Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
The time had come to make the journey home from my second Asia visit of 2013 and my third adventure outside of Europe of 2013, following on from the previous three parts of this trip:
Asia 1: A Journey Of Epic Proportions LHR-KUL-HKG
Asia 2: Catching a Cathay Pacific 747 to Tokyo in First Class
Asia 3: JAL 767 to Kuala Lumpur NRT-KUL
After leaving the hotel, it was over to KL Sentral to catch the KLIA express train – taking just 25 minutes or so.
Check in Area at KL Sentral.
On the train to KUL.
As the train arrives in the basement of the airport it was up just a few flights of stairs to the MH premium check in. The premium check in area was packed – I was amazed at how busy it was.
Luckily I spotted a check in area that was reserved for frequent flyers with just a couple of people in it and headed over there instead.
I asked the check in agent if the flight was busy – she said it was completely full. Seems as though MH is putting their A380’s to good use – all three flights I have taken on this trip have been full. As I’d explored KUL enough now, I headed straight through security and over to the satellite where my flight would be departing from.
Rather than use the MH golden lounge that was featured in part 1 of this series, I decided to check out the CX lounge instead.
There was a bit of confusion as to weather I should be let in or not, however upon checking with another agent, my FFP details were taken down and I was granted entry. The lounge wasn’t the biggest and there were quite a few people here – so not too many pics.
Hmmm, no thanks.
The views were pretty good. Not that there was much going on outside.
After around thirty minutes I headed down to the gate, only to stand in a queue for another thirty minutes or so.
Once inside the holding pen, I made my way over to the window to find 9M-MNE waiting – the same aircraft that brought me to Malaysia just over a week ago.
Glad I caught this one.
Boarding was called for people with children etc. and frequent flyers – I made my way forward and was told no, much like in LHR. I pointed out that he just called for sapphire members to board, and was then told to go ahead – seems as though MH still aren’t used to being in an alliance.
Airbus A380 / 9M-MNE
Seat: 44K / Economy
Off Stand: 10:20
On Stand: 16:46
I was the first on board, shortly followed by the guy in the aisle of my row.
I said that I hoped the middle seat remained free, however he said there was no chance as this flight was always rammed. And as promised, my second seat mate showed up a while later – taking up both armrests, sitting with his legs in the ten to two position and falling asleep pretty much straight away. Why do I always end up next to sleepers?!
Inner engine detail
And of course, the legroom.
The captain welcomed everybody on board and announced a flying time of 12 hours 55 minutes.
We pushed back a little late and made a slow taxi out to the active.
I counted six aircraft ahead of us – three MH 737’s and three Air Asia jets. We also managed to push in in front of a couple – I guess KUL does get busy from time to time.
We made a pretty long roll before making a slow climb out – due to the fact the landing gear staying extended for a good while after departure (I could tell as I didn’t hear the familiar Airbus ping for a good two to three minutes after takeoff).
One of many rivers in the area
The guy in the middle seat remained dead to the world throughout – and he was now working his way even further into my space. I tried asking him to move a bit, but no response. So a gentle nudge was in order and he then moved over to irritate the guy in the aisle instead. After departure he wanted him to shift over a bit, but again, no response. Urgh.
The drinks service started not long after departure.
Guess the Malaysian cleaners aren’t much cop.
Lunch was served around forty five minutes after departure. The choices were chicken or beef. I went with the chicken and to be honest, it wasn’t that great – the meat was a bit on the tough side.
The crew followed up with magnum ice creams, which in true airline style were rock hard, despite leaving it a good few minutes to thaw. I was also joined by an elbow in the side from my neighbor. I tried to ask him quite firmly to move, but he didn’t stir. So I had no option but to give him a bit shove out of the way. Yet he still didn’t wake up. What was he on?! He then turned over and quite literally rested his head on the guy in the aisle seats shoulder – lets just say it didn’t go down awfully well. Yet he still continued to snore his head off.
The deep A380 windows make for awkward photography.
Following lunch, I put a movie on – The Internship was my first choice, along wish a treat that I had saved from the meal service.
During which the inflight sales were started. I picked up a souvenir…
Once Mr sleepy had finally woken up – and removed his elbow from my rib cage – I took the opportunity to go for a walk.
I noticed that my window blind was the only one in the cabin that wasn’t lowered. But as nobody had actually been told by the crew to lower them, I didn’t really care.
I then put Iron Man 3 on, and true to form, I ended up asleep. When I did wake up, it turns out it was just at the right moment, as we were passing the infinite brown of Afghanistan.
Shortly after, an announcement was made over the PA – ‘ladies and gentlemen is there a doctor on board?’ Being seated next to the forward galley, there seemed quite a bit of activity around, before one of the passengers went forward into first class. A few minutes later the passenger came forward an re took their seat, and the crew resumed their service, dishing out the SkySnax boxes, so it would seem it wasn’t anything overly serious.
Once more Mr Sleepy decided to get a little familiar – in fact there was only about 20 minutes during the whole flight he wasn’t snoring his head off.
Yes, that was his foot underneath MY seat.
Standard IFE remote these days.
Around 2.5 hours prior to arrival, the second meal was dished up. There was a choice of fish and potatoes to chicken and noodles. I went for the chicken. Along with it there was a chicken and apple salad – odd, and a very moist chocolate cake.
The advantage of asking for something a little unusual is you get the whole can.
Edging closer to home.
Passing a German city – Cant remember which one though.
Finally, after an uncomfortable 12+ Hours, the engines spooled back, just as we passed Amsterdam.
The captain said we were cruising at 38,000ft and that we were due to land at 16:35. Then it was the usual thank you’s.
During descent, the crew came around and sprayed the cabin with aerosol – the only flight I’ve been on where they have done this previously was on one to BGI – but I’d never experienced it on arrival into the UK before.
First sights of mainland UK.
As expected there was a bit of a hold before heading off to the West – so that meant we would be arriving on the 09’s.
During descent, the tail camera fired into life again.
A pretty long spin around to the left confirmed that we would be landing to the East.
As we progressed down the glide slope, it became apparent that we would be making a rare arrival on to 09R.
Overflying the Long Walk.
We touched down at 16:40 and exited to the right in the direction of terminal 4, pulling on to the stand a few moments later.
As I was sat right at the front it was only a couple of minutes before I could disembark.
At rest after a long day at work
I made my way through arrivals and upon arrival at passport control it was actually pretty busy. However most people had passports from outside the EU and even less had E-passports so I was actually though in just a minute or two. On the way, I noticed Mr Sleepy desperately trying to fill out an arrivals form… If only he had been awake when they gave them put onboard…
As usual I could bypass baggage reclaim. The arrivals hall was packed. It wasn’t helped by people stopping in the exit channel to say hello and people behind failing to see the hold up… Resulting in me being rammed by trolleys a couple of times. Once out of the madness, I made my way down to the Heathrow express for the transfer over to Heathrow which took just a couple of minutes.
Is there ever anybody on this train?!
Once there it was upstairs to the bus station, via the tube station to pick up an Oyster card.
Luckily there was a coach due to depart just five minutes later so hardly any waiting time – in fact from landing, through T4, over to the central bus station and on to the coach was only 45 minutes so pretty good I though.
I arrived back into town around 45 minutes later.
And that brings an end to this series.
What did I think? Well I was left a little underwhelmed by Malaysia Airlines. After seeing all the 5 Star airline badges proudly displayed on their website I was expecting a lot, but was left a little disappointed. I didn’t find their A380 any more comfortable than any other airliner really. Having said that, I have booked another couple of flights with them down to Australia so they didn’t dent me too much.
Cathay Pacific First Class was great. From the lounges, to the onboard experience to the crew. Their 747-400, despite being in the final months of its career with CX was spotless and didn’t look anywhere near its 20+ years old. I’m glad I have another flight with them in First Class booked for April.
Japan Airlines was a big surprise to me. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much from them but the staff, service and hardware were faultless. The only minor complaint was the lack of selection with the IFE, but that was a really minor point.