MH191 Delhi Indira Gandhi DEL – Kuala Lumpur International KUL
STD-STA: 2125-0515 (+1)
Actual: 2213-0523 (+1)
Airbus A330-300 9M-MTG
Gate 1 Seat 2K
Transferring from the domestic terminal did not take too long though there was a slight traffic hold up in one of the junction which according to my driver was due to some VIP needing to use the road. I also noticed the shuttle buses from the airport being held up here which might explain the delay in the shuttle.
Check in at the Malaysia Airlines counter was with a pleasant agent and the encounter was very nice after a series of incidents and delays. So I thought my luck had changed for the better! The agent thought I was some journalist or something with my DSLR camera and yeah while a job at Nat Geo might be cool, I am just doing photography as a hobby.
What I liked about Delhi airport is that First and Business class passengers get dedicated immigration and security lanes which was relatively empty while long queues abound in the normal lanes. Thus security was a breeze compared to what I experienced in Mumbai days ago.
The international terminal was designed more or less similar to the new domestic terminal used by Air India and Jet Airways and forces passengers to route through a duty free like in London Heathrow and Sydney’s airport. Beyond that space there was a large waiting atrium with shops and a food court on the second floor. The airline lounges were also located on the second floor and Malaysia uses the airport lounge that was managed by ITC Hotels.
Having been impressed by ITC hotels, I was hoping some good catering in the lounge but sadly it was just more of the normal lounge quality food. There was some hot samosas, cold sandwiches and puffs along with a variety of other hot dishes that I managed to nibble on for a light dinner.
The lounge was moderately busy but there was enough seats for guests and a more private workspace in the centre. To use the wifi in the lounge, guests need to ask for the password and user name but it was a very inconvenient way to access the wifi as it took some time. I would not say the wifi is very good either for streaming videos but should be good enough for social networking, checking emails and surfing sites.
Since the lounge was not very enjoyable, I decided to leave earlier as I realized I forgot to request for a refund for my Jet Airways flight. I searched in vain for a Jet Airways service counter on the airside of the terminal but did not manage to find one and thus head back to the gate where my Malaysia Airlines flight was due to depart from. When I arrived, the crew was just preparing to board the plane and it was probably another 10-15 minutes before they started boarding for the disabled, family with kids and the elderly.
What irks me was that even with the segregated Business and Economy line up, the airport agent would not even allow boarding for premium passengers 10 minutes after the initial boarding of needy passengers. Not even with me requesting for an earlier boarding and showing her my boarding pass. I believe it was a rule by the Indian airport staff. Again something that I just cannot fathom since the airport ground staff at Singapore Changi Airport was just so pleasant to deal with. This might sound like first world problems but when I was already frustrated with the delays and incidents earlier on and having to stand at the queue for 15+ minutes, I just was not in the mood to take such bureaucratic nonsense.
Once I boarded the flight, I got around to take photos of the Business class cabin which was still empty fortunately but as my photos show, the cabin crew was just not attentive or in the mood at all. Note the headrest cover in one of the seats which drop down in my photo. This was even before anyone boarded. As I entered the plane there was no greeting or whatsoever since the crew was just mingling at the back. No offers to help with the luggage either. Come on MH, even SQ stewardess does offer help to me in Economy class! It’s not that I am a weak guy or anything but to me it is the thought that counts.
Malaysia Airlines uses a seat made by Recaro as indicated in the seat controls and it was actually alright and felt snug. It is definitely narrower than SQ’s regional business class seat. The colours were dull but the plane still looks new that is until you spot the dirt in the crevices. Somehow while the plane was new and seems new, maintenance was not very good by the crew.
Even with me seated the staff were still nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t until when the cabin was more or less filled that the cabin crew started to offer newspapers and magazines, then they gave out hot towels, and then welcome beverages. I had an orange juice and returned to reading my newspaper while my seat mate got seated and passed on the welcome drink. This looks to be a very full flight in all classes since I noticed a lot of families and leisure travellers out for the Christmas holidays and my seat mate seems to be a government official of some sort travelling for work. He was very quiet and spoke not a single word to me. Not that I wanted a conversation anyway after having a chatty neighbour in my previous flight.
Such a late evening flight in Delhi means there was not much wait in the tarmac before we took off. Due to the delayed boarding and full flight, we took off kind of late. The good part of Malaysia Airlines is perhaps the ability to use the inflight entertainment even when we were on the ground and I started watching the movie ‘Pacific Rim’.
Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew came around to take drink orders and I had a Teh Tarik which was served with peanuts. Considering the short flight, I wondered why they didn’t just skip this and went on with the proper meal service.
Malaysia Airlines did not scrimp on this flight though since they still serve their famous satay, which I did enjoy. The peanut sauce for the satay includes beans and creates a different flavour so if I have to choose I rather go for the sauce provided by Singapore Airlines. For the satay meat itself, both seemed to be quite similar.
The menu for the flight read as follow:
SUPPER | New Delhi – Kuala Lumpur
Our Award-Winning Signature Dish
Charcoal hand grilled chicken and lamb skewers with peanut sauce and traditional accompaniments
Passion Ka Wada
Crisp fried white lentil fritters drenched in passion fruit flavoured yoghurt
With unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar on request
Accompanied with plain yoghurt and mints
Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani
Traditional mix of basmathi rice, diced chicken and spices cooked in a sealed pan accompanied with egg masala
Methi Palak Coriander Gosht
Lamb cooked in gravy of fenugreek, spinach and coriander leaves paste with herbs and served with chickpea mint basmathi rice and stir fried carrots, beans and peas foogath
Grilled Fish with Pesto Sauce
Accompanied with fried potatoes and buttered grilled vegetables
Gajar Ka Tukda with Rabdi
Cardamom flavoured sweetened carrot dessert served on a bed of rich reduced milk sauce
GOURMET COFFEE AND TEA
Paratha and papadum are available on request
White Coffee “O”
Nescafé Gold Blend
Pink Guava Juice (Available on flights from Kuala Lumpur)
Still – Spritzer Natural Mineral Water
Ceylon Meda Watte
Ceylon Finest Black Tea
Camomile Herbal Infusion
Jasmine Green Tea
Japanese Green Tea
South African Rooibos Tea
First the cabin crew came around and laid out the table cover but it was sometime before they started serving the fruit platter, yogurt and a deep fried white lentil doused with passion fruit yoghurt. It was a good light starter though the lentil seems more appropriate for dessert since it was very sweet.
The main course I picked was the Hyderabadi Chicken Briyani, which came well presented though it was lacking in the chicken as I should have read the menu more closely. They should have named this dish Nasi Briyani with Eggs.
But it was not a big issue having had a light dinner at the lounge and I was quite satisfied with the eggs and the sauce anyway such that I even passed on the dessert since it came really late and I wanted some shut-eye before landing.
When the crew passed around dessert by hand (they even skipped the tray), I got one for a photo. My seat mate was already in full bedtime mode by this time but the full flight meant many guests were still on the meal and the cabin light was not even dimmed. Anyway dessert was a carrot cake with milk reduction and I did not fancy it anyway so no way to know how it tasted like. The highlight of the meal was perhaps the Malaysian satay but again it is not my favourite.
One thing to note was that the flight did not have the German Riesling indicated in the menu and I was instead given an Australian Semillon Sauvignon blanc. Not very professional of Malaysia Airlines anyway since this might be the first time an airline does not stock what they wrote on the menu. During the meal service, I also ordered a hot milo which was thankfully okay.
The wine menu for the flight are as follow:
Champagne Deutz Brut Classic NV, France
Pierre André Montagny Premier Cru Blanc 2011/2012, Burgundy, France
Dr. Loosen “Blauschiefer” Riesling Trocken 2012, Mosel, Germany
Château Liversan AOC Haut-Médoc 2010, Bordeaux, France
M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage “Les Meysonniers”, AOC C.H. 2010/2011, Rhône, France
After the meal service, I stopped the inflight entertainment since I did not really find the movie to be that engaging or perhaps I was just tired since it has been a long day after all. I reclined the seat to an angled lie-flat position. Generally I found the seat to be the least comfortable compared to Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines regional business class seats which are similarly angled flat. The cushion was a bit hard and is perhaps fine for a day flight but can be difficult to find a comfortable sleeping spot for a night flight.
I managed a couple of hours of sleep since the flight was already over the Indian Ocean when I laid back to get some shut eye. I woke up around the time they were prepping the cabin and headed to the lavatory to refresh myself. There might have been some hot towel given out but I do not remember. Perhaps I was just too tired then.
All I could say now was that it was a very lacklustre flight when compared to Singapore Airlines or even to Thai Airways, both of whom are probably the biggest competitor. Honestly speaking I would only consider Malaysia Airlines when they are cheaper but at the same price, it would be SQ and TG any day.
Upon arrival in KLIA, I had to get the onward boarding pass, but the transfer counters were unable to print them out and instead hand-wrote them on a boarding pass stub and I was told to exchange them at the gate for official ones.
At the Golden lounge, due to recent renovation works, the bathroom was not operational and there goes my hope of a shower to freshen myself up. Somehow my end of bad luck just did not seem to go away.
I did however have a very fantastic breakfast of nasi lemak with sambal squid at the lounge since the noodle bar has yet to open. Nasi lemak is probably what Malaysia excels in since it was the best I have had in an airline facility. And the Golden lounge at the satellite terminal serves ice cream by Kapiti, so while the facilites and lounge design leaves much to be desired, at least the food is good!