From Zurich to Malta we flew on Maltese flag carrier Air Malta, which proved to be a cost-effective and pleasant journey onboard the A320neo in business class.
Air Malta A320neo Business Class Review
While the future of Air Malta is in doubt, it was nice to fly the flag carrier one more time.
By the time we decided to go to Malta, we were less than 48 hours away from our departure, but thankfully the tickets on Air Malta were still very reasonable…especially when compared to SWISS on the same route.
One-way economy class tickets were $124 each or $138 with a checked bag. Not bad at all. There was one business class seat left for sale at $268 and I took it…I figured Heidi could sit up front and review business class for me. She turned me down, however, saying she would rather sit with the kids in economy class than review business class.
Tip: Book your tickets on Orbitz, where you will receive a 24-hour courtesy cancellation, versus booking directly with Air Malta. This has its downsides in case of irregular operations (you may be referred to the online travel agency), but I always like to have a 24-hour cool-off period when booking an airline ticket.
Check-in lines were consolidated into a single gaggle for the 10 carriers seven by Swissport in Zurich Airport Terminal 2. The economy class lines were very long, but thankfully there was no line for business class and the agent checked us all in.
Augustine and I walked over to the boarding gate at about 4:45 pm to position us to be first onboard at 5:00 pm, but when I checked the flight status at 4:50 pm, I saw our aircraft was not even on the ground yet.
We hung out in the gate area for a bit, with Augustine demonstrating that he will likely be a valuable part of this blog in the years to come.
By 5:10 pm the aircraft had arrived and by 5:30 pm, boarding began.
Air Malta 491
Zurich (ZRH) – Malta (MLA)
Saturday, August 5
Depart: 5:40 PM
Arrive: 7:55 PM
Duration: 2hr, 25min
Distance: 857 miles
Aircraft: Airbus A320neo
Seat: 4A (Business Class)
Onboard, Augustine and I were greeted by an all-male crew. The cabin was bright and clean.
Business Class Seat
The entire plane has the same slim-line seats (180 total). The difference between business class and economy class is that in business class the middle seat is blocked. I did not bring my measuring tape, but seat pitch felt about 31 inches (sufficient with a slimline seat) and the width felt like the standard 18 inches.
Each seat has a coat hook, tray table, mesh storage pocket, and upper literature pocket. There’s also a clip that can lock in your tablet for seatback viewing.
While there are no standard power outlets, there are USB-A chargers located at the base of each seat.
Each has a reading light and air nozzle.
A movable partition and curtain divides business class and economy class.
Augustine settled comfortably into his economy class seat.
IFE + Wi-Fi
While wireless internet is not offered onboard, an in-flight intranet system offers a number of features, including:
- destination guides
- in-flight magazine
- safety card (a virtual copy)
Paper copies of the in-flight magazine and duty-free catalog were also available.
Great views out the window also provided complimentary IFE.
Food + Drink
Admittedly, the number one reason I upgraded was because my friend Dennis Lennox sent a picture of his business class lunch from London to Malta, noting how delicious it was.
Unfortunately, only a cold meal was served on my route, but it was still a nice meal on very nice tableware.
After takeoff, menus were offered:
There was no choice of main course: everyone received antipasto, but it was still nice to have a menu.
Service began with a choice of beverage and I tried a glass of orange juice (since it was from innocent, a juice brand I like), then some Maltese red wine along with sparkling water. The wine was quite nice…and it is always nice when a flag carrier showcases local wine.
Dinner sounded quite appetizing:
Cured beef bresaola with roulade of aubergine with mozzarella and basil Parmesan spread, stuffed Portobello mushroom with pancetta and blue cheese, grilled artichoke, hummus paste
Trio of oven-baked fresh Maltese bread
Cheddar cheese, Maltese pepper cheeselets, Brie cheese, seedless grapes, dried apricot, cherry tomato
Chocolate tart with chocolate mousse
The antipasto itself looked quite dull and frankly not appetizing at all, but it tasted great. The fresh bread and Maltese pepper cheese were especially nice.
But what I liked most about the meal was the presentation. I love the colorful underlay, which was inspired by local tiles.
After dinner, the coffee was also served on a colorful dish (which almost fell into my bag, but I decided against it…)
Sure, a hot dish with lamb and chicken would have been wonderful, but this was still a solid meal and literally made the flight fly by.
Before landing, I rose up to use the lavatory, which was clean but had no extra amenities.
The all-male crew was quite attentive and friendly. Passengers in business class were offered frequent refills on drinks.
We landed just a tad late in Malta (having made up about 15 minutes) and pulled up next to an Atlantic Airways A320 bound for the Faroe Islands.
There are no jet bridges in Malta. Instead, we aligned by stairs and walked over to the terminal. It was a windy evening, but the temperature was pleasant.
I had an enjoyable flight on Air Malta and hope that whatever happens to the carrier, it will keep running in some form. Perhaps its current business class product is not sustainable, but I thought it was excellent for the short journey and would try again, especially on a longer flight with hot meal.
Next: a very pleasant surprise upon arrival in Malta
This is part of my summer to Europe trip report.