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I love flight options in Asia. Cheap fares on low cost carriers combined with favourable exchange rates, give travellers great value for their money. While airlines like Air Asia, VietJet and tigerair are always on my radar, I also like to explore new products and business class options which are often available at a good rate. So, on a recent trip from Saigon to Kuala Lumpur, I decided to try Malindo Air business class service.
Flight: OD 564
, Saigon (SGN) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Friday, October 14
Duration: 1hr 45min
Seat: 2A (Window)
Booking Malindo Business Class Tickets
Skyscanner is my preferred OTA for low cost airlines, especially in Asia (Malindo Air options did not show up in Google/ITA/Kayak searches). I compared the prices and schedules on skyscanner but found cheaper business class tickets on Malindo’s website. Their website was easy to navigate and I was able to purchase the tickets either as a guest or by creating an account. I was slightly disappointed that the website did not accept American Express as a form of payment but used my Chase Marriott Visa card instead, to save 2.5% on foreign transaction fee. Final price of my ticket was USD 158.50
Malindo Flight OD 564 was departing Tan Son That International Airport (SGN) from Terminal 2. I entered the main gate and walked towards the screen to determine the check-in counters.
Malindo counters were in aisle ‘H’ and a very short walk from the main gate. To my delight, the business counter was wide open and I was the only one in that section.
As the agent reviewed my booking, she acknowledged that it was a web booking and asked me for the credit card that was used. My ears perked up and all the red flags went off since my Chase Marriott Visa was recently (between booking and travel day) replaced due to security reasons. I presented the card and politely explained the situation. Unfortunately, since the digits did not match, she was unable to remove the “hold” on the check-in. The manager was called upon and a couple of calls later, it was determined that I would have to buy a new ticket and the old one would be refunded in full. Turns out, all web bookings have to be verified against the physical credit card at check-in.
There was no way I was paying the ‘current price’ of the ticket, but to my surprise, uninitiated the manager confirmed the price would still be $158.50! Malindo staff was extremely polite about the situation and sounded genuinely apologetic for giving me the “runaround”. When people are nice, I am happy to oblige, so off I went to the ticketing counter to buy new tickets. A transaction receipt for the new payment was provided along with an email from the manager confirming a full refund was under process.
I returned to the check-in counter where my boarding pass and lounge invitation were already printed and ready to go. Security gods were smiling and I was happy to use a dedicated fast track line for business and first class passengers. Immigration lineups were a bit slow but nothing out of the ordinary.
Boarding and Cabin Service
My flight was boarding at gate 18, while the lounge was near gate 9. It was a long walk and I could hear the final calls for boarding as I approached the desk.
I was excited to find out that I would have the entire Business class cabin to myself! The cabin had 12 seats with a 2-2 configuration across 3 rows. I was one of the last passengers on board and noticed the economy cabin looked fairly light as well.
The leather seats looked mint new and came with a small pillow.I was seated in 2A.
While the seats themselves were comfortable and looked new, the controls on the seats were mechanical and dated.
A welcome drink was offered as soon as my photography session was done 🙂 and I had settled into my seat. I chose juice and opted for the wine with my lunch.
The tv units were placed in the armrest between the seats and the tray table in the other.
The Philips headset provided were comfortable and adequate
The entertainment system was extensive and multi-lingual while the tv itself was a good size with crisp picture quality.
The flight attendent had promptly taken the meal orders before take off. The options included a malaysian style chicken satay or the veg curry with pulav, no menus provided. I opted for the vegetarian option. 20 minutes after takeoff, the food was served in tray with real plates and cutlery. I was not impressed with the food to be honest. While the curry and rice tasted fine, it had lot of raisins and I had to carefully sort them out (not a big fan of raisins in rice). And the red and green cherry on my pulav was just out of place, in my opinion. The brownie, salad and the bread were good and a healthy pouring of the wine was much appreciated 🙂
The placement of the tv unit and the food tray was a bit awkward since a portion of my plate was under the unit and the headset cord.
The attendant was observant and offered wine refills on a regular basis. 30 minutes prior to landing, she also came around with snack options and last round of drinks.
Arrival in KualaLumpur
Soon it was time to land, I had enjoyed my flight offerings and even managed to snooze for 30 minutes. The scenes out the window were breathtaking, minus the acres of palm oil plantations that have wreaked havoc on the local eco system.
The approach to KUL was a bit bumpy but the landing was perfect. Once again I was marveling at the aviation technology and pilots that let us navigate mother nature. We landed in Kuala Lumpur International Airport and taxied to the main terminal. Our flight parked between the two other flights in picture below. Turns out the Boeing on the left had a significant number etched on it.
Maybe its just me but I was super excited to catch a glimpse of the 7500th Boeing 737 that was delivered to Malindo in 2013 (Obviously I googled this bit)!!!
Malindo Air business class is a solid product and given the right price, I will definitely fly them again. The staff, both on ground and in air were exceptional in service. The food however, could be better. There needs to be a better way to notify passengers of the credit card verification at check-in. I was caught off-guard but managed to buy a new ticket and avoided potential disruption to my travel plans. Its been a month since my refund has been under process and I have received follow up emails from Malindo stating that a refund could take up to 3 months! That aside, this was a comfortable flight and I am happy to have a new product experience under my belt. Spotting the 7500th Boeing 737 inventory was truly special 🙂