As boarding neared completion, I looked around the Malaysia Airlines A380 first class cabin…seven seats remained open: I was the only passenger onboard. A FA walked by and I asked where the other passengers were. “It’s just you today,” I was told. Would my 14.5hr flight as the sole first class passenger be uncomfortably awkward or an amazing private-jet like experience?
Let’s take a step back. After arriving late from Jakarta, I spent the night in the first class lounge. Why do that when the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur is so great and so cheap? Convenience. Not only did I have my own bedroom, but it cut my walk to the plane to only five minutes.
When this flight occurred, the first class lounge looked like this. It has since been updated. You can check out my latest review here. Unfortunately, first class ground service does not extend beyond the lounge. I had to find my own way to the gate and through security. It was easy enough, but marks on area in which Malaysia Airlines could improve. Please note this review is from 2016. If you want to know why I post “older” reviews, click here (short answer: because very little actually changes).
I was welcomed aboard and shown to my seat, 1K.
Malaysia Airlines 004
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) – London (LHR)
Wednesday, June 22
Depart: 09:50 AM
Arrive: 04:35 PM
Duration: 13hr, 45min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 1K (First Class)
Malaysia Airlines A380 First Class Suite
Unlike the new A350 first class cabin, the eight semi-open suites onboard the A380 do not provide full privacy. Nevertheless, if you want to spy on your neighbor, you’re going to have to rubberneck, even in the center section. First class is located downstairs.
The red and pink colors of the cabin are not my favorite, but are bolder than a drab beige or gray and contrast well with the bright uniforms of the crew members.
Seats controls included multi-way adjustments, a memory mode, and three pre-set positions.
The seat also features plenty of personal storage, including a closet, compartment under the ottoman, and closing side cabinets.
In addition to multiple lights, an individual air nozzle was present.
With the cabin to myself, when it came time to sleep a FA prepared my bed in the suite across from me. Bedding was comfortable (I’ve never seen a satin-like material in first class on any other airlines) and I slept for almost eight hours.
Malaysia Airlines A380 First Class Food + Drink
I ate a lot of food on this flight. Perhaps more than I’ve ever eaten on a flight in the past. But I’ve got to tell you…I ate for the sake of you, my readers. Unfortunately, the food was not as tasty at it looked.
Let’s start with the flight menu: you’ll see below there was a comprehensive a la carte menu that featured a wide range of incredible (sounding) options. I’m not sure whether there were last-minute cancellations, but was told that every item on the menu was available even though I was the only passenger.
Here’s the thing: I had pre-ordered my meals. Malaysia Airlines allows business and first class passengers to pre-select meals online. Not wanting to chance my top-choice not being available, I ordered a few weeks prior to my flight.
You can see the selection was vast, touching on many worldwide cuisines. I chose lamb shoulder for my first meal and a beef filet for my second.
Fast-forward to the flight.
Prior to takeoff, I was offered Lindt chocolates and mixed nuts (mostly peanuts) along with a choice of beverage. The full bar was open, but I just had water.
We hit bumps coming out of KUL, but about an hour after takeoff my tray table was set for lunch:
I started with a salad featuring lemon chicken breast, quinoa, and pomegranate.
With the appetizer, I ordered a glass of French Bordeaux, a 2009 Chateau Laroque. It was exquisite.
I almost tried the Soto Ayam (soup) as well, but wisely forsaw how much food was coming.
Next came a beautifully-presented caviar course, served on ice with all the garnishes (melba toast, onions, parsley, lemon, and sour cream).
Italian meals are among my favorites. That includes a pasta course prior to the meat or fish course. From the a la carte menu, I ordered porcini mushroom lasagna. Despite the unnecessary broccoli and bell peppers, this was the best course of the meal.
I was impressed that a palate cleanser (raspberry sorbet) was available (I had to ask for it) and it did the trick nicely.
The Main Course
Finally, the main course: braised lamb shank. Would the meal look like the online picture?
Here’s how it turned out:
Beautiful indeed. Sadly, there was just something off about the taste. I don’t want to say spoiled, but it was primarily fat and the meat just tasted a little funny. It could have been in my head, because I still finished most of the dish and no stomach issues later on.
The feast continued with a light cheese course.
By this point I was so stuffed I literally could not eat another bite. Have you ever seen a such a big lunch on an airplane? I passed on the sweets in favor of a cappuccino.
11 hours later I really did not need anything else, but FAs encouraged me to eat before landing.
One FA insisted that I try the satay. Not that I needed any more red meat (especially with the main course coming), but I obliged her request. The satay was excellent.
The chunky peanut sauce has a strong flavor and I requested another palate cleanser before my main course.
I had pre-ordered beef filet with Ecrasse potatoes (mashed potatoes with beetroot and horseradish) and brussels sprouts for my second meal. The presentation, with the parsley garnish, was beautiful.
Yet it was again a disappointing dish. It was prepared well-done, but even that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the quality was just not great. It tasted like stew meat and not beef tenderloin. The sauce was horrible. Oh well.
For dessert, I had a small blueberry pie with berries and cream. Very nice.
One thing is certain: you will never go hungry in Malaysia Airlines first class.
Malaysia Airlines A380 First Class Lavatories
The first class lavatories (two) were disappointing for one reason: paper towels instead of cloth towels. That’s a small distinction, but an important one for first class. At least the bathroom stayed clean during the flight and I appreciated the counter space.
With first class on the lower deck, the lavatories were also not as spacious as you see in some A380 upstairs first class cabins, like Lufthansa.
Malaysia Airlines A380 First Class Amenities
I feel like a fool, but I left all the amenities sitting on the plane. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Malaysia provided a nice amenity kit and pajamas, similar to the ones I detailed in my A350 first class trip report.
Everything was placed in a red bag, pictured below, which I neglected to grab on my way out. Oh well…
Bottom line: great pajamas and an acceptable amenity kit. Here’s what you’d receive today:
Malaysia Airlines A380 First Class IFE
IFE included a mix of movies, TV shows, games, and music. Despite the long flight, I ended up spending most time sleeping and finished only one movie, The Revenant, that I had started on an earlier flight.
The A380 featured a tail camera, which I greatly enjoyed, especially as we neared London.
Unlike the A350, no wi-fi is available on the A380. It was difficult to be disconnected for so long.
Malaysia Airlines A380 First Class Service
While perhaps my expectations were simply too high going in, I was disappointed by the onboard service.
FAs smiled and were friendly, but were simply not polished in terms of service execution. For example, I was not offered a sample of wine before my glass was filled. That’s first class (and business class) 101. My dishes also piled up during the meal service…FAs either failed to notice them or deliberately chose not to remove them. I had to request refills on drinks and ask for a palate cleanser (Etihad offers them proactively).
Lastly, FAs simply disappeared after the first meal service. Disappointingly, no one checked in on me proactively and when I pressed the FA call button, there was a 30-minute period in which no one responded.
This is simply unacceptable for first class. Even though the FAs were otherwise very friendly and provided warm service during the two meals, I simply cannot give a pass to the service for the rest of the flight. The contrast between JAL and Malaysia Airlines was stark.
In fairness, I experienced much better service on my very recent flight aboard the A350 in first class from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo Narita.
We landed to a cloudy London afternoon in Heathrow.
I was disappointed, overall, by the flight. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps most would find the service perfectly fine. But if I am providing an honest assessment, I cannot simply overlook the service lapses, especially when a mission of this blog is to accurately compare first class first products.
Malaysia Airlines runs both an A350 and A380 to London. I’ll compare the two products in a follow-up post.