To say the last few years for Malaysia Airlines has been difficult is an understatement.
Many airlines fold after one tragedy (like Pan Am) but two in the space of a year – unheard of.
With the 24-hour Media cycle, we haven’t been allowed to forget the tragedies which saw MH370 mysteriously disappear and MH17 shot down in Ukrainian territory on a popular flight route over Eastern Europe within a few months of each other in 2014.
Again, the airline was thrust into the spotlight and across Australian Media last month after an onboard incident involving a mentally ill patient saw a plane return to Melbourne.
Yesterday marked three years since the MH17 tragedy.
Recently, when I began planning a trip to Asia with friends, Malaysia Airlines had some great sale fares and I suggested we fly with them as opposed to a much more expensive in-direct full-service carrier or one of the low-cost airlines on the same route, but I was met with some hesitation.
In particular, one friend was anxious about flying them more than others. I let her know I had flown Malaysian Airlines since these incidents had taken place and had a perfectly pleasant experience. Her response: I was risking my safety.
I understand her trepidation but don’t see it that way as I feel the incidents were isolated and could have happened on any airline, but, unfortunately, it’s all fallen on one. I’m steadfast in my decision to fly with them and I want to share with you why.
Here are 5 Reasons Why I Fly with Malaysia Airlines:
Note: I was not approached by Malaysia Airlines to write this but felt it is an important narrative to share.
Malaysia Airlines is one of the best carriers in the Australasian region
Each time, no matter what class of ticket I hold or how long the flight is, I’ve had really good experiences on board Malaysia Airlines.
Sure, sitting in the comfortable Business Class cabin enjoying a second helping of their famous satay skewers with rich peanut sauce is the best place to be; but their Economy cabins, both internationally and on short-hauls, still offer a comfortable experience.
Malaysia Airlines is a full-service airline. Like OneWorld partners Qantas or Cathay Pacific, check-in baggage is included in your ticket. As is an in-flight meal, snacks and drinks and in-flight entertainment.
Their crews, especially the women who wear traditional batik print skirts, are immaculately presented and go out of their way to assist you with any of your needs. Service is quick enough, if not better, than other international carriers, and the seats are comfortable. Sounds okay so far, right?!
You can grab a bargain flight price and maybe an upgrade
With new A380 planes in 2011 showcasing new cabin designs and revamped menus, Malaysia Airlines had worked hard to become one Asia’s top rated airlines.
Today, Malaysia Airlines strive to continue offering an exceptional in-flight experience. Most recently by announcing new A350’s are being leased and coming to routes like Auckland, Tokyo (a new route!) and London from late 2017.
With improved service across their whole fleet, what better time to snap up a bargain priced flight, that includes check-in baggage, drinks and meals. All this for little more than the cost of rival low-cost carriers where these items come at a premium cost which can really add up fast!
Better yet, if you are ranked high enough with the Malaysia Airlines Enrich frequent flyer program or with a OneWorld partner (like Qantas), you may be one of the lucky ones to receive a complimentary upgrade, like I did on my Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur flight recently.
Or if you have some air miles and feel like treating yourself, be sure to see if you can use your air miles to upgrade to the Malaysia Airlines Business cabin – spacious seats, in seat power and the delicious satay are worth it!
There are only two airlines on the AUS – KUL route
Whether you are exploring the metropolis of Kuala Lumpur or just stopping by; KLIA is one of Asia’s biggest hubs for travellers yet there are only two airlines serving the Australia to Kuala Lumpur route.
Malaysia Airlines is the full-service airline on the route and the other one is low-cost AirAsia X.
More recently, low-cost Malindo Air (soon to be rebranded as Batik Air) has begun flying from Perth to Kuala Lumpur and are considering adding flights to Brisbane soon.
Full-service Malaysia Airlines vs. two low-cost airlines? I’ll take the creature comforts of Malaysia Airlines every time!
Safety really is their priority
Having talked with the Regional Senior Vice President at Malaysia Airlines, he made it clear that both he and the company knew the reaction of the airline’s name among the public.
They had considered rebranding. Shortly after the MH370 incident, faced with the prospect of going into administration, there were calls for the airline to rebrand to MAH – one of the airlines used by lesser-known handles.
Yet they have persevered, even rocked by a second tragedy, and have instead taken the chance to really focus on making sure passengers and the public know that safety is their number one priority.
When I was in Kuala Lumpur shortly after the first incident, I spent some time at their crew training school learning about the drills and taking part in cabin crew training. Every skill is practiced regularly to ensure that no matter what the situation is the crew will know how to respond, right down to how to call in-flight announcements.
We took part in cabin evacuation drills and watched as current crew members took mandatory skills refreshers to ensure their knowledge on safety and first aid are up-to-date.
That’s just what I saw in just one day, imagine what is taught across the whole length of the training program!
Many of the teachers at the training academy had a personal connection to those who were lost onboard the two ill-fated flights. Some had met them briefly, some had worked with them extensively.
Our Senior Crew Instructor tasked with teaching us on the day of my visit had even trained some of the crew and her voice cracked as a journalist asked her about it. She told us she had become even more passionate about safety training since.
While Malaysia Airlines record isn’t as impeccable as Qantas, they are far better off than many Asian carriers trying to enter the Australian market.
German company JACDEC who publish annual safety rankings of airlines around the world consider Garuda Indonesia, who currently operate multiple daily flights from around Australia to Indonesia, and low-cost Indonesian carrier Lion Air, who are hoping to break into the Aussie market in the coming years, have a lower safety ranking than Malaysia Airlines.
Currently, they don’t rank Malindo Air (soon to be Batik Air) who have recently commenced flights from Perth to Malaysia or AirAsia Indonesia; both carriers have previously had issues getting approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to fly to Australia due to their poor safety records.
Data captured on 18 July 2017 and reflects year to date. (Data from B3A)
Furthermore, despite a number of high-profile airline crashes in the past few years, data actually shows that aviation incident rates are decreasing.
The Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives (B3A) collects, tracks and monitors all information relating to aviation incidents (both commercial and private) around and their data shows a steep decline in incidents worldwide.
It has never been safer to fly.
I can appreciate travellers being cautious about their safety when choosing to travel, but do your own research, consider the facts, look past the Media hysteria and then make your judgment on whether you’ll consider giving Malaysia Airlines a go on your next long-haul flight.
I’ve flown with airlines with far worse safety records than Malaysia Airlines. Sometimes it’s because I’ve had to for work, sometimes because they’re better than the other options available. Regardless, the decision ultimately comes down to you and what you are comfortable with.
For me, my considerations when buying a ticket are safety history and what I get for my dollar.
Malaysia Airlines offers the best bang for my buck. For around the same price as a low-cost airline, you’ll get a comfortable in-flight experience, including baggage, a meal (just look at the options!) and in-flight entertainment with an attentive and safety conscious crew. Oh, and you can earn frequent flyer points and status credits within the OneWorld network.
Best of all, Malaysia is a great stopover destination. Whether it’s taking in the sights of Kuala Lumpur, beach hopping in Pangkor, getting cultured in Penang or exploring tea plantations in the Cameroon Highlands, you’re bound to find the perfect adventure for you in Malaysia!
Let me know in the comments below
Have you flown Malaysia Airlines?
Where would you like to explore on a Malaysian getaway?
Go behind the scenes at Malaysia Airline:
Plan your trip to Malaysia: