I had two hours between flights at Hong Kong airport. Although my baggage had been through-checked I was not able to get boarding passes at the departure airport.
The Malaysia Airlines transfer desk was located in transit area East and fortunately the incoming flight parked at gate 15, which is literally around the corner. There was no one in line at the transfer desk but the check-in agent kept talking on his mobile phone the entire time. Nevertheless he did what he was supposed to and I was given boarding passes for both my two next flights.
I was hoping to have enough time to visit the Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge to have something proper to eat in The Dining Room restaurant but with the incoming flight being a few minutes late and with the Malaysia Airlines flight departing from the new concourse satellite terminal building I had to give up on that idea. Instead I went to Cathay Pacific The Wing Lounge, which was not far away, and with a OneWorld Emerald card I could visit the first class side.
I enquired at the reception desk about the gate and they advised me to allow up to 20-25 minutes to get to the gate, this meant a rather short lounge visit this time.
Straight after the reception desk in The Wing First Class Lounge is the champagne bar with some comfortable sofas, so I had a seat to have something to drink. Sometimes there is also a lounge attendant working at the bar, pouring champagne or arranging something else from the regular bar, which is delivered to your seat.
The three champagne brands on offer at the champagne bar were Perrier Jouet, Thiénot and the Deutz rose.
Although The Pier is my favourite Cathay Pacific lounge in Hong Kong The Wing is definitely not bad. The interior is quite stylish and the open-air layout gives it a rather airy feeling. It was not too crowded this late afternoon.
Also the small self-service buffet area (there is also a proper a la carte restaurant and dining area) gave an excellent impression. What a nice presentation of the food, drinks and snacks.
The flight to Kuala Lumpur was to depart from gate 210 located in the concourse terminal building. From the central transit area in the eastern part of the main terminal building, just after the security control for departing passengers, you have to take the shuttle train two stops to reach the new concourse.
This was actually my first visit to the new concourse. It looks quite a lot like the rest of the airport but everything is of course much more modern.
Hong Kong-Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines flight MH 433
Just like at most gates at Hong Kong airport there were separate lines for business class and economy class, the business class line also included OneWorld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald members travelling in economy class.
However although business class passengers were allowed to board first the general boarding started just a few seconds later and since the flight was operated by a Boeing 737 with only one jet bridge all passengers quickly mixed after passing the podium and I ended up having to queue once again just to get onboard. Really not the way it should be. The ground staff really should have managed this much better.
A Boeing 737 was used for the flight to Kuala Lumpur with four rows of business class. The seats and most of the cabin interior went in dark blue and the aircraft also had the latest Boeing Next-Generation Sky Interior with the characteristic neon mood lighting effects in the cabin.
Out of the 16 seats in business class all but one seat was taken, 03F. I had 03C, an aisle seat on the third row.
A fairly large pillow and a blanket were waiting on the seat upon arrival. When most passengers were onboard pre-departure beverages were offered including the signature drink, Wau Emas. A blend of pineapple juice, pandan syrup and with a hint of lime. I decided to give it a try. All other pre-departure drinks were non-alcoholic, so no champagne for example.
A safety video was shown on the monitors and with the early start of the boarding process we also pushed back a few minutes ahead of timetable, which was good news as it meant a longer layover in Kuala Lumpur and perhaps some time for a lounge visit there.
Seat and cabin
There were four rows of business class in a 2-2 configuration meaning 16 seats in total, of which 15 were taken. The cabin had the Boeing next-generation Sky Interior concept and generally gave a very good impression.
The seat pitch was 42 inches, quite a bit more than the 30 inches you get in economy class further back, but still not enough for the passenger at the window seat to be able to pass in front of the person sitting in the aisle seat without that person having to move.
The seats were fairly standard shorthaul business class seats, perfectly adequate for a flight of three hours. All seats also had individual screens.
Food and drinks
The inflight service started as soon as we reached our cruising altitude. Menus were handed out which also included the drink list and the wine list.
The champagne served onboard was Bruno Paillard Brut Première Cuvée Multi Vintage, not a brand I am very familiar with. There was one white wine (an Australian Chardonnay) and two reds (a French Bordeaux and an Australian Shiraz).
The drink list also included a standard selection of spirits, various soft drinks and a rather good and fairly wide selection of teas.
The dinner service started with the signature satay service with either chicken, lamb or a combination. We could also choose if we wanted the peanut sauce placed on top of the skewers or on the side. I asked to get a mix and also asked for a glass of the Chardonnay white wine.
The meal tray was then handed out with a garden salad with lemon thyme dressing for starter. Bread rolls were also offered from a basket, including garlic bread, followed by refills of drinks.
At the same time meal orders were taken for the main course. They started from the front so those sitting on row 1 were more likely to get their first choice than those sitting on row 4, and I was the last person in the cabin who got my choice of main course, the chicken. No priority was given to status passengers.
There were three choices of main course. Steamed Barramundi with Nyonya tamarind sauce accompanied by steamed rice and Hong Kong choy sum. Stir-fried black pepper chicken served with egg noodles and Chinese greens. Or Lamb Rendang, lamb braised in coconut milk served with lemongrass turmeric rice and cabbage masala.
I went for the chicken with noodles which was tasty and fairly spicy.
The trays were cleared and finally coffee, tea and Häagen Dazs ice cream were offered, the latter with two different flavours. I also asked for a glass of Chivas Regal whisky although the flight attendant had some difficulties differing between Chivas and Shiraz. But we eventually sorted everything out, with a smile and a laugh.
No more drinks were offered during the flight but there was no problem pressing the call button to order something else.
A full AVOD (Audio Video On-Demand) was available onboard with the screen placed at the back of the seatback in front while the seats on the first row had the screens in the armrest.
I did not really use the inflight entertainment system during the flight, instead using my own iPad, but it offered a reasonable selection of movies, TV-series and music albums.
Two flight attendants were in charge of the business class cabin, the middle-aged purser and a slightly younger female flight attendant. The purser did most of the job in the galley but also assisted her colleague in the cabin whenever she had time. She was a rather rigid lady but also made sure the service kept a good standard, which it did. There was little to comment about.
There was no real recognition during the flight in terms of greetings or priority when selecting a main course but they had clearly indicated the status of each business class passenger both on a sheet in the galley and on a sheet available on the trolley, so they definitely had an idea about Sapphire and Emerald members on the flight.
With the early departure from Hong Kong we also landed 20 minutes early at KLIA – Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I had 75 minutes until my next flight but this was good news as it meant bI had time for a lounge visit.
Security always takes place at the gate at KLIA so there was no transfer security to pass, we simply entered the transit hall. The connecting flight departed from the satellite terminal building which meant a train ride from the central terminal building where the flight from Hong Kong parked. A good number of the passengers onboard had connections, mostly to Australia and Europe.
The inflight service kept a good level from the two flight attendants who did everything very properly. Tasty food and a reasonable selection of drinks. The seat comfort was also adequate in business class with proper business class seats on the rather new Boeing 737. Malaysia Airlines is perhaps not the best airline in the OneWorld alliance but they do seem to have been able to move on since their very troubled years a few years ago.