Good morning from Ulaanbaatar, as I just flew MIAT Mongolian Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 business class on the eight hour flight from Frankfurt to Ulaanbaatar, as part of my current review trip.
Can I start by saying that it’s absolutely freezing here? Okay, that’s not fair. It was freezing in Frankfurt, and it’s nearly 50 degrees colder here (in Fahrenheit). I’m pretty sure I got frostbites just walking down the jet bridge here. Brrrrr… anyway…
It’s an exciting time for mighty little MIAT Mongolian, as the airline is taking delivery of two Boeing 787-9s, which are being used to replace the outdated Boeing 767-300ERs. I was looking forward to checking out this product, given that I reviewed the carrier’s old long haul business class back in the day.
So, how was MIAT Mongolian business class? It offers a competitive hard product, but a really lackluster soft product, while still being well intentioned. That being said, given the fares that MIAT Mongolian charges, I’d say the airline offers exceptional value.
In this post:
MIAT Mongolian’s attractive business class fares
I have to start my acknowledging that MIAT Mongolian has very reasonable business class pricing, which is more in line with what you’d pay for premium economy on other airlines. For example, my one-way ticket from Frankfurt to Seoul Incheon via Ulaanbaatar cost $1,100. It’s not just that I got some amazing once-in-a-lifetime deal, but rather this is along the lines of the carrier’s normal pricing. Nonstop tickets on the carrier’s two long haul routes — to Frankfurt and Istanbul — regularly cost under $1,000 one-way.
So I think it’s important to judge an airline based on value, and MIAT Mongolian offers phenomenal value, if you ask me. It’s also worth addressing the type of carrier that MIAT Mongolian is — the airline serves a unique destination, and then takes advantage of some connecting traffic via its hub. But it’s not like Air France or Lufthansa, where they’re competing fiercely. MIAT Mongolian doesn’t have to offer the world’s best business class, because the airline doesn’t operate in terribly competitive markets.
MIAT Mongolian’s business class seats are generic but comfortable
MIAT Mongolian picked up its Boeing 787-9s secondhand, as these gently used jets briefly flew for China’s Suparna Airlines. The cabin has 30 reverse herringbone seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration.
These aren’t cutting edge reverse herringbone seats, like you might find on Air France or Starlux Airlines, but rather they’re somewhat outdated, and don’t have many of the bells and whistles that airlines have added to their planes in recent years. The cabin also feels quite generic, without much personality. The most exciting design feature is the headrest covers, sponsored by Trade & Development Bank.
But hey, this represents a massive improvement, as the airline previously had angled seats in long haul business class.
Unfortunately the airline still hasn’t improved its bedding, which is marginally better than what you might normally find in economy. This seems like an easy and fairly inexpensive investment for the airline to make, given its small fleet.
MIAT Mongolian’s business class meals are not great
MIAT Mongolian’s business class service felt almost more like what you’d get in premium economy than in business class. Perhaps that’s even being generous. There were no menus, and the entire service flow was mechanical, with limited interaction.
Dinner was served after takeoff. There was no initial drink service, but rather about an hour after takeoff, a cart was rolled down the aisle with drinks, followed immediately by the meals. The choices were simply described as fish, beef, or lamb.
I selected the fish, which was served on a single tray with (sort of impressively?) two appetizers, comprised of shrimp and quinoa, as well as smoked chicken and ratatouille. The fish came with some mashed potatoes and veggies.
Once the main tray was cleared, each passenger was brought a chocolate cake for dessert.
Then a very basic breakfast was served before landing, consisting of fruit, yogurt, and a pastry.
The crew was courteous and friendly, and they did their best to work with what they had. But that’s not a whole lot — just as an example, the airline doesn’t even have nuts or packaged snack mix, so there really isn’t much that they can offer you.
MIAT Mongolian’s hilarious 787 entertainment
MIAT Mongolian’s seat back entertainment system consists exclusively of Mongolian entertainment options. The system has roughly a dozen Mongolian films. On the plus side, the selection of Mongolian TV shows was much better — there were endless episodes of Shark Tank Mongolia, Dancing With The Stars Mongolia, The Apprentice Mongolia, and The Voice Mongolia.
I had no clue what was going on, but I couldn’t help but actually watch some of these, and they were fascinating. The only other thing I watched on the seat back entertainment was the map feature, which I found interesting, given that we spent most of the flight over Russia, and that’s not airspace we usually see much of nowadays.
So, what is there for non-Mongolian passengers? While MIAT Mongolian’s 787-9s have Wi-Fi domes, they don’t actually offer Wi-Fi. Instead they just offer streaming entertainment through the Wi-Fi portal. The streaming entertainment selection was quite basic, though there were a few Hollywood movies and TV shows to choose from.
Unless you’re Mongolian, I’d definitely recommend bringing your own entertainment on the airline. Well, unless you’re like me, and enjoy watching the Mongolian versions of many US shows, while having no clue what’s going on.
I’m happy I had the chance to fly MIAT Mongolian’s new 787 business class. The hard product represents a huge improvement over the carrier’s old product, so it’s nice to see the airline evolve.
I have to say, though, this is the most boring long haul business class flight I’ve taken in a long time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, there just isn’t much to report on. The cabin is basic, there aren’t many amenities, the food is okay and simple, and the service is friendly enough.
Comparatively, MIAT Mongolian’s long haul business class soft product is weak, and perhaps even uncompetitive. However, given the carrier’s pricing, I’d actually say that the airline offers great value for money.
While I kind of wish that the airline would invest a bit more in its premium experience, I’m not sure there’s actually an ROI there? You fly MIAT Mongolian business class because you want to be comfortable, and because you’re going to Mongolia or you’re looking for a cheap connecting flight. I don’t think a more intricate service will do much to stimulate additional demand.
What’s your take on MIAT Mongolian’s 787 business class?