Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
The Casablanca Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra
Ethiopian Airlines B772 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Tanzanite Lounge DAR
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Cathay Dragon Lounge Bangalore
Cathay Dragon A330 Business Class BLR-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN
Back when I was in the planning stages of my RTW trip, I had two options for my SIN-NRT leg- I could take a flight from SIN-KUL at 9.15pm and connect to NRT at 11.30pm. Or I could take a SIN-KUL flight at 7.15pm and connect to the same flight.
“Well,” I thought to myself. “KUL is the home base of MAS, so I fancy their lounge there will be worth a trip report. Better budget more time for it.”
So I did. And that meant less time upfront in Singapore, which I at the time dismissed as unimportant because who wants to hang out at the SATS Premier lounge anyway. Doh.
After disembarkation I took the inter terminal train to the MAS Satellite lounge, which is the main lounge in use while the rest of the lounges undergo upgrades.
The layout of the lounge is a little strange. If you turn left after reception, you’re headed towards the business class section, where you’ll find a bar just outside the business class lounge (turning right takes you to the first class lounge; if you’re interested in seeing what that looks like Lucky has reviewed it here)
It’s only after you pass the bar that you get to the lounge entrance proper.
The lounge was packed to the brim when I got there, which wasn’t surprising given that evening time was peak departure period for MAS’s widebody aircraft.
If I had one overall comment about the lounge, it’d be “makeshift”. It seemed like this whole place had been repurposed very quickly to build a lounge. All the furniture was movable; there were very few permanent fixtures. The carpet was loose in a few places, like it had been stuck onto the floor. The weird placement of the bar outside the lounge also suggested that they didn’t want to make structural modifications to the space they had.
The other thing you’ll notice about the lounge is that it doesn’t seem to be segmented into any particular activity areas. In other lounges, you’ll find dedicated areas for dining, for resting, for watching TV etc. Here was one big room where everything seemed to be everywhere.
The only exception to this rule was a small elevated platform at the side of the room that serves as the main dining area
And yet not all the food is here. The platform is where you can order one of two freshly prepared dishes- laksa or chicken wanton noodles.
There is also a coffee machine with a professional barista.
But the rest of the buffet is on the other side of the lounge, away from the platform. Here’s where you find the pre-cooked items.
I managed to get a seat on the platform. Here’s another angle showing you what the layout of the lounge was like. On the left at the rear of the photo you can see where the other buffet items were.
On the platform I ordered the wanton noodles, which were really average. The wantons were still hard inside, like they hadn’t been cooked through. The broth was tasteless.
I also had a bowl of very watery, forgettable laksa. This was assam laksa, a different style to the one I had in the Singapore lounges, but way inferior.
These were some of the selections from the buffet. The buffet was divided into western and non-western options. The Western options had limp buttered vegetables, limp pasta and soggy potatoes. The non-western options were a strange mix of Indian and Malay food.
The lounge continued filling up as the evening went on. The acoustics of the room meant that any noise was echoed back by the ceiling, so in no time at all it got really loud.
I tried to seek out a quieter area, and discovered that there’s a spa located in a dark corner of the lounge. However, treatments are not complimentary.
I soon realised the quietest place to be was actually outside the lounge, at the bar.
The bartender poured me a glass of sparkling wine (they don’t serve champagne in this lounge) and I tried to get some work done, only to find that the internet was nigh-on unusable.
Afterwards, I wanted to use a shower room so I re-entered the lounge and walked up to the counter, only to be told that no showers were available. Plus, there was this beauty of a sign on the desk.
I still wanted to get a shower, if only to take photos of the shower room. Hot water is so overrated anyway. So I asked the attendant if I could put my name on the waiting list.
“There is no waiting list sir”
“Then how will I know when it’s my turn?”
“Oh, you sit close by relax a while. I call you when ready.”
I tried to explain to her it might make more logical sense if they took down people’s names so they at least had some idea of who came first, but she was having none of it. Another gentleman who arrived slightly after me got the same response.
While other lounges use electronic pagers to queue people when all the shower rooms are full, it seems that the MAS staff adopted a more laissez-faire approach
It wasn’t only the showers that weren’t working properly. Throughout the lounge I saw signs like this
Which suggest that this lounge is in desperate need of more TLC from management if it’s to be MAS’s flagship.
I’m glad to know that MAS is planning to update its satellite lounge, with completion targeted for mid 2017. Because the current offerings are really disappointing and do a big disservice to the MAS brand.
The MAS lounge, in a way, might be a microcosm for Malaysia itself. The people are friendly and well-meaning, but they’re let down by a lack of the right structures and processes to really bring out all they have to offer.
So MAS lounge- big disappointment. Fortunately, it was now time to get on my first ever MAS A330 flight, and as you’ll see, their hard product has really gone places.