Flight Review – Malaysia Airlines MH4: Kuala Lumpur to London Heathrow Terminal 4 by Airbus A350-900

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Coming in from my MH602 flight from Singapore, it’s finally time for the highlight flight of this journey – Malaysia Airlines MH4 from Kuala Lumpur to London Heathrow by Malaysia Airlines’ flagship Airbus A350-900, an aircraft which I had wanted to try since before its delivery but didn’t make it for their short-haul trials because of schedule issues that didn’t match or fares that didn’t make sense. I snagged a pretty good deal for London anyway, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to try both the flagship aircraft and flagship route of MH.

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Finally found my flight details, which is the same as my boarding pass.

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Parking at Gate C12 also allows me an almost unobstructed view of the aircraft from one of the escalator lobbies. 9M-MAG in Malaysia Negaraku Livery will be taking me to London, the newest of the 6 A350 that Malaysia Airlines has.

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After walking around the Satellite Terminal for a bit to stretch my legs before the 14-hour flight, I headed to my gate early since there wasn’t much to do.

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And luckily I did, thanks to KLIA usual inefficiencies. Both Gates C12 and C14 shared the 2 security screening channels, with C12 for my A350 flight to London and C14 for a A333 flight to Melbourne.

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Needless to say, this reduced the capacity of the channel effectively to 1 for each flight, or a mix of Melbourne and London passengers to one x-ray machine.

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My onward boarding pass for my Malaysia Airlines MH4 flight from Kuala Lumpur to London Heathrow, retrieved from Singapore Changi Airport.

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Once through that disaster of a security queue, I was rewarded by my first up-close sight of Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350.

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Security was a bit tighter than usual first, with boarding pass checks immediately after security, and thereafter another passport check by aviation security personnel and a brief interview session of my purpose of visit to London.

(Though I would think that the secondary passport check and interview should come BEFORE my boarding pass was checked and torn as boarded, no?)

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The half-filled gate hold room as I completed my interview.

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9M-MAG as seen from the gate hold room of Gate C12.

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As I was seated towards the front of the Economy Class cabin, I was called to board last. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t have wanted to board first anyway even if given the chance as this was going to be a long flight.

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The curved sunglasses and wingtip of Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350.

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The last call was made about 15 minutes before departure time. I don’t think this plane is going to take off on time.

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As this is a MARS gate, Business Suites and Business passengers were called to board on the left side of the gate, while Economy passengers will be on the right.

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At the end of the pier, you can see that the left lane would lead to the front door to the premium cabins, while the rear door would lead nearer to the Economy Class cabin.

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Up close and personal with the Malaysia Negaraku Livery.

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Heading down the aerobridge to Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350..

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Boarding the Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350 for London.

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A sticker by the door shows that WiFi connectivity is available on this flight.

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Heading past the smaller Business Class cabin for Rows 9 to 11.

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Heading past the Economy Class with Extra Legroom cabin which features just 3 rows.

(I refuse to call it Premium Economy despite most MH staff calling it that, since it clearly isn’t a Premium Economy product – though I’ll let Economy Plus slide. MH’s own website calls it Economy Class with Extra Legroom anyway, which I agree on since there isn’t a service differentiation with Economy Class aside from the, well, extra legroom. So let’s stick with that.)

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The forward Economy Class cabin of Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350.

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My seat for the next 14 hours at Seat 19G, an aisle seat on the middle column. I was banking of hopefully having the middle seat empty or even the whole row, but alas, this was a very full flight.

A pillow and blanket was laid out on the seat already.

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The legroom on board Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350.

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Placing my bag in the overhead compartment allows me to reasonably stretch out. Not the best legroom, but it’s reasonably sufficient for the price I paid.

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A universal power socket is located below on the seat in front of me, making it very easy to access. However, since I have only my phone to keep charged, I just used the USB port on the IFE screen.

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The aircon vents, reading lights and electronic signs are reminiscent of other A350s I’ve been on.

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The view of the cabin from my seat, showing the proper bulkheads separating the Economy and Economy with Extra Legroom cabins on the window columns, and a shorter “sight-only” bulkhead on the middle column which separates the cabin by sight only and not by actual walls or curtains.

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The welcome screen on the IFE.

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Instead of an additional USB port which some airlines opt for, MH has a sticker for MHConnect Wi-Fi connectivity placed on the provision.

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Once everyone was seated, cabin crew hands out headsets for the flight.

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The headset was wrapped in film plastic, similar to my Yangon flight. I guess this is the constant MH standard for headsets. However, inside the headset package was a FREE SIM Card for usage in the UK. A very nice touch by MH to provide free data for passengers spending a short time in the UK.

(Though as I didn’t know about this free UK SIM, I had already gotten myself a UK and EU SIM card before I got on this flight.)

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The IFE menu is simple and clutter-free. All seat controls aside from the recline (obviously) are also on the screen, preventing any accidental presses of any buttons while at rest.

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The safety video was played shortly after the headsets were distributed.

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I was hoping for a special A350 video, but seems like MH just adapted the usual safety video for the A350.

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The safety video concludes with the Islamic Journey Prayer as usual.

The flight took off at 10.27am – 37 minutes delayed from schedule due to a delay in pushback due to “congestion in KL airspace” as advised by the Captain.

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The flight map interface of Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350.

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There is a wide selection of entertainment options, but most of it was quite dated with movies and TV shows which are more than 10 years old still loaded into the system.

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The rear view of the forward Economy Class cabin of Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350, seen when I was queuing for the toilet.

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The toilet on board is just like all other A350s I’ve taken. However, Malaysia Airlines does not provide any additional amenities here aside from paper cups.

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Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, a welcome drinks service was provided with a choice of orange juice, apple juice or water with a pack of peanuts.

 

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Once above 10,000 feet, it’s time for some MHConnect Wi-Fi.

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The MHConnect Wi-Fi plans available on board.

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As this was going to be a long flight, I opted to purchase the Business Plan which comes with 200MB of data for US$25, which seems to be the most economical option among all 3 plans. Plus, I can use the remaining data for my return flight, right?

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A short while after charging my credit card, I’m connected. The connection speeds felt like they were comparable to 3G speeds on the ground.

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After the welcome drinks service, breakfast was served.

Except that I got my food first before anyone else without a special diet. No, I’m not a Platinum Enrich member or something.

Malaysia Airlines’ Chef on Call service is catered to Business Suite and Business Class passengers, but one special route also allows this Chef on Call service to be extended to Economy Class passengers – the KL to London route. Not many passengers picked up this option though, or they didn’t know about it before.

(Chef on Call for Economy passengers is applicable to the first meal service only.)

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I ordered the Baked Eggs with Cheese since the Nasi Lemak I had to Yangon was rather crappy.

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I was glad that I made the perfect choice – this western option was almost filled to the brim in the meal box with a generous serving of eggs. The beef pastrami and sautéed potatoes with onion were also quite tasty despite the potatoes being understandably soggy, but still pretty good for an in-flight meal.

Also, as this Economy Class Chef on Call service is really just a priority meal service rather than a true Business Class service, my drink order had to wait till everyone had gotten their breakfast from the food cart and I could only order my drink from the beverage cart following that. No complaints about that though.

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Back to the MHConnect Wi-Fi.

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Despite using it for short intermittent times and signing out every time I wasn’t using the WiFi, the timer still counted down from 24 hours. Hmm, first of all, wasn’t this supposed to be a 30 days plan or something? Secondly, even if it gives me 24 hours out of 30 days, shouldn’t it pause while I am not signed in? Does the system expect me to take a flight to London and back within 24 hours?

I checked with a stewardess regarding this problem, but she wasn’t sure about it and went to check on it with presumably her superior.

She came back, kneeling as she spoke to me, addressing me by salutation and surname (!!!) (which she probably checked on my WiFi account or the passenger manifest), and informed that they didn’t know much about the issue too, but could give me an extra free SIM card to use in the UK if that would help.

I guess I’ll just use whatever I can use on this flight and test the bit of remainder on the return flight to see if it works.

That is some SQ-level service recovery right there. Unfortunately, I did not manage to get her name as the cabin was in “night mode” after breakfast.

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At the rear of the aircraft, a special feature is also available on Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350.

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A see-through curtain forms a partition by the rear starboard exit door as a Surau for Muslim passengers. This would comfortable fit 1 person, though 2 small-sized people might be able to fit subject to your personal comfort.

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For obvious reasons, usage of the Surau is not permitted during taxi, takeoff, turbulence and landing. This is tagged as a “prayer area” on the curtain rail.

A cabin crew also mentioned to me that prayer mats are also available upon request.

Note: The curtains were drawn only after I asked a crew member about it. On a normal walk to the toilet, the rear door would look like a normal door. The curtains are only drawn when a passenger wishes to use the Surau.

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Above Dubai at around the middle point of the flight, a snack service was provided consisting of a Chicken Mayo Croissant, a small piece of Beryl’s 54% Dark Chocolate and a cup of water.

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The drinks trolley followed behind the snack trolley soon after.

When ordering an a la carte coffee later on halfway through a movie, the same stewardess which helped me address my WiFi issue took my coffee order and addressed me as Mr. XXX (whereby XXX is my surname) again during the order and serving the coffee. Honestly, I’m extremely impressed that she remembered my name even after about 8 hours later from the WiFi issue. Felt like I was on Business Class.

Again, I unfortunately didn’t manage to get her name as the cabin was dark.

This amazing stewardess right here should train that Yangon crew I previously had on MH740.

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Dinner was served about 2 hours prior to landing, this time, without the Chef on Call service.

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There was a choice of “Chicken with Rice” or “Beef Kofta with Egg”. I wasn’t interested in anything Asian sounding for this trip, so I got the beef.

(Notice the red wine? Alcohol was available for this second meal service. Though if my wine was served till the brim like this, I think not many people order wine enough for the crew to practice how to serve it properly.)

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The beef tasted great and almost perfectly seasoned. However, the “egg” seemed to taste a little bit strange and powdery. Didn’t touch much of the long beans as it didn’t taste very good.

A quick check on the Chef on Call menu shows that the meal was actually Beef Kofta with Herbed Tomato Sauce served with grilled polenta and buttered green beans. Another quick check on Google shows that polenta is “a dish of boiled cornmeal”. It makes sense now, because it wasn’t egg that I was eating at all.

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Crossing the English Channel into the UK.

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As announcements were made for arrival, the cabin was opened up to prepare for landing.

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A top-down camera was available for viewing what’s going on beneath the aircraft. I would prefer if there was another option to see ahead though.

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Touched down in London Heathrow at 5.17pm – 42 minutes delayed, thanks to the delay in departure from KLIA and Pakistani airspace closure.

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The screen changes to a “Thank You” message after touch down.

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Here’s a life-hack: Seats 16D, F and G seems to offer a wider legroom and an additional remote control similar to the Economy with Extra Legroom, minus the leg rest, at regular upfront seat prices.

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The typical legroom on Economy with Extra Legroom.

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Another (slightly obvious) tip, the first row of Economy with Extra Legroom offers the most legroom.

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Walking through the Business Class cabin.

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The highly-coveted “Throne Seat” on Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350.

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A quick look at Business Suites 1G and 1K.

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I asked a (presumably) Business Suites crew member if I could take some shots of the Business Suites, and so I have here some slightly better pictures of Suites 1A and 1D.

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The seat in the upright position with the bedding still lined on it.

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The personal screen and cubby of Suite 1A.

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Disembarking via the rather long aerobridge.

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Thank you Malaysia Airlines, you’ve been excellent today.

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Parked beside Royal Brunei Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Ironic that that first time I’m seeing it is all the way here and not in Brunei or anywhere in Asia for that matter.

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Heading to arrivals.

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The welcome signs are plastered on the terminal walls along the walk to immigration.

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Following the path for Non-EU Passports for immigration.

The queue was rather quick as I was one of the first off the aircraft, and, including the usual entry to the UK short interview session, I was out in less than 5 minutes.

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Heading out to the baggage reclaim area.

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My bags would be coming out of Belt 7A.

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It was about a 20-minute wait for my bags.

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As the front part of the belt was getting crowded, I moved to the rear side where there was almost nobody.

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Once done, I headed out through customs and back in the UK since getting the train back 3 years ago.

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Here, I headed to the railway station to start my UK holiday.

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While Heathrow Terminal 4 is rather small and compact compared to the other terminals, this made everything a lot nearer to each other and the train station was just ahead beside the arrival hall.

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The arrival screen reflecting the delayed arrival time, but probably reflecting the time which the aircraft docked at the gate.

Overall, this is so far the best Malaysia Airlines flight I’ve flown on, which was a great bonus since I wasn’t expecting much with the low fares. I’m sufficiently happy to be finally flying on MH’s flagship A350, but the Economy Class crew on this flight makes this journey truly hospitable and enjoyable.

MH’s Malaysian Hospitality is truly and clearly reflected in Economy Class on MH4 on 15 April 2019. Hopefully, the rest of the MH crew could be trained on equal standards with this set to provide a constant and standardized service throughout the airline.

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