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

THE ROUTE

Malaysia Airlines, Kuala Lumpur to Sydney.

THE PLANE

Airbus 330-300.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

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CLASS

Economy, seat 30D.

DURATION

Seven hours 45 minutes. A fuel transfer issue arises once we've boarded and so we sit on the tarmac for one hour and 45 minutes, finally taking off at 1.30am. Unfortunately none of the time is made up in the air, and so I must attend a scheduled meeting straight off the plane, wearing yesterday's clothes and with bags and baggage in tow.

THE FREQUENCY

Three times a day.

THE SEAT

With a 32-inch seat pitch, this is one of the roomiest economy class cabins. The aircraft has 247 economy seats in a 2-4-2 and 2-3-2 configuration.

BAGGAGE

30kg.

COMFORT

The space between seats comes as a pleasant surprise in this era of overstuffed planes, and the roominess is enhanced by a partially-full cabin. I'm sitting in the middle row and have scored three extra seats, so after dinner I stretch out for a reasonably comfortable sleep.

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ENTERTAINMENT

The entertainment system is comprehensive, offering new releases along with old favourites, foreign films and productions in languages such as Malay, Chinese, Hindi and Arabic. I stick to reading.

SERVICE

The delay causes at least one temper to flare, but flight attendant Nik Azlina quickly defuses the tension with a smile and some soothing words. Peanuts, water and soft drinks are handed out while we wait for departure and the impressively swift and efficient service continues after take-off.

FOOD

Dinner is served at 2am and though this is no time to be eating I select the chicken curry over the lamb hotpot, the first meal I've had since yesterday's lunch. It's a little dry but serves its purpose, and goes down with a glass of St Hallett Barossa Poachers white wine. Breakfast of a salmon croissant (the other option is chicken) is served at the more humane hour of 9.45am, but turbulence prevents attendants from serving that most important of breakfast beverages: coffee.

ONE MORE THING

An Islamic "journey prayer" appears on the screen at the end of the safety briefing – a comforting touch even for non-religious passengers, given the spate of recent crashes.

VERDICT

While the service can't be faulted, small details – plastic wine glasses instead of glass, the absence of salt-and-pepper sachets in the cutlery pack – do jar. Overall, though, it's a comfortable flight and one that offers very good value for money.

Tested by Catherine Marshall, who was a guest of Malaysia Airlines.

See also: Austrian Airlines business class  
See also: Singapore Airlines premium economy

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