Spring Break 2013: Malaysia Airlines A380 First Class from Paris to Kuala Lumpur

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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!

 

 

 


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12 COMMENTS

  1. Great post and excellent photos I’m told.

    Regardless of what Malaysia says re a Priority Pass lounge I intend to use the OneWorld access rights and use the first class lounge of the OneWorld partners in CDG. Maybe that is what the sign meant by partnering? They haven’t been in OneWorld that long so maybe the desk staff don’t fully know the OneWorld access rights.

    Dale.

    • Hi Dale, I think the issue is that all other OneWorld carriers are colocated at Terminal 2. MH is all alone at Terminal 1.

  2. I just flew MH21 a few days ago and nothing much has changed. There is still no priority access for premium MH passengers. I kindly asked about it to the head MH agent (forgot her name but she looked to be Malaysian of Indian descent). She said she had put in a request to KL but has never heard back from them. I didn’t mention to her that it’s been like this for over a year but whatever.
    Most people who fly premium cabins are used to priority access at immigration and security. Just like you, it took me a long time to get past immigration (40 mins total) and another 20 mins to get past security. It’s important to note that the lounge is not that close to the gate and security is right before the gate, along with a few UA/star alliance flights.
    Similar to you, I like to chat with crew members but my crew this time wasn’t the chatty kind. The purser didn’t introduce himself to me and overall I thought I got ok service. From checking expertflyer the day before, I saw only 3 First class passengers. Well, on my flight it was a full cabin! Once I saw this, I did talk to the FA and kindly ask her to get my menu choices so I would hopefully get all my first choices (i did!) There was a family there too with 2 toddlers who each got their own suite! Lucky kids! I think they were friends with the pilot or MH management since the father and other op-ups were talking to the pilot.
    This cost me 70k AAdvantage miles so the Avios glitch is gone. I’d fly MH again but definitely ex-KUL. I tried to book the Book the Chef option but I had issues since plane was flying ex-CDG. Apparently most of the book the chef options in first class are only possible ex-LHR and ex-KUL.
    I’ve flown SQ ex-CDG before and the SQ experience is definitely better than MH’s. For one thing, SQ gives its premium passengers and star gold members access to the priority lanes at both immigration/security.
    Great review BMG! Thank you for sharing.

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