Last February Malaysia Airlines joined the oneworld alliance. While oneworld already had strong members in Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, it was nice to get a bit more coverage in Southeast Asia, which is a gap that Malaysia Airlines nicely filled.
While Malaysia’s 747s used to have first class cabins, they’re now retired, meaning the only Malaysia Airlines aircraft remaining with first class cabins are their A380s. Their longhaul A380 routes are to London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
I had the chance to fly Malaysia Airlines A380 first class roundtrip between London and Kuala Lumpur shortly after they joined the oneworld alliance last February. Here are my trip reports of their products, if you’d like to learn more:
- Malaysia Airlines First Class London to Kuala Lumpur
- Malaysia Airlines First Class Kuala Lumpur to London
- Malaysia Airlines First Class Golden Lounge London
- Malaysia Airlines First Class Golden Lounge Kuala Lumpur
While they don’t have the world’s best first class product, I was really pleasantly surprised, all things considered. The crews were friendly, the food was great, and while the seats weren’t fully enclosed, they were incredibly spacious.
Malaysia used to release lots of first class award space
When Malaysia Airlines first joined oneworld they released a ton of first class award, often 2-4 seats per flight. This is a trend we see fairly often with airlines that just joined an alliance. When only their own program members have access to award space there’s not much competition for award seats, especially for an airline like Malaysia, which doesn’t have an overrun frequent flyer program.
Meanwhile when an airline like that joins an alliance, they’ll often dramatically scale back on award availability. And that’s what they did around last June. At the time they weren’t releasing any A380 first class award availability to Hong Kong or Paris, and at most one first class award seat per flight to London.
Malaysia Airlines first class award trends
I’ve received a few questions lately about Malaysia Airlines’ current patterns for releasing first class award space, so figured I’d provide an update. For the most part the update is simply “business as usual,” unfortunately.
Here are trends I’m noticing right now:
- On the A380 between London and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is releasing one first class and one business class award seat per flight (I’m only seeing space starting May 1)
- On the A380 between Paris and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is releasing one first class and one business class award seat per flight, though I’m seeing some scattered availability prior to May as well
- I don’t see any Malaysia flights with two first class award seats
- Malaysia isn’t releasing any last minute first class award space on the A380, even if the cabins are wide open
If you’re traveling alone and planning in advance, snagging Malaysia Airlines first class award space isn’t impossible. Otherwise it’s unfortunately more or less out of reach.