iPad that told the crew every detail about me. She offered to take a picture on her iPad that would later be sent to me.

The service by Malaysia Air is very friendly. Unlike other airlines that try to just serve you, the MH crew tries to personalize the service. I personally prefer this type of crew because I like to interact with them. One crew member literally stood at my suite for 20 minutes talking to me about my camera and where to buy it. I enjoyed that but I can see where some other travelers might have a problem with that, so you should consider whether you’d like this level of chattiness.

While looking around the cabin, I came to another realization. Malaysia Air caters to families. I was the only person in this cabin that did not know anyone. the other 7 people were all family members with 2 kids occupying 2 seats (good for them!) I asked the purser what the load is like in First Class and she said it’s usually families like the one today. The best part is that they upgraded 5/8 people from business class. That’s amazing and partially explains why they aren’t making a ton of money on this product.

After chatting for a bit, the purser told me to look at my menu card which was inside a leather folder.

I had pre-ordered a few weeks back so I just chose the Amuse Bouche and Soup; both of which were very good! The best part is that they have a great snack menu if someone get’s hungry between meals.

Amuse Bouche
Satay
Chicken Soup
Main Course: Beef Medallion
Dessert: Chocolate Cake

After lunch, I went and changed upstairs and also got to take some pictures of the business class cabin. There is also a business class lounge at the top of the stairs. I was advised that I could use the lounge upstairs to get snacks and also the lounge in the galley behind me except, there was no lounge behind me as it was just a basket with snacks.

Business Class

I came back down and my bed was made without even asking! I loved the service on this flight because this crew literally anticipated all of my needs. Water was placed on the side table and I was ready to get some sleep but couldn’t.

I started browsing the entertainment selection which had a few movies and TV shows. The selection was good, but the software itself is a bit sluggish. I found myself constantly going back and forth between programs because the system was so slow. In addition, I feel like the remote is very poorly made. When it was dark, half of the lights on the remote wouldn’t light up and it was hard to find the select button.

The seat itself is one of the most comfortable seats in the sky. It features a memory button so it can remember the exact position you like if you have to get up and do something or even switch positions to eat. The design of the suite is stunning and it offers a lot of privacy but I found it a bit hard to find the power and headphone jack because it was buried under an armrest. I would’ve easily found it, but the lighting in this suite is so horrible that you can see more without it than you can with it. For example, the reading light pointed towards the TV. The top reading light pointed to my face instead of the table. When the seat is fully reclined, another reading light that does not have any light power shoots at the TV as well. I literally had to feel my way around the seat until I got fed up and used my phone’s flashlight.

Although the lighting and entertainment are a bit off, I love everything else about this suite. At night, I felt like I was in my own personal movie theater as there was backlighting behind the 23 inch TV. It looked amazing! Also, the best part about this suite is that there is a dedicated air vent. This is a great addition because I get really warm under blankets when flying, and the air vent helped out a lot! The blankets on this flight were down comforters and the pillows were feather down. Both were extremely comfortable!

My own movie theater!
You get your own vent!

I slept for about 6 hours and was woken up an hour before landing. I foolishly pre-ordered king prawns for breakfast and was hitting myself on the head for eating something like that for breakfast instead of cereal. I asked the purser for corn flakes, which were brought out promptly.

At this time, we were 45 minutes away from landing and the captain came out to chat with everyone in First Class. Again, I felt like he knew all the other passengers as he started hugging them. I didn’t get a hug :(. The captain came over and thanked me for flying and that he hoped to see me again soon.

The seatbelt signs turned off and I experienced the smoothest landing of my life! I didn’t even know we touched down until I heard the reverse thrust.

And so we have it. One more A380 off my checklist and one great crew that really knew how to pamper their customers. As I left the plane, I looked back and saw the outside of the A380. I love the color scheme Malaysia Air put on the A380!

My overall thoughts about this product are: don’t fly it unless you are on a oneworld explorer ticket or unless you really need to go to Malaysia directly. Although it’s a great product, it’s not worth the amount of miles needed to fly it–70,000 American miles or 105k Avios each way from London or Paris to Kuala Lumpur.

Other than that, kudos to Malaysia Air for making such a comfortable and visually stunning seat!

Last but not least, I had to post a picture of my favorite drink! Iced Milo!

 

 

 

As many of you may know, I am a college student by day and the amusing, yet mystical, Bengali Miles Guru by night. After traveling almost 100,000 miles since January, I knew that my upcoming spring break trip would have to be amazing. It would also have to help me attain my 12 months, 12 countries goal.

After giving it some thought, the best idea was to include my friends into the crazy trip I’m about to embark on.

Introduction:

I didn’t know where to go but naturally, I thought that maybe it should be Europe since I just flew to Asia a month ago. I set my sights on a Eurotrip themed adventure! I knew that it would have to be awesome and that my friends would have to be amused as well. I finally settled on this proposed route plan:

Los Angeles-Frankfurt

1 night in Frankfurt (Hotwire a Hotel)

Drive to Amsterdam

2 nights in Amsterdam (Radisson Blu Amsterdam)

Drive to Paris

2 nights in Paris (Radisson Blu Champs Elysees & Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Hotel)

Drive back to Frankfurt and visit cities a long the way.

Frankfurt- Los Angeles

Last time I drove in Germany, we somehow got this car:

The hotels alone were an absolute wonder to book. In Frankfurt & Amsterdam, I resorted to Hotwire and was able to get great rates that were sub $100 per night! The best feeling was going to hotels.com and seeing that the Radisson Blu Amsterdam was $296 on the nights I wanted to go. I got the same hotel on Hotwire for $86 plus tax!

In Paris, I elected to use my Club Carlson points to book two nights at two different hotels since we have a lot of people going. I was able to use the free bonus night stay that comes with the Club Carlson card and for 100,000 points, I got 2 rooms in Paris for 2 nights each (4 nights total for the price of 2)

In Paris, the hotel prices were about 330-430 Euros/Night depending on the hotels so I think I got great value from those points! (2.1 Cents)

It proved to be a stellar trip but I yearned for more, and that’s exactly what I got.

After booking my friends on a LAX-ATL-FRA-ORD-LAX flight (in Business Class because, you know, college students need to travel in style) for 100,000 miles, I looked into my own flights. Sure, I was going to all these cool places with my friends but I also wanted to make a great Trip Report out of it. I also wanted to get the most value out of my mile. ;) 

I sat down and thought about other routes till I could think no more. I came up with this masterpiece:

Los Angeles-Frankfurt in Lufthansa Business Class (A330) Part of US Airways 90K US-Europe-Asia

My parents modeling the Lufthansa Business Class seats

Paris-Kuala Lumpur  in Malaysian First Class (A380) 105,000 Amex-British Air Points

Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok in Lufthansa First Class (Yes, it’s not wrong) United 70K First Class Award. Picture could change based on flight availability.

Bangkok-Hong Kong in Thai First Class (A380) United 70K First Class Award

Hong Kong-Frankfurt (Lufthansa 747-8i 70K United Award)

Frankfurt-Los Angeles (Lufthansa First Class 70K Award)

My Proposed Trip

To make things more complicated, I used a 90k US Airways redemption to go US-Europe-Asia. I scheduled Europe-Asia as a later trip in September so technically, I end in Europe for now. I then transferred some Membership Rewards to get myself on the Malaysian Airlines A380 from Paris-KUL. I was never supposed to come back to Europe from Malaysia but I realized my flight wouldn’t make it in time to take a free ticket I had from Singapore-Los Angeles. That’s when I dipped into my United Miles to book a return from Asia-Los Angeles.

The Total Costs:

90,000 US Airways miles & $200 in Taxes

105,000 American Express Membership Rewards & $1,000 in Taxes

70,000 United miles & 100 in Taxes

The best part of this trip is that I get to test out a bunch of new products and hopefully report them back to you guys!

Some interesting tidbits about this trip include:

Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok is actually operated by Lufthansa. It is part of their Bangkok – Frankfurt flight so it goes KUL-BKK-FRA.

Overall, this trip should be fun for me and terrifying for my mom who will probably be worrying a little too much.

By flying this route, I’ll be at 4 different A380 First Class cabins in less than 3 months of each other! I’ve already flown Lufthansa & Singapore! Adding Malaysian & Thai to the mix will only leave me with Emirates, Korean Air, Air France, China Southern, & Qantas. I am most interested in flying Emirates and China Southern’ A380s in the future!

If you don’t see me on one of these flights in the upcoming days, you’ll surely see me at FTU DC in a few weeks! Hope to meet you all! You can also follow this trip on Instagram with the hashtag #flywithbmg.

Also, if you like what you see, use our Award Booking Service to build a trip like this! We’ve helped tons of people book trips of a lifetime!

Malaysia Airlines joined oneworld on Thursday, meaning you now have more options for your American Airlines AAdvantage miles and British Airways Avios to, from, and through Southeast Asia.

courtesy of Google Maps

An unaffiliated airline joining an alliance is always a good thing for us because our miles have more uses, and usually the new airline will have incredible award availability, at least until it adjusts to having more people snapping up its awards.

Where Malaysia Airlines Flies

Malaysia Airlines flies from its Kuala Lumpur hub all over Asia and Australia. It also has four flights to Europe–Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, and Paris–and one flight to the US–Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur flight flies via Tokyo in both directions. The entire route is operated by the same plane, so there is no worry about missed connections. The journey takes 21:40 heading west, and you land two days after takeoff. The journey takes 18:05 heading east, and you land the same day as takeoff.

What Planes and Premium Cabins does Malaysia Airlines Feature?

The two main longhaul jets in Malaysia Airlines’ fleet are the 777-200 and A380.

The 777-200 flies the Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur route as well as Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt and Amsterdam. The 777-200 plane will disappoint people looking for luxury. There is no first class–just economy and business–and the business class seats are angled lie flat.

This photo is from Malaysia Airlines’ page on its 777-200s.

The angle of the photo seems to be designed to disguise the angle of the bed, but look at the bed in relation to the windows, and you can see this would be quite an uncomfortable angle for sleep.

I would generally pass on flying this business class cabin unless it was the only option available.

The A380 flies from Kuala Lumpur to London-Heathrow and Paris-CDG. The A380 has a more luxurious configuration. First Class suites have fully flat 7’3″ beds according to Malaysia Airlines’ page on the aircraft.

The rest of the suite sounds pretty incredible too with the same jumbo-sized 23″ screen Emirates First Class has, and single and double suites for people traveling alone or with a companion.

Its business class seats also claim to be fully flat beds, though I can’t verify that elsewhere. This seat map and this review make me think the seats are angled lie flats.

The menus for both premium cabins look incredible, and include the option to order your entree in advance.

Where do I Search for Malaysia Air Space?

I search for oneworld space in three places: aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.au. (Here’s where I specifically search for each oneworld partner’s space.) For Malaysia Airlines, the choice of search engine is easy. Of the airline sites I use to search oneworld space, only ba.com displays Malaysia Airlines space.

ba.com search result

For me, that makes ba.com the best place to search award availability. BA.com is an easy-to-use search engine. Sign in to your BA account, then click Spending Avios under the Executive Club tab.

Along the left side of the next screen, click Book Flights with Avios.

I’ll do an example search of Adelaide, Australia to Kuala Lumpur–a new route open to your American and British miles.

The one thing I recommend is selecting the highest class of service you might want. If it’s not available, you will always be offered lower classes. But if you search economy, and it is not available, you will not be offered business.

In this case, I requested first class even though the airplane operating the route doesn’t have first class. As you can see the results are returned showing business class with a note explaining first class was not available.

On ba.com, direct British Airways flights are returned first–there are none on this route–followed by direct partner flights, followed by routes with layovers. In this case, since Qantas–the biggest Australian airline is a oneworld partner, there are routes with Qantas and Malaysian flights.

If you ever want to know more info about one segment–its duration or aircraft for instance–click the flight number.

Clicking the MH0138 of the direct flight shows the flight time as 7:30 and an A330 as the jet operating the flight. For more information on what business class in like on a Malaysia Airlines A330, I would google “Malaysia A330.”

Other Ways to Search

Interestingly Expert Flyer–a paid service I explained how to use here–shows Malaysia Airlines economy award space and business and first class upgrade space.

See the letters in parentheses, A, I, and S? Those are the fare codes for first class upgrades, business class upgrades, and economy awards according to Expert Flyer. According to an American phone agent, the fare codes we want for award space are:

  • P = First Class Award Space
  • U = Business Class Award Space
  • X = Economy Class Award Space

That means Expert Flyer search results should not match up with ba.com or what an American Airlines agent can book.

My searches indicate that economy class space does not line up. Expert Flyer usually shows nine award seats in economy, while ba.com usually shows fewer.

Business upgrade space and business award space do not match up for every airline, but on all the searches I performed, business upgrade space displayed on Expert Flyer and business award space displayed on ba.com matched up perfectly.

Calling in to American, I could book the same business class space too, so Expert Flyer is an option to search Malaysia Airlines business space if you prefer its functionality to ba.com and you understand that its results might not always be accurate.

First Class Upgrade space on Expert Flyer didn’t match up with anywhere else. And I couldn’t find any First Class space on ba.com or with an AA agent. First Class might be off limits to American Airlines and British Airways miles at the moment.

How’s the Space on Key Routes

To me the most important routes for my likely needs are:

Los Angeles <-> Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur <-> London

Kuala Lumpur <-> Paris

intra-Malaysia

All of these routes had phenomenal space. I saw business and economy space on almost every longhaul route I checked–usually 4+ seats.

And intra-Malaysia had at least two economy class seats on every flight I checked.

At least for now, Malaysia Airlines space is wide open. That may change as miles-collectors take notice of that and American Airlines agents learn to route customers on Malaysia. Consider beating the rush.

Relevant American Routing Rules

If you haven’t read the Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards yet, now is the time. I’ll highlight a few relevant rules.

Stopover Rule

Since stopovers on American Airlines international awards must occur at the North American international gateway city, if you are flying between your home airport and Kuala Lumpur, you have only one stopover option–Los Angeles. In either or both directions, you can stop in Los Angeles since it is the gateway city both directions. (If you live in Los Angeles, you can get a free oneway both directions.)

That means you can’t get a free stopover in Tokyo en route to Kuala Lumpur, and you can’t get a free stopover in Kuala Lumpur on your way somewhere else. If you want multiple stops in Asia, look into Avios awards, United awards, or cash tickets on Asian low-cost carriers.

Published Fare Rule

If you fly Malaysian from the US to Asia, Malaysian must have a published fare from the starting airport of your journey to the final airport. I do not know on which routes Malaysian publishes fares. You can search on Expert Flyer–How to Use expertflyer.com–or ask an American Airlines agent.

Transiting a Third Region

American Airlines makes you fly directly between your starting and finishing region. If you don’t do that, you are charged for two awards instead of one. There are a few exceptions. One relevant exception is that you can fly from the US to Malaysia (Asia 2) via North Asia (Asia 1) on one award.

One relevant problem is that you cannot fly from the US to Asia via Europe. Nor can you fly from the US to India via Asia.

Relevant BA Surcharges

British Airways adds huge surcharges to its longhaul award redemptions. If you have enough Avios in your account to make a booking, you can click the little “i” in your booking price window to see the size of the surcharge. On an economy flight intra-Malaysia, there is no surcharge.

But on a business class roundtrip between the US and Malaysia, there would be $750+ out of pocket in addition to 200k+ Avios.

The standard Avios advice applies: use Avios for short, direct awards. Don’t use it for long awards with stops, especially not in first class.

How to Book

Avios Awards

You’ve found the space online, and you can easily book online. If you have trouble, call 800-AIRWAYS to book.

AAdvantage Awards

To book an American award that involves travel on Malaysia Airlines, call AA at 800-882-8880. The agent I spoke to was already competent in booking Malaysia Airlines. If you have trouble, tell the agent the Malaysia fare codes listed above. If you still have trouble, hang up and call back.

You can always put your AA award on hold for five days. You will be charged $25 per person for ticketing over the phone, and there is no way around it.

Recap

Malaysia Airlines joined oneworld on Thursday meaning we now have more options with our American Airlines and British Airways miles to, from, and through Southeast Asia.

The good news is that award space is incredible in economy and business class on Malaysia Airlines, first class looks fantastic, and the awards are easily searchable on ba.com.

The bad news is that the business class bed in angled, first class award space is not available, AA’s routing rules make certain Malaysia redemptions tough, and BA will gouge you on longhaul Malaysia flights.

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