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Old 23rd August 2017, 05:26 PM   #1
loldude333
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Default MH A380 from SIN-LHR and back!

Hi guys! First TR, be nice.

I recently flew to London (right at the beginning of July) to attend a conference and also take a break from work. When booking Y tickets, prices for BA and SQ direct flights were insane (above $1900). I ended up booking MH at a much better rate ($1200). The report will cover the SIN-KUL-LHR-KUL-SIN sectors on MH as well as some of the more touristy (ie. interesting to you guys) things i did in London. Apologies in advance for some missing/not-so-good photos. They were the best i could manage in the circumstances. Fair warning: i’m going to provide quite some detail as i’m hoping to give us a better look at MH’s product. For a TL;DR, head to the end of the report. For those who want a closer look, buckle up and here we go!

I woke at 0430 to catch MH602 to KUL. I’d just returned from Ipoh the previous night so you can imagine how tired i was….. Reached check-in counters at Changi T2 at around 0500 and had the bags checked all the way through to LHR and received my 2 boarding passes.

I said my goodbyes and made my way to the departure gate. Security was at the gate, as usual.



I walked down the stairs, wondering why on earth there was a lower gallery…….and then realised that this was a bus gate. We would be driven to the plane waiting on the tarmac! This was my first time, so cue some excitement having hardly boarded a plane by airstairs (though ironically i had done that yesterday when flying Tiger back from Ipoh).

Malaysia Airlines flight MH602
Singapore (SIN) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
Depart: 0650
Arrive: 0735
Duration: 50min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Registration: 9M-MSC
Seat 29B


Since boarding was done via airstairs, I had the opportunity to grab this shot.



MH’s 737 have 4 rows of J seats and 25 rows of Y seats. I was seated at the last row of the 737 cabin. Flight was full today.

I managed to snap some pics of the MH 737 Y seats. Sharing only relevant ones to save space.



These were the slimline, leather upholstered versions. To me they compared favourably with other 737 seats i had flown before. In 2015 i flew 6hrs from LAX to ANC in an Alaska Airlines 737 with the Recaro slimlines. Those were borderline unbearable, though to be fair i am big sized. Width was similar, though the MH seats were a notch above in terms of padding. For a 50min sector though, they were perfectly acceptable.



Legroom was fairly generous. Would not have too many complaints even on a 3 hour sector. No footrest and no IFE boxes under the seat meant there was more space to stretch out!



There was also touchscreen IFE with full AVOD. Screen quality was pretty good, however the system was pretty slow and fairly unresponsive. Might have caused frustration on a longer sector but for this short one i was not bothered. MH Y screens can be turned off and on at the touch of the power button. Their A380 Y screens also have this (not sure about the A330s), and i found this to be helpful because you just had to touch a a button to completely shut off any glare. A godsend especially if you've tried to sleep with an IFE screen shining in your face!

As we pushed back, the captain gave us his warm welcome and quirkily invited passenger to share their candies with other passengers, especially the kids! Quite a nice start to a long 16 hour journey to LHR!

We took a short taxi to the runway (i forgot which one we used) and were quickly airborne. I got chatting to my seatmate, a very friendly Nepalese man who was flying to Kathmandu from Papua New Guinea to visit his wife and 2 daughters. He stayed the night in Changi!

Shortly after takeoff, the crew rolled the cart down the aisle and offered each passenger a choice of orange juice, apple juice or water, and 2 packs of packaged peanuts. I took orange juice and continued chatting with my seatmate.

As the sun rose, the landscape of Peninsular Malaysia became clearer. It was a fairly cloudless day. I spotted Melaka off in the distance as we were seated on the port side of the aircraft. However, my phone camera failed me so i decided not to post a picture.

40 minutes into the flight, the captain announced that we would be commencing our descent and should touchdown in Kuala Lumpur right on schedule. The descent was smooth and we touched down lightly at KLIA before a quick taxi to the gate, where i deplaned and headed to the Satellite terminal of KLIA via the AirTrain to connect to MH4, my outbound to LHR. The AirTrain afforded loads of unrestricted views of the tarmac surrounding it, but due to a packed train i could not snap away freely.

Having reached the Satellite Terminal and with time to kill, i decided to kill my hunger. This turned out to be a good decision as the meals on MH4 were on the small side. I had wanted to eat local food, but Burger King turned out to be the most cost-effective option by a fair margin, so that ended up being my breakfast.



I made my order and plopped myself down at one of the tables overlooking the tarmac with a book. KLIA isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing airport, but it is functionally adequate and affords some decent views.

At around 8.40 i packed my stuff and headed to the departure gate at the far end of the terminal where the whale awaited to whisk me to London!

Security at KLIA is also at the gate, and was fairly efficient. I waited for barely 10mins before we were called to board the whale.

Last edited by loldude333; 24th August 2017 at 12:09 AM..
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Old 23rd August 2017, 05:32 PM   #2
loldude333
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Sorry, having issues with getting the photos up. FAQ doesn't seem to be helping. Tweaking my Flickr security settings in hopes of getting them up soon.

EDIT: Ok, got them fixed.

Last edited by loldude333; 23rd August 2017 at 05:49 PM..
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Old 23rd August 2017, 06:06 PM   #3
loldude333
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Malaysia Airlines flight MH4
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to London Heathrow (LHR)
Depart: 1040
Arrive: 1720
Duration: 13.5h
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Registration: 9M-MNA
Seat 55K




As i walked down the aerobridge i managed to snap this admittedly….suboptimal photo of the whale. I was boarding 9M-MNA, the first of MH’s 5 A380s. These were all delivered in 2012 and so were around 5 years old at the time of my flight. I had seen photos of MH A380s with bad stains on the windows, but 9M-MNA looked fairly clean on the outside, if not pristine. How would the inside look?

Upon entering the cabin, i was greeted warmly and quickly pointed in the right direction.



My first impressions of the MH A380 cabin were pretty good. Seats were upholstered with a sturdy-looking and feeling fabric, with what felt like a leather headrest with fixable wings. I would later find out that the wings on my seat worked well, keeping my head in position and my neck from strain during the flight. Great stuff!



The good impressions continued as i settled into my seat 55K, which was a window seat. I snapped a photo of the middle row next to me. The seat cushion both on the bottom and the back felt well-padded and firm. No complaints about that! Stay tuned to find out how my butt felt after 13h planted on the same seat! (Nothing great about my butt obviously…..but if this seat can keep a close to 100kg chump comfortable its definitely got something going for it!) Seat recline was pretty good, and the seat base pivots forward as well. I didn’t grab a photo of this as there was no opportunity. But it was definitely very decent. Seat width i estimate it be to 18.5inches, which is comparable to other A380s. Again, i'm about 100kg, so you can imagine my girth, but the seat was fairly spacious.



I’m 1.80m, and the seat pitch was pretty good. There was about 5cm of space between my knees and the seat in front. No footrests on MH’s A380 Y either, but with no IFE boxes under the seat whatsoever there was plentiful room to stretch out.



For those interested, MH’s A380 features individual air nozzles and the airflow is tunable. The cabin was kept fairly warm on the outbound so these helped. It was a little disorienting though, when ice crystals from the air-conditioning system leaked out on me thrice while at the gate!



First impressions of the IFE were so-so. Like on the MH 737, this was a touchscreen with the aforementioned power button. The screen pivots from the top, but mine seem to have a damaged hinge so it would always spring back to the most ‘upward’ orientation. Picture quality was not bad, and the screen was matte so reflections were reduced. The system was faster than on the 737, but still a little slow. Those used to SQ’s IFE system will have some putting up to do when working this one! More about the IFE later in the TR.

Another passenger took his place on the aisle seat of my row at this juncture, about 5mins after i’d boarded. Within the next 10mins the flow of passengers ebbed as the plane filled up, but the middle seat in my row remained empty. Would it remain empty for the flight? Stay tuned!

Last edited by loldude333; 23rd August 2017 at 06:30 PM..
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Old 23rd August 2017, 06:12 PM   #4
loldude333
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At 0950, the captain welcomed us aboard and informed us of our flight time of 12h 45mins and also explained that due to late cargo loading (it was Ramadan season and the airport was working at reduced capacity) and also awaiting clearance for overflight of the Bay of Bengal, we would be departing in about 10mins. Hence, i continued moseying around the seat. While the doors remained open, the middle seat remained empty. I hoped and hoped…..




Some stains were noticeable on the frame of my tray table. Minor and did not pose a hazard, but perhaps a hint about how well MH takes care of small details in cleaning & maintenance? Would be interesting to see especially how well the toilets were cleaned and serviced….



It was a pleasant surprise to see that MH still provides headsets for Y passengers, though the plastic bag was not sealed at the top…..



And it appeared that my headset had a broken head. I was not too impressed with that.

At that moment (around 1020), the doors were closed and the middle seat remained empty. SCORE!!!! I immediately took my bag down from the overheard compartment and placed in on the floor in the middle.

It was time to stop moseying around for the moment. I sat back, buckled up (standard Y seatbelt in case anyone wanted to know) and looked out the window. We pushed back and the safety video played, which was run of the mill. Also decided to snap a photo of the A380 Y cabin from my seat’s POV.



As with any A380, lovely spacious cabin ambience. The flight was virtually full today, which i confirmed as i made trips to the rear lavatories. That just made the empty middle seat all the more sweet. I could not believe my luck!! We had a short taxi to the runway and waited in line for 2 737s and an A330 to takeoff. MH A380s have a tail camera but that is not available as an option on the IFE, unfortunately. The main cabin screens did show the tail camera view during taxi, takeoff and landing though, which was cool as i had never had the chance to view those before!

Finally, it was time for takeoff at around 1040. The engines began spooling up even as we straightened up on the runway. The takeoff roll was stately and soon we were off the ground and climbing. My LHR flights last year had been on 77Ws and my last A380 flight had been on the upper deck to ZRH back in 2014. I was kind of expecting to hear the loud roar and feel the deck tremble as the engines pushed us off ala a 77W, but the A380 takeoff was much quieter, and that noise level proved to be maintained during the rest of the flight, making for an extremely comfortable ride noise-wise. I sat back, relaxed and explored the IFE a little.



For those of us who are inclined to inflight maps, MH’s A380 Y features a series of maps, and you can select the different views and information to cycle. I ended up selecting that for much of the flight.



It was a lovely, sunny day as we ascended. I forgot how huge the A380 wing is! Unfortunately, both the inner and outer layer of my window were blurry. They’re fine for looking out of, but taking pictures may be a bridge too far. For what its worth, other windows may have been in a better condition but i wouldn’t know that.

As we reached cruising altitude, i took a closer look at my pillow…..and look what i found!




Someone had apparently scrawled their name on it, on the layer underneath the cover. Nevertheless, it looked and smelled clean enough, so i did not hesitate to use it.
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Old 23rd August 2017, 06:18 PM   #5
loldude333
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About 1.5 hours into the flight, lunch service began. I opened my tray table (it was the double-folding sort, as you can see from the headphone picture) and gave it a few experimental tugs and presses. No issues with flimsiness there. Choices were beef chili with rice (the American sort of chili) and BBQ chicken with noodles. I chose the beef and had a Carlsberg to go with it. MH does not use menus, the cabin crew simply asked us what we wanted when they came around.



The main came with a warm roll, cheese & crackers, an orange custard tart and a salad (chicken breast, salad greens, raisins and a lot of curried cream dressing). I found the main to be ok in quality, but on the small side in terms of portion. I thought this was the norm…...until i saw that my seatmate had noticeably more than me!! (He also took the beef chili). A little miffed but oh well. The rest of the food was not bad either, though the salad was absolutely drenched in dressing and those who dislike that would not have touched it. I did like the orange custard tart, filling was not too sweet and the pastry was nice and crumbly. Overall, a decent meal, though on the small side for me. Thankfully this wasn’t too big a problem as i had had breakfast before boarding.



MH uses matte grey plastic cutlery in Y, and serves the main in an aluminium tray on a plastic casserole dish. Drinks came in the usual plastic cups, while the other dishes all came also in plastic casseroles. What was good was that the plastic was of a good quality, especially the cutlery. As you should be able to tell from the picture, they were solidly made. Kudos to MH on not skimping on this.

Having had my lunch, i decided to give my phone a charge before browsing the IFE selection. MH provides a single USB port at each Y seat for charging. The thing to note here is that it was VERY slow to charge. My phone battery was at 29% from all the surfing and phototaking. It took about 8.5 hours to reach a full charge. By comparison, using my Qualcomm Quick Charge 2 charger takes about 1h 15mins to get there. I would advise turning your phone off to charge especially if you use a phablet. It probably won’t do much for an iPad/tablet battery either. An area of improvement for MH, certainly.

On to the IFE content. The touchscreen interface is a little confusing at first as the menu is presented a little like a ‘conveyor belt’, but you can’t swipe left or right. Instead, you touch the onscreen arrows to move left or right. Once you get past that you still have to contend with some lag. I ended up preferring the handheld controller. Movie selection was not too bad, with most of the latest Hollywood selections available. I’m not a movies kind of guy, so i’m sorry if this info is too skimpy. They had Logan, so i pencilled that in for later.

I next went to the dramas to look for my favourite Big Bang Theory (i’m a scientist by training). They had 106 episodes of comedy altogether, again a decent selection, but the infuriating thing was that you had to scroll 1 by 1 through them. What i mean is that there was no further categorisation by show. Big Bang Theory episodes were scattered in between Family Guy episodes and so on and so forth. In any case, i selected BBT SE10E01 and plugged my neighbour’s headphones (seeing as no one was seated there)........and was rewarded with horrible sound quality thru all the adverts. If you’re an electric guitarist, it sounded like someone had added a thick layer of chorus on to the sound. Think of that over-shimmery getai kind of sound, or what every old, cheesy chinese karaoke song sounds like. That’s what the IFE sounded like. I was beginning to get really disappointed…...until it magically righted itself once the episode started. Phew! Not sure what caused the glitch but the IFE sound behaved itself all the way through the rest of the flight. Sound quality through the headphones was decent, verbals were clear enough and i had no problems. I rate them marginally better than the equivalent SQ headsets (though my last flight in SQ Y was in 2013, so i could be wrong) and definitely better than the current SQ earbuds. Picture quality was pretty good, and screen brightness wasn’t an issue for me, though i generally prefer my screens on the darker side. There was also no lag once your movie/TV show started. Overall, the IFE experience was let down a little by a clunky interface, but if you’ve the patience to get round it, you’ll find it more than decent. Where MH actually beats SQ in this would be the provided headphones, this is a significant enough different to me.

I finished that episode of BBT and decided to go to the lav before taking a nap. I visited the one just behind the main Y cabin. And this was an area which MH could really improve on lots. Upon entering and locking the door, the lights did not come on fully. And there was the distinctive smell of urine, though we were barely 3.5 hours into the flight! The seat was not in good condition, with lots of scratches and stains, and the rim of the bowl itself looked the worse for wear. These birds are only 5 years old, but the lavs looked closer to twice or even thrice that age! I decided not to take any pictures because of the poor lighting, did my business and quickly returned to my seat, where i reclined fully and dozed off.



I woke 3 hours later to the midflight snack, which consisted of a packaged fruit cake and packaged assorted nuts and crackers. It was adequate, and nice to have something midflight to quell any hunger pangs during this 13.5 hour flight. The nap was good, and this was coming from someone who normally struggles to sleep, even in F (yes, first world problems, i’m aware)! I put it down the comfort of the seat (cushioning and recline angle) and also the rock solid ride that the A380 offers.

I spent the rest of the flight watching Logan and reading quite a few of the books i brought. I also took a walk to the rear cabin to take a look. There are 2 smaller cabins behind the main one, each consisting of 7-9 rows of seats (i didn’t count, so this is an approximation). They feel less roomy than the main one but definitely not claustrophobic. One thing to note is that for Row 81, the window seats have full recline but the centre seats don’t appear to. Hence if you’re booking a seat in the rear cabin in the hopes of snagging a flat bed, be warned!



1.5hours before landing, dinner was served. The choices were between chicken with rice (not sure if i heard right but i think it was chicken tagine) or seafood spaghetti. Crew ran out of chicken pretty quick, so it was fortunate that i wanted the pasta. This turned out to be laksa-flavoured, cooked dry-style. Some fried tofu cubes and smallish shrimp. Not very filling, but taste-wise it was pretty nice. Skipped fruit, ate the chocolate cake dessert, which was pretty good too. Apparently the pasta is on a test run on this sector. Based on the quality of the dish i'd say it might continue. But increasing the portion will be nice.

We commenced our descent into LHR at around 1600 London time, just as we entered the English Channel. The captain came back on to inform us of congestion at LHR and to expect some delays. He also informed us that they were required to ‘spray’ the aircraft interior. After this, the cabin crew walked down the aisles spraying something from aerosol cans into the air. Not sure exactly what it was but it seemed to be some antiseptic.

After some circling, we finally made our final approach into LHR. Due to the wing, the window condition and the weather conditions (misty), i couldn’t get any good photos. We touched down at around 1720, by my estimate a 13.5 hour flight. It was a 10min taxi to the gate at LHR T4 and I was back in the UK!



Another pic of our whale as i disembarked. Such a pity i couldn't get any clear shots of 9M-MNA for this trip....



And a beautiful Kuwait Airlines B777-300ER parked next to us! Unfortunately, this was the best shot i could get.

I walked briskly and found myself at the immigration queue in about 7mins.

As most travellers would know, the immigration queue at LHR T4 is depressingly long; it took me 2.5 hours from disembarking to baggage claim! Fortunately, it wasn’t too late and soon i was on the Tube to my hosts’ place!

Thus endeth Part #1…...stay tuned for some snapshots of my London trip, and also for the (far less detailed) return trip.

TL;DR: MH offers a competitive product on their A380 for this route, even if the lavs need serious upkeep. Their food and IFE are above average for me, and their cabin crew are great, if not as polished as SQ’s (but its not an issue at all). The best part of the experience was the Y hard product; my bum did not complain despite being seated for 13.5 hours. Certainly having an empty middle seat helped, but even on my return journey i did not have too many complaints with personal space. I would definitely recommend flying MH, especially with the prices they now offer. One can only hope that their incoming A350s would offer an even better passenger experience, without too large a price increase.

Last edited by loldude333; 24th August 2017 at 12:07 AM..
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Old 23rd August 2017, 09:41 PM   #6
yflyer
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Brilliant first TR, loldude333! If you didn't mention it was your first, I would have thought it was written by a seasoned pro!
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Old 24th August 2017, 12:07 AM   #7
loldude333
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yflyer View Post
Brilliant first TR, loldude333! If you didn't mention it was your first, I would have thought it was written by a seasoned pro!
I learnt from the best.....hahaha. Thanks.
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Old 24th August 2017, 12:02 PM   #8
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Thanks for the trip report. The catering looks appalling though.
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Old 24th August 2017, 12:09 PM   #9
loldude333
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zilchster View Post
Thanks for the trip report. The catering looks appalling though.
It doesn't taste as bad as it looks. The beef chili was so-so but the laksa spaghetti was not bad. The ingredients were fresh as well.
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