Continuing with my UN-Trip report, and trip around the world, here is a quick review of Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge in Kuala Lumpur.
For those of you that may be unaware, Malaysia Airlines (MH) has just joined oneworld. This means that you have many more options to Malaysia and much more capacity throughout the continent. Based in Kuala Lumpur, the airline has several A380s, some European destinations, and only one in North America, LAX. Most Asian carriers have dramatically better service than their American counterparts. American Airlines recently introduced turn-down service in the US and boasted they were the first in America to do so, but their Asian competitors have been making beds for their customers for years… without bragging about it.
But MH doesn’t offer turn-down service on their business class product (J), other touches do make up for it. For one, they have a unique feature available to any MH customer departing Kuala Lumpur city. Take the express train to the airport’s main terminal and you can check in for your flight, drop your bags right in the train terminal and enjoy the easy 35 minute ride to the terminal and through to security.
The lounge is impressive. We should know, we spent 17 hours there. The Sherpa nervously ate just about everything in site that day and has some advice. When you first enter the Golden Lounge (J), to the right of checkin are convenient lockers with keys for small baggage items. Directly behind the checkin counter is a quiet business center and a small sitting area which I would call a library or study. As you walk to the left to enter the lounge, there is a bar replete with a projector playing sports. Drinks, and bar snacks are readily available and the bar is manned at all times – a nice touch over the few bottles left on a table with the serve-yourself type approach.
Continuing into the lounge which is absolutely huge, about the size of a football (soccer) pitch (field), on the left you have lounge seats in settings of four next to the floor to ceiling windows with lamps for ambience and reading. The plug that the lamp occupies appears to be the only one working, trust me we had plenty of time to try them all.
To the immediate right is a small cafe setup complete with barista, newspapers, cakes and pastries, then fruit and breakfast items (sausage rolls, croissants) and sandwiches and salads for lunch. On the opposite side of this cafe was the addition of a noodle bar which was an excellent edition.
Occupying much of the massive lounge were additional seating areas in 2-4 settings, some tvs showing cable news and then another food station. On the non-windowed side was Asian selections – specifically Malaysian selections like curries and rice, etc. On the opposite of this side facing the windows was a western selection of hot items, like the components of a full english breakfast in the morning, and in the afternoon, pastas, vegetables, soups, and other buffet style options.
(long buffet in the background)
To the back there were some interesting side rooms. One such was a children’s area and though I don’t have kids, when I do I will bring them in the lounge with me and I will expect them to behave, but it is nice to have a place where they can be themselves without disturbing serious business people or those that would rather sleep after a very long day of flying. Everyone wins and this is a really nice touch. I have heard of some lounges having an “over 18” or 21 policy and I am glad that MH has found a place for everyone.
Next to this room was a game room for adults. There were Playsations 3s, XBOXs, and multiple large LCD tvs. How good is that? I will definitely bring some games the next time I am in KL. What could be better than looking at planes, having a beer, and playing a little Call of Duty while you wait for your next flight? Not much beats that.
(Anybody know which airline uses the above livery?)
There was a room for massages as well, but they were westernized prices which doesn’t interest me much. In the US I wouldn’t think twice about a 30 minute massage for $30, but when you are in SE Asia and $6 gets you an hour, this seems like robbery.
For those that left their laptops at home (NO ONE) there were also couple of computers to use if you so prefer.
The bathrooms left plenty to be desired. There were showers of course and toothbrushes and toothpaste in the bathroom, but the sign-in process for the shower entitled you to mostly just a towel. The bathroom itself was unattractive, especially compared to lounges in Tokyo (Haneda), Sydney, Hong Kong, and even the showers at LAX in the Admirals Club were a private and luxurious experience. They were all comparable or exceeding that of a nice hotel. We actually look forward to showering at the lounge because instead of doing so in the hotel the morning before we fly. When you shower at the hotel just before you leave, you are worried about a million things: are we going to be on time, can we make the train/cab, do we have everything packed, did I already check in online and a million other random worries. But when you leave a little earlier and have some time budgeted at the lounge where all of your concerns are already taken care of is much more relaxing. It’s kind of the best thing about the lounge.
Not in the Golden Lounge however. The showers were private, but had a locker room type feel and I would make an effort in the future to go to the Cathay lounge first to shower before spending the day in the MH Golden Lounge. I didn’t take a picture of this. It wasn’t worthwhile.
The service was spectacular, after all look at what agent Roslan was able to do for us. But in the end we were really just happy to be there. Malaysia Airlines took care of us, on a very uncertain day, not knowing whether or not we would get home, their lounge made us feel safe and at home.
If you find yourself transiting KLIA, sure you should stop at the tropical forrest and buy some duty free for yourself, it’s everywhere.
You should even take a picture next to some inconsistently sized airplane models (A319s the same size as 747s is a pet peeve of mine).
But you should definitely make time for the Golden Lounge.