“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
As cliché as it sounds, it is this quote that somehow crossed my mind when I was trying to sleep on the floor somewhere inside Changi International Airport’s landside area of the terminal at the start of my journey to Europe.
Yes, I started my #KehujungDunia trip to Longyearbyen, Norway via London by flying from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.
“So you are taking Singapore Airlines to Europe?”
This was probably the most frequently asked question by anyone who got to know about us starting our journey via Singapore.
And perhaps “What!?” and “*clueless face*” were the most common reaction that I received when I told them that we are flying to London on Malaysia Airlines via a unique routing of KUL-SIN-KUL-LHR.
When we were planning for a trip to Norway (and Svalbard), a lot of options were available as far as flights are concerned. As always there are the Middle Eastern carriers that offer good deals to Norway via Doha or Dubai. There were also good deals to fly to Oslo via Bangkok on either Norwegian Air or Thai Airways. There was also the option of flying Air France/KLM or Lufthansa via Paris and Frankfurt which was kind of interesting as well. Despite seeing all these options which somehow top the list on SkyScanner and Wego, I kept telling myself, “why not fly with Malaysia Airlines”.
Perhaps it’s the – Fly the world with your National Airline – sentiment that is strong inside me or maybe it’s that dream to fly on MAS’s Airbus A380 on a real long haul flight. Maybe even that feeling that I can contribute to keep our national carrier flying high after a tough year in 2014. Whatever the reason is, we decided to go ahead with Malaysia Airlines by flying into Europe via London and out of Europe back to KL via Paris. This is where thigns got a bit interesting.
Tickets on Malaysia Airlines were significantly more expensive. As we were almost giving up with the search, RambleAndWander came to the rescue and pointed out the “promo fares” for Malaysia Airlines flights to Europe from Singapore. Surprisingly I was able to save up to RM1,000 per person by starting my journey from Singapore instead of KL. The catch – I had to fly to Singapore and fly back to KL before flying to London. Hence, the KUL-SIN-KUL-LHR route. Although it is kind of weird, for a saving of RM800 (after discounting the cost of KUL-SIN flight) per person, it makes sense.
So on one fine Thursday night in February 2015, our journey to Europe kicks off in KLIA as we fly to Singapore!
MH609 was a typical MAS regional hop kind of flight experience and despite it being the last flight for the day to Singapore, it was packed with business travelers.
We touched down at 7 minutes past midnight in Changi for our “6 hours layover” in Changi before our flight back to KL.
Yes, that “I saved RM800 per person” makes sense when we did the booking months earlier, but as I was lying down on the floor of Changi Airport trying to catch a nap, I kept asking myself whether I actually made the right decision. Trying hard to stay positive at the very start of the trip, I recalled Lao Tzu’s quote and kept telling myself, this is that “first single step”.
After being able to nap for about 30 minutes and a midnight McDonald’s meal, we went to MAS’ designated check-in desk at about 4 a.m. 150 minutes before the flight and 30 minutes before the counter opens, people have already started queuing.
Check-in staff was firm but friendly. We were asked to weigh and tag our cabin luggage to ensure that it’s within the permitted size and weight. We were provided with boarding passes for both our MH602 (SIN-KUL) and MH4 (KUL-LHR) flights. Our luggage was also tagged all the way to our final destination for the day – London.
Finally, with a boarding pass, we got the chance to enjoy the finer side of Changi’s terminal which is after the immigration clearance.
MH602 was operated by the same aircraft that took us to Singapore just hours before.
The sun rises as we began our descend towards KLIA. Always a beautiful sight, subhanAllah.
Parked at Gate A10, my wife and I made our way to the Satellite terminal in KLIA for our first transit at KLIA experience!
I might be bias but KLIA is still to me an awesome airport especially the Satellite building.
As our MH4 boarding was still 2.5 hours away and with boarding passes and bags sorted out, we decided to freshen up and chill at Sama-Sama Express lounge.
Nothing like a nice breakfast and hot shower!
Finally it was time for me to fly on-board MAS A380. Last time I was on-board this super jumbo was during MAS’s Big Flight joyride (click here to read) so I was pretty ecstatic about the next 13 hours.
Boarding was fast thanks to a dedicated aerobridge for the upper deck passengers. Passengers were greeted with smiles and directed to the right aisle by the crew at the door.
We were lucky to be able to secure seats on the upper cabin. With only 8 rows of seats available, it is worth the Ringgit to reserve seats at this smaller and quieter upper cabin. We were on 40A and 40C. Though it is not recommended by seat guru – due to its near location to the toilet and limited recline – I like the last row as I can stretch my hands all the way back. Also with only 8 rows and three toilets there is no issue with people lining up to use the lavatories. 🙂
Another advantage of the upper cabin, this personal compartment at the side. Big enough to store jackets and my electronics 🙂
MH4 was our 3rd Malaysia Airlines flight within 12 hours and by then we can already attest to the consistency of Malaysian Hospitality service shown by the crew regardless of an A380 or a B737 flight.
Of course the crew on-board widebody aircrafts like this A380 are mostly senior crew so there is no doubt about the level of service that can be expected.
39 minutes behind scheduled time, MH4 departed from KLIA for a 13 hours and 13 minutes flight on Friday the 13th :P. Take-off roll was as per expected long and the aircraft climbed gradually at the end of runway 32L giving passengers a beautiful view of the MTB on the right and klia2 on the left.
Minutes after that, seatbelts signs were switched off and I was able to switch on my cameras for some photos.
The crew swung into action and began distributing headsets for the in-flight entertainment, distributing landing cards and serving drinks + peanuts. I went on keying in my favourite tracks to the jukebox, something that I always do on-board long haul flights. Always great to listen to Hafiz Hamidun’s Zikir Terapi Diri which MAS has included all three of his albums into the Nasyid selections along with other classics like Raihan and Rabbani.
As the aircraft settles at an initial altitude of 30,000 feet, lunch was served. We opted for the Chicken Briyani which surprisingly was quite delicious.
I was expecting some post lunch ice-cream but it did not materialize. Instead cabin lights were dimmed and window shades were brought down creating the right ambience to rest and sleep.
I finally had some good couple of hours of rest before a bit of mild turbulence woke me up. I ended up watching some random movies and TV series.
My choice for the day.
Followed by few episodes of Friends and New Girl.
The crew went around every 30 minutes or so offering water and juices for passengers which is nice but I prefer to occasionally walk down to the galley and get it myself. A good excuse to stretch those tired legs as well.
At some point of the flight, Pringles, Oreos and chocolates were offered. Nice to munch while enjoying the movies but somehow I would prefer a sandwich or an instant noodle or something in between the two meals.
Fearing that the delay in departure might put us in London after sunset, we performed our Zohor and Asar prayers at the comfort of our seats at 38,000 feet. Thanks to the info on the in-flight entertainment, it is easy to determine the local time as well as the direction of kiblat.
As the flight enters its last few hours, the cabin lights were gradually switched on and another round of meal was served.
This time I opted for Seafood Pasta which might not look appealing but tasted ok.
Descending towards Heathrow.
Alhamdulillah, great to be on the ground after more than 13 hours of flying.
The two “dugongs” at Heathrow. Thank you 9M-MNE!
A quick ride on the efficient London tube brought us to Tune Hotel Paddington, our base for the next 3 nights.
As you would probably be able to conclude by now, I have always been a fan of Malaysia Airlines. While I agree that there are room for improvement as far as hardware is concern, I think Malaysia Airlines hospitality shown by their crew is what drives them forward in the competitive market these days. Also perhaps the convenient of flying direct. At the time of writing, there are rumours flying around on MAS leasing out 2 of its A380 to Turkish Airlines. Regardless whether it’s true, I’m glad that I got the chance to try it out to London and out of Paris on this trip.
Oh… another lesson that I learn from this first leg of the journey, I am too old to sleep on airport floors! 🙂
On the next post, I will be blogging about our activities in London. In the meantime click here for the main directory and video of #KeHujungDunia.