Beaches of South East Asia: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class DPS to BKI

Beaches of South East Asia: Introduction
Beaches of South East Asia: KLM World Business Class SIN to DPS
Beaches of South East Asia: Grand Hyatt Bali
Beaches of South East Asia: The Laguna Bali
Beaches of South East Asia: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class DPS to BKI
Beaches of South East Asia: Hyatt Regency Kota Kinabalu
Beaches of South East Asia: Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort Kota Kinabalu
Beaches of South East Asia: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class BKI to DPS

MH850 Denpasar Ngurah Rai DPS – Kuala Lumpur International KUL
STD-STA: 1605-1705
Actual: 1628-1859
Boeing 777-200 9M-MRB
Boarding Gate 5 Seat 21K

The big news here upon arrival is the first time I would try out the new international terminal at DPS. I have actually given scores for the first segment of this flight here but will write a mode detailed review in this post. Having arrived via the new international terminal, I was impressed since the immigration area featured plush carpets and bright lighting not unlike the one at Singapore’s Changi Airport. The new international terminal at Ngurah Rai is pretty good as well even though it was not complete yet. International arrivals are shared with domestic check-in on the ground floor while check-in for international flights are on the second floor. The taxi ride to the airport took slightly longer as the taxi driver did not take the newly built toll-road under moderate traffic conditions. But I was still early as I checked the huge departure board in the central concourse which is sheltered. The public area of the terminal is pretty nice with lots of greenery.

Departure Information at Ngurah Rai
Departure information at Ngurah Rai International Terminal

Inside the check-in hall, the area is built similar to the style in Singapore’s Changi as well. Which is to be expected since Changi is considered the best airport in the world! The process was efficient and much more comfortable than before, so I was definitely pleased to collect both boarding passes for the flight to Kuala Lumpur and the connecting to Kota Kinabalu. I had paid extra to pre-select seats on both flights with the connecting flight confirmed with extra legroom seats in the emergency exit area.

Premier Lounge in Ngurah Rai
Premier lounge in Ngurah Rai

Once we got boarding passes, we went through security check and immigration which was fast and friendly. Though there was no auto-gate passport check in Denpasar unlike in Jakarta which meant there was some wait in the queue. After passing through the passport control, that is where the similarity to Changi ends. Perhaps it is because the airport is not yet fully operational, there was only makeshift stalls selling some snacks and the gates at the end did not have proper ventilation. As far as I noticed, all the airlines currently uses the Premier lounge that was near gate 3. Since we were boarding via gate 5, that was where we waited but due to the glass panels, the common waiting area was very warm and there did not seem to be adequate air conditioning! There was, however some vantage points for aviation enthusiasts to spot their aircraft.

MH Boeing 777 and GA Airbus A330
MH Boeing 777 and GA Airbus A330

After waiting approximately half an hour or so, the call for boarding was made though the process was not as organized as I would have expected for a wide body jet. We waited probably another 10 minutes or so before starting to join the boarding queue. Boarding was only done through one door and we passed by the Business class section which was configured in a 2-2-2 setting, similar to China Eastern’s Airbus A330. Not exactly class leading and not something I want to be on a trans-pacific sector either if I were paying Business class fares. This is a disappointment since Malaysia’s 777 is used on the KUL-NRT-LAX flights.

Economy Class Cabin
Economy class cabin onboard Malaysia’s 777-200

In economy class, the cabin was configured 2-5-2, again another very outdated configuration. It would definitely be the worst experience to be stuck in the middle seat on a transpacific flight. In my flight, those seated in the middle were not very comfortable as I observe even if the flight was not that full. The cabin is outfitted with colourful fabric which in my opinion makes it look like a budget airline. The state of the cabin was also not something to be proud of. The size of the personal TV on the seatback was similar to the old entertainment systems that SQ and CX uses, but the difference is these planes are mainly used in short-haul regional flights. At least there was audio-video on demand in the plane even if the user interface was really in due need for a change.

Linguine Pasta with Chicken
Linguine pasta with chicken

As I did not really got any lunch before the flight, I took out my snack from the bag that I had placed in the overhead luggage bin after take-off. Meal service in the flight took some time to prepare by the crew. They started the service probably 30 minutes after our take-off with 2 main course choices, which was pasta with chicken or rice with fish. I picked the former while my friend chose the fish. Usually I would not order pasta on a flight but after the KLM flight, I just thought to avoid fish. The presentation of the meal was terrible and looked dismal. Fortunately the taste of the dish was acceptable and I actually finished what little of the dish was served. The nice touch was probably the Kit Kat bar that came with the meal. However, my friend did point out that it was weird for them to serve a cake and a chocolate when perhaps they should have served a salad instead.

Fish in Sweet Sauce with Rice and Vegetables
Fish in sweet sauce with rice and vegetables

During the meal service, I had my extremely late lunch while watching the rest of the movie ‘Now You See Me’. The small screen was obviously outdated but in general the flight was quite peaceful with little turbulence. Something I attribute to the fact we were on a larger plane. When the crew returned to collect the tray, I had to ask for a beverage refill since they do not actively ask guests for drink refills, unlike service in Singapore Airlines. After that, there was not much else of the crew to be seen and my friend did comment that the male steward collecting the tray in our aisle seemed to be just doing the notions. I found the service good but not excellent and I thought there was lots of ways they could have improved upon.

Washroom in Malaysia Airlines 777-200
Washroom in Malaysia Airlines 777-200

With the tray tables cleared, I went to clean up and head to the washroom which was clean and generally well maintained when the rest of the cabin showed signs of wear and tear. I was pleased to find bottles of lotion and hand soap in the lavatory as well. There was probably another 40 minutes into the flight when I returned to my seat and I just relaxed while browsing through the rest of the entertainment selections. We landed in Kuala Lumpur slightly early but by the time we disembarked, we were glad that we would still be on time for the connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu in the island of Borneo (Kalimantan as it is known in Indonesia).

Arrival at Kuala Lumpur
Arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Our arriving plane was parked in the satellite concourse which meant we had to board the train to the main terminal where the baggage claim and passport control was located at. It took some time to find this and there was only one lane open for passport control in the transfer section. This meant we spent probably around 15 minutes queueing up. Fortunately the boarding gate for our next flight was just steps away from the passport check.

MH2628 Kuala Lumpur International KUL – Kota Kinabalu BKI
STD-STA: 2005-2240
Actual: 2015-2227
Boeing 737-800 9M-MXM
Boarding Gate A2 Seat 14E

Malaysia Airlines uses the 737-800 for the flights to Kota Kinabalu though they still have a few older 737s in their fleet. For our flight that night, I was glad to see it was to be their 737-800 with the updated livery. This meant a newer plane and I was looking forward to how it fares compared to the much older jet we had on the 777-200 that brought us to Kuala Lumpur.

Business Class Seats on Malaysia Airlines' 737-800
Business class seats on Malaysia Airlines’ 737-800

Boarding was called probably 10 minutes after we arrived at the waiting area and it seems like a moderate load for the flight with not much people in the waiting area. Thus there was not much crowd rushing to board and it made for a much more relaxed boarding process. Either that or the the much cooler waiting area helps to calm people down as well! On the business class seats we passed by, there was a pillow and blanket on the seat which was upholstered in a navy blue leather. The seat does look plush even if it was just normal recliner seats.

Emergency Exit Row Seats
Emergency exit row seats

In the economy class, the seats were also upholstered in leather and in contrast to the garish colourful seats of MH’s 777, the colour scheme was dark maroon which is similar to the leather armchairs one might find in a traditional gentleman’s club. Our pre-assigned seats on the emergency exit row was also very comfortable with lots of legroom. Furthermore the other aisle seat would remain empty and it made for a very nice flight to Kota Kinabalu! As expected the flight was not full and thus after boarding it was a short taxi before a quick take-off which was good for such a large airport. One incident occured before take-off whereby one lady and her young son was asked to move from the emergency seat row opposite us, so they had to switch another 2 passenger.

Seatback on Malaysia Airlines 737-800
Seatback on Malaysia Airlines new 737-800

On the seatback, the personal inflight entertainment system seems similar to what Garuda Indonesia uses on first glance but it is no touch screen. Instead, there is a remote underneath the screen which works quite well. I do like this method compared to the touch screen since I find it more ergonomic. The cabin crew got to work quickly after take-off and we were served with another dinner meal. This time the choices were again chicken or fish and both were served with rice.

Chicken Curry with Rice and Malay Vegetables
Chicken curry with rice and Malay vegetables

The chicken dish, however was served with yellow rice and it is quite spicy as it is a curry dish. The fish is perhaps more of an oriental dish and this was what I had since I had chicken on the earlier flight while my friend took the other alternative. It should be mentioned that there was some other passengers that had some dietary needs (like vegetarian maybe?) that was served first in the flight.

Fish with Rice and Vegetables
Fish with rice and vegetables

The meal was again a small portion, but it was adequate for a domestic flight. Like the previous meal, there was a chocolate cake and a Mars bar. Again 2 types of sweet snacks, I am guessing that Malaysians have a sweet tooth! While having the meal, I also enjoyed the ‘Select’ entertainment system and this new system have a much better user interface with menus and also includes a better selection of programmes. I chose to watch ‘Man of Steel’ even though I knew I would not complete the show before landing but it did mean that I have something to watch on the return trip as well! The larger widescreen provides a clearer picture so it was good. Add to that the ambient lighting from the new Boeing Sky interior that the crew switched to after clearing the meal tray and I was suitably relaxed. I stopped my movie to take a shot of the cabin with the ambient lighting turned on. Shortly after I took the shot, the cabin was dimmed for passengers to sleep. In fact I think the cabin was dark most of this flight!

MH New Boeing 737-800
MH new 737-800 with Boeing Sky interior

Generally, I enjoyed the flight on Malaysia Airlines 737-800 better especially with the new Boeing Sky interior as the cabin was kept in a much better shape. Furthermore, the new 737s equipped with the personal inflight entertainment was essential for even 2-3 hour flights. The transit process in Kuala Lumpur International Airport was also efficient enough to make me consider using them for long-haul flights to Europe especially since they use the A380s to Paris and London.

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