I am back. After a long hiatus (too long I think?) I am finally able to find the time and muster myself to continue writing in this website. Suffice to say, a lot has happened since the last report I wrote and I am excited to continue again where I left. My apology for some blurry pictures as I was super excited my hands won't stop shaking hahaha
I also apologize in advance that this flight report has been in preparation since February 2016. Actually, our dear fellow flight reporter Hometoyyz already posted his most recent experience.
This flight report is part of 3 flights I took to spend Chinese New Year holiday in Bangkok 1. PVG-BKK February 6, 2016 FM855 "Are we there yet?" Shanghai-Bangkok 2. BKK-HKG February 10, 2016 EK384 "Would you like to keep the bottle, Sir?" [YOU ARE HERE] 3. xxx-PVG February 10, 2016 xxxxx "You can't make me fly in Economy after that!"
Background Last time I left we were in Bangkok. After a couple of days of sights seeing, it was time to go back to Shanghai. I was not really looking forward to spend another 4 1/2 hours onboard Shanghai Airlines. But as it was a surprise trip arranged by my partner, I really didn't have a say since the tickets were Flying Blue redemptions. So I just tagged along, at least we had a good time in Bangkok.
We stayed at The Indigo Hotel for a couple of nights and then moved to Le Meridien Silom. My partner arranged for Bangkok airport limousine service to pick us up around 11AM at the hotel. The traffic was great that day. No traffic jam and everything was just smooth sailing. A bit sad to leave Bangkok though.
The Flight Route: BKK-HKG Date: February 10, 2016 Flight: EK384 Equipment: A380-800 Registration: A6-EOU Seat: 3A Scheduled Time Departure: 14.05 Actual Time Departure: 14.05 Estimated Time Arrival: 18.05 (HKG time) Actual Time Arrival: 17.55 (HKG time)
Our driver soon dropped at the curb side. As you can see from the board, all Big 3 Chinese airlines' check-in counters are in the same area
As we entered the check-in hall, the hall was quite busy with a lot of activities going around. Passengers checking-in, airline staff walking around, military personnel walking around with their guns
I made my way to the far end part of the check-in area (nearest to security and immigration) of China Eastern because that's the area for SkyTeam Elite plus and Business class passengers. The queue was certainly big (about 5-6 people deep) but definitely less than economy class counters. However, as soon as I turned to join the queue, my partner was lagging behind and he seemed hesitant. I said "what are you waiting for? the check-in counter is here. Let's queue!". And then he said "well, i don't know. I don't really feel like flying with Shanghai Airlines today". Then suddenly he had a big grin on his face "Why don't we fly with Emirates instead?" And I turned my head and I saw that Emirates check-in counters were just the exact opposite of Shanghai Airlines'. I thought, "Emirates does not fly to Shanghai. What are you talking about?" He just smiled and replied, "Come on, let's go and check-in. I have it all covered!"
So off we walked the short walk to Emirates' check-in counters. I was just following him and then I sensed something is not quite right again. Why aren't we stopping at the economy class counter? And when he finally stop walking, my jaw dropped….
I must have been a monk in my previous life that I deserved this treat!
So today's destination will be Hong Kong. Though only a quick 3-hour flight, it was my very first time in First class cabin. I must have embarrassed him quite a bit since i couldn't stop smiling and I asked tonnes of questions. Oh well.. back to being a kid in a candy store!
Check-in was very brief as there was only a family in front of us. The check-in agent was polite and fast but did not really exude warmth. Anyway, she gave us the pass for priority security check lane, lounge invitation, and wished us a good flight. Off we go!
I chuckled when I read "not for sale" written on the pass. Do people really sell it? :) :) :)
Security and immigration were a breeze thanks to the priority pass we were given. Normally, every time I have to pass security check and immigration, I always prepare myself for the worst experience. Be it in China, in the US, in Europe, everywhere. But having experienced being whisked from check-in to airside in less than 10 mins, now I understand why many frequent flyers criticized HKG airport for not providing priority lane for business/first/elite passengers. Kudos to BKK airport for having this service!
Last time I was in BKK, BKK was still solely served by Don Mueang airport. Suvarnabhumi is a lot bigger and nicer in my opinion, though I still scratch my head when I look at the bare concrete ceiling and the not-so-photographer-friendly windows.
First stop is of course the Emirates Lounge
The lounge was still fairly quiet when we entered. Plenty of sofas and chairs to cater to different passengers. Pretty big lounge and dare I say, very Emirates. From the colour of the furnitures, the design of the coffee table, the lamps, the carvings on the wall, etc. The beige colour, the gold trim, the wooden panels, it's so Emirates. I think safe to say that it is an acquired taste
I checked the toilets and the shower rooms. Big, spacious, clean, and well-stocked. There was a prayer room and a separate area to wash yourself in preparation for the prayer
Buffet spread was extensive and taste very good. It was also replenished frequently and the staff were always standing nearby and ready to assist. I had champagne (of course! heaven forbid I fly in First without sipping a glass or two) and I also had some nibbles. I didn't want to make myself too full with food as I expected there would be plenty to have onboard
I borrowed my partner's Mac to take the must-do corporate shot
The lounge became quite full after an hour or so. We decided to have a stroll to the gate. Today we would be departing from Gate E8. Along the way to Pier E, we passed several other lounges like the dreaded Louis Tavern, Oman Air's (looks good from the outside), Cathay Pacific's, and Thai's. Thai's look rather dark and gloomy from the outside but i have many friends who raved about how great the lounge was. We were looking for Qantas' lounge only to realize that it no longer operate since Qantas and Emirates started their partnership.
On our way to the gate, we passed by some beautiful sculptures, statues, etc that I thought were quite effective in breaking the glass, steel, concrete theme Suvarnabhumi is all about.
I spotted exotic birds from far-far away land too. Note to myself, "never ever allow yourself to fly in that 737".
When we arrived at Gate E8, boarding was already commencing.
Upon descending to the holding pen, there was already a huge line for economy class and business/elite FF. Flashing our F boarding passes, the staff immediately escorted us to the front of the pack and let us board ahead of others. I strutted down the jet bridge like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. This experience was only the second time I boarded the plane on the upper deck level (the first time was on China Southern's A380). Turning left where it read "First Class" never felt so good!
At the door, two flight attendants were waiting. Today's flight Purser (male) and a female flight attendant were waiting. With a friendly "Good afternoon Mr. Bombieflyer, your seat is on the left. My colleague will escort you to your seat", the legendary Emirates experience began.
The female flight attendant introduced herself to me and my partner. Her name was Saya (i am not sure how to spell it but it sounded like that). She is from Thailand. Let me say this, she was phenomenal! She was a true gem!
She asked whether I was familiar with the suit or not. My partner replied "As you can see from his excitement, It's his first time onboard Emirate's F, it's my second time.". Upon hearing that, Saya immediately shared the enthusiasm and informed us that A6-EOU was their newest A380, just barely 2 months old (back in Feb 2016). She explained to us in details the subtle differences between the older suites and the suites in this particular aircraft. The personal TV was definitely bigger and has ultra HD screen. The carpet has tiny LEDs that resembles stars. I like the iPad style remote control.
After Saya explained how to operate the seat, how to close the doors, etc she asked us "is there anything else that I could do to make this flying experience better?". My partner replied "I know for this short flight you don't provide amenity but if you happen to stock one or two for this flight, could we have it?" Saya nooded and promised to check for us. Then we also asked for cockpit visit. Saya promised to check with the Purser and the cockpit crews. Then she left to prepare for departure and greet other passengers. Today's flight was full in F.
I sat in 3A while my partner in 4A. I explored my cocoon immediately and I found there were so many nooks and crannies jammed in that cubicle. One thing I noticed was the duvet, large pillow, and mattress were kept in plastic wrap and placed behind the seat not to be used. Understandable considering this flight was only +/- 3 hours and it was a day flight. While I was exploring my seat, a female flight attendant came by and offered Arabic coffee with dates. I found her to be a bit sloppy and not as polished and refined as Saya. She spilled the coffee and said "oops sorry", giggled, dabbed the surface with napkins and then left. My partner also had the same observation about this particular FA. Not long after, magazines and newspapers were distributed.
While boarding was still commencing, I decided to check the shower. There are two shower rooms, divided in the middle by stairs to go to lower deck. An attendant was standing in front of the right shower. I asked her if i can use the left one and she gestured me in.
I have never been inside other airlines' F lavatories so the wow factor was big for me. It was massive! Probably bigger than my own apartment's bathroom. It was also very well-stocked with lotions, shampoo, conditioners, after shave, tooth brush, etc. I noticed that it was cleaned after use. I did wonder though if that was the sole responsibility of the shower attendant… When I got out, I asked her if it is possible to shower. To my dismay, she said this flight is too short for a shower so they did not carry the 'shower' water. Okay, fine by me! Not a deal breaker :)
Walking back to my suite (i still can't figure out whether to call it a seat or a suite.. #firstworldproblem hehehe) I felt like the cabin was pretty jammed. I mean there were 14 seats with high walls. QR only installed 8 seats in the same area. While you are seated inside the suite, yes it feels nice and private. But when you are walking down the aisle then you realize that it's actually quite dense.
There was a nice water fixture on the wall near the showers.
A dapper male FA came by my seat to offer pre-departure drink. Since he was carrying a champagne bottle, I felt the need to contribute to the French economy. So… as a good and most obedient citizen I must partake in what was my second (out of bazzzzzilion) servings of champagne, this time a Moet. The FA explained that while on the ground, Emirates only serves Moet. Who am I to complain? ;)
I explored further. There are so many buttons and nooks and crannies. I played a little bit with the automatic sliding door. I opened the latches under the TV and found a complete set of writing kit. The mini bar has soft drinks, mineral water (Voss), and juice selections. Too bad the minibar is not chilled so the drinks are room temperature. The vanity mirror also has some nifty products. Obviously those went straight to my bag.
While i was busy taking pictures, pressing buttons, writing my comments, etc. the Captain (from Germany) made his welcome announcement. After that, the Purser also made an announcement ended with"all ground personnel please leave the aircraft". The jet bridges were retracted and we were pushed back for an on-time departure. While taxing, I had another top up of champagne and we were also given cold towel. What a relief from Bangkok's heat.
I calmed down a little bit and just unwind a bit. The seat felt hugging and comfortable in upright and lounge position despite not being very wide on the hip area. It is also very private! A feature that Hometoyyz also noted. Leg room is massive, that's one thing for sure!
I must say I am a bit underwhelmed with the noise cancelling headphones that EK provides to its F passengers. Having spent so much attention on those wood panels, leather seats, gold fixtures, etc the headphones seemed to be an after thought. I mean even AA provides Bose QC for its business class passengers.
At the same time, their inflight magazine is exceptionally done, me thinks.. It's the right balance of lifestyle articles, information, and advertisements. The design is also on par with KLM's iconic Holland Herald.
Soon we made our way to the active runway at that time of the day. It was not a long taxi and it was rather a quiet day. We only had to wait for a TG 777 to take off and then it was our turn. As we entered and aligned on runway 19R, i felt a slight push and stormed down the runway. Had it not because of the live feed from nose wheel and tail cameras, i would not have guessed that we were already airborne. It was very quiet and it was just so smooth. Incredible!
We made a 270 degree right turn after take off run. Patches of clouds paraded the sky over Thailand and Vietnam before eventually the sky would be fully covered in cloud as we inched closer toward Hong Kong.
When the seatbelt sign extinguished, Saya immediately came by to my seat and with a big warm smile, asked me "Mr. Bombieflyer, wold you like to join us for lunch today?" and I replied "yes, absolutely". She then handed me the menu which is gorgeously enveloped in thick leather menu holder. Due to the short duration of the flight, the meal selection is not as extensive as other flights with F service. Nonetheless, the beverage menu was well-stock including the vintage Dom.
Saya first went to my partner's seat. When she was finished with him, my partner said "let's go to the back and hit the lounge". We passed business class cabin and from what I can see, it was not full. Maybe about 60-70% full? The flight attendants were serving bar service and taking orders. I felt bad for interrupting them as the aisle is quite tight but they seemed to know that we came from "the nose" so they just gave us smiles. Maybe it was just me being an amateur F flyer, but i couldn't help but feeling the steely cold stares from J passengers. Oh well.. c'est la vie!
The bar was nice. Quite roomy and by the time we arrived, there was already 2-3 passengers enjoying it. The attendant was polite and helpful. Snacks and finger food were already set up on the high table. As for me, I just continued with the champagne and lots of pictures. The view from the lounge was also nice because it was not obstructed by A380's massive wings
When we walked back to our seats, a flight attendant stopped me and said "sorry sir, you cannot go there. please return to your seat". I gave her my bewildered and puzzled look. I said "but my seat is there (pointing to the first class cabin) in 3A". This conversation took placed at the galley that separates First and Business cabin. The male purser overheard this and he immediately gestured to the flight attendant that stop me "Mr. Bombieflyer, we are expecting you. Your meal is ready whenever you are ready to join us for the lunch service". You should see the face of the flight attendant ;-) Btw, nice big gold EK logo by the galley. This airline is just drop dead in love with anything shinny and gold eh?
After I settled down again my confinement, Saya came to over amouse bouche and nuts. Before that, she placed the crisp white linen on top of the massive dining table. She must have big strong arms for doing this over and over because the table is huge and it looks heavy, judging from the effort she exerted to release it. The same charming male attendant that served pre-departure drink came again. "Another refill of champagne sir?" I winked at him and he brought a new clean champagne flute with a new bottle of Dom. I also asked for a glass of still water.
I enjoyed the nuts while watching The Intern. Quite an enjoyable movie. The resolution of the TV is amazing. Super crisp! Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway made a good pair.
Saya came by and she had a worried look. I thought "uh oh… i knew everything is too good to be true. what is it now?" "Mr. Bombieflyer, unfortunately, because today we have a full flight in First, there is only one portion left for the seafood starter. You ordered it and Mr. Sneiled also ordered it" Since I am such a considerate and selfless person, I gave that last portion to my partner (just kidding) :D :D The least I can do for saving me from flying Shanghai Airlines back to Shanghai :) So I had the chicken starter. It was okay, not mind blowing, edible, but that's it.
The dining table was set immaculately. Fresh and crisp salad was brought out one by one along with salt and pepper shakers, metal cutlery, napkins, glasses, etc.
Then Saya came back with a humongous bread basket. I chose the sour dough and garlic bread
I like it a lot when airlines brand their china, their glasses, cutlery, etc.
I drank a bit before I realized I needed to take a photo of it.. as you can see my judgement was already questionable :) :)
The dapper FA came back and collected the empty starter plate. Saya followed suit by bringing the main course. The presentation was not the best but it tasted good. The chicken was not dry and the potatoes were crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. The gravy was also good. To accompany main course, I stick with Dom
After the main course plate was collected, Saya appeared with a big dessert cart. She asked me whether I wanted the cake, the cheese, the fruits, or a little bit of everything. I was so full and I can feel my jeans was bursting on its seams so I sheepishly asked her "Just the cake please". "Would you like anything else to drink Mr. Bombieflyer?" "yes, i'd like the Sauternes". It was delicious! And i think Sauternes complimented the accidic raspberry coulis perfectly.
By this time, my vision was already blurred. When I prepared this report, I looked at my hand writting and thought to myself "my god, you drunk fool!" So, I had to get some water in my system or else I will crash and burn badly
However, I can't help but overheard Saya talking to my partner. I guess that much alcohol increased my hearing ability to super human level. He said "Why don't you just leave the champagne bottle with me?" To which Saya replied in the cutest way, "oh why, of course Sir!". So I stood up, look back over my shoulder, and I saw my partner holding that big green bottle with his right hand and smiled at me. Touche!!!
Luckily for Saya, our torture to her is almost over. We were almost in HK. I was very sad knowing that this fantastic experience was about to end
Post meal service was also excellent. To this day I still have no idea how the crew managed to serve all 16 passengers with such fine details without running out of time, even accommodating to multiple request of refills and what not. I didn't feel they were rushing at all. I asked for a cup of tea and it was delivered with slices of lemon. Saya insisted that I should take some digestif too so I had the Baileys. I had a full table of every single possible liquid onboard that mighty A380. I am in heaven!
Out of the blue, Saya stopped by again and she handed me the amenity kit. She said "here you go sir, with our compliment!". She smiled and she left me in awe.
With that simple but very thoughtful and kind gesture, this flight was coming to an end. Seat back upright, table stowed, personal belongings under the ottoman chair, window shades up, and the cabin was secured for a mild turbulent arrival into cloudy and windy HKG. I was watching our approach via the tail camera. Such a nifty feature!
After we rolled out smoothly from rwy 07L, the captain made a short taxi to the gate.
We were sandwiched between EK's "A whole different animal" special livery A380 and a BA A380. Such a beautiful sight for avgeeks!
I got up and it was too fast. Got a bit dizzy and I bet my face must be super red like a cooked boiled lobster. Shook my head left and right to regain consciousness while my partner was there, in champagne comma barely able to open his eyes hahahahaha…
After the engines were shut down, Saya ran quickly to our seats and asked us not to leave the airplane. Does that mean….. ??? YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! Jackpot!!!! The pilots have agreed to let us visit the cockpit; however, they requested not to take any picture. Again, fine by me! My inner child jumped through the roof when Saya said "this way please. let me walk you to the cockpit". "Captain xxx, these are our First Class passengers. This is Mr. Bombieflyer first experience onboard our First class" The German Captain and the female Dutch First Officer were very chatty and friendly. I wonder what they thought of us two drunk fools visiting the cockpit asking mumbo jumbo questions lol…. They were lovely and answered my questions about the A380.
Soon Saya beckoned us to deplane as the airplane needed to be cleaned and prepared for the return flight to Bangkok. As for herself and the rest of the crews, they will go to the lounge and take a rest for a couple of hours before heading back on the same airplane to Bangkok.
As we left the cockpit, economy class passengers were still deplaning. While I tried in vain to stay sober and walk straight, my partner was KO-ed. Dom 1 vs my partner 0. I thanked Saya, the dapper FA, and the Purser profusely for a wonderful flight. I wasn't quite sure whether they were happier to finally get rid of us or to provide such a stellar service and being recognized for it. Anyway…… We made that final walk down the jet bridge and i couldn't help but feeling like I was the king of the world :) :) :)
Stay tuned for the next installment! I promise you won't have to wait for too long ^__^
Bangkok - BKK
Hong Kong - HKG
What can I say? It was a very nice surprise to end our holiday in Bangkok. Trying to put my bias aside as hard as I can, I was very impressed with Emirates' First class service. The lounge in BKK was great with delicious food and well-stocked drinks. The personal entertainment system was a league on its own. Though not the newest, the suite was comfortable and had everything a passenger might need. The lavatory/shower room onboard A380 was also a league on its own as it was large, well-stocked, clean, and surprisingly designed with softer colour palettes (unlike the bling-bling cabin). Overall, the food offering was also solid for this short regional hop.
However, I think those were just the icing on the cake. I firmly believe it was the crew that made the whole flight wonderful. In particular, Saya managed to elevate the bar from a great regional first class flight to a spectacularly unforgettable flight. She was genuinely caring, kind, warm, and professional at the same time. The extra bonuses that I received (amenity kit and cockpit visit) really outweighed the rather cold check-in agent, so-so starter, and the sloppy FA who spilled the coffee on my seat.
Would I fly again with EK in F? You bet I would. I need to consult with the piggy bank first and maybe sell my soul to the devil along the way but if I had the means, without a doubt in a heart beat I would like to try long-haul flight with them.
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