MALAYSIA AIRLINES, MEL-KUL

Date: July 2015.
Flight Path: Melbourne - Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur - Colombo, Male - Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur - Melbourne.
Seat: Between row 20-30, aisle for each segment.
Class: Economy.
Alliance: One World.

CHECK IN: Queues were long but the wait time was minimal with plenty of staff moving us through quickly. Service was grumpy. Playful banter was met with an abrupt response bordering on rude. Not a great start. Bags arrived at every destination though, so the task was met adequately.

PLANE: Airbus A330-300. Width - 17.5, pitch 32. The seats felt tight, compared to Singapore airlines where the width is a few inches more. The recline was adequate and blankets and pillows were plentiful.

ENTERTAINMENT: The movie selection had limited new releases, but enough for medium haul flights. Sitcom selection was poor, comedies in particular. The entertainment system was responsive and equipped with USB ports.

FOOD: Average. Really below full-service airline standards. Options were beef curry or fish. Beef was dry and tasted old, served with rice and a handful of beans. A side of a bread roll was stale and a sickly sweet cake really left me hankering for something fresh. No fruit is available either. Water is hard to come by, leaving you feeling dehydrated. It's a big step down from other airlines where there usually a decent snack bar on board.

SERVICE: Blunt and aggressive. There were very few smiles and everything seemed to be an effort. Requests for water were repeatedly forgotten and many fliers were asked to changed seats to accommodate large families who weren't seated together. I was fortunate to have 3 seats between myself and companion giving us room to spread out. I lay my head down to nap which was an inconvenience to the hostess during service. I got a smack on the head with a brutal "UP!". It was unnecessary and I felt like I was on a school excursion.

CONCLUSION: Some flight paths are difficult to co-ordinate and you're left with very few options. Malaysia Airline's safety record is less than stellar lately so their fares are very reasonable. This is attracting all sorts of fliers. In particular, families. And why not? It's tough to take a brood on holiday and Malaysia Airlines is making this feasible for a lot of people. I'm sure tending to a significant amount of parents and children overworks the staff. From what I could see on all four of my Malaysia Airlines segments, the staff were stressed and exhausted, I assume to cope with the demand (lots of mess in every aisle from kiddies). Unfortunately the staff attitude makes it difficult for me to consider booking with them again because my flights were mostly unpleasant. In reality, Singapore Airlines was only $150 more and in the scheme of things probably worth it. Malaysia Airlines now feels more like a low cost carrier than a full-service airline, and while their fares are discounted, it's not quite enough.

I flew at my own expense.