Malaysia Airlines this week saw the launch of its new A350 product on its prestigious London route, with plans for it to replace the A380 product by March 2018. While this will see a capacity decrease, it will see a more contemporary product on the route, including a very intimate First Class cabin of just 4 seats, 31 larger business class seats, and 251 economy plus & economy seats.
Malaysia Airlines brought in Factorydesign to work on their Business Class and First Class cabins, which are adaptations of the Thompson Vantage seats. The unique configuration sees a myriad of Business Class seat options on the one aircraft, but each offers more space compared to the A380.
Thanks to the all-new Airbus A350 with extra wide cabins, passengers can also enjoy better air quality, a quieter environment and intelligent mood lighting. The A350 offers the latest in aircraft innovation with superior connectivity thanks to onboard WIFI and upgraded in-flight entertainment, featuring the latest blockbuster films displayed on large HD screens.
With a simple partition, the front zone of the business class has been sectioned off to provide a 1 x 2 x 1 seating arrangement. While fundamentally its the same seat, it offers more storage space, and privacy in the form of sliding doors. The airline has adopted a simple brushed copper and black colour palette, to add sophistication and a very on-trend designer look.
The actual seats aren’t as wide as their A380 seats, but there is still ample room to stretch out. The middle seats do have a retracting partition for those travelling together, but it isn’t along the whole seat, meaning conversations are through a large enough space when the seats are only semi reclined.
Each unit however features a large HD TV, ample storage, and a myriad of seat controls including a massage function. The user interface with its simple iconography matches the simple clean lines of the cabin, and the brushed copper finish trims virtually every surface.
The mood lighting panels beside the seat are a lovely touch too, and an iconic design, which will become instantly recognisable. Other small design details like the stitchwort on the seats, tactile faux-suede lined storage compartments, and copper pillows finish these mini-First Suites.
The business class cabin at first glance is just as comparable, the Thomson Vantage seat coming into it’s own. Due to the width of the A350, and not opting for the XL seat, the airline has a 2 x 2 x 1 configuration (of sorts) and due to the layout, each seat has slightly different elements.
Some have large storage units featuring vanity mirrors, and side tables, while others don’t, some have footwells that are contained (and perhaps a tiny bit constrictive) while others don’t, and then there are the famous ‘throne’ seats, which are by far the best seats in the house, featuring two storage areas, aisle access and no neighbour passenger.
While this sounds complex, the choice is simple to digest, for those solo travellers, pick the left hand window seats (A) or throne seats (2,5,9,11K), for those travelling together, pick the middle pairs (D,G). Perhaps the less desirable seats are those situated on the right hand of the aircraft by the window (3K,6K,10K), where you have to step over a neighbour, and don’t enjoy any extra storage.
While this might all sound confusing, the core product is excellent, and the above just helps you get the most out of the seating. In any seat, you will be enjoying a lot of personal space, a large TV and a long, flat bed.
The economy cabin is split in two, with three rows at the front featuring extended legroom, and the whole cabin enjoys a 3 x 3 x 3 arrangement, with wider seats. Even in the main economy cabin, passengers can enjoy a lot of legroom. When testing, we were very comfortable even with the seat in front reclined.
The seats feature bi-fold tray tables, a large TV screen and controller in the seat, meaning less chance of stopping your entertainment when trying to get comfortable in the seat.
The seats also feature large, comfortable and adjustable leather headrests, which add a little bit of colour into the cabin. Overall, we were hoping to see bulkheads and fixtures featuring more colour, pattern and texture, however, remembering that the crew are impeccably dressed and feature wonderfully patterned Sarong Kebayas which add the needed colour, pattern and texture into the aircraft.
Overall, this is a wonderful addition to Malaysia Airlines fleet, it’s carefully thought out, to reflect the airline’s need for cost efficiencies, to play in a very competitive Asia market, and to delight passengers with a comfortable, modern experience, that will serve the airline well for years to come.
Commenting on the inaugural flight, CEO Izham Ismail, said: “We boast one of the most modern fleets in Asia and are delighted to have the A350 now operating on our London route. The aircraft has been especially designed for long-haul routes, and will offer our customers a superior travel experience with enhanced levels of comfort, privacy and functionality.”
The Big Picture