Malaysia Airlines has revealed the first of its upgraded Boeing 737-800 NG interiors and plans to debut the refurbished plane on short-haul routes of out Kuala Lumpur by the end of the month. The slick new interior includes new seats and a new IFE system, with all 39 Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 NGs sporting the improved cabins and new look by mid-2023.
The 737-800 is the backbone of the Malaysia Airlines fleet
Most Simple Flying readers living outside the airline’s immediate neighborhood will best know Malaysia Airlines for its bigger long-haul aircraft, including the iconic but sadly parked fleet of six of Airbus A380-800s. But Malaysia Airlines has a substantial domestic and regional network. On those relatively short hops, smaller planes like the 737-800 NG shine. The narrowbody aircraft type comprises well over half of the total Malaysian Airlines fleet.
The oldest of Malaysia Airlines’ 737-800 NGs is just under 12 years, while the baby of the fleet is around seven and a half years old. The average age of the Malaysia Airlines 737-800 NG fleet is under ten years. That’s not old by airline industry standards, but after a decade of flying, Malaysia Airlines felt it was time to update the cabin product.
The new business class seats on Malaysia Airlines’ refurbished Boeing 737-800 NGs. Photo: Malaysia Airlines
New seats and a big blue color theme
Both the 12-seat business class and 162-seat economy class cabins have new seats. Both refurbished cabins feature lightweight leather-upholstered seats in the typical Boeing 737 2-2 (business class) or 3-3 (economy class) layout. All seats boost contemporary must-haves such as USB type A and C personal power outlets.
“We are thrilled to roll out the newly refreshed B737-800 NG, which will deliver future travel experiences through innovative features from seats to highly customizable inflight entertainment while staying true to our roots by incorporating Malaysian elements in the overall interior cabin design,” said Lau Yin May, Group Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer of Malaysia Airlines. “The cabin refurbishment exercise began in 2021, a bold step taken by the airline in response to feedback and suggestions received through customer surveys and various focus group sessions in 2020 to better understand the needs of our customers. “
Malaysia Airlines has always made a certain amount of noise about its cabin look. That includes the use of particular colors and the highly recognizable Malaysian and the national carriers’ batik motif. The airline says they’ve carried these elements over to their new cabins. But the most distinctive visual impact of the new cabin is its sheer blueness. That’s not a bad thing – the new 737-800 NG cabin looks sleek and classy. But if you board wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt, you’ll probably blend in like a green tree frog in a Sarawak rainforest.
Economy class seating on the refurbished Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 NG. Photo: Malaysia Airlines
Malaysia Airlines debuts a new inflight entertainment system on its refurbished Boeings
Also receiving attention is the inflight entertainment system. Malaysia Airlines is using the upgraded cabins as an opportunity to roll out its next-generation IFE system it calls MHstudio
“This demonstrates Malaysia Airlines’ commitment to adapt to changing consumer needs and in improving overall customer experience in the post-pandemic era. We are pleased to share that our in-flight entertainment is a game changer offering extensive media content, including award-winning local and international movies and TV series, as well as in-flight shopping, ” says Lau Yin May. She adds that “for the best experience,” passengers should bring their own listening / viewing devices and charging cables onboard. That’s airline industry code for no seatback IFE screens.
The upgraded 737-800 NG caps a busy few weeks at Malaysia Airlines. The airline has restored its pre-pandemic capacity to the key London market and doubled daily frequencies to Doha. Chatter concerning an imminent deal with Airbus to buy Airbus A330neos is also intensifying. There’s a lot going on at Malaysia Airlines and the 737-800 NG upgraded cabins, while important, are simply one part of a bigger story.