Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
Continuing on from the previous two parts of my journey:
This report will feature my flights from Singapore, up to Kuala Lumpur for the evening before heading down to Melbourne with Malaysia Airlines. The reasoning behind me going via KUL was mainly because MH is part of One World, but also cost. I didn’t fancy taking three flights of over 6 hours in a row, so an overnight stop was a must. The airport hotel at SIN was £170 a night – way too much. Add into the fact the cheapest direct SIN-MEL was around the £400 mark and that’s a grand total of £570. Malaysia Airlines on the other hand were asking £200 for the SIN-KUL-MEL sectors on a fully flexible ticket (just in case of any delays) and the Sama-Sama hotel at KUL was asking for £90 for the night. So basically half the price of going direct, plus I’d get an extra flight thrown in. There were plenty of flights linking SIN and KUL.
And three linking KUL to MEL:
I selected a four hour layover in SIN and then the mid morning flight out to Melbourne:
Unlike my previous flights with MH, I was able to select my seats online at the time of booking. I suspect it was more to do with the fact I was on a flexible ticket rather than the system recognizing my One World status though. Once I had selected my seats, I was unable to change until check in.
I checked in using the MH app and the Wi-Fi in the lounge at DOH. The seat map showed the aisle seat was taken and the middle seat free. It would remain this way.
So picking up pretty much where I left off then in T3. I’d just arrived at Singapore from Barcelona via Doha, and was on my way over to Singapore T2.
I headed over to the MH priority line to dump my bag and grab a boarding pass.
The friendly agent advised that I’d have to check my bag all the way through to MEL if I wanted both my boarding passes, however as I’d be stopping the night in KUL, this wouldn’t really work – so I just grabbed my SIN-KUL boarding pass instead. After this, I took a few steps outside to grab a few breaths of fresh air before heading up to the viewing terrace. After a quick glimpse, I figured there would be better views to be had airside.
I passed through passport control, I was stamped out of Singapore barely an hour after arriving and grabbed a couple of pics from that side instead.
After this I made my way up to the MH Golden lounge.
It wasn’t too big but had a decent enough selection of food so that I didn’t have to worry too much about grabbing a bite to eat elsewhere.
Once I had finished eating, I made my way through to the business centre to print off some boarding passes so I could keep the one I had as a souvenir.
Around half an hour before the gate was due to open, I made my way downstairs.
The gate opened on time and I made my way through security. There was a bit of confusion as to why I’d only checked my bag through to KUL but once I’d explained my reasons they seemed happy enough. Just as I got into the holding pen 9M-MSH was pulling on to stand. Complete with the A380 style Malaysia Airlines logo. This one was just six months old at the time – in fact it was delivered to MH on the day I last flew into KUL.
Like much of SIN, there were good views from the holding pen too.
Boarding started, initially for business and status members. For once, it was all rather orderly and I made my way forward.
Boeing 737-800 / 9M-MSH
Seat: 20F / Economy
Off Stand: 19:18
On Stand: 20:17
Despite a pretty full load, the middle seat remained empty. The cabin was pretty decent actually with full sized leather seats, complete with IFE.
The IFE looked similar to what’s on board the airlines A380’s. The seats looked similar too, so good consistency there.
We pushed back a minute or two behind schedule and made a long but fast taxi over to the active.
The captain announced a flying time of just 41 minutes.
The mood lighting was set for take off.
We then made a bolt for the humid night sky.
As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, the cabin lights were switched back on and the crew sprang into action, distributing peanuts and juice.
My entertainment came in the form of watching a developing thunderstorm, before the captain announced that we had just left our cruising altitude of 22,000ft. Barely 20 mins after departure. It was a bit of a bumpy approach into KUL before landing as promised at 20:10.
It was then the 10 minute or so journey over to the main terminal.
Interestingly, I saw a Malaysia Airlines 747-400 still looking reasonably in tact parked up on a remote stand. I was of the impression they had long gone – or at least had their titles removed?
It was then the walk down to arrivals to be stamped into the country for the night. On the way to baggage claim, I stopped off at the hotels reception desk to check in.
By the time I had reached the baggage carousel, my bag was one of the last going around (again).
It was then downstairs to the golf cart for the hotel.
As it turned out, I was given a room on the executive floor. Although the room was identical to the one I’d had previously.
I visited the lounge, but it was all but shut. I was still invited to take a seat though and was offered a drink. Strange how they charge for drinks in the room, yet just a few steps away they give them away.
After waking up earlier than anticipated the following morning, I made the journey back to the airport. But not before watching a great sunrise from my room.
As there was a bit of a queue for the shuttles, I took the ten minute or so walk instead.
As it turned out, the two guys ahead of me in the queue arrived at the same time as I did so I didn’t lose anything by walking. The MH premium check in was nowhere near as busy as it was on my last visit, and my bag was sent on it way within a couple of minutes.
I then took a walk up to the viewing deck to try and get a pic of the MH 744 I saw last night, however it was full of people in red polo shirts (I think they were something to do with security?), all of which were very friendly, but I did feel like I had gate crashed their party somewhat. I stayed for around twenty seconds before making my way back down to departures. Also of note was the memorial/shrine to the missing MH370 in this area. Immigration and security was packed, the whole process taking around 45 minutes to complete. Once through, it was on to the shuttle to the satellite and up to the MH lounge.
The MH 744 model had been replaced with something more up to date.
I had seen it had been refurbished since I was last here, however it was a subtle refurbishment. In fact, if I hadn’t known, the chances are I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
The F&B options were the same as before.
As was the view.
Once boarding was near, I made my way downstairs to take a walk in the jungle, however, it was shut. So I made my way down to the gate instead.
After the second security check of the day there was a bit of a hold in the pen before boarding began. It was a bit of a free for all, despite the ground agents attempting to keep things civilised.
Airbus A330-300 / 9M-MTF
Seat: 36A / Economy
Off Stand: 10:37
On Stand: 20:52
First impressions of the A330 were that the seats looked identical to those on their A380, but a bit narrower. For those of you that remember reading about my flight from KUL- LHR last year, I found the A380 seat wasn’t wide enough…
The captain announced over the PA that the flying time would be 7 hours and 18 minutes.
Finally captured the 747!
We pushed back and taxied over to the active.
The MH A380 headed for London departed just ahead of us, meaning there was quite a wait on the runway for departure. We were finally up in the air around 30 minutes behind schedule.
After take off, I thought I spotted a spare pair of seats a few rows back. I got up to move but it turns out there was somebody asleep across them. I got back and mentioned this to my seat mate, hoping this would spur him into moving to the empty seat across the aisle but it wasn’t to be… A few moments later a juice run was completed.
The crew mentioned that lunch would be served around thirty minutes into the flight and a snack would be served a little later. Around 30 minutes after departure, the flight crew mentioned that we were due to have pretty bad weather enroute so he would be leaving the seatbelt sign on. Lunch was served as promised, and it was a choice of chicken and rice or fish and potatoes – I suspect the same meal that was dished up on my LHR-KUL flight.
Beige in colour, beige in taste…
As soon as I pulled my phone out to take the picture, my increasingly friendly seatmate said ‘ahh, good idea’ and copied what I did. Well, power in numbers I guess.
Once lunch had finished, I settled down with Shaun of the Dead. A film I’d seen many times but not for a few years.
For the first time in a long time, I had a seatmate who didn’t sleep at all during the flight – meaning I was able to get up and explore freely. If anything he seemed a little hyperactive, constantly taking to everybody around him and slightly panicking about his visa.
Premium (ish) products in the washroom.
I happened to glance out of the window, and noticed that Australia was edging its way towards us.
Catching up with Family Guy later in the flight
After reading PalmJets Aussie Transcon report, I was hoping I would be treated to some similar scenery on my flight. I wasn’t disappointed.
It went well with a good soundtrack.
With just over ninety minutes until landing, the cabin lights came back on and the crew distributed chicken in pastry wraps.
As this was going on, the shadows outside were getting ever longer.
Descent started but due to the darkness there wasn’t much to be seen. The captain updated us on our progress, and said that due to some low cloud we would have to hold for thirty minutes… What?! Even Heathrow doesn’t shut down for low cloud?
After around 45 minutes of holding, we were finally ushered on to finals.
It was a typical winters LHR approach. Nothing to be seen but a light show outside, pretty much until touchdown.
We arrived on to stand and there was the usual stampede towards the exit.
I bid farewell to my seatmate and made my way through the absolute tip of a cabin. I felt sorry for the cleaners. It wasn’t just this row either; pretty much the whole plane was in this state. And why take everything out of the seat pocket too?
The business cabin was slightly better. I had wondered after how much it would have cost to fly this sector in J. As it turned out, this was the only sector on this trip over about 2 hours in length that I didn’t fly in business.
I made my way into the terminal and down to immigration.
The hordes of Indians on the flight meant immigration was a nightmare. None of them had filled out their immigration cards and they barely spoke any English. One even tried to ask one of the crew members from the flight to fill it out for them, but she said it wasn’t allowed and went on her way. Then it was my turn. Due to a slight issue with my visa, I had to be sent off to see somebody else. He said the issue with my visa was sorted after only a minute or so but there was an issue with my passport. After going over it with a very fine tooth comb and a couple of machines, he disappeared off with it, leaving me sat in limbo for a good ten minutes, with a couple of other guys from the flight. Thankfully, everything was sorted – he said he didn’t quite get the right angle on the machine, and it was only when somebody else did it, was it finally accepted. He gave me a stamp, apologised for the hold up and wished me a good trip.
Unsurprisingly, my bag was one of the last on the carousel. It was then through customs – once more, the hordes of Indians were holding the process up, each one with a huge trolley of cases boxes bags etc. with one of the customs officers saying quite sternly to one of them that he didn’t speak Hindi. I was one of the few that was sent through the all clear lane, and it was off to find a bus to the city.
I arrived at the station at around 10pm, and made my way into the first place I could see to grab something to eat
Like most things in Oz, it was strangely familiar but still different.
Once I had finished, I made my way across the road to my hotel, the Best Western Atlantis.
I woke up the following morning, and upon looking out of the window I was less than impressed with the weather.
Despite this, I ventured out to see the city.
Probably the most interesting part for me in Melbourne, was Albert Park where they were packing up from the Australian Grand Prix that had taken place a few weeks earlier. Better still the weather had picked up just a bit.
Apart from the GP track, it was also quite a nice walk around the lake.
Waiting at a pretty abandoned station for the tram
Seeing what was around in St. Kilda. I must admit, it reminded me of a run down beach town in the UK, but the miserable weather probably played a big part in that.
Bournemouth or Melbourne?
I eventually got fed up with sitting on a cold wet and windy beach and made my way back to the hotel for a brief nap. Later on, I took a look at the city centre of Melbourne.
Followed by a walk along the South Bank. As there was a football match on in town, there was a pretty good atmosphere around.
What did I think of Malaysia Airlines on this occasion then? Well, much like my last encounter with them, I thought they were OK, although I’m still struggling to see how they got their 5 star status. Don’t get me wrong, they’re far from an awful airline, and I’d fly them again but they just don’t seem to have that little bit extra that makes them a great airline. They got the job done though and the pair of newer jets were comfortable enough – and for a very reasonable price too.
I’ll leave this part here. Look out for my next report, which will feature a pair of Australian domestic flights up to Brisbane with Virgin Australia.