Myanmar Airways International Flight Review: 8M501 from Yangon to Kuala Lumpur

October 20, 2017

Myanmar Airways International (MAI) is a private Burmese airline (versus national carrier Myanmar National Airlines) which has been in operation since 1993. The airline operates mainly regional routes, connecting Myanmar's capital, Yangon, to cities like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Kolkata, and Gaya.

 

I would be flying on its Airbus 319 aircraft on a scheduled flight to Kuala Lumpur as 8M501.

 

Flight Details

Operator: Myanmar Airways International

Flight: 8M501

Route: Yangon (RGN) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)

Departure from Yangon International Airport: 12.30pm / 12.30pm*

Arrival in Kuala Lumpur International Airport: 4.30pm / 4.26pm*

Flight Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes / 2 hours and 26 minutes*

Operating Aircraft: Airbus 319-111

Registration: XY-AGU

(* denotes actual timings)

 

Yangon International Airport's new terminal is indeed impressive, with good signage and grand architecture, and toilets are spanking clean too! All these aspects quite remind me of Singapore's Changi Airport.

Upon arriving at the check-in row, there weren't many people at the check-in (just one person in front of me), so I didn't have to wait for long. The check-in agent was very kind in informing me of my entitled 30 day visa-free stay in Malaysia. I learnt from her that the cabin would be divided into two zones: one zone for passengers with meals, and another for passengers without meals. This is quite fascinating that MAI would be operating both a full-service and a low cost model on the same flight!

I headed to the immigration controls and realized that I needed to fill up the embarkation form. Strangely, individual airlines all have their own versions of the embarkation form! 

After clearing immigration, it was a pleasant stroll passing by duty-free and luxury brand stores and down an escalator to the gate waiting area. 

Free Wi-Fi is available at all areas at the airport though it is limited to 30 minutes per device.

The aircraft (one of three Airbus 319s operated by MAI) was already at the gate.

I didn't see many passengers and it turned out that the passenger load on this flight would be very light! I half-expected it to be more full given it was a Friday departure.

 

Boarding commenced and it was a general boarding call, since there were so few passengers.

 

I picked up The Straits Times (Myanmar Edition) at the aircraft's boarding door and proceeded to my seat.

The Economy Class seat is a greyish leather one, with KBZ Bank advertising on the headrest - it makes the seat looks rather cheap, to be honest.

Seat pocket contents (MAI Duty Free Shopping catalogue, Myanmar Japon Plus magazine, Airbus A319 Safety Instructions card, and air sickness bag)

There will be four flight attendants working in Economy Class today: two ladies and two gentlemen. It would be a very easy flight for them given the light load.

Refreshing towels were distributed after boarding was completed.

A quick safety demonstration later, we took off for Kuala Lumpur.

After the seatbelt sign was switched off, menu cards were given out by one of the flight stewards. It is an exquisite touch to receive menu cards in Economy Class these days, and I truly appreciate this service gesture. 

Lunch would be served on this flight. The menu details are:

ENTRÉE

Nasi Lemak

(or)

Chicken Shwe Taung Style Noodle (Egg Flat Noodle)

 

DESSERT

Cream Caramel Pudding

 

DRINKS

Whisky, Wine (White & Red), Myanmar Beer

Soft Drinks & Juices

Coffee & Tea

 

Another flight stewardess offered blankets, which I declined.

 

Lunch service then quickly commenced. Since I was flying a Burmese airline, I thought I would try the Burmese option, and I was not disappointed. 

The noodles were a little dry and the Shwe Taung Style Chicken was slightly salty, nevertheless, it was very flavourful and tasty and the dish's mild spiciness added an appreciated kick to the dish. 

Apparently, Nasi Lemak was the popular choice and they ran out of it. The cabin crew managed to fish out a crew Nasi Lemak meal for a passenger who wanted it though.

 

The Cream Caramel Pudding was not as soft and melt-in-my-mouth as I would like, and it had a strong eggy taste, reminding me of egg custard than a true caramel pudding.

Drinks were served after all the meals were served. I had Myanmar Beer, which was given to me a full can. It was perfect to down the salty and spicy taste of my chicken noodle dish.

Soon after, the flight stewardesses were back to clear the meal trays, and they were proactive to offer me another can of beer, and even offered me a packet of peanuts to enjoy with it. It was a very nice service from the cabin crew.

Some observations I made during the meal service:

Though there were two other flight stewards, it seemed the two flight stewardesses were conducting the entire meal service from serving meals to serving drinks to collecting the meal trays. Perhaps like Singapore Airlines, on MAI, it is mainly female crew who are serving in the cabin and the male crew are working in the galley.

 

Another observation was the very polite way the flight stewardess handed items to the passengers: she would place her free hand on her elbow pit (cubital fossa) of the arm she was offering the item with. It was attention to the little service details that made the service excellent!

 

A third observation was that there were probably just ten passengers who were in the with meals zone! It was a very light load indeed!

 

Walking to the rear of the aircraft, there were more passengers seated in the without meals zone but still load factor on this flight was very low.

The lavatory, though was basic - with just a citrus-scent hand soap, was kept clean and neat.

The remainder of the flight was uneventful - I spent the time sipping on my can of beer, and flipped the newspaper and seat pocket magazines.

 

As per Malaysia regulatory requirements, the cabin was sprayed prior to landing. In addition, an informative announcement was made on the transport options and costs from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the city, which was helpful.

 

After circling for a landing slot, we landed on time in Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

I had enjoyed this flying experience with Myanmar Airways International. The Myanmar Airways International cabin crew were cheerful, sincere, and paid attention to the little details, that made the service excellent. Though Myanmar Airways International don't offer much frills (no inflight entertainment, basic meal and amenities), but with the good cabin service, they are competitive as a regional airline.

 

Thank you for reading this flight report of Myanmar Airways International on FlightTravels.

 

For the full video of my 8M501 flight experience, please see below:

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