Malaysia Airlines – A Tale of Two Lounges

Malaysia Airlines – A Tale of Two Lounges

On a recent stopover in Kuala Lumpur I had the opportunity to visit any of the OneWorld lounges at KIA so made the most of the time and checked out the two lounges you can use if leaving from the satellite terminal; the Malaysian Golden Lounge or the Cathay Pacific Lounge.

First up the Golden Lounge

Firstly the Lounge is huge, think Qatar huge, so not finding a seat won’t be an issue. It’s one long room so is nicely laid out with a large central food service station. Off to the side is a cafe set up that serves laksa and noodles.

The food is difficult to describe. I visited twice in the same night thanks to a flight delay and it grew on me the second time. The first visit I had the impression the food selection was cheap mass market stuff, think tomato pasta, tubs of rice etc. But when I did a second visit I noticed they had panini cooked to order and an espresso bar. There was also a waffle station. There’s not a huge variety, think one type of waffle, a salad bar of 4-5 items and limited choice of sandwiches but for the size of the Lounge and traffic it does the job. I have to admit to being spoilt by the CX Lounge I visited in between the dual Golden Lounge visits. 7/10

Now this is where Malaysia fails dismally. Now I get that Malaysia is a Muslim country, however they want the foreign connecting traveller so get a decent bar. The bar is off to the side as you walk in and is dark and worn. There’s a significant difference between the bar and the main lounge, I’m guessing one was renovated and the other wasn’t. There’s nothing on the shelves behind the bar or in the fridge, just a few bottles hidden below the bar and no menu. I ordered a vodka soda and not only was the soda flat but could hardly taste the vodka. I wiped the table with a napkin as it looked wet and ended up with a black tissue. Not pleasant. The drink was so bad as well as the environment I abandoned it and went to the CX Lounge for a proper drink. 2/10

The lounge itself is fine, it’s a bit cavernous but then you’re not going to have an issue finding a seat. There’s plenty of charging points as well as flight information screens. It doesn’t feel particularly intimate and more suits a quick 30 minute grab and go I think rather than somewhere to relax. 6/10

The Cathay Lounge

I have to admit I wasn’t planning on lounge hopping but after the disaster with the bar I wanted a proper gin and tonic, so decamped to the Cathay lounge to see what was on offer.

The food selection was significantly better in the CX lounge. It wasn’t that there was more choices but that there was a feeling of more quality ingredients being used in the food. The MH lounge had a feeling that they were catering to the masses. CX had hot dishes such as potato dauphinoise (really good), Japanese chicken curry (excellent) as well as some delcious mini quiches and an assortment of cheese and salad. CX wins on food quality here, hands down. 8/10

No complaints here, self serve drinks! There wasn’t much selection with just whiskey, gin, vodka, rum and a red and white wine but they were all branded spirits and free pour so you could make your own drink the way you want it. Simple but works. 9/10

In fairness to MH, CX has a much smaller lounge which is understandable at KIA. It’s also not a “refreshed” lounge like Bangkok and others with the CX change to noodle bars and wood paneling. It is however clean, comfortable and when I visited quite quiet though your mileage may vary. In fairness to MH they have a lot more passengers to accommodate in their lounge so the size and slight cavern feel is partially understandable. Given similar levels of traffic though I think most would prefer the smaller quieter lounge with less walk to food and drinks. 8/10

In summary the CX lounge definitely wins here, though the reasoning is more complex. It’s not that the MH offering is bad, but the word that sums it up is “budget”. The food quality is not as good and they are definitely catering to mass traffic. Why they have so many people needing lounge access is another issue. Then there’s the issue with the bar which is quite honestly awful. Either you’re a full service airline and want international non-muslim passengers or you don’t. Decide. There are definitely worse lounges around but if you’re expecting luxury and a more relaxed intimate experience this isn’t it. It has more of a dining hall/commissary feel than a business class lounge.

BA Closing Hong Kong Base

BA Closing Hong Kong Base

In quite a disgusting way to treat people British Airways has announce plans to close their Hong Kong base and lose the experience and language skills of 85 local crew. It’s the latest short sighted move from a company with management solely fixated on cutting costs no matter what effect it has on their service levels or people. Coming hot on the heels of their hacking and loss of credit card information in the last month, where I personally was affected and had to cancel my card you would think they would have a PR office with more sense. Maybe they are hoping no one notices.

No matter what commercial reasons you decide to take for your business there are ways you do things and the letter to the left sent to crew is NOT how you treat people. Stripping rosters with no notice is a robotic, weak and mean-spirited way to behave. If there was ever a way to lose your Hong Kong market share even further to Cathay Pacific and manage to antagonize your customer base at the same time then this is it.

Asiana Lounge Seoul

Asiana Lounge Seoul

The Asiana business lounge is located just after passport control on a mezzanine level overlooking the concourse. Initial impressions are good with a marble reception desk with friendly staff. If you enter to the right you will enter the new expanded wing.

The lounge itself is full of natural light in the daytime and at night when we visited had a nice intimate feeling despite being busy and a large lounge. Even though it was one big space, it had been cleverly sectioned with plenty of table seating to eat as well as relaxation areas, with even a grand piano in the center of the space. Think plenty of dark wood, earth colors and dark furniture to give the lounge a library kind of feel.

So with an impressive lounge environment we were looking forward to visiting the buffet, unfortunately here is where it went downhill. The selection of both food and drinks was very limited, with a selection more appropriate to a regional lounge rather than a flagship lounge in an airport and with an airline serving long haul routes.

They bizarrely had toast available for this late evening departure with what can best be described as a few snacks and nibbles, nothing substantial. Apparently there is more food available at main meal times but what is a main meal time? Airlines seem to be using this as an excuse to cut costs in lounges. Newsflash, meal time is whatever time zone your high paying passenger is on! Alcohol was also limited with a basic selection of 2-3 spirits and a couple of bottles of wine.

In summary, impressive design and well thought out but let down by the food and drink options!

Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge Terminal 4 Heathrow

Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge Terminal 4 Heathrow

The Plaza Premium arrivals lounge is situated on the mezzanine level between arrivals and departures landside at terminal 4 Heathrow. It’s a good choice for Malaysia or other airlines with no arrivals lounge at T4.

The entrance and lounge is similar in feeling and design to other Plaza lounges worldwide with natural woods and fabric choices. Right balance of dark and light. It’s nailed the design and it is a relaxing place to hang out after a long flight and grab a shower or breakfast.

The showers were big and clean with a toilet inside the shower room with plenty of space to open a suitcase and a bench to place it on. Very well designed with a rainfall shower.

Breakfast choices of cooked and vegetarian. Cooked unusual in that it’s obviously targeted people who don’t eat pork. Fine as a preference but why no pork based traditional British breakfast? In the end I chose the vegetarian option which was actually really good. It does slightly irritate me that the meat option has obviously been made “universal” rather than having both a traditional British pork option and also a non-pork eaters friendly one. Service was to your table and the only criticism of the service was that it was a little slow. There were only four people in there including me and I would say it took around 15 minutes for the food to come out. It was obviously cooked to order which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but don’t count on it as a lounge you can run in and grab something then go back out.

WiFi was free and fast, no problems.

EVA Air Economy Quick Review Taipei to Hong Kong

EVA Air Economy Quick Review Taipei to Hong Kong

Here’s a quick trip report on Eva Air Economy on a new A330 equipped with Wifi. If you’re interested in wifi prices then jump straight down to the gallery and view the photo.

Eva air is a 5 star Skytrax airline and was founded in 1989. It’s the alternative to the state owned carrier China Airlines. Here’s my quick review of the pros and cons of Eva Air economy class

  • Fast check in at online check in counters. Well staffed and no queue
  • Boarded at end of process so can’t speak for the priority boarding available but boarding was well managed into zones
  • New A330 with Wifi
  • Seat comfortable. Same seat on longhaul should be comfortable and not “bum numbing” Pitch was nothing special and OK for short haul.
  • Snack good for the short haul flight. Other airlines don’t even provide a tray. Metal cutlery on one sector and special Hello Kitty tray and cutlery on their special Hello Kitty themed plane! Organic and filtered water towel included on the tray
  • Entertainment system was good but limited English new releases. Did also have European new releases though.
  • Nice cockpit display on moving map
  • At seat USB
  • Gate to gate entertainment. Loaded early so no boring taxis and waits on the ground!
  • Use your mobile device at all times!

Overall a very decent experience in economy on this short flight, you can see why they deserve the 5 star Skytrax rating.

Hong Kong Airlines Latest New/Old Plane B-LHA J Class Review

Hong Kong Airlines Latest New/Old Plane B-LHA J Class Review

Hong Kong Airlines (HX) has a new/old plane. An emirates A330, registration B-LHA. It’s a 17 year old airframe and a 330-200 series powered by Rolls Royce engines. They plan to buy further of these ex-Emirates aircraft so although the plane itself is old the cabin has been refitted. This is a review of the J class on B-LHA which differs considerably from the other aircraft in the fleet.

Broadly speaking current HX aircfaft consist of fully flat 1-2-1 seating or 2-2-2 recliner style side by side seating. This plane is 2-2-2 but features a product I’ve never seen before in J class. The seats are slightly angled and the cabin has a modern fresh feel. Initial impressions are good, however when sitting down you realize that the cabin seems to have been designed for Asian passengers.

The screen and foot rest feel quite close to the seat at the bulkhead, the seat of choice for a lot of frequent fliers; if you’re sitting in the rows behind then it does feel more spacious. However to be honest the footrest/tv screen is quite weird. It’s a standalone console with a tiny footrest which is open at the back. There’s a large amount of space behind each console at every seat which is strange. It’s a total waste of space which could have been avoided by putting the footrest and screen at the back of the seat or bulkhead thus making it feel less cramped. If this plane is only used within Asia then it’s acceptable in my opinion but for long haul it will feel cramped and there is an issue of stepping over your seatmate in the bulkhead seats. From a commercial point of view it also seems to make no sense as there’s 3 rows of J versus 4 on other aircraft of the same type at HX.

On the positive side, the screen is very impressive and for a change so is the software running it. It behaves like a tablet and is fast and responsive. Very clear and a good size. If anything it’s too responsive and you can scroll through the listings too fast!

The table is in the center armrest and is solid and a good size. It’s comfortable to both eat and work from though as I’m writing this on a 10 inch laptop I can just about see the screen in front. If you were using a large 15 inch screen laptop then you wouldn’t be able to easily watch something at the same time as working. In terms of seat controls they’re down below the center console and aren’t easy to access while the table is deployed, but everything is also accessible through the touch screen so not a big issue. There’s also a regular power plug on the front of the center console.

The seat is firm yet comfortable, a minor gripe is that the take off and landing default position is slightly reclined as on most planes yet you can’t make it more upright to eat or work. It would be more comfortable for using the table if it could be made more upright.

Storage space is minimal and to be honest I’m surprised HX is still ordering seats/planes without taking this into account. The old Singapore 33S aircraft are terrible for this with a large gap down the side of the seat that swallows electronics when you think it’s a side pocket. The A350 that were sidetracked from Hainan to HX also have very poor storage and this aircraft is no different. There is a small mesh pocket on the right of the seat and footrest, which isn’t very deep so could only contain a phone or passport. The plastic pocket to the side of the seat also isn’t deep and not suitable for anything except the smallest items.

The seat goes fully flat and this was a pleasant surprise. The design is clever with the narrow seat fitting flush with the padding to make a wider sleeping area. It was quite comfortable and at first during recline I thought I would be too tall at 6’2″ to lie fully flat bearing in mind the console is close to the seat, but after fully reclining I was able to lie fully fat. The open footrest becomes something of a bonus at this point compared to the tiny foot coffins of other airlines, at least here you have space at the back and even sides to rearrange your feat.

Now a final very serious point, no coffee machine! Flight crew and regular passengers will know how important this is! What doesn’t help is that HX uses a bag of coffee in Y and J which is literally a bag steeped in a pot of hot water and it’s as bad as it sounds. Apparently this plane will eventually be fitted with a coffee machine but in the meantime bring a coffee stick and HX please load some better coffee in J on these aircraft!


Modern, Light Design

No more excessive red design

Impressive touch screen with good movie and TV options

Comfortable fully flat seat

At seat power and separate USB


No Wifi

Cramped feeling to some seats with wasted space around console

Tiny footrest

No Coffee Machine!