Impressions Of Malaysia Airlines A350 Business Suite

Hello from Tokyo! I’m nearing the end of my review trip. I flew from San Francisco to Melbourne in Qantas’ 787 business class, from Melbourne to Singapore in Singapore’s 777 first class, and then from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in Singapore’s A350 business class.

From there I connected from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo Narita on Malaysia Airlines’ A350. I’ve been meaning to review their A350 first class since it was introduced late last year.

The timing worked out especially well, because I ended up flying with them just days after they rebranded their first class as “Business Suite.”

So, what was the experience like on this six hour flight, which I booked using 40,000 American AAdvantage miles?

Malaysia Airlines A350 Business Suite cabin

Malaysia’s A350 Business Suite cabin consists of just a single row of four seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. The cabin feels rather cozy, and perhaps almost a bit claustrophobic,  particular since it has overhead bins along the side of the cabin (which some airlines don’t have in first class to make it feel more spacious).

Malaysia Airlines A350 Business Suite seats

Malaysia Airlines’ A350 Business Suites feature doors at every seat.

This seat is based on the Vantage XL seat, which is also what Delta has on their A350s, so the doors are designed in the same way.

But in a way these seats are intended to be more of a hybrid between first and business class. In light of that, the seats were more comfortable than I was expecting.

The seat had tons of storage (there was a compartment near the seat, and then a huge compartment by the ottoman), the seat felt nice and private, there were air nozzles, and the entertainment screen was big.

I did find the seat to be extremely narrow, though. It wasn’t problematic, but for example when I tried to sleep and tossed and turned, I found myself hitting the side of the suite.

So it’s not a cutting edge first class seat, but it’s better than I was expecting it to be.

Malaysia Airlines Business Suite food

The Malaysia Airlines soft product really pleasantly surprised me. Lunch was served after takeoff, and was excellent.

It stared with delicious beef and chicken satay.

That was followed by a beautiful caviar presentation.

As far as I’m concerned they could have stopped there, because satay and caviar is just about my ideal meal.

For the main course I had kung pao tofu, which was also fairly good.

Then for dessert I had a strawberry chocolate mousse.

There was then a light refreshment before landing.

Overall the food was excellent.

Malaysia Airlines Business Suite amenities

The amenities were extremely impressive, especially considering this was a six hour daytime flight.

There was a really cool amenity kit, which had a large bottle of cologne as well as a cute Malaysia Airlines keychain.

Then there were comfortable pajamas, slippers, socks, and more.

In terms of bedding, there were two pillows, a comfortable duvet, and a mattress sheet. Overall I thought the amenities were really solid.

Malaysia Airlines Business Suite service

Let me start by saying that I find Malaysia Airlines has really inconsistent service. So while Singapore Airlines offers incredible consistency, Malaysia Airlines service can vary from US-airline-levels-of-bad to Singapore-Airlines-levels-of-good.

My crew definitely fell in the latter category. I had inflight supervisor Helena and flight attendant Azhar taking care of me, and they were spectacular. They provided true service from the heart, and genuinely seemed to enjoy their jobs. Two flight attendants taking care of four passengers is also a really good ratio.

Malaysia Airlines Business Suite entertainment & wifi

Malaysia’s entertainment system on the A350 is excellent. The selection is extensive, with well over 100 movies and TV shows.

Malaysia Airlines also has wifi on the A350, though they charge based on data usage. The service is provided by Panasonic so it’s fairly fast. The pricing was on the high side, but not unreasonable, at $25 for 200MB.

Malaysia A350 Business Suite bottom line

Malaysia’s A350 Business Suite exceeded my expectations. I was expecting the food to be good, and it didn’t disappoint.

The seat was also a bit more comfortable than I was expecting, and I really love how intimate the first class cabin is.

What pleasantly surprised me was the warm and attentive service, as well as all the amenities on offer.

Aside from the seat, I’d say this is actually a globally competitive first class product, and not just a glorified business class.

Comments

  1. @ choi lu — It’s still a separate class of service you have to book directly. If you redeem partner airline miles you pay the first class price.

  2. Will MH’s ‘bid to upgrade’ work for this? I’m thinking of booking a CGK-TYO itinerary on MH in Sept for $255 in Y, so just curious. Any idea how much is usually required for an upgrade bid to be accepted on the TYO route?

  3. Lucky, does this “business suite” book as F or biz class? Why might they re-brand their First product to call it business if they have a whole business class right behind it?

  4. @ Jason — Upgrade bid should still work, though unfortunately don’t know how much would be needed typically.

  5. @ Ben — Based on the flight attendants we had in MH F, this couldn’t possibly have been the same airline. “Constancy” is one thing, but our F/A’s couldn’t be bothered to say hello on boarding, or even refill a water glass. We were actually repeatedly addressed as “hey you”.

    The Purser later admitted our F/A’s weren’t “properly trained in First Class”. Then why were they working that cabin?!

    Verdict: MH F, a crapshoot of potential.

    —JRL

  6. Do they offer Premium Economy on that flight? Looks like they’ve got extra legroom seats, but not sure if it’s a separate level of service.

  7. @ VT-CIE — Haven’t made a permanent decision one way or another, just trying out a different format to mix things up. Which do you prefer? 🙂

  8. I had 12 flights on different routes last month in C and had a consistent high class service. One of the best and personalized OW service there is.

  9. @Jason bidupgrade should work from Y (provided that your booking class is eligible), but only to Business. Business Suites is a separate class of service and thus to bid upgrade to this, you need to be booked in Business Class

  10. Ben, what’s the hand luggage allowance. I won’t fly with Malaysian since they made me check a case weighing 9 kg (allowance was 7), in long haul business. Is this still enforced?

  11. They must have known you were onboard as a blogger, because I flew Malaysian First on the same route a few months ago (also the A350). The crew was highly unprofessional, and it is nothing like your experience. You cannot have this kind of inconsistent service in First class.

    If I read what others experienced, it’s just a lotery, and apparently the chance on getting a good crew is comparable to winning the Powerball.

  12. @ryan, I agree! Man this flight was so bad. Not even worth the sweet spot 40k AA miles…. And of course back then it was still „First Class“!!!! I have been served better in Economy….

  13. Lucky, have you flown all of the world’s (flagship) first class products? I recall you had like 4 or 5 left to try at the beginning of 2018, but not sure you had covered them all by now.

  14. Hey Ben!

    I flew the same route last Oct in J and service were faultless, even immaculate dare I say. Food was excellent, flight attendants were attentive and addressed me by name, amenities were superb. Such a solid product, both soft and hard! Heaps better than my go-to flight on VN, at least the MH crew were highly proficient in English.

  15. Looking forward to your review! Totally agree with you that when they’re good they really shine, and while SQ is definitely consistently great, MH is on par most of the time. The best crew I’ve ever flown with was on MH (and so was the worst). They seem to be introducing new cost cutting measures constantly, on a J flight 2 weeks ago the menu was on a leaflet rather than a booklet. Looks like you got their new headphones in a plastic seal, rather than a hard case with zip as in TLFL’s review. On the plus side these headphones are better than their old ones and seem to be used in A350 J too.

  16. The food on MH to me has always been pretty meh compared to JL/NH which I now frequent, but the good service has become somewhat of a rarity. From the horror stories my friends have shared with me, MH has stood for Malaysian Hostility instead of Hospitality for some time now. Glad that wasn’t the case for you

  17. Great review. The seat looks good, a nice enough step up from business class, the food as well, and the amenity kit is well above average!
    Happy for you that you had great service – and I agree with the lack of consistency. I’m not a fan of the US3, but your “worst case scenario” comparison is an insult to the US3 – at its worst, MH service is atrocious and if you ever experience IROPS and have to deal with ground service or call center – welcome to hell on earth!
    MH is one of the few airlines I’ll actively avoid – I’d rather fly AirAsia!

  18. Flew with them from KUL-SYD months ago and their services were impeccable from departure till arrival. Jacey (stewardess) delivered a wonderful genuine services throughout the flight. A memorable moment it was. Thank you Malaysia Airlines <3

  19. I feel a little bad saying this about MH given all the misfortune they’ve encountered but I just find them terribly mediocre these days. I fly them quite a bit in J each year due to some amazing J class deals and I just find them not a patch on their neighbouring competitors anymore. Their staff seem to have lost pride in the company and I can understand why.

    I was very lucky earlier this year. I was booked to fly KUL-SYD in J on an MH A330. About six weeks before departure the aircraft was changed to an A350. MH only sold at the time J and Y on the SYD route so the F cabin was blocked out on MMB. I checked again a couple weeks before departure and to my surprise the F cabin had opened up on the seat map for selection so I nabbed 1G and 1K. It was still the J service obvs but was a nice treat to sit in one of their F seats.

    But back to ‘normal’ Business Class…

    Their newest Business Class cabin on their A330’s while all finally lay flat seems a very dense and cramped configuration and it’s weird having two rows of economy behind J class in the forward cabin leaving one lav in the forward galley to use… although they also seem to have a weird practice of blocking off one lav in the economy galley for J class and ‘escorting you’ to the loo and unlocking it.

    Their catering is so-so.

    Their lounges despite a (chaotic) refurb of their KUL flagship lounges are still average with some odd booze serving restriction (I mean I know Malaysia is an islamic country but it’s easier to get a G&T in a lounge in DOH or DXB than KUL).

    But mostly i’ve noticed the decline in their cabin service on board. MH used to constantly win awards for ‘best cabin crew’. I now find their crew exceptionally variable…from great to pretty much downright dismissive. And that’s in the premium cabins. Again – I am absolutely sure that the loss of the two MH 777’s play a part in this. MH is not a large airline and i’m sure ALL their current cabin crew had several friends they lost in those disasters and i’m not sure how I would react in a similar situation. While they continue to offer good J fares in sales I will continue to fly with them.

  20. I have flown MH 10+ times in the last couple of years and have found the crew to be consistently nothing but lovely, I’m surprised to hear of your previous experiences

  21. One photo was missing as the most critical thing for me….. which brand of champs they are serving in this new biz suite??

  22. As a Malaysian, I’m really happy to hear you had a good experience on MH. I think you summed it up perfectly when you said “Malaysia Airlines service can vary from US-airline-levels-of-bad to Singapore-Airlines-levels-of-good.”.

    Yes, the inconsistency can be maddening. I know, having flown them constantly. But another reason is that they are in the rebuilding phase at the moment and still finding their footing. Previous CEOs have come and gone, and I wager the crews are pretty much sick of the chopping and changing of directions and operational procedures. I know some MH crew and they are a proud lot who want to give their best but are sometimes hampered through no fault of their own.

    While the cabin crew can score some runs occasionally, the Golden lounge keep getting out for ducks. Now that’s a real pity. As far as hard product goes, they could show some other airlines how to lay out a spread but it’s a real pity that the service there is woeful. Consistently.

  23. Looks like it isn’t bookable by miles anymore

    Orginally the “P” class for First class award had been removed and “p” becomes discounted business suite fare.

    Wonder how fortunate you are to book them by miles after announcement of business suite, but before they remove the award seats.

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