Updated on August 24, 2017
Flight Log of Malaysia Airlines Flight 389 and 179 from Shanghai Pudong to Colombo with Transfer at Kuala Lumpur
Summer of 2017.
To celebrate our graduation, some friends of mine planned a two-week vacation to the island nation of Sri Lanka, an island of various amazing sights.
There weren’t many places to choose from in the middle of July, as most of South Asia were in their rainy season. The other alternatives under my consideration were South Africa and Central Europe. Well, we had difficulties finding accommodations in South Africa’s Kruger National Park since its peak season, and flights to Central Europe were a little bit beyond our budget. So, my friends and I chose Sri Lanka which was closer to home, and July was just in between its two major rainy seasons.
At 24XX CNY (36X USD), the return flights to Sri Lanka by Malaysia Airlines were a bargain. The only disadvantages were that the connection time for our outbound trip were just 75 minutes, this plus the delay-prone Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) mean we were very likely to miss our connection. So to keep any potential delay, person or baggage from ruining our vacation, we opted to stay two nights in the town of Negombo by Colombo Airport (which was usually a short pit stop for most visitors to the nation). This wasn’t too much of a problem, as any delay would be well covered by our insurances. And it turned out that this helped.
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As usual, most of my trips from Shanghai started from Hangzhou East Railway Station which was near my home. This time, to my surprise, train G7586 was served by the CRH2C model which was, in my opinion, essentially a 250kmh model (or 275kmh as Shinkansen E2 Series) now doing 310kmh under the crazy Chinese minds. Although due to traffic conditions on the Hangzhou-Shanghai corridor it rarely attained that speed.
After arriving at Shanghai, it was typical Metro Line 2 across the city to Pudong Airport. I preferred the slower and more crowded metro than airport express bus because in this way I can stopped at downtown Shanghai enjoying good local restaurants.
But unfortunately, securities at Shanghai Metro and our lunch took us a little bit longer than expected, so we arrived at Pudong Airport only like 65 minutes in advance, which did created some anxiety in my friends as we searched the metro timetable again and again onboard making sure we won’t be too late. However, there were still considerable lines at check-in counters when we arrived.
Flight MH389 to Kuala Lumpur
Our plane arrived fairly late, so we before we boarded our flight, we knew our connection would be close, if not impossible.
I sit on the port side of the plane to avoid sunlight, which meant there wasn’t much to see below me but ocean, and clouds.
Also, Malaysia Airlines’ cabin crew were little seen after the meal services.
Flight MH179 Connection to Colombo
The gate arrival time of our flight MH389 was 2210 in the evening, which was only 5 minutes earlier than the scheduled departure time of our connecting flight MH179 (but Google Shows it’s late). There were a group of Malaysia Airlines ground crew holding signs for different connecting flights, among which Colombo had the most passengers.
Holding the Colombo sign was a young lady, who did take her time in making sure that everybody’s with her, led us through the terminal building and aerotrain ride, to a boarding gate with words “closed” on it. However, there was still a security officer on duty, and we quickly passed security check and boarded our flight of MH179, which soon were pushed back from the gate. Obviously that flight was waiting for us.
So, gate arrival to gate departure, this was a 30-minute transit in different concourses of Kuala Lumpur Airport, not bad.
There wouldn’t be any views during this trip, as we were flying over Indian Ocean and an undeveloped Sri Lanka. So I slept over most of it.
The only problem of this short connection so far was that my ears weren’t very used to this abrupt change of cabin pressure in such short time.
At Colombo Airport, we needed to fill out an useless arrival card. After the experience at Marrakech Airport I shall say I wouldn’t be surprised that no pens were provided on site. Since the immigration lines were fairly short, I wouldn’t complain about the arrival cards with missing pens.
Then about our luggage. Since we waited for one of us for some time at the immigration, when we arrived at our baggage belt and we found our bags not in sight. We immediately proceeded to the baggage office, and was told that our bags were still at Kuala Lumpur. After that, it was a lengthy procedure asking about our bag appearances, phone numbers, hotel addresses and so on.
And there were quite some people transferring from MH389 to MH179 like us, so at times the baggage office at Colombo Airport at 11pm seemed chaotic.
We were told that our bags would come with flight MH179 on the next day, so we opted to collect our bags at the airport ourselves on the morning of July 12th, making the extra night at Colombo worthwhile. (We don’t want Sri Lanka’s persumably inefficient parcel services to carry our bags chasing us all over the country.)
After that, like any other visitors arriving that night, we purchased our SIM cards at the Dialog counters (it seemed that we all preferred the biggest wireless provider), while clerks at other counters looked hopelessly at our queues.
After that, we found a van outside the airport to take us to our rooms in Negombo for 2300 LKR, which we thought was a decent price given it was midnight.
Malaysia Airline’s low fare was the sole reason we chose this carrier in its former glory. (Budget carrier AirAsia with the same base of Kuala Lumpur wouldn’t be offering fares this low expect for rare promotions, and that came with inhumane 9-abreast A333, without checked bags and food.)
We knew well in advance that we were very likely to miss our outbound connection to Colombo, so we bought ourselves the best insurance on the market, and planned an extra night in the airport town of Negombo in case for any delay. So, although our checked bags arrived late, it didn’t do us much damage. (For some time I was hoping that we would miss our connection. One day in Kuala Lumpur could be much more fun than the dull town of Negombo).
Service-wise, on both legs there was one meal service, after which the cabin crew completely disappeared. For the three-hour MH179 this wasn’t much of a problem as almost everybody’s asleep, for the five-hour MH389, I really thought one more beverage service won’t hurt. But all in all, I haven’t flew on any other five-hour routes, so there’s no comparison and I won’t judge. At the end of the day, I got fish on both legs (something that I otherwise won’t eat due to their bones), so I should be pretty content.
And as for the delay, it seemed that there’s zero communication between cabin crew and ground crew of Malaysia Airlines. The crew on MH389 should be well-aware that their flight to the hub was delayed, and onward connections could well be affected. They didn’t make a single broadcast, even to feel sorry about the delay (well, it’s the airline’s fault, not theirs). After we arrived at Kuala Lumpur, we were greeted by a sign-holding emotionless lady, the only communication with whom were head counts, and being told to wait next to her for her to conduct more head counts, no assurances, no sympathy. It shouldn’t take long for the Kuala Lumpur ground crews to realize that our bags didn’t make it to our connecting flight, they didn’t inform us in the flight, leaving us to refer to baggage claim ourselves and then baggage offices at Colombo. After we got our bags back two days later, I sent emails to Malaysia Airlines for an official bag delay proof so that I could get reimbursement form my insurance, only to be bumped from one email address to another, and when it’s the right address, it took them three times to get my flight number and delay duration right.
So after all these, I wondered how could such a major carrier be this stubborn and disorganized, whether there’s anything else they could offer besides cheap fares.
Well, that definitely didn’t include arrival cards, which we got at Colombo Airport. By comparison, AirAsia offered Cambodia arrival cards, and that helped.
Flight Log of Malaysia Airlines Flight 389 and 179 from Shanghai Pudong to Colombo with Transfer at Kuala Lumpur by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.