Review

Malaysia Airlines A380 & A330 Business Class Review: MH21 & MH141 Paris to Kuala Lumpur to Sydney

The last leg on our European trip was to head from Paris Charles de Gaulle, to Kuala Lumpur, and onto Sydney in Malaysia Airlines Business Class – once again with the two kids in tow, aged 3 and around 4 months.

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, Malaysia Airlines Enrich program can provide excellent value for your points when booking on Malaysia Airlines flights, and has a few Australian credit card program transfer partners to get your points over to Enrich for redemption. This flight is a great example, coming in at only 51,000 Enrich miles, one way.

Featured Malaysia Airlines A380 picture by Simon Clancy at Flickr

Research and Booking

I knew when setting up all the bookings for this trip mid last year that Malaysia Airlines would probably be in the mix somewhere for that reason – in comparison to other programs, 52,000 miles for a one way Business Class redemption is amazing value, with Qantas, Asia Miles and many other programs charging double that in pure mileage terms.

Malaysia Airlines also usually has good award seat availability to take advantage of, so when I did the research for the trip and I saw that there were enough seats for the 3 of us (plus infant), I snapped them up.

Booking an infant ticket using Enrich miles is a little tricky, without the ability to do this online on Malaysia Airlines website. You have to call the Enrich call centre where they will manually calculate the fare and taxes involved.

Unfortunately all taxes and surcharges are payable with Enrich bookings, with a per adult cost of around $400 AUD. Infants are charged as no points, but 10% of the adult fare – in this case a total of $495 AUD. It’s still a great value use of points in my book.

Charles de Gaulle Airport – check in and lounge access

The check in at Charles de Gaulle was relatively easy, after jumping off the bus from the overnight stay at the Hilton the night before. All of our bags were tagged fully through to Sydney with priority tags, friendly service, and then we promptly got a bit lost in the Charles de Gaulle maze.

After taking our time through check in, security and that left minimal time in the lounge. However, we really didn’t miss much – the Air France operated lounge we had access to was empty, of both people and any kind of reason for being there.

1 Paris CDG Malaysia Airlines Lounge Invite

Lounge Invite

2 Paris CDG Air France Business Lounge

3 Paris CDG Air France Business Lounge

So we wandered off to board the flight, again experiencing the architecturally ‘different’ place that is Charles de Gaulle.

4 Walking to Malaysia Airlines A380 CDG KUL

Paris to Kuala Lumpur (CDG-KUL) MH21 Business Class on Malaysia Airlines’ A380

Boarding was very straightforward, and our little family unit got a great welcome by the Malaysia Airlines staff. The midday departure meant that noone was too tired on getting on board, so the kids coped very well with the departure process and getting up in the air.

The seat – Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class

Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class is a fully lie-flat product, and in many ways very similar to Qantas A380 Business Class with seats in a traditional 2:2:2 configuration, and all facing forwards – no angled or staggered layouts here.

5 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21

6 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21

The seat itself is comfortable, both in sitting and in fully flat mode, and I slept for maybe 4 or 5 hours in total on the flight – which considering the 2 small children is no small-feat. It’s also testament to how awesome my other half is in looking after our youngest! Our 3 year old got at least 6 hours sleep lying flat too.

12 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21 seat controls

Seat controls and centre console

With an infant in tow, we were placed in bulkhead seats with a bassinet located immediately in front of us. This took a couple of phone calls to arrange, but we got a decent amount of space with two seats on the left hand side of the aircraft, and then one in the centre with the bassinet.

7 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21 Bulkhead

9 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21 IFE

10 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21 Bulkhead legroom

This also gave us a good amount of storage with the window storage bins available to use. This is really the only significant personal storage available for Business Class customers outside the overhead bins, again very similar to Qantas configuration.

8 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21 Bulkhead Windows

11 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21 Bulkhead storage

The Upper Deck is almost fully dedicated to Business Class, with the exception of maybe 25% of the rear Upper Deck allocated to Economy seating.

17 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21 Cabin

Food and entertainment

I managed to grab a copy of the menu for this flight, below.

As a general comment, the food was pretty good, with decent size servings of ‘good enough’ quality. There were no misses in the food I had presented to me, so no complaints – but it wasn’t up there with the world’s best or other Business Class meals that I’ve had.

13 Signature drink

14 Malaysia Airlines MH21 Business Class dining

Scallops with Black Sesame entrée

15 Malaysia Airlines MH21 Business Class dining

Pan fried Salmon fillet main

16 Malaysia Airlines MH21 Business Class dining

Dinner – I can’t remember what this was!

18 Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class MH21 snacks

Snacks available in the galley

All up, this flight went well, considering. The crew were simply excellent, to be honest – very friendly and talkative with our children, and attentive on request for anything we needed.

The A380’s size comes in handy when trying to deal with children, allowing you to stand up and hang out in some of the open space in the galley and get them to sleep, for example. This flight was no different, the space made a big difference to everyone’s comfort and sanity.

Transiting with children through Kuala Lumpur airport, the Golden Wing lounge and kids room

19 Transit through Kuala Lumpur

The visit to the Golden Wing satellite lounge was possibly one of the most surprising parts about this journey. After 10+ hours in the air, with a 2 hour layover and another 8 hour flight in front of you, the last thing 2 kids need is to be told how to behave in an adult environment. They’ve just spent all that time in a box where adults rule the world, so letting off a little steam is important.

The Golden Wing Lounge by itself was nothing special – there was an amply supply of food, drink and seating, but the views of the tarmac were blocked by condensation.

20 Malaysia Airlines Golden Wing Satellite Lounge

21 Malaysia Airlines Golden Wing Satellite Lounge

However it was the kids room that made this layover a pleasure. With a couple of adult seats for you to watch on, toys, a chalkboard, hidey-house, kids seating, books and even a small side room with a cot, this was an excellent way for kids to go into their own headspace for an hour or so.

22 Kids Room  Malaysia Airlines Golden Wing Satellite Lounge

23 Kids Room  Malaysia Airlines Golden Wing Satellite Lounge

24 Kids Room  Malaysia Airlines Golden Wing Satellite Lounge

The room itself wasn’t that large, but the fact it was behind closed doors made a difference to adult sanity on both sides.

The lounge itself had plenty of empty seats and space, and a bar area (closed, given the time of day).

25 Malaysia Airlines Golden Wing Satellite Lounge

26 Malaysia Airlines Golden Wing Satellite Lounge

Kuala Lumpur to Sydney (KUL-SYD) MH141 Business Class on Malaysia Airlines’ A330

After hanging out in the lounge as long as we could for the kids, we headed off to our gate for the second flight to Sydney. By this point we were all exhausted so taking pictures took a back-seat, unfortunately.

The crew again were excellent, extremely friendly and helpful to our travelling family’s needs, and chatty when talked to – which helps the time to pass when you need it to.

The seat – Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class

I knew going into this flight that we would be on Malaysia Airlines newest configuration A330, with an improved seat and entertainment offering to their 777 which I had flown in 2012 on the same flight.

I also knew that the seat wasn’t that much better – still angled-flat only. But I had hoped it would be an improvement, and that we’d be able to get a bit more sleep.

27 Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class  MH141

In reality, it wasn’t a great seat for sleeping on. Our 3 year old slept well, but kept sliding down the seat to the footwell due to the angle. I had to prop myself up using some pillows under my feet, but eventually dozed off in the end.

28 Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class  MH141

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class cabin

29 Malaysia Airlines Business Class Chicken Satay

On the food front, everything was fine. I remember I ate a lot of very tasty Satay. Everything else was a jet-lagged blur.

30 Malaysia Airlines Business Class MH141

And finally, 23 hours after leaving Paris, we began our descent into Sydney, landing around 8pm before making our car trip home.

Conclusion – Paris CDG to Sydney in Malaysia Airlines Business Class

As I set out at the beginning of this review, I knew what I was getting into when I booked this flight. My criteria for success were pretty simple – enough space for a family of 4 to travel for 23 hours straight to get home from Europe.

The key win about the Malaysia Airlines Enrich redemption was, of course, the price. However their A380 cabin pleasantly surprised me in it’s comfort and simplicity – it’s no Cathay Pacific Business Class, but it absolutely did the job.

Their A380’s operate on the London and Paris routes, so are absolutely worth looking out for, and the flight times and short transit in Kuala Lumpur make for a sub-23 hour journey between Sydney and Paris, which is pretty appealing.

The cabin crew at all points in our journey were simply stellar. Exceedingly helpful, responding to every request, and conversing with us and our children in a truly friendly way. I couldn’t have asked for more.

The main disappointment, but one that didn’t surprise me, was the comfort of the seating on the A330. I had hoped for improvements on their 777 seat, but there was nothing significant beyond the entertainment system.

Redemptions on Malaysia Airlines using Enrich miles are still one of my favourite best value uses of points out there, especially when trying to get multiple people to or from Europe in comfort.

Comments Expand Comments

  1. Point Hacks

    Enrich, via a transfer from Membership Rewards, is much better value than Qantas FF on Malaysia operated flights. But Qantas FF would have been possible too.

  2. Michael Kao

    Good review. Been looking forward to it. Just one little thing, I believe the enrich miles needed is only 51000 between Australia and Europe, not 52000. Did it increase?

  3. Michael Kao

    Some questions in regards to the seats.

    For the A380, did the slightly sloping leg rest bothered you much? Most of the reviews I read seem to complain a lot about it.

    For the A330, how does it compare to other angle lie-flat products? In Brisbane, it seems that most airlines have abandoned us and almost all service BNE with A330 angled lie flats. Only a hand full flights offer true lie flats. (QF to LAX on B747, EK to Dubai and AKL on A380, Etihad to SIN and CX to HKG! That’s it!) So if MH’s angle lie flat is on par wit others, I wouldn’t mind it so much as that’s as good as we’ll get.

    • Keith Author

      Good questions. To be honest, the A380 leg rest was pretty much unnoticeable for me. I hadn’t gone into this flight having read anyone else’s thoughts on it, so didn’t notice anything amiss. Felt very comparable to Qantas Skybed MkII.
      In terms of other angled flats, my reference point is the Qantas Skybed MkI as found on their old 747s and current A330s. It didn’t feel much different, as in it wasn’t great, but was serviceable to try and get some rest. The trick is pumping up the footrest area with pillows and blankets, and the footrest out, otherwise I find the foot rest uncomfy if open and useless if not. This seems to help with the slippage issues!

  4. Nelson

    This was a good informative review Keith.
    I think for saver redemption, it is a good use of points. It is not the most luxurious product and doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other airlines but it seems to do the job.
    On their A380, the product is a big improvement, but for the rest of the fleet, the J product is just okay. Having said that, as you pointed its comparable to QF MK 1 and MK 2, and I can list more airlines where the offering is “poorer” when you are not flying on the A380, like Emirates, Thai Airways, Air France.

    And J still beats Y 🙂

    Just how many serves of the “famous” satay did you have? 🙂

    That AF salon looks terrible, its like a bunker! Certainly not like the Etihad CDG lounge I visited last year, that was great, even though there was no 6 sense spa.

    • Keith Author

      It’s an excellent use of points in my book – 52,000 one way in Business to Europe? I’ll take that. And yes, the Air France lounge in that terminal at CDG was dire. I can only assume it’s not the main AF Salon, just a satellite affair. Glad we had no time to kill.

  5. Jon Anderson

    Thanks for good review. I traveled BNE-LHR using 51000 points as you mentioned. Excellent points value, although the downside is that there is no points refund if you cancel. I had to cancel my 2 adult children from this trip 2 months before travelling so I lost 102000 points. Oh well, ups and downs of life!

  6. Bob D

    I agree with this good article. We travelled from Sydney to Istanbul and returned Frankfurt to Sydney. We flew on Airbus A330 between SYD and KUL each way and 777 in and out of KL. Would definitely choose A380, where possible, next time as other types ” almost flat” seating is not conducive to a good sleep.
    However all of this is totally compensated by the brilliant efforts of the crew on each of the four sectors. They are happy, friendly and efficient. Nothing is too much trouble for them. This is in absolute contrast to the four sectors in Business that we flew with EK last year. Disinterested, inefficient service was the order of the day.
    Would always recommend MH. Yes the lounge at KL is basic in comparison to others but certainly tolerable.

  7. Apple Pie

    I see that you do an excellent job of redeeming points for tickets through various programs. I have a question about upgrades. Do points offer better value when used to upgrade into business, or is it better to redeem business class flights?

    • Keith Author

      In my view, it’s not so much about value, more about predictability. If funding my own travel, I love being confirmed in Business. It reduces stress, no thinking about whether I will/won’t get the upgrade confirmed. If on employer travel, I may have no choice, in which case into the lottery I go. So it’s very much personal preferences and circumstances, but in my view, Business redemptions outright are the way to go.

Links to this article

  1. The future of Malaysia Airlines for the Enrich Frequent Flyer
  2. The best value frequent flyer program redemptions - the programs and routes to target - Point Hacks
  3. Malaysia Airlines Enrich offering up to 50% off award flights between Kuala Lumpur & London, and it’s still not a great deal - Point Hacks
  4. Guide to redeeming points for Malaysia Airlines flights - new flat-bed seats in Business coming to all Australian destinations by September - Point Hacks

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