When Malaysia Airlines introduced its Airbus A350 to service in December 2017 it was the only carrier to install a First Class cabin in the aircraft. That remains true to this day among over 20 operators of the aircraft type worldwide.
Malaysia currently flies its six A350s to London Heathrow, Osaka Kansai and Tokyo Narita from its Kuala Lumpur hub, but another route has joined the fold recently – KL to Sydney.
Now that it’s a regular fixture, the four First Class seats on this service are available for sale and award redemption, and this is one of your cheapest means to try out this new product.
Malaysia Airlines chose the Thompson Vantage XL First seat for its A350 First Class cabin. Designed as a Business Class seat, and indeed used by Qantas and EVA Air, the First class variety has some added features including closing doors, though these are also an option on the Business Class variety.
- 1-2-1 layout, with all seats featuring direct aisle access
- Total of four seats with enclosed monument and retractable privacy door (2 individual seats and two double seats)
- Seat pitch of 83 inches and width of 23 inches
- Full-flat bed length of 83 inches
- A pneumatic cushion to adjust seat firmness
- Capacitive seat control offering personalised lounge position, independent adjustable leg rest, and massage and lumbar system
- Individual 24-inch IFE with capacitive HD touchscreen (1080p) and multi-touch gesture, video handset, widescreen with LED backlighting
- Primary and secondary passenger control units
- Equipped with 115v AC PED power supply and USB 2.0 port
- Each seat comes with meal and cocktail table, feature light, vanity mirror, console stowage and a magazine rack
The cabin has one toilet for a maximum of four passengers, so queueing shouldn’t be an issue. There are two dedicated crew members to look after the First Class passengers on Kuala Lumpur to Sydney flights.
Seat 1A is slightly further forwards than the middle pair, with seat 1K slightly behind the middle pair, for additional privacy.
For the remainder of 2018 the A350 flies daily on the MH123/122 pairing, with the exception of specific ‘blocks’ of four days in a row.
|Flight||From / To||Aircraft||Days|
|MH123||KUL2335 – SYD1055*||359||Daily|
|MH122||SYD1310 – KUL1845||359||Daily|
* next day
Through the end of 2018, this schedule is applicable with the exception of the following dates (applies to MH123, for MH122 add 1 day):
- 21 – 24 Nov
- 1 – 4 Dec
- 12 – 15 Dec
- 23 – 26 Dec
These 4-day blocks do not follow specific days of the week, which makes it a little confusing. On these dates an A330-300 operates, without a First Class cabin. From 1st January 2019 however, the route is operated by the A350-900 on all dates.
Sydney award redemptions
|Malaysia redemption premium cabin award rates Kuala Lumpur to/from Sydney|
Note how American Airlines AAdvantage is by far the best return per mile here – just 50,000 miles for a one-way redemption from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney, or vice-versa, in First Class.
Not many of our readers have AAdvantage miles though, so after that you’re looking at 75,000 Asia Miles or 95,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer miles to secure this seat on the KL – Sydney sector.
We looked at availability on this route using the BA Avios site for the rest of November 2018 and December 2018. Here’s how the First Class availability looks from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney:
|November 2018 (MH123 KUL-SYD)|
|December 2018 (MH123 KUL-SYD)|
Here is the availability from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur:
|November 2018 (MH122 SYD-KUL)|
|December 2018 (MH122 SYD-KUL)|
As you can see this is a significant spread of availability – 163 seats in the next 7 weeks through the end of 2018, which represents over 60% of planned First Class cabin capacity on this route for the period (when the dates with no F cabin operating are accounted for).
On many dates, especially northbound from Sydney to KL, all four First Class seat are up for grabs as award tickets. That’s right – the whole family, or you and three friends, could snag the entire cabin to yourselves for this 8-hour trip.
This suggests Malaysia Airlines is not too confident of strong commercial ticket sales in this cabin on the route. It also bodes well for those travelling in Business Class using MHupgrade, the airline’s ‘bid for upgrade’ system – there’s a good chance of success here.
Kuala Lumpur First Class lounge
Malaysia Airlines opened the doors to not one but three new lounges at its home base in Kuala Lumpur this year. One of these, the International Golden Lounge, is located at the satellite concourse and features a dedicated First Class section.
You can access this section of the lounge if you are flying in Malaysia Airlines First Class, oneworld First Class (e.g. British Airways to London) or hold oneworld Emerald status and are flying with a oneworld airline. There are a few other eligible categories but that’s the core of the access policy.
The lounge also features à la carte dining with selections like Grilled Fillet of Red Snapper, Ayam Perchik and Curry Laksa, according to a review earlier this year by Matthew at Live and Let’s Fly.
Sydney First Class lounge
At the Sydney end – fantastic news for Malaysia Airlines First Class passengers departing on MH122 to Kuala Lumpur, who will have access to the excellent Qantas First lounge. We visited in March this year and it’s up there with some of the best in the world.
Here you’ll find a restaurant, a manned bar with top quality Champagnes and a spa with complimentary treatments among the facilities.
Better still, the 1.10pm departure time of the Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur falls into one of the quieter periods for this popular lounge, with the morning ‘rush’ of Qantas departures already well on their way.
Are there cheaper options?
In miles needed – yes. If you want to try Malaysia Airlines’ A350 in First Class you can fly from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo or Osaka for just 40,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
Tokyo / Osaka award redemptions
|Malaysia redemption premium cabin award rates Kuala Lumpur to/from Tokyo and Osaka|
American AAdvantage stands out again here for value, with JAL Mileage Bank and Qantas dropping to more reasonable levels compared to a Sydney redemption in this cabin.
We didn’t look in detail at award availability on the KL to Tokyo and Osaka flights, however a quick search shows good availability on these routes too.
Note that some of Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo-Narita flights are operated by the Airbus A380, with the older First Class seat.
This might not be a ‘proper’ First Class seat as we’d judge it – especially in width terms, however it has been receiving positive reviews and benefits from great privacy with closing doors and an intimate four-seat cabin.
American Airlines AAdvantage miles are your best value redemption option to or from Sydney, but most of our readers don’t hold those or can’t easily swap credit card points into that scheme.
A more realistic next proposition on the list is Asia Miles, 75,000 miles for this itinerary. Qantas Frequent Flyer, a Citi partner, is also an option at 95,000 miles one-way.
In both Kuala Lumpur and Sydney there are excellent lounge options for Malaysia’s First Class passengers, not to mention the various oneworld lounge options at Tokyo-Narita if you go for a Japan routing.
Do these options entice you to try the new First Class product on the Malaysia Airlines A350, or have you already done so? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Malaysia Airlines)