Hello, and welcome to the continuation of this quick trip to Asia — now with 50 per cent more adventure! That’s right, rather than a simple trip to Hong Kong with EVA, there’s now an added attraction, a sidetrip to Bangkok in Emirates First Class.
Here’s the revised rundown:
BR35 YYZ-TPE 11/20/2016 - Right here BR871 TPE-HKG 11/21/2016 - Right here EK385 HKG-BKK 11/22/2016 - You are here — surprise! EK384 BKK-HKG 11/23/2016 - Coming soon BR858 HKG-TPE 11/23/2016 - After that BR36 TPE-YYZ 11/24/2016 - And then finally, this one
Actually, it was these Emirates flights that spurred this trip. I’ve had my eye on it for a while as about the only affordable way I’m ever going to get to sample the vaunted EK 388 F product. So when I was able to find a) a week I could take off to make it all happen, and b) EVA availability to and from Hong Kong (or Bangkok… I wasn’t picky and would have gone either way), I had to jump on the opportunity.
I know it won’t be the full Emirates F experience, being a flight that’s basically the same as a quick jaunt down to Florida from Toronto, but I’m still looking forward to it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this. In fact, just last year, I made a trip with AC to Hong Kong just to have a way to sample Thai’s 747-400 First Class from Hong Kong to Bangkok and back again the next day. That was just over 11 months ago, and here I am, doing it again with a different airline.
Anyways… onto the story.
After a late checkout from my hotel in Sheung Wan, I grabbed the Airport Express back out to Cek Lap Kok, arriving about 5:15 at Terminal 1. It’s pretty busy.
I quickly find the Emirates check-in area, which is being well-staffed by agents in the traditional Emirates gear. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that customer-facing employees beyond flight attendants wear the uniform. Interesting.
Anyway, as I approach, one of the women behind the desk comes forward and lets me know that check-in will be open at 6:15. Darn. I’d come in early because I was getting hungry, and figured I’d hit the lounge early to get some work done. I guess not. Oh well. I find a seat in a quiet corner, and kill an hour on the HKIA’s free WiFi. Oh hey… and opportunity for the corporate shot!
After goofing off for a while, I get up and take a walk around, and notice that over at the end of aisle G, the Emirates check-in seems to be checking people in, even though it’s not 6:15 yet. I approach the First Class check-in, and in about a minute, I have my boarding pass. “You’re coming right back tomorrow?” the surprised agent inquires. Yes, yes I am.
The lineup for security isn’t very long, but customs really drags. I think it took me nearly 15 minutes to get through that particular formality. Then it’s the long walk up the long axis of the Y that is T1 at HKG, towards the point where the three axes come together, and most of the lounges are located.
That includes Emirates’ Lounge, which is nearby gate 40, and not too far from where my ride is awaiting at gate 62. Like most of the lounges at HKG, it’s located on the mezzanine level above the concourse. I have several times passed this lounge on my way to either the United or Thai lounges nearby. So I’m interested to see what it’s all about.
Inside, my boarding pass is scanned, and I’m informed that they’ll call for the flight at about 8:30. And with that, I’m down a hallway lined with art, and into the main space of the lounge.
It’s not very big, but given that EK only operates a couple of flights per day here — albeit on 388s — and doesn’t belong to an alliance, it’s more than sufficient. It’s also not very busy, which is nice. The seating is almost uniformly in a very Emirates dark beige, and is pretty comfortable, if not super-stylish.
Aside from the main seating are, there’s also a more formal dining room zone for those looking for a more formal dining experience.
The lounge is over a restaurant area, which adds a bit to the noise with conversations going on below, as well as the clanking of utensils and the like. It’s not annoying, but it’s not great either.
The buffet is fairly diverse, but a little bit hard to photograph. There are about four attendants in the lounge, and at least two of them seem to be permanently attached to the buffet. They aren’t actively serving, which strikes me as odd, but they are very proactive in making sure things are maintained. Take some chicken tikka masala, and she’ll be right there behind you, smoothing out the dish so that what remains is aesthetically pleasing as possible.
To start with, there’s a cold buffet with salads, Middle Eastern and other appetizers, and desserts in a round display
And then there’s a long hot buffet with soup, steak and mushrooms pie, rice, shrimps and scallops, veggies, beef in oyster sauce, chicken tikka masala, chicken satays, and crab cakes.
There’s also a number of wines on offer, including Moet should one feel like bubbles.
And a decent bar and some coffee and tea options.
On the other side of the lounge, there are cold drinks, and some reading materials available.
I’m pretty hungry at this point, so it’s time to explore the offerings.
I start out with the tomato and lentil soup. It’s pretty good. The cheese croutons are great.
Next, I try a few things. The beef and tikka masala are both really good. The satay is pretty good. The crab cake doesn’t really do it for me, for whatever reason.
Lastly, I pour myself a glass of Moet, and try the very temping looking steak and leek pie, as well as some tabouleh and a stuffed grape leaf. The pie is very good, but the mezze components leave me a bit disappointed. I’ve had better grape leaves out of a tin, and I’ve had many better taboulehs. In fact, I make a tabouleh that is decidedly better. I’m a little surprised, given that it’s Emirates. But I guess it’s Hong Kong as well.
Satisfied for now, and likely until I eat on board my flight, I fire up my notebook and check in with the world. The WiFi is perfectly acceptable. Time for another corporate shot to prove it — and hey, a new report to check out too!
At about fifteen minutes to boarding time, I head out of the lounge, and make the short walk to Gate 62, form which we will be departing. Sure enough, there’s an Emirates A380 there, so I guess this is gonna happen.
A couple of wheelchairs are boarded, and then right on time, premium cabins are called. I’m near-ish to the check in desk, so I’m quickly scanned in, and on my way. At this gate — I don’t think it’s a specific A380 gate — there are two jetways in use, one to each deck.
Flight: EK385 From: Hong Kong (HKG) To: Bangkok (BKK) Date: 11/22/2016 Aircraft: Airbus A380-800 Registration: A6-EEJ Seat: 2K ATD (STD): 21:37 (21:15) ATA (STA): 23:04 (23:15)
I’m greeted by Nikola, the purser for this flight, and she hands me off to Hani, a young-ish (younger than me leastwise) flight attendant who shows me to my seat, and takes the lead on my service for the flight. Hani asks if I’ve flown the Emirates First before, and when I say I haven’t, he spends a good four or five minutes giving me the rundown on every feature, every switch, every option in the suite.
He asks if I’d like some champagne before departure, and then notes that they serve Moet on the ground, but Dom will be available once we’re in the air.
Legroom is good. Not that there are no overhead bings, so anything you bring aboard must be stored in the suite. This isn’t a problem — both my backpack and rollaboard fit comfortably without in any way getting in the way throughout my flight.
Hani returns with the Moet.
The IFE screen is a very generous size, and being that it’s not too far from you, it seems very large indeed. The resolution is also stunning at this close range. It’s a bit of learning curve to master how to make it show what you want, between the touch screen, the wired IFE, and the wireless tablet, but it quickly becomes very obvious.
The suite doesn’t seem as wide as the Singapore Suite, but the seat is big and very comfortable, and it’s in no ways cramped. The only downside of the door configuration is that I feel like I don’t notice when flight attendants are approaching from behind, so I’m surprised by their appearance a few times. A small price to pay for privacy. The pillow is excellent. I’m sure blankets and even turndown service were available, but I did not take advantage on this flight. As I’ll mention later, it went by way too fast.
And over-the-shoulder look at the suite.
And the view from the front.
No amenity kit is offered for this short flight, but a variety of skincare products are found in the vanity in front of the IFE screen. Hani explains I’m welcome to take any or all with me if I want.
And, of course, there’s the minibar, which is well-stocked. A nice feature, but it would be decidedly better if it were chilled. I meant to swipe at least the water(s) from here for later, but alas, that didn’t end up happening.
Nikola and Hani pop by with the traditional Emirates Arabic coffee and date. A nice little welcome treat, even if I don’t quite “get” Arabic coffee. Later, when he’s collecting the cup, Hani explains a little bit about the coffee, although he acknowledges many folks encountering it for the first time find it “weird” because of the spices included in it.
Many suite controls, including seat, IFE, and more, are located on this tablet, which can be undocked from its position and works wirelessly. It also acts as a handy "second screen" to keep an eye on the moving map whilst watching a movie on the main screen, for example.
Headphones, literature, etc. are all found in a large cubby on the aisle-side wall.
Simple (and obvious) seat controls right on the aisle-side armrest. More granular controls are on the wired or wireless IFE.
Hani returns with a hot towel — this is almost certainly the biggest, plushest hot towel I’ve seen anywhere.
Arrival documentation is provided. Nikola brings them around, asking if I need Bangkok or Dubai. We chat a little bit. She’s an Indian woman with a big, naturally effervescent personality, and she seems very suited to this role. Among other things, she inquires about my surname, which is much more common in India than in the the British Isles from which my surname’s lineage originates. I got asked about it a lot when I went to India years ago.
A look out the window into the rainy night outside, and the Cathay 77W next to us.
A look across the aisle. Privacy is fantastic — it is clearly designed to make it very hard (if not impossible) for you to even see other passengers. In my case, this wouldn’t be much of a concern — I think there were three passengers in First for the whole flight.
Continuing to play with the IFE, I figure out how to get the tailcam up on the big screen. One of my favourite features of new-generation Airbus aircraft.
Nikola pops by again with the menu and wine list for today’s flight, and hopes I’ll be joining them for dinner. Yeah, I think I’ll probably take advantage of that.
A pretty extensive wine list.
And the dinner menu.
About this time, I discover (or rather remember) that there’s a wired IFE hidden under the outside armrest. It seems redundant with the tablet right there, but I guess more options are good.
I decide to go check out the vaunted forward lav. Yep, it sure is the biggest (and nicest) lav I’ve ever seen on an aircraft.
The legendary shower.
Nice detail on the Dubai cityscape on the outside wall.
And good to know that if one’s in here for… reasons… they can still keep an eye on the moving map.
Finally, a closeup of the original shower in the sky.
Back at my seat, Hani brings around a big more Moet, and then Nikola comes back to take my order. I decide to go for it, and select “lamb everything.” She replies that she believes they’re out of the lamb main course, but she’ll see if there’s lamb in business class. I choose the fish, if the lamb’s not to be. But I admit I find it odd, running out of a main in an F cabin that’s barely occupied? Seems an oversight. Oh well. Time will tell the tale, I suppose.
I relax until we push back, pretty much right on time. The safety video rolls, and so do we.
It’s not too long before we’re lined up, and off into the night skies above Hong Kong. It’s easier (and more different) to capture this on screen than to try to get something out the window.
I grab my headphones. While I’m not initially impressed by their appearance, I do find them quite comfortable, and very good in terms of quality. Don’t judge a book by a cover, I suppose.
Shortly after takeoff, the stars come out on the ceiling. Just like EVA.
I select an HBO movie called All The Way, with Bryan Cranston playing LBJ during his push to get civil rights legislation passed while also trying to earn the presidency thrust up on him by JFK’s assassination as his party crumbles as a result of said legislation. It’s dry, but quite good if you’re into political/historical dramas. Shortly, Hani returns with the Dom, and some very nice warmed nuts.
Shortly, Hani is back with the table settings, and the salad and starter are presented. The bread basket is offered, but there’s not much that interests me. Except for the garlic bread. Garlic bread always interests me. I also choose one of the Shirazes to accompany my meal, and it’s poured for me.
The starter was a very nice little taste. Presented cold, I was surprised how well the lamb went with the fruit, particularly the chutney.
The aforementioned (and interesting) garlic bread. Not as good as the YYZ-TPE EVA garlic bread, but better, I think, than the TPE-HKG EVA garlic bread.
The salad is simple, but fresh and tasty. I appreciate the presence of olives to add some life to it.
Finally, Nikola appears with my main… and lo and behold, we have lamb. And man, am I glad we have lamb, because this is just a fantastic dish. Big, bold flavours, with a nice lightly spicy rub to the outside, prepared perfectly, and the ratatouille accompanying it was delicious as well. Even the sweet potato mash was pretty good. All in all, one of my top airline meals ever. Just so good. I want to take this flight again just to eat this dish again.
Hani returns to offer dessert or cheese, and I take him up on the cheese, which is presented with a very nice port. It’s an excellent cheese board, particularly the bleu and the garlic cream. A great way to finish an excellent meal.
I relax for a few minutes after dinner is completed, and enjoy my movie. Then I check in on the tablet and… holy cow a lot more of this flight is gone than I expected! We’re almost to Bangkok! No! Too soon!
I find a flight attendant and ask if it’s too late to grab a shower. As I suspect, it is. Darn. That’s a disappointment. I was excited to try it out. I’ll have to make it a priority for the trip home.
I don’t have time to head back to the bar behind business class, but I do get a better look at the front of the plane, including this neat waterfall feature between the shower suites.
And a look downstairs to the main deck.
Back at my seat, I decide that even if I don’t have time to have a nap, I have to at least put the seat into bed mode and check it out. Yep, it goes flat. And the doors close. So that’s all good. I didn’t get much time to enjoy it, but I’d think this bed would rank highly — although probably behind the Singapore Suites bed, and the much-missed Lufthansa 747-400 separate bed and seat configuration in terms of comfort.
By this time, we’re well into our descent over Bangkok, and it’s time to straighten things out and get ready to land. My movie isn’t quite over yet, so I take note of how much is left before turning it off and putting the tail camera back on for the duration of the flight.
A look out the window as we approach Suvarnabhumi.
And finally, touchdown of this way-too-short adventure.
We taxi around, and eventually settle in to the gates.
Our nearest neighbour is our TG twin.
One last look around the cabin before I head back towards the upper-deck doors.
While there, I chat with Hani and Nikola a little bit about their schedule. Apparently, the flew DXB-BKK, had 24 hours there, BKK-HKG-BKK, 24 more hours in Bangkok, and then back home to Dubai.
They offer their goodbyes, and I’m quickly down the jetway and into the arrivals level of Suvarnabhumi, which is pretty quiet at this moment. This is a nice mid-flight stop for those ongoing, as apparently they’re not required (or allowed) to get off the plane in BKK, so they don’t have to go through the whole boarding rigmarole again in less than an hour.
I somehow missed the immigration check point with the Priority lane, but it’s not too much of a concern. I’m through in about ten minutes or less, and landside at BKK.
From here, it’s a short shuttle ride over the Novotel, where I’ll get some much-needed shut-eye, and then get up in the morning and head back to Hong Kong and on to Taipei, if all goes according to plan.
Thanks for reading this leg of this report — I’ll see you then!
Hong Kong - HKG
Bangkok - BKK
Great service from a great crew, a very nice (if a bit gaudy) hard product, and a truly memorable meal. This flight went by way too fast, but it will be a fond memory for me for a long time.
Even if I did miss my opportunity to use the shower.
7 LIKESLIKE TO THANK THE AUTHORTHANKS ! FLIGHT-REPORT LIKED
Flight-Report is a free website hosting more than 500 000 pictures and 17 000 reviews, without ads, this website can't exist. We understand that ads can be annoying, this is why we only display a maximum of 2 non-invasive ads per page.
To continue using Flight-Report, we invite you to add Flight-Report to your blocker's "white list".