Malaysia Airlines offers an excellent and intimate first class product aboard its new A350. I immensely enjoyed my redeye flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo Narita.
While the new first class lounge is nice, ground services for first class passengers outside the lounge are limited. I was not met by an escort when I arrived from Singapore nor was I offered an escort or ride to the gate. At the gate, there was no priority security line (security is performed at the gate) nor special seating for first class passengers. Not that I need it, but competitors like Thai Airways and Garuda Indonesia offer such services.
Boarding was scheduled to begin at 10:30p, but actually did not begin until 10:55p. Unfortunately, boarding was a bit of a free-for-all, though I had lined up early to board so as to maximize my changes for unobstructed cabin pictures.
Malaysia Airlines 88
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – Tokyo (NRT)
May 21, 2018
Depart: 11:30 PM
Arrive: 07:40 AM+1
Duration: 7hr, 10min
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 1A (First Class)
Even at boarding time, the four-seat first class cabin showed F2 with the center section unoccupied. I had hoped that John and I would have the cabin to ourselves and could use one seat for lounging and the other for sleeping. Unfortunately, two deadheading pilots were placed in the first class seats. Even worse, they boarded early and were hanging out in the cabin when we boarded. Oh, they were quite pleasant and we had a good chat. But it did make securing cabin pictures a bit more difficult.
Malaysia Airlines A350 First Class Seat
Although technically a glorified business class seat with a closing door, I found the first class seat extremely comfortable. It offers plenty of personal storage (via side compartments) and can be adjusted in several dimensions, including firmness.
Windows have honeycomb shades as well as blackout shades, both controlled by button.
The first class cabin contains only four seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. A privacy partition between the two seats in the center can be raised or lowered. The lack of overhead bins in the center gives the small cabin a more spacious feel.
After a snack, I asked a FA to prepare the bed while I was brushing my teeth. She added a mattress pad to the seat as well as a plush second pillow and soft blanket. I slept very well…the individual air nozzle no doubt helped.
Malaysia Airlines A350 First Class IFE + Wi-Fi
The onboard IFE selection was great, with over 100 movies on offer as well as TV shows, music, games, and a moving map. I deliberately opted not to watch a movie so that I could maximize sleep, but would have enjoyed the selection on a longer flight.
Noise-cancelling headphones were distributed prior to takeoff and collected prior to landing.
Malaysia is a majority Muslim nation and screened an Islamic prayer prior to takeoff.
Sadly, while the aircraft had a belly camera there was no tail camera, which I enjoyed so much on Qatar Airways and Finnair.
Finally, Wi-Fi was available during the flight. Since the flight departed late and arrived early, I did not use it, but you can see pricing below. There was a Boingo log-in, but my account was blocked.
Malaysia Airlines A350 First Class Dining
Meal service on this 7-hour overnight flight consisted of a snack after takeoff and a full breakfast prior to arrival in Tokyo.
Menus were distributed prior to takeoff:
As an side, you can see the return flight from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur offers a full first class dinner service, including caviar.
Prior to takeoff, a choice of beverage and salmon amuse-bouche was offered:
Service began with a satay after takeoff, both chicken and beef. The peanut sauce was excellent. I also ordered a bowl of broccoli cream soup, with pine nuts and a dollop of sour cream on top.
This constituted a perfect late-night snack and soon thereafter, I was fast asleep.
I woke up about 60 minutes before landing. Within moments, a FA presented me with a warm towel and asked if I was ready for breakfast. The menu indicates that eggs are cooked-to-order and I wanted to order fried eggs. She admitted that she was having trouble making fried eggs and asked if scrambled eggs would be acceptable.
Later in the galley, I noticed that she did indeed attempt to make fried eggs:
Breakfast began with a cup of coffee, strawberry smoothie, sliced fruit, and a bread basket. As always seems to be the case on Malaysia Airlines, the bread was not fresh. The fruit was ripe and sweet.
The scrambled eggs did turn out very nicely.
But the pancakes also sounded nice and I requested those as well. At first, I was told that only one was loaded in first class and my business partner ate them. But the FA returned in a few minutes with a plate and said she had taken one from business class. I appreciated the proactive gesture and very much enjoyed the dish.
Malaysia Airlines A350 First Class Service
As alluded to above, service shined on the flight. The two ladies taking caring of the cabin were charming and genuinely kind. The purser seemed a bit amused that I was taking so many pictures of the cabin prior to takeoff. Before she could even ask, I explained that I loved the new A350.
I chuckled at her response. She shrugged and said the seat is small and that she liked the A380 better. It was an honest answer and I don’t believe she was denigrating her company’s new product. She was just being honest. She was happy to hear that I liked it.
Both crew members in first class were attentive and kind. I appreciated the warm hospitality onboard. I also appreciated the welcome note upon boarding:
Malaysia Airlines A350 First Class Amenity Kit + Pajamas
Both an amenity kit and pajamas (with slippers) were offered. The amenity kit contained Payot skincare products, Cerruti 1881 cologne, a dental kit, and a cool Malaysia Airlines silver-colored keychain. I liked the souvenir!
Inside the pajama kit was pajamas, slippers, and an eye mask:
On flights this short I do not change into pajamas.
Malaysia Airlines A350 First Class Lavatory
The lavatories were on the small side, but kept clean. Toilet seat covers were added by FAs after each use. Paper towels rather than cloth towels were used and no additional amenities were available.
Malaysia Airlines A350 Business Class
While boarding, I took a moment to survey the business class cabin. The Malaysia A350 features 35 seats in business class in a staggered 1-2-1 / 1-2-2 configuration. All “A” seats are single, all center seats are pairs, and the “K” side rotates between one and two seats. The front cabin has 22 seats while the rear cabin has 13 seats.
It was a crisp, clear day as we approached Tokyo Narita:
After my mediocre flight to London in first class aboard the A380 in 2016, I feared this flight would also be a let-down. It wasn’t. The seat may not be as wide as traditional “proper” first class seats, but it was extremely comfortable and I slept well. More importantly for me (when it comes to first class), the service and meals were superb. I highly recommend this product.
Remember, it is a great use of AA miles: only 40,000 miles for a first class seat between Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur with excellent award availability. The A350 also flies to London Heathrow.