Malaysia Airlines to debut its new business class seats on the Sydney-Kuala Lumpur route from late March, and has also revealed the seatmap for the refitted A330’s business class cabin.
The airline’s schedule shows the new seats flying between KL and Sydney from March 23 as the MH140/141 service.
But with 15 Airbus A330 jets going under the knife between now and September, expect a rapid roll-out to other cities.
The seatmap details the unconventional layout of the revamped business class cabin and gives savvy travellers the chance to pick prized seats when they book on the upgraded A330.
There are six rows of seats alternating between four across (in a 1-2-1 line) and five across (1-2-2) – resulting in a total of 27 business class benches, down from 36 seats in the older design with its 2-2-2- layout. This rudimentary seatmap doesn’t illustrate how the seats are staggered from row to row, however, as better indicated in this PR photo below and in an early mock-up concept (using Malaysia Airlines’ typical cabin dress rather than the new-look styling) by seat manufacturer Thompson Aero Seating.
The best seats for travelling with a colleague or partner are obviously going to be the nine D/G or H/K pairs.
The single ‘A’ seats will be offset – one directly next to the aisle, one directly next to the window – as shown in this early Thompson mock-up below:
This can provide a little extra room for snoozing flyers – especially around the hips and feet – when the seat folds down into a fully-flat 1.9 metre (76 inch) bed. There will also be just three ‘throne’ seats – at 1K, 4K and 6K – where the seats are centred and flanked by a large console on either side:
Expect these to be the first to be snapped up by solo travellers due to the extra degree of privacy and greater inflight workspace around the seat.
Here’s what you need to know about the new seats which Christoph Mueller believes will be crucial in making the Malaysian flag-carrier a competitive world-class premium airline.
1. Ready for take-off
April 2016 is when the first of Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A330-300 jets will begin flying with the new seats. Australia and Asia will be the primary markets, and Sydney or Melbourne as first destinations. But the airline aims to upgrade its entire 15-strong fleet of A330s by September 2016, a span of merely five months – an incredibly fast and aggressive schedule which underscore’s Mueller’s drive.
2. A330s only
The new 20.6 inch (52cm) wide seats are intended only for Malaysia Airlines’ A330 jets, not the new A380 superjumbos – some of which the airline is looking or lease or sell as it ‘right-sizes’ – nor the older Boeing 777-200ERs, which will be retired in favour of new long-range Airbus A350 jets from 2017.
3. Fully lie-flat beds
For business travellers, this will be one of the most welcome traits of the new A330 business class. The current A330 seats are a ‘sloping sleeper’ design: while they convert to a flat bed, this remains perched at a noticeable angle to the floor, rather than being a fully flat 180 degrees. In bed-mode, the new seats will measure 76 inches (1.93 metres) from head to toe and be dressed “with plush bed linen”.
4. Direct aisle access for almost everyone
Fully flat beds are one hallmark of modern business class seating; another is that each passenger has direct access to the aisle, rather than being forced to step over their seatmate. Malaysia Airlines’ new business class seat doesn’t quite go that far: of the 27 seats in the aircraft’s pointy end, three will still be one passenger away from the aisle. That’s due to the relatively unusual cabin layout, which alternates one row of 1-2-1 seating with a 1-2-2 row. Savvy travellers will soon learn to avoid those paired window seats (which are likely to be 2K, 4K and 6K).
5. Thrones seats
Another quirk of this layout is that at least two of those 27 seats will be highly coveted ‘throne’ seats, named because the seat itself is positioned between a pair of side tables or shelves.
6. Mod cons and creature comforts
Other treats for the business traveller will include 16 inch touchscreen video panel, AC and USB power outlets plus more space, both for spreading out your work and storing your inflight kit close at hand.
7. But fewer seats to go around
A downside of Malaysia Airlines’ new business class: the total number of seats in the cabin will drop from 36 to 27, owing to the shift towards providing more space (and direct aisle access) for these premium passengers. Fewer seats may not necessarily equate to higher fares, but it will more likely mean less chance of an upgrade using frequent flyer points or bidding with cash through the airline’s MHupgrade system.
(adapted from Australian Business Traveller)