Malaysia Airlines has unveiled the first of its upgraded Boeing 737-800 NG interiors and plans to debut the refurbished aircraft on short-haul routes from 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 to feature the upgraded cabins and new appearance by mid-2023.
The 737-800 is the backbone of Malaysia Airlines’ fleet
Most Simple Flying readers who live outside the airline’s immediate vicinity will know Malaysia Airlines best for its larger, long-haul aircraft, including its iconic but sadly parked fleet of six Airbus A380-800s. But Malaysia Airlines has a large domestic and regional network. On those relatively short jumps, smaller aircraft such as the 737-800 NG shine. The narrowbody type comprises more than half of Malaysian Airlines’ total fleet.
The oldest of Malaysia Airlines’ 737-800 NGs is just under 12 years old, while the fleet’s baby is about seven and a half years old. The average age of Malaysia Airlines’ 737-800 NG fleet is under ten years old. That’s not old by airline industry standards, but after a decade of flying, Malaysia Airlines thought 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 big blue color theme
Both the business class with 12 seats and the economy class with 162 seats have new seats. Both renovated cabins feature lightweight leather-trimmed seats in the typical Boeing 737 2-2 (business class) or 3-3 (economy class) layout. All chairs are equipped with contemporary must-haves such as USB type A and C personal sockets.
“We are excited to roll out the newly redesigned B737-800 NG, which will deliver future travel experiences through innovative features from seating to highly customizable in-flight entertainment, while staying true to our roots by incorporating Malaysian elements into the overall cabin interior design,” said Lau Yin May, Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer. “The cabin renovation began in 2021, a bold step the airline took in response to feedback and suggestions received through customer surveys and several focus group sessions in 2020 to better understand our customers’ needs.”
Malaysia Airlines has always made a fuss about the appearance of the cabin. This includes the use of special colors and the very recognizable batik motif of the Malaysian and national wearers. The airline says they have transferred these elements to their new cabins. But the most striking visual impact of the new cab is its sheer blueness. That’s not a bad thing – the new 737-800 NG cab looks sleek and stylish. But if you board in jeans and a blue t-shirt, you’ll likely blend in like a green tree frog in a Sarawak rainforest.
Economy class seats on Malaysia Airlines’ refurbished Boeing 737-800 NG. Photo: Malaysia Airlines
Malaysia Airlines introduces a new onboard entertainment system on its refurbished Boeings
The in-flight entertainment system also gets attention. Malaysia Airlines uses the upgraded cabins as an opportunity to roll out the next-generation IFE system it calls MHstudio
“This demonstrates Malaysia Airlines’ commitment to adapting to changing consumer needs and improving the overall customer experience in the post-pandemic era. local and international movies and TV series, as well as in-flight shopping,” say Lau Yin May. She adds that “for the best experience” passengers should bring their own listening/viewing equipment and charging cables on board. That’s the aviation industry code for backless IFE screens.
The upgraded 737-800 NG is capping off a busy few weeks at Malaysia Airlines. The airline has restored its pre-pandemic capacity in the main London market and doubled daily frequencies to Doha. Chatter about an impending deal with Airbus to buy Airbus A330neos is also on the rise. There’s a lot going on at Malaysia Airlines and the upgraded cabins of the 737-800 NG, while important, are only part of a bigger story.