Earlier this year, I was looking to travel back from London to Sydney, and with a stash of Asia Miles to burn and availability in Malaysia Airlines First Class, I took the opportunity to check out Malaysia Airlines’ most premium cabin.
Unfortunately, as I explain below, the next six months (until early March 2018) may serve as your last opportunity to try Malaysia Airlines First Class with the A380 fading from their fleet in the near future.
Fleet & Routes
As of August 2017, Malaysia Airlines currently owns six Airbus A380s and uses some of them on its twice-daily flights on just one route, between Kuala Lumpur and London Heathrow.
British Airways is the only other carrier operating a nonstop service on this route, with a daily Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight, including First Class.
Facing financial pressure and low yields on this route with such a large aircraft, reports are that the airline will start to replace the jumbojet with smaller and more fuel-efficient Airbus A350s, which will not feature First Class, from January 2017.
The A380s are slated to be reconfigured to transport Hajj pilgrims to Mecca, switching from the current three-cabin 494 seats to almost 700 all-Economy seats.
Apart from that, Malaysia Airlines fly to Kuala Lumpur from Auckland with two-cabin Airbus A330s with lie-flat Business Class seats.
Malaysia Airlines routes from New Zealand do not feature First Class
Cabin & Seats
The First Class cabin is composed of eight open-suite seats in a 1-2-1 configuration across two rows at the front of the lower deck:
The seat turns into a fully-flat, very wide and comfortable bed when made up, although I didn’t manage to take any great pictures of the bed due to the darkness of the cabin.
The aisle seats are best when travelling with a companion:
and the window seats for solo travellers:
A large bench acts as your footrest and a space for storing your carry-on, given that there are no overhead bins to maximise the amount of space.
There is a personal closet and a heap of storage space if you want to unpack or change into the supplied pyjamas:
The staircase immediately in front of the First Class cabin leads to the upper level, where you’ll find Business Class:
The vast majority of the upper deck is dedicated to the aircraft’s 66 lie-flat Business Class seats, arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, with a mini Economy cabin at the back:
You can read more in our review of Malaysia Airlines A380 Business Class.
Service: Food & Drink
The service was very genuine and friendly with two staff catering for a cabin with only two travellers the day I was flying.
After a morning takeoff, we kicked off the service with some wine, nuts and satay.
A little later we get stuck into a three-course meal – and breakfast after waking the next morning. All the food was good, but the options on the menu were limited compared to other First Class flights I’ve flown.
The huge 23-inch screen is positioned far away from your seat but is still large enough to be engaging – if only the content were a little more comprehensive.
In the side of each seat, there is a standard set of USB and plug charging options to keep your devices topped up.
There are a generous three bathrooms located at the front of the cabin.
Each passenger is given an amenity kit along with pyjamas, which although the right size for my body, my long limbs seemed to pop too far out of. Regardless, they were pretty comfortable for inflight and summer use at home.
How to redeem points for this flight
AAdvantage and Asia Miles offer the cheapest redemption rates, whilst Qantas Frequent Flyer and British Airways Avios are significantly more expensive.
Malaysia Airlines’ own Enrich program has turned revenue-based as of June 2017, wiping out its good value.
The following prices are for one-way First Class award redemption between Kuala Lumpur and London:
|American Airlines AAdvantage||90,000|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||105,000|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||134,000|
|British Airways Avios||140,000|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||Dynamically priced based on cash ticket|
As Malaysia Airlines doesn’t operate a First Class cabin to or from New Zealand, if you are travelling to London, you would have to either redeem two separate tickets from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur in Business Class, then Kuala Lumpur to London in First, or pay the rate for First Class for both the Business and First Class legs, as I did via Asia Miles.
Cash tickets for this route retail from $7900 NZD. You may consider booking through Expedia so you can triple-dip and earn Expedia+ points, points/miles through credit card spend, and points/miles for the flight.
Our other Malaysia Airlines reviews
Malaysia Airlines First Class passengers gain access to the recently updated Satellite Platinum Golden Lounge in Kuala Lumpur and Terminal 4’s Golden Lounge at London Heathrow.
Satellite Platinum Golden Lounge, Kuala Lumpur
Golden Lounge, London Heathrow
Summing up: why choose this flight?
The primary reason to choose Malaysia Airlines First Class is if there is award availability with Malaysia Airlines, and with no other carrier.
There is no reason to avoid this product, but at the same time, no reason to actively seek it out either. Having said that, thanks to the spacious seat and comfortable bed, I would not hesitate to fly in their First Class again if the opportunity came up.
The food was all of a good standard, along with the in-flight entertainment, seat and service, but the entertainment choices were a little limited, as was the menu. The seat itself was wide and comfortable for hanging out in, with acres of space and width for a comfortable sleep.