Malaysia Airlines Refreshes Boeing 737 Cabins (For The Worse)

Malaysia Airlines Refreshes Boeing 737 Cabins (For The Worse)

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Malaysia Airlines has just announced plans to refresh the interiors of its entire Boeing 737 fleet, including removing seatback TVs, decreasing the size of the business class cabin, and cramming in an extra 14 seats.

Malaysia’s Boeing 737s get less premium, more environmental

Roughly half of Malaysia Airlines’ fleet consists of Boeing 737-800s, which are an average of around 10 years old. These planes are about to get new interiors, which are intended to modernize the cabins while also improving economics.

We can expect the first refurbished 737-800 to enter service shortly, and then all 38 jets will be reconfigured in the future (though there’s no exact timeline beyond that).

What’s the inspiration for the new cabins? Well, sustainability of course. The new configuration is allegedly 679 kilograms lighter than the old configuration, and it’s claimed that this will reduce fuel burn by around 91,000 liters per aircraft per year. As Malaysia Airlines’ Marketing and Customer Experience Officer, Lau Yin May, describes the new cabins:

“It is becoming increasingly important that we do everything with sustainability in mind. The all-new features of our refreshed B737-800 NG fleet will reduce our carbon footprint from the reduction of the weight of each aircraft – with the much lighter seats, use of soft cabin dividers and moving away from seatback screens to offer innovative in-flight entertainment features allowing for wireless streaming on board at their convenience.”

Malaysia Airlines’ reconfigured Boeing 737s feature a total of 174 seats, including 12 business class seats and 162 economy class seats.

Malaysia Airlines’ new Boeing 737 seatmap

Below you can find a video highlighting some of the new cabin features, which I’ll also be discussing in more detail.

New Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 business class

With the refresh, Malaysia Airlines’ 737 business class cabin is going from 16 seats to 12 seats, and seat pitch is being reduced from 42″ to 39″. Rather than having personal televisions, the new seats will have personal electronic device holders.

Furthermore, Malaysia Airlines will have power outlets (including AC, USB-A, and USB-C), storage space (including a bottle holder), a coat hook, a calf-rest, a six-way adjustable headrest, and a collapsible cocktail table. Unlike before, there will no longer be a proper bulkhead between business class and economy, but rather there will just be a smaller (and lighter) divider.

Seats will continue to be arranged in a 2-2 configuration, as before.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 business class
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 business class
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 business class
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 business class
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 business class

Is it just me, or does the cabin look a bit… blue?

New Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 economy class

With the refresh, Malaysia Airlines’ 737 economy class cabin is going from 144 seats to 162 seats, so the cabin is getting an extra three rows. Seat pitch will be 30″, which is allegedly the same as what it was before. Just as in business class, personal televisions are being replaced by personal electronic device holders.

Malaysia Airlines will offer streaming entertainment in the form of MHstudio, featuring movies, podcasts, music, books, games, and more.

Furthermore, Malaysia Airlines will have USB-A and USB-C outlets (though no AC power outlets) and a literature pocket in economy. The focus here is definitely on the seats being lightweight.

Seats will continue to be arranged in a 3-3 configuration, as before.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 economy class
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 economy class

Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAXs are still a mystery

Malaysia Airlines has 50 Boeing 737 MAXs on order, including 40 737 MAX 8s and 10 737 MAX 10s. These are expected to be delivered to the airline as of 2024, though it’s anyone’s guess if that delivery timeline will stick.

Malaysia Airlines has been struggling financially for years, and there’s no clear direction for where the airline is headed. At one point Malaysia Airlines executives had talked about putting flat beds on Boeing 737 MAXs, but then they backtracked on that.

It’s possible that these interiors will also be on Malaysia’s Boeing 737 MAX fleet, though we don’t know yet, as there hasn’t been an announcement one way or another.

Malaysia Airlines also has 737 MAXs on order

Bottom line

Malaysia Airlines will be refreshing the interiors of its Boeing 737 fleet. This includes reducing the number of business class seats, significantly increasing the overall seat count, removing personal televisions from the planes, and eliminating the bulkhead between business class and economy.

These changes aren’t good for the passenger experience, though to be honest these changes seem sensible. Malaysia Airlines hasn’t exactly historically been able to command a price premium in the region compared to other full service carriers, so a bit more efficient configuration could help economics.

This isn’t a big deal for a short regional hop, though for routes like Kuala Lumpur to Perth, I’m sure these changes will be quite noticeable.

What do you make of Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 737 cabin changes?

Conversations (19)
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  1. Ow Guest

    Currently it's already bad food.
    Next it's cramped seats and the offer to stare at the back of another seat.
    But more worrying is MAS acquiring Boeing Max...you know the plane that's designed to not fly straight (?)

  2. Josh Guest

    Add more seats, make me uncomfortable and I WON'T FLY YOUR AIRLINE! Don't care who it is! And these airlines wonder why there is air rage and problems with passengers!! Doesn't take a rocket scientist here!

  3. Sylvain Guest

    looks pretty much like El Al's refurbished 737-800

  4. Brianair Guest

    The Oasis influence spreads far and wide. Even on the other side of the vast Pacific. I would think Malaysia would be taking a look at how its much smaller neighbor to the southeast does it. It is notable that both of the Oneworld carriers in that part of the world (the other being CX) now have a narrowbody busienss class product that is inferior to their neighbors. Lie-flat is becoming the norm now. If it’s not lie-flat, call it premium economy.

  5. glenn t Diamond

    I mean, why bother? The green credentials involved are risable; all lame spin!
    Do airline execs take notice of how 'enhancements' (not) such as ripping out seatback TVs played on other airlines that tried it? Apparently not.
    In the race to the bottom with other Asian LCCs, they will not win.
    There are too many others who will do worse.
    I will take my first Malaysia flight (longhaul) next week as...

    I mean, why bother? The green credentials involved are risable; all lame spin!
    Do airline execs take notice of how 'enhancements' (not) such as ripping out seatback TVs played on other airlines that tried it? Apparently not.
    In the race to the bottom with other Asian LCCs, they will not win.
    There are too many others who will do worse.
    I will take my first Malaysia flight (longhaul) next week as it happens, with a 738 flight the following week.
    The latter flight with the current product will be a useful reference point for comparing the future uninspiring configuration.
    And yes, the blueness does seem a bit overdone, but mild compared the the all-engulfing purpleness Virgin seems to like.

  6. Eskimo Guest

    You are forgetting the whole reason MH was is trouble, the rise of AirAsia.

    Lucky for MH, Tony Fernandes' ego is writing checks his airline can't cash. They still refuse to refund customers from 2020. That burned a lot of their customers and a good opportunity for MH to replicate what Doug Parker was doing, competing legacy with LCC.

    1. Antarius Guest

      MH's inferiority complex is what has led to MH being inferior. They watch their richer and more successful southern neighbor and try to play catch up.

      Only an major Napoleon complex would make ordering a380s make even a semblance of sense.

  7. Mark Chataway Guest

    Removing seat-back entertainment is a great idea. It removes those awful boxes that destro legroom for two seats per row. Who wants to watch them anyway, when we all travel with tablets

  8. Laurel Guest

    So they're taking out the personal TVs for BYOD entertainment and even felt the need to rip out the power ports in Economy? What is with this trend of going no power and no entertainment in Economy now? It's kind of mind boggling to me that they are spending money to remove power ports they already paid to install (Avianca did the same last year), can they really be that heavy?

    1. NazDan Guest

      Nobody said anything about ripping power ports in economy. All seats with USB-A and USB-C. Even in economy.

  9. BenjaminGuttery Gold

    I knew others would follow AA's stupid lead. We aren't cattle. We're customers that have a choice.

  10. stogieguy7 Diamond

    LOL, blame it on sustainability! It's amazing just how adept corporations have become at doing something they've long wanted to do in order to save money and squeeze you harder...but can't admit this. So, it's because of COVID. Or....sustainability! Climate change! Yeah, that's why we're decreasing pitch, the size of toilets and no more IFE. We're saving the planet, damnit!

    What a fraud.

  11. Terence Guest

    Seems like Doug Parker has found another job after his AWE retirement.

    1. LEo Diamond

      i just wanted to comment that when I read the title lol, this certainly have to be something that doug Parker master on

  12. Mike O. Guest

    Well done on the pun. And yes, it does look sterile and bland.

    1. Jimmy’s Travel Report Gold

      Actually thought the business cabin looked fairly good.

    2. Mike O. Guest

      They could've at least added something like a woodgrain finish on the table, some sort of pattern on the bulkhead and throughout the seat.

  13. uldguy Diamond

    Apparently they had a chat with their alliance partner AA and thought “Hey, this OASIS configuration sounds like a great idea. We’ll do it too!”

    Ugh.

  14. AGrumpyOldMan_GA Gold

    Is this a case of hiding behind "green" to pursue reduced costs that many won't question? I get the need to be profitable and reduce costs. I work in finance so I don't fault. But don't hide behind green and be forthright: we are seeking to cut costs by burning less fuel. Cool.

    I have an iPad and an iPhone. I am technically able to stream. But what if some people do not or their...

    Is this a case of hiding behind "green" to pursue reduced costs that many won't question? I get the need to be profitable and reduce costs. I work in finance so I don't fault. But don't hide behind green and be forthright: we are seeking to cut costs by burning less fuel. Cool.

    I have an iPad and an iPhone. I am technically able to stream. But what if some people do not or their battery dies and they forgot a cable to charge or any other reasons they might not be able to access video content. Just put the screen in the seat. If it burns a little extra fuel, lift the ticket price by a few bucks. No one is likely to notice.

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AGrumpyOldMan_GA Gold

Is this a case of hiding behind "green" to pursue reduced costs that many won't question? I get the need to be profitable and reduce costs. I work in finance so I don't fault. But don't hide behind green and be forthright: we are seeking to cut costs by burning less fuel. Cool. I have an iPad and an iPhone. I am technically able to stream. But what if some people do not or their battery dies and they forgot a cable to charge or any other reasons they might not be able to access video content. Just put the screen in the seat. If it burns a little extra fuel, lift the ticket price by a few bucks. No one is likely to notice.

5
uldguy Diamond

Apparently they had a chat with their alliance partner AA and thought “Hey, this OASIS configuration sounds like a great idea. We’ll do it too!” Ugh.

3
Terence Guest

Seems like Doug Parker has found another job after his AWE retirement.

2
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