ANURAG MALLICK and PRIYA GANAPATHY visit Malaysia for Merdeka Day and catch the relaunch of the national carrier and the newly refurbished Golden Lounge at Kuala Lumpur International Airport
After the colourful Merdeka Day in KL’s historic Merdeka Square on 31st August, celebrations continued in the wee hours on 1st Sep at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. There was a festive buzz at the airport as Malaysia Airlines staff and senior management, led by CEO Christoph Mueller were on a special walkabout to meet and greet passengers on its flights.
The staff seemed unusually cheerful, tucking cute teddy bears in pilot uniforms into our hands. We wondered if it was a build up to a flash mob or a Merdeka Day after-party on an otherwise routine travel calendar. Little did we know it was the dawn of a new era – the national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) had reinvented itself as Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB).
Teddy bears were not the only giveaway… One lucky winner on the Malaysia Airlines flight bound to Melbourne, MH149, won Business Class tickets! Besides acquiring a new name, MAB also offered an enhanced in-flight experience and clocked 89.8% on-time performance (OTP) on its first operational day.
Passengers breathed in the air of exclusivity at the Golden Lounge at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport), which had received a spanking new makeover. The plush 43,284 sq ft lounge on the Mezzanine Floor of the Satellite Terminal could seat 400 people and gave First and Business Class passengers a space for luxurious relaxation.
The Golden Lounge includes the Business and Platinum Lounges that fan out from the central reception. The Platinum Lounge presents fine dining with ala-carte menu, a buffet snack counter, cigar room and four private slumber rooms with wakeup call facility. With six washroom units and shower facilities, passengers can conveniently freshen up before their onward journey.
The Business Class Lounge has a sprawling dining area with a Rise & Shine deli, a Noodle Bar and a Bistro Bar serving gourmet coffee and other beverages. Besides four relaxation rooms with daybeds, shower and disabled-friendly washroom, a smoking room and games room with XBox game console made it ideal for passengers to chill out.
As CEO Christoph personally waved off one of MAB’s first few domestic flights, MH1138 from Kuala Lumpur to Penang at 9.15am from Gate A2, we headed for our flight to Kuching in Sarawak. Our return flight from Kuching to KL and Bengaluru gave us a chance to savour MAB’s revamped Business Class experience.
Sinking into our plush seats, we were soon 36,000 ft high on wine and ready for a mouth-watering menu of succulent satays, lamb rendang and Chicken Chettinad. It was the perfect representation of Malaysia’s diverse ethnic culture and cuisine. Some routes present traditional cuisine from the royal household of Pahang province while passengers travelling in First and Business Class can book their favourite meals in advance with Chef-on-Call!
By strange coincidence, we bumped into the entire Tourism Malaysia top brass, who were flying to Bengaluru for PATA Travel Mart 2015. The bubbly Azizah Aziz, Director of Corporate Communication and Dato Haji Azizan Noordin, Deputy Director General (International Promotion), outlined the big plans in store.
With vibrant arts and crafts, heritage sites, leisure tourism, upcoming entertainment theme parks and big ticket events like Malaysia Motor GP at Sepang and 1Malaysia Year-End Sale (1MYES), the tourism board was all set to woo Indian tourists with new packages. Can’t wait for our next trip to Malaysia and an opportunity to fly in style with Malaysia Airlines Berhad!
For more details, visit http://www.tourism.gov.my and www.malaysiaairlines.com