Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Suite A350 Kuala Lumpur To Tokyo

Introduction: A Detour Across The Pacific
Review: Qantas Business Class 787 San Francisco To Melbourne
Review: Sheraton Melbourne
Review: American Express Lounge Melbourne Airport
Review: Air New Zealand Lounge Melbourne Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class Lounge Melbourne Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge Melbourne Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines First Class 777 Melbourne To Singapore
Review: Singapore Airlines Private Room
Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class A350 Singapore To Kuala Lumpur
Review: Sama-Sama Express Hotel Kuala Lumpur Airport
Review: Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Kuala Lumpur Airport
Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Suite Lounge Kuala Lumpur Airport
Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Suite A350 Kuala Lumpur To Tokyo
Review: Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita Airport
Review: Japan Airlines First Class 777 Tokyo To Chicago


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Malaysia Airlines 70
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – Tokyo (NRT)
Sunday, December 16
Depart: 9:40AM
Arrive: 5:30PM
Duration: 6hr50min
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 1A (First Class)

I boarded through the forward door, where I could immediately tell it would be a great flight. I was greeted by Helena, the inflight supervisor, who just had the biggest and most genuine smile on her face. Upon verifying my boarding pass she showed me to my seat.

Let me once again clarify that Malaysia Airlines recently rebranded their first class product as “Business Suites,” and I was flying just shortly after the rebranding.

Malaysia Airlines’ Business Suites cabin consists of a single row of four seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration.


Malaysia Airlines A350 Business Suite cabin

While I’ll talk more about the Business Suites in a bit, I quickly peeked into the “regular” business class cabin immediately behind. Malaysia Airlines has a staggered configuration in business class. There are a total of 35 business class seats — there are 22 business class seats immediately behind first class, and then another 13 seats in the cabin behind that.

Malaysia Airlines A350 business class cabin

As far as the Business Suites go, there were two center seats for those traveling together. The good news is that if you’re traveling alone and end up in one of these seats you’ll still have lots of privacy, thanks to a big partition between seats, as well as the door.


Malaysia Airlines A350 Business Suite seats


Malaysia Airlines A350 Business Suite seats

I was in seat 1A, one of the two window seats in the cabin.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite seat

The seat has a door for added privacy.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite seat

When Malaysia Airlines designed this seat, it was supposed to be a hybrid of sorts between first and business class, as the seat is based on the Vantage XL seat. So the seat is based on the same concept as the new Delta business class suite, for example.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite seat

Truly the seat does feel like a hybrid between business and first class. The suite itself is quite wide, though the issue is that well over a third of the seat’s width is taken up by storage consoles. I suppose that’s good in some ways, but when you’re actually sitting in the seat, you sure do feel close to the door.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite seat

The seat has an ottoman and then a large television against the bulkhead.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite seat

On the plus side, there is a ridiculously impressive amount of storage. There are three big storage compartments. There’s one right near the back of the seat, which also has a built-in vanity.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite storage

Then there are two more — one quite large and one quite narrow — and this is also where the tray table is located.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite storage

The seat has a massive tray table that’s heavy to lift.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite tray table

Also along the left side of the seat are the entertainment and seat controllers. The seat controls were easy to use, though my entertainment controller was broken — this wasn’t a big issue since the monitor was also a touchscreen.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite seat & entertainment controls

Then inside one of the compartments was the headphone jack and outlet, which had both a USB and 110v plug.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite power outlet & headphone jacks

Each Business Suite has a door, and the technology is basically the same as what Delta has in business class. There’s a latch you pull to “release” the door so that it closes, and then if you want to open the door again you have to manually push it back. Much like with the Delta seat, I found the door to be rather difficult to use — to open the door you have to push really hard, and you sort of have to slam the door for it to shut.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite door

While totally insignificant, I still find it a bit odd that the door doesn’t quite close all the way — there’s a bit of a gap.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite door

One nice touch in Malaysia’s A350 Business Suites is that there are buttons you can push to close the window shades. You can push them once just to lower the shades (so that you can’t see anything but it’s still light), and then you can push them again to make it dark.


Malaysia Airlines A350 windows

As you’d expect on the A350, the overhead consoles are modern, and fortunately, Malaysia has individual air nozzles at each seat.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite air nozzles

So yeah, overall I’d say it’s a solid hard product, and I appreciate the massive amount of storage the seat has, as well as the individual air nozzles. However, I did find the seat to be a bit on the narrow side, and with the door closed it almost felt claustrophobic, given that your head was just inches from the “wall.”

Already waiting at my seat upon boarding was the bedding, which included a pillow, blanket, and a mattress sheet. The bedding was alright, though could have been better. It would have been nice if they had a real mattress pad, and if they had a duvet rather than just a blanket. It wasn’t bad at all, though.

Malaysia Airlines Business Suite bedding

There were also a pair of headphones waiting at my seat.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite headphones 

Within a few minutes of settling in, Helena came by my seat to welcome me onboard, familiarize me with the seat, and offer me a drink. While I tried to order a glass of champagne, she informed me that the bar was only open after takeoff.

So I just had some water instead. At least it was beautifully presented, with a welcome card, a warm towel, and an amuse bouche.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite pre-departure drink & amuse bouche


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite welcome note

Helena also presented me with the menu for the flight.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite menu

Then she brought me pajamas, an amenity kit, and slippers. Those are some impressive amenities for a daytime flight. The pajamas came wrapped in packaging that looked like a present. There was a pair of really flimsy slippers that were handed to me, which seemed unnecessary, since there were studier ones inside the “package.”


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite pajamas

The pajamas felt high quality and were comfortable.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite pajamas

There was also an amenity kit with some toiletries from PAYOT, as well as a big bottle of cologne. I also loved that there was a Malaysia Airlines keychain, which you don’t often see in an amenity kit.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite amenity kit

Helena then brought me the landing forms for Japan.

Japan landing cards

About 10 minutes after boarding started, Azhar stopped by my seat to introduce himself. He’d be the other flight attendant working the cabin. All four seats were occupied on this flight, with a Japanese couple in the middle seat, and I believe a Malaysian guy in the other window seat.

At 9:45 AM the cabin door closed. The boarding process was efficient, in spite of a late start and full flight. At this point, Helena announced that our flight time was 6hr15min. At 9:50 AM we started our pushback, and the safety video was screened.

We had a short taxi to runway 32R, and by 10 AM were cleared for takeoff.

ANA 787 Kuala Lumpur Airport

Taxiing Kuala Lumpur Airport

Taking off Kuala Lumpur Airport

While not the most breathtaking views, I do love how green it is around KLIA.

View after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur


View after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment system, which was high definition and responsive.

Malaysia Airlines entertainment system


Malaysia Airlines entertainment system


Malaysia Airlines entertainment system

The entertainment selection was quite good, with dozens of movies and TV shows.


Malaysia Airlines entertainment system


Malaysia Airlines entertainment system

I also checked out the map for our flight to Narita.

Moving map enroute to Narita


Moving map enroute to Narita

While the plane does have a camera, it’s a nose camera, so doesn’t have the same views as the incredible A380 tail camera.


Malaysia Airlines A350 camera

15 minutes after takeoff Helena was at my seat to take my drink and meal order. The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

I decided to start with some champagne, and was offered my first glass about 30 minutes after takeoff. The champagne on offer was Comtes de Champagne 2007, which I found to be excellent (and which isn’t cheap at all).

Malaysia Airlines Business Suite champagne

This champagne was served with some nuts. I found Malaysia’s champagne flutes to be really low capacity, though fortunately Helena was incredibly dedicated to keeping my glass topped off.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite champagne & nuts

45 minutes after takeoff a tablecloth was brought out, in preparation for the meal service, and then 10 minutes later the first course was served. To start I had chicken and beef satay. Mmmm….


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite lunch — satay

Next up I ordered caviar, which was served another 15 minutes later. Malaysia has a beautiful caviar service, and I love how all the accompaniments were offered, and also how the caviar tin was presented in a bowl with ice.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite lunch — caviar


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite lunch — caviar

I would note that they didn’t have a mother of pearl spoon, but rather I was just offered a teaspoon. You’d think that if you’re spending this much on caviar, buying some proper spoons would be a small cost. 😉


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite lunch — spoon

At this point I was also offered a selection of bread.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite lunch — bread

Then I was offered a pear flavored palate cleanser.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite lunch — sorbet

For the main course I selected the kung pao tofu and mushroom, consisting of stir-fried tofu with ginger, mushrooms and dried chilli in a Szechuan style sauce served with braised noodles and choy sum. The dish may look simple, but was incredibly flavorful.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite lunch — main course

Lastly there was dessert, and I selected the strawberry chocolate mousse, which was as tasty as it was beautiful.


Malaysia Airlines Business Suite lunch — dessert

At the conclusion of the meal I tried to order a coffee, but the seatbelt sign was on. Much like Singapore Airlines, Malaysia doesn’t serve hot beverages when the seatbelt sign is on. The odd thing is that the seatbelt sign was on for the entire meal, but there was no turbulence, so…

The meal was done around 1hr45min into the flight.

Moving map to Narita

I thought the meal was excellent. The food quality was very good, and in particular I love Malaysia Airlines’ satay, and of course you can’t go wrong with caviar.

I was also impressed by Helena and Azhar. They were both kind, friendly, genuine, and attentive. I’d say they weren’t quite as “polished” as some Singapore Airlines first class crews, but I don’t mean that as a criticism — they both showed an abundance of personality, rather than a strict adherence to a service protocol.

I’ve had mixed experiences with service on Malaysia Airlines, so I really lucked out with a great crew.

After the meal I decided to get some rest, so asked to have my bed made. In the meantime I checked out the lavatory at the front of the cabin. It wasn’t particularly big, though was well maintained, and had Acca Kappa toiletries.

Malaysia A350 lavatory


Malaysia A350 lavatory

The crew did a great job with the turndown service, and my bed had two pillows, a mattress sheet, and a blanket.


Malaysia Business Suite bed


Malaysia Business Suite bed

A bottle of water was also placed next to my seat.


Malaysia Business Suite bottled water

Now, as far as bed comfort goes, this is where I really feel like the seat is somewhere between business and first class. The seat is quite narrow, so when laying down and facing in the direction of the aisle, I felt quite claustrophobic, since my face was so close to the door. It’s like sleeping with your head up against a wall. However, in the other direction it was less of an issue.

While turning in bed I hit my elbow a couple of times due to how tight it was.

I tried to sleep for a bit, though was unsuccessful, so decided to get some work done on my laptop. Malaysia Airlines’ A350s have wifi.

Malaysia A350 wifi

They have three plans available, all based on how much data you consume — you can pay $2 for 10MB of data, $10 for 50MB of data, or $25 for 200MB of data.

Malaysia A350 wifi

I decided to buy 200MB of data so I could get a good amount of work done. $25 isn’t totally unreasonable, though is on the high side for a data-capped plan. Unfortunately I found Malaysia’s wifi to be on the slow side. Not quite as slow as OnAir, but not much faster.


Malaysia A350 wifi

The crew frequently came into the cabin to see if anyone wanted anything, so I ordered a cappuccino, which was tasty and served with a cookie.


Malaysia Business Suite cappuccino

About 90 minutes before landing I was asked if I wanted anything to eat. I wasn’t really hungry after having just had such a big meal, but figured I should try something. So I ordered the mee hoon goreng.


Malaysia Business Suite snack

The first announcement from the cockpit came at 4:30PM Tokyo time, when the captain advised that we’d be descending in about 10 minutes, and that we should be arriving around 5:05PM.

Moving map to Narita


Moving map to Narita

While we did indeed soon start our descent, we eventually had to enter a brief holding pattern. Given the time of day, I was treated to a beautiful sunset at this point.

Sunset approaching Narita


Sunset approaching Narita

We ended up touching down at Narita on runway 13L at 5:25PM, and from there had a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate.

There was a really long line at immigration, though it at least moved quickly, thanks to Japanese efficiency. In the end I was through within about 30 minutes.

I headed to the Hilton Narita, where I’d be spending the night before continuing to the US the next day.

Malaysia A350 Business Suite bottom line

Malaysia’s A350 Business Suite offers a first class soft product with a hybrid first & business class hard product.

On my flight, I thought the soft product was exceptional — the food and champagne were great, there were lots of amenities, and the service was excellent. I’d note that in my experience service on Malaysia Airlines is inconsistent, so I wouldn’t take that for granted.

The seat, on the other hand, is private and well designed, but also not that spacious. You definitely do notice that the seat is significantly narrower than other first class seats out there.

Overall, Malaysia’s A350 Business Suite exceeded my expectations.

If you’ve flown the Malaysia A350, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. Exactly how did you book this? How do I book a “Business Suite” instead of “Business” if I’m using American points?

  2. As a business suite customer, were you provided expedited immigration (or front of line) once you landed?

  3. @ George — Nope, Japan doesn’t offer fast track immigration for any first & business class passengers.

  4. @ Robert Mahari Habte — See the introduction post in the series for full details. 🙂 I redeemed American miles, and the cost was the same as it would be for first class.

  5. I know this is the opposite direction of your travel but … do you know, for Business Suite customers departing from Tokyo and heading to KL, which lounge they get access? (I’m hoping it’s JAL First.)

  6. @ Ed — Unfortunately they cut first class lounge access at NRT when they rebranded, so you now just get access to any oneworld business lounge.

  7. Just interesting by the moving map it says distance traveled 5124 km and distance from departure 5002 km.

  8. @Ben re:fast track immigration in Japan. Not sure if your comment is specific to Malaysia Airlines passengers, or all first and business passengers in general, but last time I flew ANA F to Japan I was handed a fast track card for immigration at Narita and there was a dedicated line (although it moved slowly).

  9. I’m still confused about why Malaysian rebranded First to Business Suite. It certainly looks like a first-class soft product. I know the hard product is more like the best J seats than the best F seats, but it still seems competitive with, say Korean Air a380 F, or BA F.

    Rebranding to Business Suite lowers a lot of expectations and I would guess lowers the price they can charge. Are they trying to lure in true business travelers who are allowed to book “business class,” and whose companies don’t understand this is really F?

  10. @Ben (not lucky) – I think you’re right about your last thought. It likely has to do with corporate travel not allowing First class. Maybe lucky can clarify what booking class this books into (if its not in his intro post) to prove or disprove that theory.

  11. @Ben – are you sure about that (Japan not offering fast track access)? On my recent ANA F trip in December, we were given fastpasses at Narita arrivals.

    I have an APEC card, however (which you should absolutely get if you frequently travel to Asia on business – which this trip was!) so went to the shorter APEC line instead.

  12. Strange why they installed this seat. It seems to take up exactly as much space as a row of proper first class seats, but wastes much space on the massive, unnecessary consoles.

  13. @Robel; @Ben: I too would be interested on how you booked this. With miles or cash? Which platform? How many miles/cash? How were you able to determine which routes/aircraft had the business suites [first class] offering?

  14. @claus it takes a bit less space because the first part of the console is the footwell for the business class sets behind. It’s designed to integrate with the seat behind and save a little space. Now if it had been me I would have made this a true window rather than have the seat next to the aisle but I guess that is how it is.

  15. @Ed: That’s what I thought at first, but looking at pictures of business class and seat maps, it doesn’t seem to be the case. Business class is based on Vantage (not Vantage XL) and the bulkhead seats have their own footwells.

  16. @claus I thought this was the whole point of the vantage system, I guess I am wrong.

    @lucky a shame not to try the Bruno Paillard Rose champagne, it maybe NV but its a really nice one.

  17. @Ben Malaysia Airlines got most of their F business through government travel. When the new government came in they have gone through a cost reduction exercise and banned first class travel for govt servants. Therefore MH lost all demand for F.
    Cleverly they have now rebranded this class as Business Suites meaning the Govt Servants essentially can again book First Class.
    Welcome to Malaysia.

  18. @Ben
    As @Caneron mentions, there are a first class fast track for immigration. The FAs on airlines who pays to participate hands out invitations. Boarding pass itself is not enough. There is usually zero waiting time, as the invitations are only for non Japanese passport holders. So the number of passengers applicable is very low.
    MH clearly does not participate after the rebranding.

  19. The console did not need to be that wide and they could have utilized storage space under the ottoman.

    You didn’t have any teh tarik on this flight?

  20. Dear @Lucky, as a long time reader I’ve noticed your comments on champagnes served on board. You almost invariably make it about the price of the bottle. That seems a bit common, even vulgar to me. It should be about the drink itself. True, more expensive champagnes are usually the better ones, but don’t they deserve to be described bit differently. You could say prestige champagne, wine of high quality or something in that direction. I think that making it all about the price tag dilutes your reviews.

    Otherwise it’s usually a pleasure to read the articles from you and your co-writers. Keep up the good work!

  21. Looks fantastic — especially the food — but quite bizarre that these luxuries are subsidized by ordinary Malaysian citizens who will never get to experience it. Equally bizarre that Air Asia — which the ordinary Malaysian citizen is more likely to travel with — is hobbled so that MH can hope to remain alive to subsidize foreigners and wealthy Malaysians.

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