If you are flying to Kuala Lumpur from London Heathrow, you have a range of carriers and schedules to choose from including:
- Malaysia Airlines – direct to KL. Flying time: 13 hours Price: £550 inc. tax.
- Sri Lankan – via Colombo. Flying time: 15 hours plus delay between flights. Price: £490 inc. tax.
- Qatar Airways – via Doha (Qatar). Flying time: 15 hours plus delay between flights. Price: £420 inc. tax.
The prices vary depending on time of year and how long in advance you book but Sri Lankan and Qatar tend to be the cheaper options because of the inconvenience of a stopover.
However, I have discovered is that it can be a pleasure to have a break in the flight. On my most recent trip, I had a 16 hour stop in Doha. Typically, an airline will put you up in a hotel if you are transiting for this length of time which gives you the chance of getting out and looking around town.
I left LHR at 2135hrs on Friday 12th January and arrived in Doha at 0800hrs the following day. I went to the transfer desk and they gave me a free breakfast coupon. I then switched on my laptop and used the free airport wifi while I waited for my transport to arrive. I was taken to an upmarket hotel where I had a room for the day. It included lunch and dinner, both of which were very good.
You could use the stopover to sleep in the hotel, but I wandered around Doha. It's not somewhere you would deliberately choose to visit but the opportunity to spend a day there is worth taking. It probably resembles Dubai 10 years ago – a desert town where oil money is funding increasingly impressive skyscrapers plus and giant water desalination plants. There is next to nothing in the way of entertainment (unless your hobby is visiting mosques) and you may find the lack of women in public eerie but the 'city' feels safe and it is worth witnessing the creation of a modern city where only Bedouins would have roamed just a few decades ago. If you do go wandering around town, you should cover your legs and arms out of respect.
Another stopover option is to fly via Colombo (Sri Lanka) and make sure your connecting flight keeps you on the ground for more than 12 hours so that you can escape from the airport. Unlike Doha, Sri Lanka is well worth a long visit so you may choose to spend a few days or weeks there on route to KL. If you do choose to stay for a while then expect to fork out an extra £100 for the airfare (odd because it does not cost them any extra and they should be encouraging tourism in Sra Lanka).