With the collapse of Malév this seems like the only time to post about my last Malev flight in July 2009 – 2.5 years ago from Rome to Budapest.
Booking: 10 out of 10
My ticket was actually booked in conjunction with a Cathay Pacific fare (Malév were part of the One World alliance). I travelled to Budapest from Australia via Hong Kong and Roma. From my visits to Malév ’s website, I found it to be streamlined, straightforward and effective.
Check In: 7 out of 10
Signposting for the Malév check in at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci (Fiumicino) (ROM) was appalling. It was hard to work out of this was in fact a Malev desk. There appeared to be no priority for business passengers at check in. I was flying in Economy class but was Platinum status with qantas which is the top tier One World. The clerk was efficient, fairly pleasant and made sure I got an exit seat on he 737. She told me where the lounge was.
Lounge: 0 out of 10
Despite my status, I was refused entry to the lounge because I was flying in Economy Class. The lounge Malev was using was run by a separate company and the reception did their best bouncer technique to make me feel as small as possible for even asking. What amazed me was that the Check in clerk had referred me to the Lounge!
Boarding was initially very efficient. As I reached the check in counter, the agent looked at my boarding pass: “ah Mr Cowling, we were paging you in the lounge, we have upgraded you to business” and handed me a boarding pass for Seat 1A. So pleased with this development, I did not explain that I had been denied entry to the lounge.
We then boarded a bus out to the tarmac.I have mixed feelings about this. I personally love walking on the tarmac and seeing close up the plane I am flying on (pictured here). I always find the bus trip a jarring annoyance, however. It also is a terrible option if you have a physical disability.
On Board: 8 out of 10
I am not a big fan of the 737 but the interior on this Malév one felt quite airy. Business Class pitch (distance between seats) is 34.4″. As I was in the front row, this was less relevant. Width was 18″.The Business class cabin feels a little cozy as it is arranged in a 2-3 configuration after row 1. Economy seating is 3-3 with a pitch of 30.5″ and seat width of 16.9″
By contrast low cost competitor, Wizz on the same route offers 28″ to 30″ seat pitch. Qantas on a short haul 737 offers 35″ pitch and 21.1″ width in business and 30″ and 17″ in economy.
The crew’s attitude is hard to describe. They were definitely smiling, polite and very happy to serve but I did not feel they were overly warm
I am not being critical here, because their efforts contributed to this being one of the most relaxed flights I have ever had as well as the amazing entertainment (see below). There was no special welcome for me as a platinum flyer. Qantas and Cathay Pacific do make a point of having the cabin manager visit you. American, Lan, have never done it and British Airways has sometimes done it. A small inconsistency across the One World network.
Safety: 10 out of 10
I liked the cartoon-like human figures used in their safety video. I like the very authoritative “Please locate the exit nearest to you now” Hear the emphasis on now! The music used is the same as in a couple of their advertisements. Crew appeared to take safety very carefully and gave a reassuring perception that they knew what they were doing. That always scores high marks from me. Cabin crew chatting through a safety briefing really angers me! This crew didn’t.
Meals: 8 out of 10
We were served a cold but delicious meal: roll and chocolate dessert. There was a reasonable drink selection.
Entertainment: 0 out of 10
There was no entertainment provided by Malév hence my rating but…
The flight itself provided huge entertainment in the landscape below. It was an incredibly clear day and we flew over Italy crossing a sparkling Adriatic sea and then across Croatia into Hungary. We flew over Lake Balaton in Hungary, which I would be swimming in the very next day! It was one of the smoothest flights I have ever had with not a hint of turbulence.
My rating: 77% (4 out of 5)
Positives: Cabin crew, Meal
Negatives: Check in and lounge at Rome airport, boarding at Rome, Non existent on board entertainment
Would I fly them again? Yes, but I won’t ever get that chance.
My last Trip Report: January 31: Etihad Evaluated