Not least in light of popular demand, we set out below a review of the Air Malta Business Class (or “Club Class”, as they call it) experience.
We hope this will give you a suitable taster of what you get for your money (or points), and while we trust our analysis is fairly comprehensive, feel free to ask any questions about the flight should you wish to know more.
Air Malta Business Class has a dedicated check-in desk, so we bypassed the queue and went straight to the desk. I should add that this was not a benefit of Club Class as such, as all Flypass permanent members (of which I am one) are allowed to use this facility, whether travelling Club Class or not.
“Priority lane” for security
The “priority lane” for security at Malta airport gives you a nice looking three metres to walk down before you are spat back out into the ordinary security bun fight. The upside to this is if there is a long queue leading up to the security screening, in which case you can bypass this (and, in fairness, it is sometimes very long). However, you will still have to wait with everyone else once you’re in the smaller queue for the scanners.
Club Class gets you access to the La Valette lounge. It’s not everyone’s favourite, but I have largely good things to say about this lounge. The food is almost entirely cold snacks, but there’s a good range, while the drinks are varied and of course include the excellent Maltese Cisk beer (I won’t have a bad word said about it).
You also have a huge space to take advantage of, so seating should not be an issue.
There is of course wifi, and also a cluster of computers tucked away in a quieter corner – so it’s a very easy place to work.
Service was efficient and friendly: our table was cleaned almost as soon as we’d finished anything. As such, my only complaint is the hugely limited number of newspapers available. I think this was because they’d been taken (in some cases from the lounge altogether, it seems), but the range was disappointing – several copies of the Times of Malta and Financial Times, very little of anything else.
The seats in Air Malta Club Class are simply the standard seats with the middle seat turned into a table (giving a “two by two” seat formation on each row), so far from spectacular. However this arrangement gives you a surprising amount of additional freedom, and while it does nothing for legroom of course, it is a decent step up from economy, where the occupied middle seat invariably leads to that sardine feeling (and the age old “armrest territory battle“).
Service was friendly and efficient. As is the Maltese style, it was down to earth and direct, rather than the elaborate pandering and stuck-on smiles you get on some other airlines, but I have no issue with that. Requests (largely for Cisk: it’s an open bar in Club Class, while alcohol in economy must be paid for) were responded to quickly and while the stewardess got the menu completely wrong to begin with, she was very open and apologetic about it.
I do have one issue here. There were three adults in Club Class when we flew, so a fairly easy number to get a handle on. However, when I went to the bathroom at the front of the aeroplane, seconds from my seat, I was told by one stewardess I could not use it. Slightly surprised, I assumed it was out of service, only for the other stewardess to point out that I was in fact in Club Class and so could indeed use it (the first stewardess had assumed I was an economy traveller, hence her refusal). No apology was forthcoming. With premium travel I very much think it’s about the little touches, and I found this oversight disappointing. Oversensitive? Perhaps, but this was certainly not premium customer service. Many other airlines would have greeted you by name.
First up, I am pleased to say I am going to be nicer about the food than this photo suggests:
The fine dining began with champagne (Drappier) in a mini bottle, albeit served into a tumbler (a gripe, I understand, of a number of business travellers far classier than me). In my view, the mini bottle was a nice touch and went down very well with me and the wife.
Next up was the food. I am not overly concerned about the presentation of food, and in that sense Air Malta have got lucky with me as a reviewer, because it looked dreadful (as, I trust, the photo above attests). A yellow splodge next to a white splodge is about the sum of it.
Indeed, the presentation was not a million miles from that of the notorious Virgin meal that elicited this complaint letter.
It was in fact white grouper fish in a light mustard sauce, with sauteed potatoes on the side. I am as picky an eater as they come, and it was excellent. Similarly, the smoked salmon starter and white chocolate mousse dessert were also very good. So full marks for taste, zero for presentation.
While the dire appearance of the meal did not bother me, it will matter to others and, as such, is disappointing. I’m not asking for culinary perfection at 30,000 feet, but in my humble opinion they need to do slightly better here.
In flight entertainment
There’s an old joke about a traveller telling his friend that he’d watched an incredibly dull movie on a flight – it went on for hours and was simply about an aeroplane going slowly across the globe. A very bad gag, yes, but I’m afraid you won’t get anything more on Air Malta. The in-flight entertainment is limited to a copy of the Times of Malta and the sky map on small LCD screens every few seats.
All our baggage was given a priority tag, which was good to see. Sadly it made the damage to part of our luggage that little bit harder to smile about. The claim is ongoing…
On the plus side, it did come out first.
In summary, the Club Class experience on Air Malta was good, if unspectacular. This is of course short-haul business class, so it’s fair to say moderate expectations were met without ever being exceeded
The seating is a limitation Air Malta is stuck with until they buy new (or overhaul their existing) planes, and with current budgetary constraints, that isn’t going to happen for some time. The “economy legroom” issue will be a big one for many, and the lack of a middle seat is unlikely to make up for that.
Putting aside my one negative experience, the service was as I would have expected, and the food tasted very good, so no complaints there. The reviewer in me knocks off marks for presentation, and the real foodies among you may be disappointed by what you’re served up, but you really must try your dish before passing judgement.
So, all in all, a comfortable flight with some VIP touches. I maintain that if you can get Air Malta Club Class at a reasonable price (including via KMiles points upgrades or the €45/€99 upgrade fare), it’s well worth trying out.
For those who want to see a full breakdown of the Club Class benefits versus Economy class, Air Malta sets them out here.