My thoughts on the Kathmandu to Kuala Lumpur flight on Malaysia Airlines?
Tired. Sore. Really, really sick of eating rice. Would kill for some meat? Seriously. After the lack of variety in my diet for the last month, I had the worst meat cravings you can possibly imagine. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t just give in and say “stuff it just this once“. Stupid medical condition.
I had the red-eye flight from Kathmandu to Kuala Lumpur. It departed at 11:50 pm and arrived just before 6:00 am the next morning. Not the best timing in the world, but it is what it is. I was grateful for the extra baggage allowance, as I’d purchased a few books in Nepal and Bhutan, so my bag was a little heavy.
So anyway, I get to the airport in Kathmandu and check-in using the priority line as I was flying business class. Get told that my lounge access is the Executive Lounge, which is a shared lounge for all the airlines except for Thai Airways (and its Star Alliance partners), which has its own lounge. Almost made me wish I’d flown Thai, but at the time I wanted the status credits and miles for my Qantas account, which I could only accrue by flying OneWorld. Now the status credits didn’t really matter as I’d already requalified for QFF Platinum for another year. There weren’t a whole lot of flights departing so late at night, so it turned out that the lounge wasn’t too busy. The Executive Lounge is upstairs after you pass immigration. The offerings inside are limited regardless of dietary restrictions, but the vegan options? I want to laugh. The only thing they had that I could eat was fruit. And the fruit was only just this side of going rotten. And then they decided to close the lounge early and kick everyone out half an hour before they even called for boarding! That aside, given the small size of the airport, and the fact it’s not the home port of Malaysia Airlines, the lounge facilities aren’t a bad effort.
The gate was a clusterf***. No other way to put it. No priority boarding. And no concept of a queue, just a free for all. Being up the pointy end was nice though. I could just hang back and avoid the crush since there was no need to worry about overhead bin space.
On board we got our pre-departure beverage. I opted for water, and was more than a little surprised that it was served steaming hot! Not a bad thing, just unexpected. After takeoff, they came around to take meal and drink orders. The cabin crew confirmed that I had a VGML loaded – and then proceeded to ask me if I wanted chicken satay to go with that? Seriously? WTF?!?! Not one second earlier she said my vegan meal was loaded and then she asks if I want chicken? Not sure if it was general stupidity or ignorance, but she looked really surprised when I said no and that I really actually was vegan. I know the satay on Malaysia Airlines is their signature dish and that it is incredibly popular, but that question and her reaction when I said no was just weird. Nothing worth reporting, just a genuine “WTF?!?” moment. Oh, and I got my obligatory Diet Pepsi.
The appetiser was a couple of potato, chickpea and green chili patties. Tasty, and just the right amount of chili. I was then a little surprised when the main tray was placed in front of me and it had butter on it. Not dairy free spread, but actual butter. This, when 10 minutes earlier they’d confirmed I had a VGML loaded. Easy enough to avoid though. The bread basket was then brought around, and I was resigned to saying no, when lo and behold? Papadums made with rice flour! I think this is literally the first time since being diagnosed as gluten intolerant that I’ve been able to eat something out of the bread basket on a flight. Also on the tray was a small salad of beetroot, onion, lettuce and a lime wedge. This is exactly the kind of thing I regularly eat at home, so I was ecstatic to have this small reminder of my regular meals as part of my inflight catering. But then the main was served. Pasta with a tomato sauce. I’m sure it was fine – just inedible for me due to the pasta (almost definitely wheat, and potentially egg given the fact my VGML also had butter). Again, the risk I run with ordering a VGML is that the food won’t be gluten free. I know and accept this, but it’s still disappointing. And ultimately, while consuming gluten may make me ill, at least it won’t kill me. I got asked what was wrong with the food multiple times when the cabin crew noticed I hadn’t touched it. I didn’t really feel like explaining, so just said I wasn’t that hungry. Not a total lie. I had eaten dinner already, and had eaten some dried mango in the lounge. It was a little disappointing to have to forego the main, but there was still some sliced fruit on my tray, and I still had a bit of dried mango left in my backpack. The fruit was good, just the ideal ripeness, which was nice after that nasty apple I got given in the lounge! And I tucked into the remains of my mango once the meal service was over. Tasty, tasty mango!
No photos of the mango. Unsurprisingly, I ate it all before even thinking “hey, I should take a photo of that“. Yep, I really like mango!
The flight itself was fine, although turbulent throughout. Made me wish for the flatbeds rather than the MH regional business class product. I was tired, it was the middle of the night, and all I wanted to do was lay down and go to sleep. No such luck! Basically sat around typing this up on my iPad – and you have no idea what a pain it can be to type on the iPad keypad when the plane is bouncing around due to turbulence! So many typos. So many. I don’t think I could have slept anyway – they kept having to make announcements telling people to sit down and fasten their seatbelts due to the turbulence every five minutes. I can even predict who the culprits were. There was a group of school kids (my guess high school seniors or close to). I saw them in the airport and it’s the first time most of them have been on a plane. And since the announcements on board MH flights are only made in English and Malay, they probably had a limited idea of what was going on. Everyone was a first time flyer once, even me. It serves to remember that sometimes and give people some degree of understanding when they do silly things. Admittedly walking around the cabin during some fairly serious turbulence is more dangerous than silly, but I think someone must have finally explained it to them, because the announcements stopped after about half an hour.
The remainder of the flight was uneventful! We got a pre-arrival drink of water (cold this time), landed and disembarked.
And then I went straight for the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge in the Satellite Terminal. It had finally reopened!