Flight test: Malaysia Airlines economy class

Route Kuala Lumpur to Sydney.

Aircraft Boeing 747-400. (Note: Malaysia Airlines no longer flies 747s on this route and has replaced the jumbo jets with Airbus A330-300s.)

Seat configuration 3-4-3.

Class Economy, seat 44D.

Flight time 7 hours, 55 minutes. The plane departs on time, and we are on the runway in Sydney 20 minutes early.

Seat width and pitch 17 inches wide, 34-inch pitch.

Luggage One carry-on up to seven kilograms. Checked baggage up to 20 kilograms in economy.

Comfort Challenging for an overnight flight, unless you're lucky enough to nab a middle row of the multi-coloured seats to yourself. This Monday-night flight is far from full and, towards the back of the plane, many people get to stretch out for the night across four seats — who needs business class? My envy is redoubled when I can only get my seat to go back a smidge. No bottles of water are handed out for overnight refreshment and when, keen for earplugs, a sleeping mask and socks, I pop to the galley to ask flight attendants for an amenities pack, I am told they don't have them.

Entertainment On-demand and comprehensive with an excellent movie menu, including 15 recent releases and 45 "favourites"; the TV selections take up 10 pages in the 48-page entertainment guide, its size an indication of the breadth of what's on offer. Headphones are taken away too soon, 30 minutes before landing.


Service Fast and smile-free, which may be explained by the time of night — the plane departs at 10.50pm, and less than 30 minutes later we have been served juice and peanuts. Beer is pre-poured and offered from trays soon after.

The rest of the service is similarly swift. The crew are also amenable to passengers moving into less-populated rows before take-off — instead of being in a full middle row, I move to the aisle seat in a row of three, with a spare seat in the middle.

Food and beverages Supper is a choice between beef soya sauce and steamed rice or chicken with mashed potato and pepper gravy; simple dishes, and the chicken is moist, washed down with French wine, either a Jean Sablenay chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon. There is waldorf salad and cheese and biscuits on the side, and strawberry mousse and chocolate for dessert. Breakfast reminds of a Qantas domestic flight: no trays, definitely no fuss, just a packaged chicken or mushroom pie handed out by the attendants.

Frequency Two flights a day from and to Sydney.

Tested by Sarah Maguire, who flew courtesy of Malaysia Airlines.