Malindo Air: RGN – KUL in Business Class
Cost: US$660 (total RGN-KUL-DPS-BNE)
RGN – KUL
When I was offered the chance to visit Mr Y in Yangon, I largely let the decision hinge on my ability to get out of my original flight ticket on China Southern KMG-CAN-BNE and find a suitable alternative flight from Yangon to Brisbane.
When going through the China Southern online refund process, I discovered that I could obtain a full refund, as the flight schedule had changed – my CAN-BNE flight was leaving 20 minutes later than at the time of booking. Fine. On the other end, I was able to secure a business class ticket on Malindo Air (second chances!) from Yangon to Brisbane for US$660. This price was cheaper than Malaysia Airlines in Economy. For the record, this included a stopover in Kuala Lumpur or Bali. As I had been to Bali already this year, I thought I’d see how KL had changed since my last visit.
Check-in & Lounge
Mr Y’s boss & his Mrs kindly ran me from the Chatrium to Yangon airport. There were two separate security queues to get into the airport, one for local Burmese and foreigners. The foreigner queue was empty and the security check perfunctory. The local people were subjected to far more scrutiny. This as off-putting.
As my flight left at 11:59 pm that Tuesday, things weren’t rushed. This didn’t seem to be a peak time for operations at RGN. The other major flight out appeared to be a Korean Air flight that left at 11:30 pm.
Upon checking in, I was given a pass RNG’s Mingalabar lounge and my boarding pass to KUL. Fine.
After going through the concourse, I had low expectations. Relatively minor airports tend to have mediocre lounges. The full, manned bar, multiple buffets, spa, shower facilities, ample seating, and cavernous size surprised me, to say the least.
I nibbled at some food, but I wanted to sleep on the red-eye flight. I ignored the bar and just had a cup of tea. Everything was quite good. The lounge itself emptied almost fully with the Korean Airlines departure at 11:30 pm.
At the appropriate time, I strolled down to the departure gate. Boarding was called in the usual order (extra time, biz class + elites, economy by row) and was quite orderly. I was happy to finally get on, as there was a delay with the inbound aircraft. I watched the tired Westerners disembark from KUL.
Upon boarding, I was disappointed to see that the cabin which appeared almost empty (3/12 seats selected during online check-in) was in-fact nearly full.
Two factors conspired to make the flight a grind. First, the other J passengers were a boisterous bunch. If I understood Burmese, I’d no doubt have had a rollicking good laugh at their anecdotes, but my God at 2 AM? Additionally, Malindo in their infinite wisdom opt to do a full dinner service. That meant a minimum two hours with the cabin lights on. I attempted, without success, to anesthetize myself with a warm Tiger beer (Malindo’s signature J class beverage…).
Landing in KUL @ 5 am saw me arrive in a zombie-esque state. I banked on some sleep but got none. While the seats are comfortable for a 737 lounger, I just couldn’t sleep through dinner lights/noise and passenger conviviality.
After a quick arrival at KUL where the staff were largely asleep, I was took out some Ringgit from an Islamic Development Bank ATM, took a taxi to the Petaling Jaya Hilton, checked in early, and went straight to a long-deserved sleep.