“I am off to Tokyo via Subang Skypark, Singapore and KLIA”.
I love how people were puzzled when I told them this prior to our trip to Tokyo.
Yes, we did it again. When we went to Svalbard earlier this year (click here to read), we took the less-direct route of flying to London via Singapore and KL. It was tiring and quite a hassle especially when the flight connections are not as smooth as it seems on paper. We thought that would be our last time starting our journey from Singapore, yet 2 weeks ago we went on to do it again.
Why go through all the hassle?
Simply because my partner and I both love good airfare deals and we treat flying as part of our travel experience. Business Class travel is something we have always want to experience especially on a relatively longer flight (>5 hours). However, the reality is we simply cannot afford the normal business class fares. Why pay double or triple the economy fare right?
So that item of “flying business class on an international route” on my bucket list has always been quietly siting in one corner all this while. Until one find day few months back, we got our lucky break, Alhamdulillah.
While browsing on Malaysia Airlines’s website looking for a flight to and from Singapore, my better half tried putting in some random destinations and what appeared shocked both of us. A combination of 4 sectors. Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur to Narita, Narita to Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur to Singapore at RM2,700 ++. The best part, all 4 sector on Malaysia Airlines Business Class!
Knowing that a normal KUL-NRT-KUL can cost as expensive as RM7,000 for business class, we wasted no time and went to purchase the tickets.
Of course we had to get ourselves to Singapore to start the trip so we opted for Firefly (RM210 per person return) to allow us to start and end our trip in Subang Airport, merely 25 minutes from home. That brings our total airfare for the 6 flights to RM3,000 per person.
On a hazy day in Subang, we started our journey to Tokyo.
Not exactly a dream start as the aircraft got into a technical problem just before boarding. Thankfully there was a spare ATR72-500 on standby which resulted in only about 45 minutes delay. It could be worse so if you plan to do this kind of “self-arranged multiple flights connection” please add in some cushion for such delay.
FYA – the oldest ATR in Firefly family came to the rescue.
A bumpy and hazy ride all the way to Changi. We arrived at Changi International Airport Terminal 2 at 3pm, about an hour behind scheduled arrival time.
Straight to Malaysia Airlines dedicated check-in counters to get our bags and boarding passes for our remaining flights. Unlike the long queue that we had last time here, this time it was a breeze thanks to the 2 dedicated counters for premium passengers.
Boarding passes all the way to Narita and the invitation to SATS Gateway Lounge. A shared lounge as Malaysia Airlines starting from 1st September has closed down their dedicated lounge in Changi. Not sure though whether it is temporary or permanent. Quite a disappointment as I was looking forward to enjoy halal refreshments and prayer room inside the lounge.
We had a 3.5 hour window in Singapore. With our bag checked in, we could just chill and kill time at the lounge or even at the airport’s airside which is comfortable and premium enough to qualify as one of world’s best, but we decided to be adventurous.
We jumped into a taxi and made our way to our favourite makan place in Singapore, Zam Zam Restaurant for a quick briyani fix! No Changi airport restaurants (at least the halal ones) come anywhere near this awesome briyani lah!
Took us 90 minutes to travel to Arab Street, enjoy the food and travel back to Changi’s T2. Just in time for us to do a quick tour of what Changi has to offer.
Popular Singaporean dish katanya.
A quick stop at SATS Lounge.
SATS Lounge reminded me of Plaza Premium Lounge, basic but good enough to relax but can be crowded at certain time as it not only serves multiple airline customers but also those with certain credit cards and prepaid lounge access cards.
Our luck with on-time performance was a bit off as our second flight was also delayed due to late arrival of aircraft.
45 minutes after scheduled departure time, we left Changi for Kuala Lumpur on a Boeing 737-800.
Singapore – Kuala Lumpur (and vice versa) has long been a lucrative route for airlines so it was not surprising to see an almost full load on this MH616 flight with 11 seats occupied on Golden Club Class – the fancy name for Malaysia Airlines’ business class.
It is true that a short hop like this 50-minute sector is too short to enjoy what it’s like flying on business class. Nevertheless it was a good “first time” experience for us.
Welcome drinks was served right after boarding followed by warm towels. Seats are generously spacious with bigger in-flight entertainment screen. Besides all this and the food, the rest is about the same as being on economy. Oh maybe that extra care too which is nice having 2 crew attending to a maximum of 16 passengers.
Overall, I believe Malaysia Airlines B737-800 business class is a good product as I can imagine enjoying both the hardware (seats, ambience, in-flight entertainment) and the software (the hospitality, food) on a longer regional routes serve by this plane such as Nepal, India and Hong Kong.
Interesting to note that many of the passengers chose not to eat during the (once again) bumpy flight. Perhaps they were frequent fliers on this route. I was hungry and I enjoyed the satay!
After saying goodbye to the friendly crew of MH616, we made our way to the Satellite building at KLIA. As our inbound flight from Singapore was delayed, we had about a 2.5 hour gap to our next and final flight for the day – MH88 to Tokyo-Narita.
Changi is indeed pretty but KLIA is where my heart is.
The Golden Lounge.
It was pretty crowded with passengers probably due to lots of European bound flights departing late evening. I find the facilities adequate despite the crowd. We got to comfortably rest and also make use of the shower and prayer room facilities. Food was quite delicious with quite a variety of snacks and actual meals.
11 hours after leaving our house and after 2 flights, we were finally on-board the flight that will bring us to Tokyo-Narita. MH88 is a daily flight operated by the Airbus A330-300. 7 rows of seats on business class with 6 seats per row.
Being an “overnight” flight, most of the passengers were seem ready to sleep. Most including us requested to prepare our “beds”.
I plan to write a full review on my business class experience on the return flight, MH89 from Narita to Kuala Lumpur later so I’ll just post some random photos for this flight.
The legroom and nice in-flight entertainment screen.
The signature satay was served 45 minutes after take-off. Unlike the earlier Satay we had from Singapore-KL, this one was served from the trolley with the choice of chicken or lamb satay or a mix of both. I read many good comments about this satay and I tend to agree. Delicious.
Cabin lights were dimmed and eventually switched off to allow passengers to get a few hours of sleep after the supper service was completed. I tried watching a few movies only to fall asleep each time. Must be the combination of being tired and comfortable seats despite it’s not a full flatbed kind of seats. Yes, I did experience the famous slide down from the seats but after a few attempts I managed to get a quite comfortable configuration to allow me to doze off.
About 2 hours before landing, the main meal was served.
Many opted for the Nasi Lemak or western breakfast but we decided to try something a bit more heavy. Thanks to the “chef-on-call” feature, we ordered something different.
Ohayou Gozaimasu Japan!
The end of a day of flying adventure. 3 flights, 3 countries, 3 different kind of aircrafts and lots of fun. Tired but fun.
As we arrived on 16th September, I thought it would be nice to spread some Hari Malaysia love to fellow Malaysians. I changed into my Harimau Malaya colors and greeted the crew Selamat Hari Malaysia and thanked them for a nice flight.
After hours being in an airplane, I still want to spend some time admiring “Japanese beauties” on tarmac of Narita International Airport. Must be that #AvGeek side of me,. Great work by the airport authority with this visitor’s friendly observation deck.
And our #Tokyo2015 adventure begins……