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
MH2641 Kota Kinabalu BKI – Kuala Lumpur International KUL
Boeing 737-800 9M-FFF
Boarding Gate A5 Seat 14A
After having breakfast at the Shangri-la and some wait at the reception to check-out, we finally took a short taxi ride to the airport. Upon reaching the airport, there was a long queue at the Malaysia Airlines check-in counter as well as the internet check-in counter. Fortunately, Malaysia Airlines has joined oneworld alliance and thus I was able to use my Marco Polo status to process my check-in. The agent manning the counter was quite grumpy that day though and did not really have the patience to deal with questions. Thus even though the terminal was quite good with lots of natural light streaming in, the experience was not the most pleasant. This continued as passengers were segregated for those flying to Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah or International destinations. What I have to say is that signage was not very clear to indicate where passengers should line up at and the airport did not function very efficiently as a result. This led to long queues that are moving slowly and it must have been 20+ minutes before we moved on to passport check which was thankfully short.
Once we were in the departure hall, my friend spent her leftover Malaysian Ringgit on chocolates as well as waffles for snacks during the flight. While the airport was new, there was still lots of shop spaces that have yet to be leased out and thus it feels quiet and empty. At around 11:30am, we proceeded to the boarding gate which was actually the closest one after passport check. Boarding just started during the time and it did not take long for us to get to the front of the queue since the passenger load did not seem very full.
Since I was able to use the airport’s wifi to do a last minute online check-in, I also tried out Malaysia Airlines’ e-boarding pass on the Passbook app in my iPhone. As far as I know, I think they are currently the only South-East Asian airline to have this functionality. I do like the Passbook boarding system and I hope more airlines can move towards this system.
However unlike the flight that brought us to Kota Kinabalu 3 days earlier, this 737-800 is the older one without personal TV screen on every seat. The seats are also upholstered in a black colour that makes the cabin look dark. Somehow I do not understand how Malaysia Airlines came down to the decision to furnish their cabin. How different would this be to any other low cost carrier?
Having pre-booked the emergency exit seat row for a nominal fee, it was nice to have that extra legroom since I think the legroom in this row is even better than the Business Class seat we passed by along the way. On the leg towards Kuala Lumpur, I had the window seat and was able to enjoy the beautiful views since it was a clear weather that afternoon.
For a small airport, there was a small wait for take off since a few airlines have similar departures around this time. And since there was no personal TV screen, the onboard monitors popped out from the top to show the safety videos. Like Singapore Airlines, MH includes a footage of one staff using sign language for the hearing impaired in their videos.
As expected, the views upon take-off was breathtaking as I was seated on the ‘right’ side and I was treated to a scene of azure waters amidst the tropical islets. I was also able to spot the Shangri-la from the plane upon take-off.
Shortly after take-off, I returned to my comic book since there was no inflight entertainment onboard. It took probably another 30 minutes or so before the cabin crew started the lunch service. The selection for that afternoon was either fried noodles with fish or rice with chicken. This time I picked the fried noodles since I knew Malaysian fried noodles should be a local specialty. I did enjoy the meal and also took a shot of my friend’s rice platter. The meal was served with another bar of Kit-Kat, a small cake and a cup of mineral water. Passengers could also get coffee, tea, juices or soft drinks and I had another cup of orange juice. Somehow I did enjoy the meal onboard the domestic segment of this itinerary (BKI-KUL) better. It could be it was an Asian meal here while I had a Western meal on the connecting flight later on.
As my outbound flight, the meal portions was relatively small but because I already had a heavy breakfast and some waffles, I was full even with the meal. I do not remember another beverage service as it seems the crew was nowhere to be seen after they cleared the tray. This was similar in experience to my other flights on Malaysia Airlines.
It was not until our descent into Kuala Lumpur did they return to check on the passengers. KLIA is quite far away from the city and the cloudy weather over the city did not help in providing for good views of the city. As such it was quite a boring descent with some bumps along the way. But we landed quickly and right on time before a somewhat long taxi to the gate. Another moderate flight from Malaysia Airlines that I would not say to be superb, but it was acceptable in terms of punctuality and basic services.
MH853 Kuala Lumpur International KUL – Denpasar Ngurah Rai DPS
Boeing 737-800 9M-MSC
Boarding Gate H4 Seat 14B
An on-time arrival and a short immigration stamp later (since we were leaving Malaysia through Kuala Lumpur) we headed for the H concourse since that was where our flight to Denpasar would be departing from. And that means no need to take the train to the satellite terminal! With that, we had more time to explore the terminal and browse through the shops. By chance, we passed by the airplane models display section in the middle of the terminal near where all the shops are. It was a nice place to look and compare at airline’s liveries and logos.
But what got my attention here was the double Usain Bolt advertisement, one featuring the runner on a Nissan advert for the GT-R and another for a local telecom company. He must be real popular in Malaysia is what I am guessing!
With the short sightseeing around the terminal, we spent most of our transit time (who needs airport lounges these days anyway?) and headed to the H concourse. It turns out the gates here were designed like Singapore’s Changi in that extra security screening is conducted at the individual boarding gates. There seems to be a huge proportion of travellers from Europe, Australia and Russia for this flight to Bali as I noticed from the passengers lining up. It took us probably 15-20 minutes before we entered the boarding gate proper and the ground crew started the boarding process a few minutes after.
The gates we were assigned to actually could hold passengers for other flights as well since I was able to take a photo of another 737-800 in the new livery. Sadly the flight I was due to take was blocked at the back. As is the case in most countries, the jet-bridge in Kuala Lumpur was plastered with yet another bank/financial company/securities brokerage advertisement. This blocked much of the views out of the tarmac while queueing to board the aircraft.
This flight to Denpasar would be more packed and seems to be a full flight. I guess it is a fact that Bali is indeed a more popular destination than Kota Kinabalu. Upon entering the plane, I noticed this would be a new 737-800 with the Boeing Sky Interior as advertised by the attendant screen beside the door.
As an international flight, there was also more amenities for the Business class passenger as I noticed a blanket on top of the pillow on every seat. The newer seat also has a splash of colour in both Business and Economy class cabins.
Similarly for this flight, our seat was on the Emergency Exit Row and anticipating a full flight, I let my friend have the window seat while I took the middle seat. With the extra legroom, it was not too bad. And I was looking forwards to the inflight entertainment as well later in the flight.
Another meal was served in this flight and as mentioned earlier, I picked the beef choice which was served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. It was palatable but the beef was a bit tough and the portions was still dismal once again. For the dessert it was the tasty chocolate cake and a Mars bar. The tray also included a cup of water and I got another glass of orange juice. For a 2 hour flight, I do realize this is probably better than many American or European airlines, even compared to their First/Business class offering but in Asia, this is hovering close to budget!
Since I have not finished watching ‘Man of Steel’ on my outbound flight, I took the time to finish the movie during this flight. In addition, I also caught another movie but maybe I was tired that I actually fell asleep after the meal service was concluded. If passengers get onboard Malaysia Airlines’ new 737-800 do check out their entertainment system as I think they have some decent programmes even if it is nowhere as good as SQ’s Krisworld or CX’s StudioCX.
Prior to descent, the cabin light was dimmed, though this time it was in featured an orange, warm glow. This ambience was just right in sync with the sunset that greeted us as we landed on time in Ngurah Rai Airport. Thankfully the disembarkation and immigration was quick enough, and lucky for my friend too as her luggage was one of the first to appear on the conveyor which allowed her to check-in for her domestic flight that departs in about an hour after our flight landed. I had to wait another 15 minutes or so before collecting my luggage and taking the cab to my hotel in Sanur for the night.
Malaysia Airlines generally offers decent fares from Denpasar and Jakarta for passengers based out of Indonesia. Kuala Lumpur offers an easy alternative to Singapore and this flight shows the ease of transferring with just an hour of transit time. And the fact they just joined oneworld alliance, it makes them a worthy choice since I can bank those miles to CX’s Marco Polo Club. Though if someone is paying for my ticket and I care about the service and flying experience, I would still pick Singapore Airlines.