Earlier this week it was reported that Malaysian Airlines was not accepting luggage on flights from Malaysia to Paris and Amsterdam. Thankfully, Malaysia airlines is now accepting luggage again but for four days, the luggage embargo affected some of the airline’s flight to London on the A380, along with Paris and Amsterdam on the 777. The media and other blogs went hog wild reporting this strange phenomenon of banned checked luggage to Europe, as Paris, London, and Amsterdam are all well within the operating capacity range of the 777 and A380 aircrafts, and in fact actually thousands of miles shorter than maximum payload restriction. So why did Malaysia Airlines ban checked bags?
The reason Malaysian Airline gave for banning check luggage was due to headwinds over 200 knots/hr which would require more fuel in order to reach their destination. This makes sense as a heavier plane with more cargo would require even more fuel, or a fuel stop. And Malaysia Airlines was not confident that even a full tank of fuel would get them to their destination safely.
The other big reason for the cargo banned is the longer southern routes that Malaysia flies between Europe and Malaysia to avoid the conflict region over Ukraine. British Airways and Malaysia Airlines both fly the route, but British Airways heads north over Russia whereas Malaysia airlines seeks safe passage through other Islam nations and the Middle East. The Southerly routing adds nearly 1000 miles to the flight for Malaysia Airlines.
For comparison, the flights departing KUL to LHR show two very different routes. British Airways (Above) flight took 13 hours and 16 minutes and flew 6,997 miles, where as Malaysia Airlines (below) flew a more southerly routing to avoid Russian air space. Malaysia Airlines flight was 15 hours and 35 minutes in length and 7,734 miles.
Flights on Malaysia Airlines to Paris and Amsterdam take an even further southernly routing pushing nearly 7,000 miles, well within the 777-200ER range of 8,130 miles. The flight to Paris on January 3, pictured below, flew 6,917 miles and took 15 hours and 25 minutes to make the journey. The same flight 4 days earlier was nearly an hour and half shorter due to weaker headwinds despite flying 7,136 miles, 219 miles further.
Was Malaysia Airlines being overly cautions? Possibly. However I applaud the airlines as they wanted to be sure all their passengers made it to their destinations without needing an emergency fuel stop. Furthermore, as the busy New Years Travel Season comes to an end, flights are full and Malaysia Airlines didn’t want to restrict passenger load by blocking seats and accommodating passengers on other airlines. Instead, they shipped passengers luggage after the fact and allowed passengers to take their essential items in carryons to their destination.
The good news though is that the bad weather has subsided and Malaysia airline is now accepting luggage on all flights and the luggage embargo is over. Which means from now until January 25, when Malaysia Airlines Stops flying to Europe, with the exception of London, you can check a bag!
Sepang, 6 January 2016 – Malaysia Airlines confirmed today that normal check-in baggage allowances are available on all flights across the network including services to Amsterdam, London and Paris.
The airline has recently had to operate a longer route to Europe, which combined with strong head winds, limited the airlines’ ability to carry baggage and cargo. The head winds over the last four days were in excess of 200knots which can add up to 15% fuel burn on a B777-200 aircraft. All baggage is being shipped to affected customers in Europe.
Based on its current risk assessment, done on a daily basis, the airline is now able to take a shorter route on European flights. Malaysia Airlines maintains that safety is of utmost priority in its operations and will not hesitate to adjust its flight path based on its daily risk assessment.