Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Class 737 Kuala Lumpur To Bali

Filed Under: Malaysia

I was excited for my first flight on Malaysia Airlines in a couple of years, as I had only previously flown their A380s and 777s. I was curious how their regional product compared.

Malaysia Airlines 853
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – Bali (DPS)
Saturday, November 14
Depart: 3:20PM
Arrive: 6:20PM
Duration: 3hr
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 2C (Business Class)

My first impression of Malaysia’s 737 was extremely positive. The 737 had the Boeing Sky Interior, with larger than standard bins and cool mood lighting.

The business class cabin consisted of a total of 16 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration.

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Malaysia Airlines 737 business class cabin

The economy cabin looked pretty spiffy as well, at least in terms of the finishes. Apparently the seat pitch is just 30″, so I was happy I wasn’t seated there.

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Malaysia Airlines 737 economy class cabin

Business class featured 42″ of pitch, which is excellent for a regional product. The seats themselves are similar to domestic first class seats in the US, except they have leg rests and recline a bit more. Legroom is probably about 5″ more than you’d get on a flight within the US.

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Malaysia business class seats 737

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Malaysia business class seats 737

We had selected seats 2A & 2C, adjoining aisle & window seats.

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Malaysia 737 business class, seats 2A & 2C

Also waiting at each seat was a small pillow & blanket, certainly more than sufficient for the short flight to Bali.

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Malaysia 737 business class, seats 2A & 2C

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Malaysia 737 business class, seats 2A & 2C

Like I said above, the legroom was ample, even with having a bag underneath the seat in front of me.

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Malaysia 737 business class legroom

The seat controls simply consisted of two manual levers (for reclining the seat and raising the leg rest), and then the entertainment controller was to the left of the seat, near the center console.

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Malaysia 737 business class seat controls

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Malaysia 737 business class entertainment controls

Waiting in the seatback pocket were some over-the-ear headphones, which weren’t very comfortable.

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Malaysia 737 business class headphones

Malaysia seems to staff their 737s pretty impressively, as I spotted at least five flight attendants onboard. The four female crew wore turquoise “Sarong Kebayas” of sorts, much like on Singapore Airlines.

What surprised me most was how young the crew was. Admittedly this was a regional flight, but with Malaysia’s recent layoffs I assumed the most senior crews would stick around, which didn’t seem to be the case. Our entire crew was young and chipper, much to my surprise.

A couple of minutes after we settled in the flight attendant came by to offer us some pre-departure beverages. We both had the signature pink guava juice.

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Malaysia 737 business class pre-departure beverages

Shortly thereafter we were offered hot towels.

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Malaysia 737 business class hot towel

And then a few minutes after that the flight attendant came around to take meal orders. This consisted of her showing us the menu for the flight, but we couldn’t keep it (I awkwardly asked if I could have it for a minute, just so I could take pictures).

Malaysia Airlines business class menu

Within about 15 minutes boarding was complete, as the plane was quite empty. Six of the 16 business class seats were taken, while economy was less than half full.

At around 3:20PM the very upbeat pilot came on the PA to welcome us aboard and inform us of our flight time of 2hr30min. He promised we’d be pushing from the stand shortly.

Sure enough we commenced our pushback at 3:25PM, at which point the safety video began to play.

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View on pushback Kuala Lumpur Airport

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View on pushback Kuala Lumpur Airport

Kuala Lumpur Airport is huge, and despite a pretty high speed taxi, it took us about 15 minutes to get to the runway.

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Taxiing Kuala Lumpur Airport

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Taxiing Kuala Lumpur Airport

On the plus side, the traffic enroute to the runway was interesting, including a Malaysia Cargo 747, as well as a Malaysia Airlines A380.

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Taxiing Kuala Lumpur Airport

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Malaysia A380 Kuala Lumpur Airport

At 3:40PM we made it to runway 32L, where we were immediately cleared for takeoff.

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Taxiing onto runway Kuala Lumpur Airport

Our takeoff roll was quick, and due to the position of the runway we had a great view of the terminals as we climbed out.

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View after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur

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View after takeoff

I quickly turned on the seatback entertainment, and switched to the airshow. Malaysia uses the same technology for their airshow as many other carriers.

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Airshow enroute to Bali

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Airshow enroute to Bali

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Airshow enroute to Bali

About five minutes after takeoff I realized what’s quite possibly the most annoying part of flying Malaysia — they have obnoxious boarding music, and they play it until the seatbelt sign is turned off. It’s one thing to have to listen to elevator music for 15 minutes, but 45 minutes of elevator music? Oy!

Fortunately the seatbelt sign was turned off eight minutes after takeoff, as we were passing through 7,000 feet. At that point the music was turned off and curtain was drawn between the cabin and the galley (while I’m used to curtains on widebody planes, there’s still something I find sort of funny about them on narrowbody planes).

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Malaysia Airlines business class curtain

Even though the flight was 2hr30min, the crew seemed focused on getting the meal out as quickly as possible.

The menu read as follows:

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And the beverage selection read as follows:

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Service began with drinks and packaged peanuts. I had a gin & tonic to drink. I was happy to see they had Bombay Sapphire gin.

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Malaysia Airlines business service — gin & tonic with nuts

Then the entire meal was served on a single tray. I had ordered the fish dish as the main course.

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Malaysia Airlines business service meal service

There was a side salad as a starter, which was quite good. I loved the combination of the bean curd, pineapple, and peanut sauce.

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Malaysia Airlines business service meal service — gado gado salad

Then for the main course I had the deep fried fish, which certainly wasn’t my preferred type of preparation.

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Malaysia Airlines business service meal service — deep fried garoupa

Ford had the other option, which didn’t look much more appetizing to me.

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Malaysia Airlines business service meal service — ayam masak merah

There was also a selection from the bread basket. I had a piece of cheese bread.

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Malaysia Airlines business service meal service — bread roll

The little slice of cheesecake for dessert was also quite nice.

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Malaysia Airlines business service meal service — baked cheesecake with raspberry sauce

To finish off the meal I had a teh tarik, which is one of my favorite hot beverages in the sky.

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Malaysia Airlines teh tarik

Overall I was impressed by the service and unimpressed by the food. The crew was friendly and attentive, though everything being served on one tray was a bit disappointing. Though perhaps the bigger issue was that the main really wasn’t good.

After the meal I had a look at the entertainment selection for the flight. Malaysia has a decent selection of movies and sitcoms. Nothing like you’d get on Emirates or Singapore, but for a 737 I thought it was a pretty good selection.

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Malaysia Airlines entertainment selection

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Malaysia Airlines entertainment selection

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Malaysia Airlines entertainment selection

After realizing there wasn’t anything I really wanted to see, I decided to try and doze off for a bit. I reclined my seat and put the leg rest up, and was able to at least rest for about an hour.

When I woke up the first officer was making a pre-landing announcement, informing us we’d be landing in about 30 minutes. At that point we began our descent.

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Airshow approaching Bali

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Airshow approaching Bali

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Airshow approaching Bali

I paid a quick visit to the lavatory, located at the front left of the cabin. It was the standard size for a 737, though I was impressed that they had a few amenities and even some flowers.

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Malaysia Airlines 737 business class lavatory

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Malaysia Airlines 737 business class lavatory amenities

The views on approach were gorgeous, especially as the sun was slowly beginning to set.

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View on approach into Bali

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View on approach into Bali

15 minutes before landing the seatbelt sign was turned on, at which point the boarding music was turned back on. The crew came back with one more hot towel service before landing.

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View on approach into Bali

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View on approach into Bali

We ended up touching down at Bali’s Denpasar Airport on runway 27 at 6:25PM.

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Touchdown Bali Denpasar

The sunset as we taxied was stunning.

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Taxiing Bali Denpasar

The airport was busy, as is the norm in the evenings, with plenty of traffic from both Garuda Indonesia, low cost carriers, and other international airlines.

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Taxiing Bali Denpasar

What I found most interesting was the “double parking” which seemed to be going on, whereby one plane parked at the gate, and another parked immediately behind it.

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Traffic at Denpsar Airport

This occurred at several gates.

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Traffic at Denpsar Airport

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Traffic at Denpsar Airport

We pulled into our gate at 6:30PM, right next to a Garuda Indonesia 737.

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Beautiful sunset at Denpasar Airport

It had been over two years since I’ve been to Bali, and I hadn’t realized they hugely expanded the airport. While it used to be a dump, it’s actually now a pretty modern airport.

Upon deplaning and bidding the crew farewell we began the super long walk to immigration.

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Arrivals hall Denpasar Airport

On the plus side, at least the airport itself was nice and air conditioned, so it wasn’t too bad of a walk.

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Arrivals hall Denpasar Airport

Just before immigration we were greeted by someone who had a sign with our names on them. She was someone who handles the “VIP Immigration” for St. Regis Bali guests, which is a standard offering for guests at the hotel. We were through immigration in a matter of minutes, at which point we were in the beautiful arrivals hall. Like, it wasn’t just beautiful compared to the previously crappy terminal, but was nice in absolute terms.

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Arrivals hall Denpasar Airport

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Arrivals area Denpasar Airport

There we hopped in the St. Regis’ car, for the 20 minute ride to the resort.

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Arrivals area Denpasar Airport

St. Regis Bali airport pick-up

St. Regis Bali airport pick-up

St. Regis Bali airport pick-up

Malaysia Airlines Business Class bottom line

Physically I was impressed by Malaysia’s 737. It was spotless, had a vibrant interior, and in business class the legroom and overall comfort were better than I was expecting.

The service on the flight was also good, with a friendly and attentive crew.

The food, however, was a bit underwhelming. Not terribly so, but just not anything that’s worth eating unless you’re really hungry.

Overall I was impressed, especially as this was my first flight on Malaysia in a couple of years. The great plane and good service exceeded my expectations.

If you’ve flown Malaysia business class, what was your experience like?

  1. Warms my heart when I hear that the crew were so into their jobs, and young! Especially with the difficult place MH is in right now, the crew have always been fantastic through it all.

  2. Wow, what a difference a year makes! The catering on my MH flights last summer was really tasty, even on short hops within Malaysia. This…does not look so good.

  3. I have a Malaysian regional flight coming up next summer so I was highly anticipating this review. Thanks, Lucky!

  4. I don’t like 737’s but just because I think they are overused but then that is because they are so good. I like to hear cabin crew like the job, I always believe if they don’t they should give it to someone that wants it because so many people do. I am enjoying your blogs Ben, look forward to the next one!

  5. Great review! Just one (very, very) small thing regarding your writing. I’ve noticed lately that you’ve been starting sentences with “Like, …” It sort of comes across as childish and petulant, and doesn’t add anything to your writing. So, for example, this sentence: “Like, it wasn’t just beautiful compared to the previously crappy terminal, but was nice in absolute terms.” would be way stronger if it just read “It wasn’t just beautiful compared to the previously crappy terminal, but was nice in absolute terms.” I get that sometimes it’s nice to write in the same way we talk aloud, but sometimes it’s not so great.

    Anyway, big fan of the blog, and apologies that I wasn’t able to suppress the writing instructor part of me!

  6. Catering presentation has gone down a bit, though I had the ayam masak merah on this exact same route last December and it was *excellent*.

  7. I wonder why does KUL mark their gates for “B764” parking?

    Are they trying to solicit service from UA or DL? 🙂

  8. I will fly MAS short-haul flight in less than 2 months. This report is very sufficient to justify what kind of service and food it can provide. May be I will choose to fill up my stomach in the lounge of Xiamen airport~

  9. Re food presentation: Well, this is what ayam masak merah really looks like … it’s a typical malay dish.

    Until about 10 years ago, the south east asian carriers had a western option even on the regional routes – often an overcooked beef tenderloin. That’s why even Westerners usually preferred the asian selection and the weatern one got culled …

  10. I can fully agree with this review, it sums up my ample experience flying ‘MAS’ biz class on regional routes. In fact, the conclusion about the food quality vs service and cabin appeal applies to all MAS biz class flights. Service is great if not outstanding (always depends on the actual crew members, naturally), planes are generally well maintained and clean (although some of the older 777s are clearly showing signs of ageing now), entertainment programme is so-so and food… well, as you said: eat it when you’re hungry, otherwise you won’t miss much. Expect for the signature Satay sticks on long-haul routes – they add a very nice local touch, are usually very tasty and should not be missed. Bottom line: I generally like flying with MAS, and am not perturbed by all the bad news about them (or rather the horrible fate they suffered) in the past 2 years.

  11. Lucky, I’m Malaysian and this is my first post. I normally shy away from posting on forums but your blog is one of my favourites and I read almost religiously. I love the balanced way you report on certain airlines and even when they deserve a fair degree of criticism, you take an nuanced approach, erring on the side of being gracious; which makes your blog a joy to read

    I think you were quite fair on the food review. The quality of the food in business class has sadly dropped in recent times. Yes, ayam masak merah does look like that but it doesn’t mean it has to be served that way and I feel that they could have worked a little harder on the presentation. In addition, I am hard pressed to remember the last time I had anything memorable in business class, apart from the satay (which you won’t get on regional flights)

    Keep up the good work, Lucky. Hope to see more trip reports about Malaysia and it’s other attractions. I know KL is not your favourite SEA destination but hopefully one day, you might see another side to it. It’s a rough diamond I know, but I feel it’s still a diamond nevertheless 🙂

  12. Excellent review. Just right amount of essential info. Pictures were particularly helpful.

  13. I had the worst Business Class experience on a ‘leased’ MAS aircraft for KUL – DPS -KUL flights.

    I booked on MAS website and it stated B777 aircraft. I was hoping to fly on Angled Lie-Flat business class seat. But it turned out to be a leases B738 aircraft with old 90’s Business Class seats.

    It has overhead screens for entertainment and we were given a portable media player i3000, which was heavy and bulky. The portable media player was supposed to be placed on table but how can we watch movies when we had to use the table when food was served? I had to stop watching movies when food was served.

    Secondly, all seat adjust buttons were not automated. All business class passengers had to pull the seat lever and push our backs to recline the seats.

    So please beware before purchasing MAS business class tickets. The website shows a different aircraft and it is very unlucky if get to fly on Leased aircraft. Not worth to fly.

  14. I’ll fly with MH from Malaysia to Taiwan with business class. Woah can’t wait.
    thank you Lucky for your best review!

  15. Hi Lucky. Im a fellow Malaysian. For Your Info, your spelling on our famous pulled tea has gone wrong. Its should be Teh Tarik instead of Teh Terik. The actual meaning in malay of terik is blazing and tarik means pull. Hope you had rectify the mistake ASAP.


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