Airline review: Malaysia Airlines business class

Our rating

4 out of 5

THE PLANE

Airbus A330-300

THE ROUTE

Sydney to Kuala Lumpur

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

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CLASS

Business, seat 4H

DURATION

Eight hours, 50 minutes.

FREQUENCY

Twice daily. A business class return airfare between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur starts from $3953 including taxes, fees and carrier charges.

THE SEAT

Business class is designed on a 2-2-2 layout and I have an aisle seat, with an empty seat next to me. The seat pitch is 60 inches (152 centimetres) and length of 75 inches (191cms).

BAGGAGE

Checked baggage allowance: 40 kilograms maximum two pieces, plus seven kilos hand luggage .

COMFORT

There's plenty of leg room, the seats are wide and include push-button seat adjusters. My favourite is the one that says, simply, "zzz". That is, until I try to use it; unlike some other business class seats these don't lie completely flat – and that slight angle means you spend an annoying amount of time slipping down the bed and having to re-adjust. Oddly, each seat also boasts an attached stubby holder down by your feet. The excellent Porsche-designed goodie bag includes hairbrush, eyeshade, socks, hand sanitiser, mouthwash, toothbrush, moisturiser and lip balm.

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ENTERTAINMENT

There are plenty of hours of entertainment for the shortish hop to KL but the choice of latest films and TV series is a little anaemic compared to some airlines. The headphones are high quality and very comfortable – it's certainly nice to be able to hear the dialogue without jamming the things in your ears.

SERVICE

Can't be faulted. The flight attendants are smart, friendly and attentive without being over solicitous.

FOOD

Hit and miss. The early start (7.25am) might suggest a breakfast menu after take-off but we get brunch. After starters of berry yoghurt, croissant and fruit, the choices are nasi lemak (a traditional Malaysian dish of coconut rice and prawn sambal), stir-fried chicken thigh or pan-fried barramundi with roasted chat potatoes, asparagus and salsa verde. The barramundi is beyond excellent but it seems incongruous to be eating it so early in the morning –  it doesn't help that I made a pig of myself in the business class lounge earlier. The yoghurt and croissants are tasty but the fruit salad is perfunctory and includes a slice of pineapple and a single grape – both looking slightly tired. Later refreshments include the airline's "award-winning signature dish" of chicken and beef satay skewers, and a choice of two small pies (tandoori chicken and a vegetarian option of roasted red peppers and goat cheese) with salad. All of these are top notch. FYI almost 20,000 satay skewers are served on Malaysia Airlines flights daily.

THE VERDICT

A pleasurable experience and pretty comfortable if you're going to use the eight or so hours to get some work done but, if you want to catch some serious shut-eye, the angled bed might be a deal breaker. The Oneworld business class lounge access in Sydney and the Golden Lounge Satellite Lounge in KL are both outstanding.

Reviewed by Keith Austin, who flew courtesy of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

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