Malaysia Airlines Discontinues First Class & Renames The Cabin “Business Suite” – Consequences For oneWorld Emeralds & Mileage Redemptions

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Malaysia Airlines has made a change in their product descriptions and decided to get rid of First Class on their Airbus A350 aircraft they just had delivered, re-branding the cabin as Business Suite.

The services will apparently stay exactly the same but the description “First Class” has been scrapped from the product descriptions which could have implications for oneWorld frequent fliers.

Malaysia Airlines has had a constant up and down under several new CEO’s in recent years but has also received many new aircraft while modernizing existing ones, bringing the on board product relativaly on par with the competition.

Now the airline has sent out an email, advertising their new Business Suite product (you can fine it on their website here) which makes people wonder what will happen to their First Class facilities.

Dear Valued Customer,

Experience luxury on wings aboard our brand new Business Suite. Enjoy benefits such as premium amenity kits, Golden Lounge access and fine-dining on board with just a slight addition to Business Class fares. Pamper yourself with an enjoyable trip that begins the moment you arrive at the airport.

The images are identical to those MH used to advertise the product as First Class previously.

Here is the seating chart for the Airbus A350:

The carrier has erased any mention of First Class from their website as well and this could come with unexpected consequences for oneWorld fliers with Emerald Status.

If Malaysia Airlines decides to tailor all former First Class facilities such as the Check-in and First Class Lounge to their new product name they could also exclude Emeralds from using those, similar to the way Singapore Airlines does it. The website now also mentions “Golden Lounge” only and no mention of First Class Lounge anymore.

When trying to book KUL-LHR on British Airways Avios it now displays for First Class that the cabin isn’t operated on these flights.

So this cabin is at least for now not available with oneWorld mileage programs. That takes one decent option off the table when it comes to using miles.

I’d be interested what that means for existing mileage bookings in First Class and how the programs are going to handle it if a passenger requests a refund.

Conclusion

There can be many reasons why Malaysia Airlines would decide to do away with First Class. For one, marketing it to corporate customer is often difficult as most companies don’t allow to book First Class even for their Senior Executives. Booking Business Suite sounds more acceptable so it’s more of a cosmetic change. The product description appears to be exactly the same even based on the images used.

We can’t confirm at this point what Malaysia Airlines will be doing in regard to changes for oneWorld Emeralds. I personally won’t be back in Malaysia until January. Maybe one of our readers who comes through there wants to have a look and see if anyone substantial is going to change.

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