Airline review: Malaysia Airlines, business class, Sydney to Kuala Lumpur

THE PLANE

Airbus A330-300.

THE ROUTE

Sydney to Kuala Lumpur.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Enrich (One World).

CLASS

Business, window seat 1K.

DURATION

8 hours, 40 minutes.

FREQUENCY

Twice daily.

THE SEAT

The business seats have 44 inches (112cm) pitch extending to 76 inches (193cm) for the flatbed, with a rather narrow 20 inches (51cm) width. It's a 2-2-2 layout for 27 seats.

BAGGAGE

Two checked pieces up to 40kg in combined weight, and two carry-on bags up to 14kg in combined weight. Suitcases should not exceed 158cm.

COMFORT

This is an old aircraft, and a bit grubby. I can set the seat to various patterns such as sleep, dine and landing with the touch of a button, but in-between customisation proves difficult. I can feel metal bars between the seat sections when extended, and it doesn't approach flat, but there's ample room for my long legs to stretch fully. The pillow and blanket are great, though the cabin is overly warm.

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ENTERTAINMENT

There's nothing like a good entertainment system to pass the time on a long-haul flight, though I scarcely avail myself of it on the overnight hop to Kuala Lumpur. On my return to Sydney during the day, however, it gets put to good use. The system is cumbersome to browse through, but there's no faulting the choices, with a wide range of movies in various languages, TV shows and music albums.

SERVICE

Surprisingly, there's no champagne on offer before take off, only soft drinks. Dinner service is perfunctory but, given that most passengers are keen to sleep, that's probably wise. My entertainment screen freezes about an hour into the flight and flight attendants show no interest in trying to fix it, but luckily on a night flight I'm soon asleep. There's little attempt to tidy the cabin prior to landing; it's almost as if the crew has been caught by surprise.

THE FOOD

This is a night flight, and sensibly there's only dinner; most passengers sleep until just before landing. (Passengers can, however, order from a ''Dine Anytime'' menu which includes egg noodles, lamb pie and smoked chicken bagel.) A starter of beef and chicken satay is a nice Malaysian touch, but I find the prawn appetiser uninteresting. The goat's cheese ravioli main is tasty and the opera cake a rich and very satisfying finish. A nifty ''Chef on Call'' option allows you to choose from 20 other dishes if you order online up to 24 hours before departure.

ONE MORE THING

The flight arrives at 3:20am local time when the airport is surprisingly quiet, making it easy to navigate. The business-class lounge is a spacious and tranquil retreat as I wait for my connecting flight to Yangon.

THE VERDICT

The flight passes quickly, which is surely what anyone wants when in the air. Neither seat nor service are top notch, but fares are competitive.

Tested by Brian Johnston who flew as a guest of Malaysia Airlines and Tourism Malaysia.

 See also: On board the 'new' airline to South America

See also: Singapore Airlines new Aussie route

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