Review: Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge Kuala Lumpur Airport

Filed Under: Malaysia

We arrived at Kuala Lumpur Airport at around 1:30PM for our 3:20PM flight to Bali.

Kuala Lumpur Airport has a rather impressive exterior, even in the drop-off zone.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport exterior

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Kuala Lumpur Airport check-in hall

Once inside the terminal, we headed towards Malaysia Airlines’ premium check-in, which is partitioned off from the rest of the check-in area with frosted glass and a special entrance, which I find to be a nice touch.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport Malaysia Airlines premium check-in

The first class and oneworld Emerald check-in is located inside the premium check-in area and to the left. Malaysia’s only flight with first class anymore is to London Heathrow, so for the most part it’s simply a check-in area for oneworld Emerald members.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport Malaysia Airlines first class check-in

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Kuala Lumpur Airport Malaysia Airlines first class check-in

The area has a few couches, though isn’t really special aside from that. There was one associate in this check-in area who was assisting another passenger. Within a couple of minutes she motioned us over, and a couple of minutes later we had our boarding passes to Bali.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport Malaysia Airlines first class check-in

We proceeded towards international departures, which required taking the escalator down a level to the immigration hall.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport walking to departures

There’s a special premium immigration queue, so we were through within a minute, though it didn’t look like the other lines were especially long either.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport immigration

At that point we had to clear a quick security checkpoint. This wasn’t the final security checkpoint (which is at the individual gates), but rather just a more “basic” check.

At that point we were in the terminal, where I spotted the impressive collection of model airplanes they display right by the departures board.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport terminal

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Kuala Lumpur Airport model airplanes

Our flight was leaving from the pier closest to check in (the “H” gates), but Malaysia only has the regional lounge there. Their international first class lounge (which oneworld Emerald members have access to) is located in the concourse they primarily use for their longhaul international flights (the “C” gates).

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Kuala Lumpur Airport train system

The train ride takes a few minutes and has great views of the tarmac, including both the airline’s regional and longhaul operations.

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View from KLIA train

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View from KLIA train

Once we arrived at the other end we turned left and took the elevator up a level, which is where the lounges are located.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport satellite terminal

Malaysia’s Golden Lounge is located one level above the train system, basically hidden “behind” it.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport satellite terminal

The lounge reception is shared between the business and first class lounge. At the reception you’ll be directed either left to the business class lounge or right to the first class lounge. Upon presenting our boarding passes we were pointed right.

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Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Kuala Lumpur Airport

There’s a long hallway, and then a few stairs and a ramp leading up to the lounge.

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge entrance Kuala Lumpur Airport

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge entrance Kuala Lumpur Airport

I last reviewed the Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge in March 2013, shortly after Malaysia joined oneworld. At the time I had flown their A380 first class from London to Kuala Lumpur and from Kuala Lumpur to London.

On to the actual review. The lounge itself is a decent size, at least given how little traffic it seems to get nowadays. It’s basically just one long rectangle. There’s a seating area right near the entrance, which seems more decorative than anything, as I’ve never seen anyone sit there.

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge seating Kuala Lumpur Airport

The primary seating in the first class lounge is a few steps below the level at which you walk-in. There’s plenty of seating along the windows, arranged in a comfortable and semi-private way.

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge seating Kuala Lumpur Airport

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge seating Kuala Lumpur Airport

Then on the upper level there are single sets of seats, which are less “cosy,” given that you basically feel like you’re sitting in a hallway. Since the lounge never really seems to fill up, though, there’s no reason to sit there.

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge seating Kuala Lumpur Airport

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge walkway Kuala Lumpur Airport

At the far end of the lounge is a small smoking room, which at least has great tarmac views.

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge smoking room Kuala Lumpur Airport

The views throughout the lounge in general are pretty good, though due to the way the roof is designed, you sort of have a limited view vertically.

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Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge view Kuala Lumpur Airport

At the far end of the lounge past the smoking room are the bathrooms, showers, and nap rooms.

The shower rooms are a bit past their prime, though functional.

Malaysia Airlines Lounge shower room

There are also nap rooms, which are hideous. I’m not sure how else to describe them.

Malaysia Airlines Lounge nap room

The shared bathrooms are fine as well, though they sort of remind me of what you’d expect from the pool bathroom at a three star central Florida hotel.

Malaysia Airlines Lounge bathroom

The food spread in the lounge is downright underwhelming, even for a business class lounge.

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge buffet Kuala Lumpur Airport

There’s a rather depressing looking espresso machine.

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge espresso machine Kuala Lumpur Airport

Then there are some cookies and snack mix in jars, along with some finger sandwiches.

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge snacks Kuala Lumpur Airport

Then there’s some fresh fruit, salad, and veggies.

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge snacks Kuala Lumpur Airport

There’s also some juice available.

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge juice Kuala Lumpur Airport

Below the juice is a fridge with a limited selection of soft drinks.

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge drinks Kuala Lumpur Airport

Service in the lounge is virtually non-existent, in that nobody came by to offer us anything. However, when I went to visit the dining room, there must have been a dozen staff members in the back room just sitting there chatting. When I walked into the dining room they all sort of jumped up and were overly attentive, which made it sort of uncomfortable to take pictures.

Hey Christoph Mueller, if you’re laying off a huge portion of your workforce, the back room of your first class lounge may be the first place to start reassigning roles. 😉

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge dining room Kuala Lumpur Airport

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge dining room Kuala Lumpur Airport

The dining room had a couple of hot dishes on display which looked positively unappetizing, as if they had been sitting there all day untouched (come to think of it, that’s probably the case).

On top of the buffet there was a limited a la carte menu, which read as follows (I had to specifically ask for the menu and wasn’t proactively offered it):

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We headed back to the main part of the lounge, where once again there was no server in sight. I had to go to the back room of the dining area to request a drink from them. As far as I know they’re supposed to proactively offer you drinks (I’m not sure why else the lounge would be so heavily staffed), but that wasn’t the case during this visit.

Eventually we were poured champagne, which was a perfectly fine glass of Cattier Brut.

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge champagne Kuala Lumpur Airport

I did like the flutes they served champagne in.

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Malaysia Airlines Lounge champagne Kuala Lumpur Airport

Our flight was scheduled to board at around 2:50PM, so at 2:30PM we left the lounge and headed to our departure gate. This required taking the train back to the main terminal.

From there we turned right towards our departure gate, H6.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport domestic terminal

There we had to go through another security checkpoint. Since we arrived just a few minutes before departure, we were among the last people through security, and therefore the line was only very short.

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Kuala Lumpur Airport domestic terminal security

There was a flight leaving to Hong Kong from the same “secure area,” as the security checkpoint was shared between two gates.

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Malaysia Airlines departure gate signage

Once through security we took the escalator down a level to the gate area, which was rather empty.

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Malaysia Airlines departure gate

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Malaysia Airlines departure gate to Bali

While the departure board said “boarding” starting at 2:50PM, in reality boarding didn’t start until 3PM, at which point business class and elite members were welcomed to board.

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Malaysia Airlines departure gate to Bali

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Malaysia 737 taking us to Bali

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Malaysia 737s Kuala Lumpur Airport

Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge bottom line

This is one of the most underwhelming international first class lounges I’ve been to. By comparison the Malaysia Golden Lounge in London is really nice, while this one is sort of dumpy. It’s not often that outstation lounges are nicer than an airline’s “flagship” lounge.

I realize Malaysia is sort of in a financial situation, but the thing is that the biggest problem with the lounge isn’t even expensive to fix. The seating and everything is fine, but a bit of warm hospitality or proactive service would go a long way here. Also, improving the food spread just a little bit wouldn’t be too costly, but would improve the experience substantially, in my opinion.

Between the bad service and terrible spread, this lounge is underwhelming even as a business class lounge and would hardly even be considered on my list of best airline lounges in the world.

Have you visited the Malaysia First Class Lounge Kuala Lumpur? What was your experience like?

  1. With MH (I believe) eliminating F from its fleet, and not so many OneWorld partners flying planes with F to KUL (is BA the only one?), should MH dump the F section altogether rather than deliver a product which is a dreary as MH’s prospects?

  2. Nice report! Whatever happened to the Chopard toiletries in first lavs?- I swear the shower and bathroom were also a different darker color scheme last month – or did I get too much champagne? 🙂

  3. I was just in KUL in August. Since we were flying regional J on MH to HKG (flight 432 none the less, which you were next to) we had access to the MH lounge in the main terminal. Entrance is right next to the model planes and all the candy stands. I honestly think the J lounge was nicer (minus the food offerings of course). The J lounge had a great mix of stuff (fruit, rice, fish, curry and a noodle bar). I wasn’t there long but was actually pretty impressed.

    Interested to see the report on the MH 737. The product is ‘ok’ for a 3-4 hour flight (like DPS or HKG) but there’s obviously much better to be had in Asia. The Satay though…. my favorite part!

  4. I love your blog and your detailed reviews but this review came off a little too “bitchy” and entitled for my enjoyment. I don’t travel in style like you so maybe it’s just me but compared to what the “normal” folk have to deal with, I would take a nap in that room without question. It sure as hell beats sitting in the terminal squished between people. Also, poking fun at peoples lively hood isn’t something we should be joking about.

    Just my 2 cents but thanks for everything you do!

  5. I fully agree with your comments re food offering both in the main sitting area and the restaurant. The club sandwich is probably the worst I have ever had. In my experience, 4 times in a year, service is typical malaysian – more miss than hit but overall, it seems to me that there is noticeable lack of senior staff which enforce some consistency in the service. The situation is even worse at the J lounge though. Bathrooms are poor (terrible in the J lounge) and the shower towels are AA quality or worse.

  6. your shower room looks much different to the one I visited beginning of November. It was more like a shared shower room with three cabins in it. It was quite dirty and at that time there was only cold water.
    To be fair they anounced that already at the the shower desk.

  7. The nap room looks totally fine to me from the picture…
    If that is hideous, what is the nap room (aka cabana) in BA’s CCR?

  8. @ Patrick — Certainly appreciate the feedback and you reading. Ultimately when I write a review I feel it’s more useful to compare the lounge to other comparable lounges (other first class and oneworld lounges) rather than the gate area. In other words, I think it’s more useful to say “unlike X lounge, the food wasn’t very good,” rather than “unlike in the gate area, there was free food and drinks.” But certainly see where you’re coming from.

  9. @ jfhscott — As the airline continues to shrink, rumor has it that MH may completely stop operating out of the satellite terminal, and instead just condense all their operations to the main terminal. At that point the regional lounge would become the new shared lounge for all premium passengers.

  10. Can’t help but think there’s some graft involved in keeping this lounge open at all. Let’s see, no real user base with First Class all but abandoned, a less than stellar experience, massive yet ineffectual staffing…it all says someone’s got a vested interest in keeping this open without a good business case as to why.

  11. I flew JL from KUL-HKG about a month ago with my girlfriend (both AA Plat) and after experiencing the joy of the CX Lounges a few days before the Golden Lounge was pretty shocking. We were on the biz class side but were so disappointed by the Golden Lounge that we left and went to the Cathay regional lounge.

    The space is enormous… but like awkwardly large. The people cant fill it and it just feels vacant. The whole place is run down and the food looked like it had been sitting out forever. The stuffing was coming out of chairs we sat down in and when we went to take showers the hot water was disconnected so the cold shower certainly woke us up.

    I actually really liked MH in my one experience with them a few years ago but the Golden Lounge really, really needs some attention.

  12. @ Lucky I think you summed up nicely the place. It has been like this for the last 2 years. As mentioned, service here can be at times a hit or miss – typical attitude. When service was good, it really goes overboard especially if you there are less than a handful of guests in the lounge, they will be hoovering over you.
    As far as I know the staff especially those working in the dining room are all trainees from some culinare school/course. Normally there are 2-3 real staff but most of them are mainly trainees.
    As for food, the reason why the selection in the buffet area is so limited is because you are supposed to just request for everything and they will bring it over (even items from the Business class section). I understand it is ironic since if you have never visited the Business class section you have no idea what is available for order. I suspect they also prefer guests to eat at the dining area (since there is another buffet area there) and the outside buffet is more for small snack type food.
    It looks like they have switched the champange again.
    I guess for now the lounge situation is not the main attention until they get the flight operations in place.

  13. Lucky I visited this lounge even before their poor financial situation and the airplane crashes. The quality was the same, and no different. And still very annoyed that you have to ask for champagne specifically from a waiter even in the first class section.

    I peeked into the business class section and it seemed like that was more lively and with hotter/better food from turnover.

  14. I agree with the description of the MH lounge – very underwhelming in KUL, surprisingly good in LHR. The KUL business class lounge is atrocious – dirty, crowded, very dated furniture and very cheap (bad quality) food offerings. Very limited alcohol offerings due to an indifferent bar staff. The First Class lounge at KUL was cleaner, but with the same disappointing food and beverage offerings. Pity since the inflight dining and service in premium classes are actually quite good.

  15. I agree with this review. While service on board MH flights is generally very very good and does reflect the ‘Malaysian Hospitality’ (=MH) spirit, the lounges in KUL – and all other airports in Malaysia – do not match that service quality. Not at all. Poor F&B offerings incl. un-chilled white wines and beers if you’re unlucky, sluggish staff, even unfriendly response when asking for something that’s on the menu card displayed at the counter. For that reason I time my departures from KUL well, try to avoid spending more time than necessary at the lounge (if at all) but go straight to the gate and board the plane.. it’s a shame though because things used to be very different a few years ago, especially after the last refurbishment of the lounges a few years back. I used to enjoy my stay in the biz class lounge back then, it was a great product with motivated staff. But the grumpy or even arrogant attitude of MAS ground staff seems to have become the norm at KUL incl. the lounges. Sadly so, for all flyers not only premium passengers!

  16. I am dealing with a delayed CX flight now and pretty much agree with the review. The MH F lounge is underwhelming but since it’s 37C outside, at least the A/C works well and there was actually a MH lady who did fill up my champagne a few times.

    Honestly, the CX lounge is pretty underwhelming too but sadly even 3 bottles of mid range booze beats out MH F (sans the Cattier champagne which is pretty good).

    Overall, the KL lounge experience in general is really disappointing.

  17. The F side showers and toilets have been updated since 2014… IIRC it now has a darker interior and generally better fittings with Cartier toiletries. That hideously out of place chair no longer exists (per picture) and at least there are linen hand towels and are way cleaner than BA’s shameful excuse in LHR First lounge.

    Whilst the dining room is no SQ private room, I enjoyed extremely prompt yet unobstructive service. Certainly miles ahead of the BA LHR first lounge (which us lowly emeralds access)

  18. Recently visited the international J class lounge, after a gap of about 10 years. The deterioration was shocking. Physically the space looked about the same as before, but fittings, food, service has all gone downhill. Shower rooms were of a standard I would expect in a second-grade suburban gym – broken showerheads, not thoroughly cleaned, etc. Very disappointing. At least the quiet reading room was still well maintained although all the cupboards were filled with MH logs and other paperwork. Much work needs to be done. Oh, and the last minute equipment change from the newly refurbished A330 to one of the old ones did not help my experience.

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