Flight Report : Hong Kong - Kuala Lumpur - Singapore

Fares drop considerably after the holiday period, and Jan. 4 seems to be the magical threshold. I wanted to visit my friends in Singapore for a few days and make a side trip while I'm in the area, and Malaysia Airlines offered a fairly affordable open-jaw option with a return from Kuala Lumpur. The price was good - HKD $1560 before taxes. To sweeten the deal, the first leg to KL, a 4-hour journey, was on Cathay Dragon.

Hong Kong's airport is trying out new, automated check-in belts to save manpower. This reminds me of the awful system in Toronto where people line up twice, once to get the boarding pass, and a second time to drop the bag. I'm not convinced less humans in the process make it more efficient, especially for many unsuspecting travelers who don't fly that often that will hog up the machines trying to figure out the buttons and how to attach the tags. Multiply that across all the flights, and it will end up being a long and nasty wait.

I still prefer the manual line, and the wait was not long today either.

My widebody flight today was assigned a bus gate, which is quite interesting for photo-taking. A long line snaked out from the gate. I wasn't interested in being squashed into a sardine can, so I waited for the initial group to pass before leisurely heading for my bus. They won't leave without me anyway.

They still managed to put up 2 staircases, with one for the premium class up front and the rest for all of us, just like at a regular gate.

My first flight in 2018 would be on the A330, my favourite plane with a very humane 2-4-2 configuration. My window seat won't be a world away from the aisle for a bathroom break.

Goodbye to a grey and gloomy city!

With little to see outside, I turned my attention away from the window, comfortable in my cattle class front row seat. However, it didn't offer that much extra legroom, as a wall gets in the way of my feet extending into the Business Class seat ahead of me. I liked having 2 windows at my disposal though.

The last time I flew this route, it was still on Cathay Pacific metal, but they decided to shift all the flights to their Cathay Dragon subsidiary, which is probably a cost-saving move. I didn't expect gourmet dining in my cabin, so seeing all the shrimp in my pasta was a nice surprise.

Making flying green is an industry hot topic. Whether it is blending jet kerosene with additives, flying newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft, or even carrying less baggage, there are many things passengers can do, in addition to efforts by manufacturers and airlines.

The Li battery's fire hazard is quite real, and requirements for carrying them on board can get complex.

After the meal was served, the lights dimmed and people took a rest from the early morning departure.

The lavatory was well-stocked, including my favourite creams from the Cathay mainline.

Back to my seat, it is a long 4-hour journey to KL. Eventually, we started descending, and it would be a cloudy arrival as well today.

The final approach into KL looked very green, passing above lots of palm plantations. With a 3 hour stop before my next flight to Singapore, I wasn't in a great hurry to get off the plane. The seat is old but quite comfortable.

KL is not a particularly interesting airport for plane spotting. So I had plenty of time to exit immigration and head to the outlet mall near the airport. I had spotted this on my last visit and thought it would be a good place to stretch my legs. Free shuttles operate regularly from the airport.

This would be a good place to eat a proper meal between flights instead of relying on airport fare. Alternatively, hop on a train to KLIA2, where there are more restaurant options.

The outlet mall's design is quite good, with an air-conditioned waiting area next to the bus stop that is even stocked with check-in kiosks.

Satisfied with my brief visit although I didn't buy anything, I took the free bus back to the airport to explore the terminal once again. KLIA was one of the earlier new airports opened in Asia that changed the face of aviation. That was back in the 90s. The facility hasn't aged too well, and now is not that clean either.

Plane spotting was pretty much all Malaysia Airlines. They had a rough few years, losing one to a missile and another in a mysterious disappearance. I was reluctant to try them again but the price was too enticing.

While Malaysia tried to offload their A380s and failed, it seems they are much happier with their new A350.

The next leg to Singapore would be a short one - under an hour flight time. Malaysia flies many flights on this route daily, although that may change if and when the high-speed rail opens. Strangely, the frequencies suddenly drop off after the lunch hour, so I had to wait 3 hours to make the next available flight.

Business Class on the old 737 was a plush leather seat. I continued on to my spot in cattle class right on top of the wing, which in retrospect was not the best decision.

The wing would get in my way to take decent aerial shots.

With a short flight time, I was in a rush to photograph the reading materials.

KL is much more affordable to visit than Bangkok, with very cheap 5-star hotel rates.

We were served a basic snack and pre-packed drink. I wonder what Business Class passengers get with the limited air time.

Soon, the coast came back to view and it was time to descend for landing.

You need to have a lot of patience to start at 8:30am and get here by 4:30pm. It was pretty much a waste of a full day. Nevertheless, it was a comfortable set of 2 flights but I need to watch out for specials on direct flights next time.

Next Flight : Singapore - Ipoh
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