FLIGHT REVIEW: MALAYSIA AIRLINES A330-200 BUSINESS CLASS
Updated: Dec 2, 2018
Malaysia Airlines's A330-200 - Credits: Andri Cueni
Today, i will be reviewing the latest Airbus A330-200 from Malaysia Airlines. Before i go in any further, let's go thru a short history lesson on the 6 Airbus A330-200 that MAS will took delivery this year.
Airberlin A330-200 - Credits: Wikimedia
As you readers or industry enthusiast knows, Air Berlin, a fellow Oneworld member airline filed for bankruptcy in August last year. Sad news indeed.
Following the filing of insolvency, these AirBerlin A330-200 returned to the original lessor, AerCap, the world's largest independent aircraft leasing company with over a thousand aircraft under its name.
six for Six
Former MAS Group CEO Peter Bellew
Credit: AP Photo/Vincent Thian
“As I have communicated, we have an immediate need for widebodies to offer more lie flat beds in Business Class on our flights over three hours. Malaysia Airlines has done an opportunistic deal on super aircraft from a failed European carrier. I am grateful to AerCap for their speed in working with Malaysia Airlines to help rebuild our premium business,” Peter Bellew concluded.
In October 2017, Malaysia Airlines announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with AerCap, the lessor of the aircraft for the lease of six (6) second hand Airbus A330-200. The A330-200 aircraft will allow the airline to bridge the next generation wide-body aircraft orders. At the same time, Malaysia Airlines will also return 6 of its currently leased B737-800.
With a lease period of six years from 2018 to 2023, these aircraft will have the same two class configuration like their A333 brothers, except it will be fitted with 271 seats and 19 fully lie flat Business Class seats. The plane in the spotlight actually belongs to the defunct Air Berlin.
As of press time, Malaysia Airlines had already taken over 5 of these Airbus A330-200 out of the six ordered. These A332 are 9M-MTU/MTV/MTW/MTX/MTZ with MTY being the last one. For unknown reasons, MTV & MTW haven't been flying in the recent week.
Malaysia Airlines A330-200 with old livery in Hong Kong - Credits: Wikimedia
Malaysia Airlines isn't completely stranger to the A332 fleet as they used to operate back in year 2003 to 2012. The most obvious exterior differences between the 200/300 series is the length of it and the number of windows between door L1 & L2.
Malaysia Airlines A330-200 - Credits : Roland Brei - RFotomoments
The A330-200 are fitted with 271 Economy Class & 19 Business Class passengers.
Malaysia Airlines A330-300 - Credits : Wikimedia
While the A330-300 carries 263 Economy Class & 27 Business Class passengers.
So the A332 has 8 more economy seats while the A333 has 8 more business class seats. Funny comparison to think that the 8 business class are worth 8 economy class seats.. Haha..
On the serious note, the A330-200 & 300 shares a common type rating and even with the increase of six new A332, it's still unlikely that they pull Boeing Pilots for type rating conversion as there were too much stuff involved and that includes money which Malaysia Airlines has to be prudent about.
Maybe they had to hire pilots somewhere but one observation i had on both Malaysia Airlines A330 flights in the last 1 month was that both pilots were captain. Lack of first officers? Most probably.
Since the news of the lease, there were many speculations & debate on where Malaysia Airlines will fly these A332 but records so far shown that they are currently plying Dhaka, Auckland, Brisbane & Denpasar Bali on a regular basis. Bangkok & Hong Kong can also be seen from time to time.
Due to work schedule, i can only fly short haul hence Denpasar seems to be the only shortest and "fixed" A332 route. I decided to go ahead with the booking 3 months before the flight because the deal was too attractive.
The deal was Denpasar-Kuala Lumpur return Business Class ticket at IDR 1,906,600 or USD $132. That's 4 elite sector for Enrich Frequent Flyer Program or 160 Tier Points for British Airways Executive Club. Sounds good to you?
CHANGES TO CABIN
The 1-2-1 configuration across is my favourite layout as compared to 2-2-2 that some carriers offers in their business class cabin. With that being said, everyone onboard here gets direct aisle access without having to climb over each other.
If you take a look at the youtube video by jahurz93 below, you will see the original Air Berlin seats with the original color scheme and gold trimmings. Pretty much left untouched.
This was the very first A330-200 (9M-MTU) delivered to Malaysia Airlines back in March 2018 and i assumed after some feedbacks, they choose to revamp it to make it more Malaysia Airlines branded.
UPDATE (17th August 2018) : It has come to my attention that there are 2 version of these leased A332. The first few was delivered as it is with all the gold trimmings and the weird looking ufo disc on every seat. Only subsequent aircraft delivered later was refitted with the "new" product that i was on today. Special thanks to zawnet on flyertalk forum!
Coming to think of it, i thought it was sensible for Malaysia Airlines to create its own identity while maintaining the current configuration rather than using the exact same design as Air Berlin. You wouldn't want to be reminded of Air Berlin when you are actually onboard Malaysia Airlines isn't?
Air Berlin Business Class Delivered as 9M-MTU - Screengrab from Youtube Video
Some noticeable changes
- Gold trimmings removed
- "Dome" on top of every seats removed
- Different tray table positions
- Flexible reading lights installed
- Seat rewrapped to black
- Overall white ambient lights
- Side Table
The centre divider between this couple seats seems higher too as compared to the video.
They retained the golden tray table though. I really wonder what's up with that..hahaha
I love sitting near to the window as it obviously offers more privacy.
But the IFS came by and ask if i could swop seat with my neighbour so that he can be seated nearer to his family. Knowing how tough in a spot she could be, i comply and move to seat 2A. On both of my flights, many families have asked to be relocated so they could sit next to their family members.
Seat 2A happens to be one of the seats that i would avoid at all cost but since IFS asked for a favour, i thought well it's just going to be a short 3 hours flight. Just get over it.
On your side, you can locate your reading lights, magazines and headphones.
I was expecting some storage bins at the side just like their A330-300s but no luck here.
New safety cards for new plane of course. Tempted to bring back hehehe.....
Below the side table is your seat adjustment panel, IFE remote(super cute btw) and a small storage space for your valuables.
Not much storage space but sufficient for 2 phone and a passport wallet. Just a bit on the left you can find the USB charging port and headphone jack. Apologies no pictures on that but you can't miss it. It's illuminated with blue LED light.
Here's the cute remote i was talking about. From the top, power button, mouse, volume control, overhead reading lights and service button.
It just look so tiny on my hands.
It wasn't easy navigating with the tiny mouse pad. Although the pad was very sensitive, it was difficult move the cursor accurately.
Visually, the screen resolution is sharper than the A333. Movie selection quite extensive although a little outdated.
Tray Table is quite straightforward. Just release the latch and pull it towards you.
You can also find a wall plug at the footwell.
But you can see my new seat is much more exposed to the aisle and i always felt as if someone was eyeing at me the entire flight.
Brunch was served after takeoff and i choose the beef option. My flight out of Bali had alcohol and wine service but not on the return flight out of Kuala Lumpur.
Beef Rice Vermicelli with Shitake Mushroom, Bak Choy & Carrot. I didn't had high expectations but the beef slices were really tasty! The fruits were satisfactory. The Kiwi was super sour and hard to bite. Yogurt & Bread Selection as usual.
After my filling meal, i saw this dent. Obviously it wasn't my fault but i hope the management can look in to it and address the problem.
Pretty standard business class toilet upfront.
Spacious enough for plumpflyer.
Standard amenities on MAS Flights.
The soap dispenser didn't work. Is it supposed to work? Haha...
Lie flat after a meal
For easy understanding, i will only show the 2 straightforward modes they have.
Here is the "relax" mode and perhaps the best position for me to sleep.
Here's the lie flat mode which i usually find myself struggling to sleep on.
I personally find this bulky piece of the tray table irritating.
I wasn't able to lean my knee comfortably on the walls and it pisses me off actually.
Let's just give this a nickname shall we? "Golden rock"
Where to sit?
Malaysia Airlines fails to label the seating correctly, causing much confusion to passengers during boarding. Instead of 3C/3H, my boarding pass printed 3A/3K. Fortunately, the friendly crew were there to guide us to our seats.
I edited the seat map specially for you readers with my seat recommendations.
For solo travellers, you are generally left with the seats on the side of the aircraft. But not all solo seats are good in terms of privacy.
Seat 3C,5C,3H & 5H are the good solo seats to look out for as you are seated nearer to the window and away from the aisle(as shown in the picture). It certainly felt like a little cocoon of yours at 39,000ft. Seat 3C & 3H also has a personal overhead storage compartment.
Seat 5H is the best solo seat because it looks a little more private with the surrounding curtains. But however, you may not get this seat on long haul flights because it's reserved as a crew rest seat.
You can also see that the side wall lights are nowhere to be seen. Either blocked by the curtain or maybe just not installed for the main purpose of it. On short flights like to/fro Denpasar, it's available for all passengers.
Not so solo
The remaining solo seats are 2A,4A,6A,2K,4K. These seats are positioned away from the window and nearer to the aisle which mean you are exposed. There isn't one bit of privacy at all.
I was seated on 2A on my return flight and you can see your neighbour on your right. Throughout the whole flight, i always felt that someone is looking at me. Hence i didn't feel very comfortable on my return flight.
As i am pretty big in size(fat), my shoulder tend to protrude out of the seat frame and occasionally getting bumped by anyone passing thru the aisle. Needless to say, even worse during meal service when the crew had to push the cart along the aisle.
I usually sit with my knees bend sideway(like a boss) but it would expose my knees out of the seat frame and occasionally get bump by anyone walking thru the aisle. The way to go around this is to have your body face towards the window but then again, you might bump into that irritating protruding "golden rock".
If i were to recommend one seat, i would recommend 6A because you are in the last row and you don't see your neighbour next to you. But however there is a walkway next to your seat which is more oftenly used by cabin crew.
There are no toilet behind seat 6A, making it one of the best alternative to the privacy solo seats. Few passengers will go to the lavatory at the right hand side(behind seat 5H) because it's actually an economy size toilet but reserved for business class passengers. The one behind the cockpit is the actual full size business class lavatory.
For couples looking to travel together, chances of getting seated together could be even more challenging because technically there's only 3 couple seats available.
Seat 1E/1F, 3E/3F, 5E/5F are the best couple seat you can find. As i haven't sat on these seats before, i can't confirm if the centre partition can be lowered to provide more couple feel. I will report back once i found a girlfriend. Hehe...
Best couple seats goes to 1E/1F, because you are located ahead of everyone else. Even with me seated at 2A, i can't see the passenger on 1E.
Not so couple
Seat 2E/2F, 4E/4F technically doesn't seem like a couple seat but you can cheat your mind thinking that you are actually seated together. Handholding during the flight still seem possible to me.
This business class isn't that bad after all. Provided if you have the good seats whether as a solo traveller or couple.
However there's a lack of storage spaces for the folks seated in the middle as there were no overhead storage. So it could cause a problem if every single passenger brought along a cabin luggage and laptop bag. If i remember clearly, a few of the overhead storage were already preoccupied with safety equipments.
With air travel being so competitive these days, passengers who pay a premium for business class travel are also more demanding as well. Although soft product are technically more important, hard product also plays a part in the whole premium experience.
With that being said, Malaysia Airlines decision to lease six of these wide-bodies is a very right decision. Many of the B738 routes as far as 5/6 hours should rightfully be replaced with a widebody aircraft. Travellers like me usually look at the type of aircraft and the kind of seating layout before booking the tickets.
Six years is a very short period and before you knew it, the lease will be over and new equipment will be introduced. So if you are looking to try the seats Air Berlin used to fly, consider flying your year-end holidays with Malaysia Airlines. They run sales regularly all year round so be sure to check it out on their website.
I want to thank the crew for the amazing service and the super friendly inflight supervisor whom i met on both sector on two separate days! Too much of a coincidence!
This flight happens to be my last mileage run flight of the year to achieve Enrich Gold/Oneworld Sapphire. A total of 38 Malaysia Airlines flights this year! OWS grant me access to lounge access worldwide even if i am travelling on economy. I could also guest one friend along with me! More lounge reviews perhaps!
If you have any questions/request, do email me and i will see what i can do. If you like to do Oneworld mileage run together, you may also email me at email@example.com.