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We recently flew Malaysia Airlines for a quick trip from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh on MH754, their morning service departing Kuala Lumpur’s KLIA at 9.30am for an expected arrival into Phnom Penh’s International Airport at 10.20 am, just under two hours later. Phnom Penh time is one hour behind Kuala Lumpur so don’t forget to adjust your watch.

The flight took off about fifteen minutes late dues to heavy traffic after an on-time pullback from the gate, though we made up time on the way, landing just a little after the expected time.

Malaysia Airlines use their popular workhorse, the  Boeing 737-800 aircraft on this route. Fleet has 56 B737s currently all 737-800 with an average age of just under four and a half years. Malaysia Airlines have flown all in the B737 series – 200, 300, 400, 500 and 700, except the 600, but then, most airlines didn’t fly it either, and there are very few still in active service of those that did. Our aircraft 9M-MLQ, is just under four years old.

First Impressions

Although we had earlier checked-in online, we made sure we arrived early at the airport as Malaysia Airlines have implemented a common bag drop system, with two long queues. This is normal for morning flights as well as those leaving in the late afternoon, so it’s better to be there well in advance as queues at immigration and security checks are likely to be correspondingly long.

Despite all the counters in both Row B and Row C being open, we still took half an hour to inch our way along to drop our already self-tagged bags.

Self-Bag Tag for Malaysian Airlines flights, KLIA
Malaysia Airlines Self Bag-tag
Malaysia Airlines Self Bag-tag

In preparation for the introduction of the SITA Self Bag-Drop for Malaysia Airlines passengers at KLIA, the airline introduced the Self-print-bag-tag system on 18th August 2016. Allow time to complete this step too – we took about 10 minutes as people new to the idea were reading the instructions as they followed through. As this is the same kiosk used for self-check in, you may also be behind someone performing both steps.

**TIP – until the self-Bagdrop units are ready – Be Early!

On board, we were greeted in a friendly manner, found our seats and settled in. It’s a short flight, one hour, fifty-five minutes, so the fact that the flight was quite full wasn’t a problem.

Since January 1st, 2016, Malaysia Airlines has not served any wine, beer or spirits on flights less than three hours in length, which means that on all the nearby regional flights you’ll have only a choice of soft drink or juice as well as tea or coffee. This also applies in business class.

Similarly, if you are looking for the duty free cart, they don’t carry one on these flights either so if you have any Enrich vouchers to redeem or a special purchase to make, book a longer flight!

The seat

This aircraft is configured with 150 Economy seats arranged three either side of a single aisle with 16 recliner seats in four rows in Business class. My companion and I were seated in 11E and F, in the Economy section. The leather seats are comfortable, although there is no headrest or footrest.

With a seat width of 17″ and a pitch of 30″, it’s a standard seat, a little cramped but it’s a short flight so not a major problem. The seats didn’t recline at all, there’s not even a button for you to try as the seats are in front of an exit row. If you’re on a longer flight, you may find it uncomfortable and it did make it difficult squeezing out for a trip to the washroom.  The armrests can be raised to tuck into the gap between the seats.


Legroom is a tight, standard 10″ which makes it difficult to climb out if you need to go to the washroom.

There is no footrest, but the space beneath the seat in front is clear for all seats apart from a small box under the middle seat, as the entertainment unit is not placed under the window seat, often an issue when it takes up passengers legroom in these seats in some airlines/aircraft.

This extra space is more than enough for a small bag to be pushed completely into the space, of for longer legged passengers to stretch out more easily.  The magazine space is quite tight, enough to fit a mobile phone to charge, or a novel.


The tray table is a non-fold table which can be pulled closer to the user during meals, or to use as a work space. There is a slight ridge at the edge, but no cup recess.

If you are seated in the front row of the cabin, your tray table is hidden in your armrest, and you will need to connect any charging items to the USB port on the entertainment unit located on the bulkhead wall.

The USB ports for all seats are located on the right side of the entertainment unit handset.  While working on a laptop, the space is adequate and if you are needing an electrical socket, feel around under your seat, it’s tucked away there. You can’t really see it because the space is so tight, but you can ‘feel’ your way.


The entertainment available on board is included in your fare, but on a short flight, there’s not much time to enjoy a movie, they do pass out headphones, which are adequate. Remember they will collect the headphones well before landing. You can enjoy watching your flight progress though.


Malaysia Airlines serves a meal on all flights longer than an hour. This sector is less than two hours, so you get your meal in a cardboard tray, a choice of chicken murtabak (pancake) or nasi lemak with fish. Both dishes were rather bland, though the dhal curry accompanying the murtabak was quite tasty. The meal came with a pack of peanuts and a biscuit, (crisp and not too sweet, easy to carry for later) and a choice of apple / orange juice, followed up with tea / coffee.

The Best Seat

Seats between Rows 8 and 18 are over the wing. If you like an A or F seat so you can see out the window, don’t select one in Rows 8 or 9 because these seats have no window. Seats in Row 5-8 are in front of the wing and those in Row 5 have extra legroom. However, you’ll need to put your bag overhead as there’s no under-seat storage for take-off.

We had a chat to one of the stewards, who suggested that a seat in Row 15 is the best, as seats in front can’t recline. Seats in Rows 11 – 14 and the back row seats don’t recline, so if f the flight is longer, these may be seats to avoid. However, seats in Rows 12 and 14 have a little extra legroom.

There is only one pair of toilets available in this type of aircraft for Economy passengers, located at the rear of the plane. The galley is also located here. If you are bothered by people queuing to go to the toilet, you may find the rear seats better to avoid.


Generally the flight was satisfactory, the seat was comfortable and the staff responsive and polite. Despite the lack of legroom, my seat was comfortable and I was able to charge my phone from the available USB port. I did appreciate that even though there is no footrest, there is no entertainment unit reducing the space under the seat and I was able to stretch my legs out comfortably. The box under the middle seat is quite small and was only an issue for those wanting to fit legs and a bag underneath.

Your Cambodia Arrival/Departure and Customs Declaration forms are given to you on board, so complete them before landing.

Travel by Economy Traveller was self-funded.

Lesley loves photography, budget travel and getting value for money, visiting places on and off the beaten track.

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