Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I plan to share a series of flights that came into focus with two objectives, figure out a way to ride in the new Singapore Airlines A380 Suites and take advantage of a soon to be devalued sweet spot in the United Airlines Mileageplus award chart. Let's talk about the Suites first. Singapore Airlines introduced "Suites" class ten years ago when the A380 entered service and it was quite revolutionary and remains a top First Class product. The airline is in the process of returning their initial A380 frames to the lessor and receiving new built frames from Airbus. They took this opportunity to remodel their Suites class and introduce a new product. In July 2017 the word on the internet was SQ would deploy these Suites initially on a SIN-SYD-SIN turn, namely SQ 231/SQ232. With this information I started searching for a saver award on either segment. I located a seat on SQ 232 for May 4th, 2018 and set out to build a trip around this segment. This was the SYD-SIN segment so I started building from SYD back home, ideally staying with Krisflyer as the currency and a single ticket to limit the cost. There was no space on SQ12 (SIN-NRT-LAX) or SQ8 (SIN-ICN-LAX) so I looked to Star Alliance partners for help. In the end I found SQ SIN-HND and NH NRT-LAX. I called Krisflyer and had the ticket booked quickly for 127,500 krisflyer miles and $183.90 SGD in fees. This was before the most recent SQ award chart devaluation. At his point the new A380 had not gone into service so the seating chart was showing the old product. I selected seat 1A as a place holder until more information was divulged about the new Suites configuration.
The second objective involved the excellent redemption value using United Airlines Mileageplus in Thai Airways First Class between HKG and SYD via BKK. Tickled that I finally had a reason to book one of these awesome deals to Sydney I checked the date I needed and the space was there. For 40,000 miles it was too good to be true and they "fixed" the award chart not long after I booked.
If you're keeping score I now have an itinerary that looks like this: HKG-BKK-SYD-SIN-HND; NRT-LAX all in Suites/First for a very reasonable sum of points. The final hole is LAX-HKG. If I have to be in Hong Kong I naturally think of Cathay Pacific as the preferred way of getting there and this case was no different. With low expectations I pulled up the BA Avios search page (a good way to search for Oneworld award availability) and searched LAX-HKG for the exact day I required to meet up this the rest of this trip and by some divine action the space was there. I had some of the Avios needed and transferred the remaining points from AMEX and even took advantage of one of those 40% bonuses that is offered from time to time. I would normally use Alaska Airlines to book CX but my orphan Avios balance, the transfer bonus, and lack of AS miles (or Starpoints to convert) I decided to use BA and pay the outlandish 150k redemption. Feeling quite smug, and with the entire trip booked, all I had to do was wait the excruciating 8+ months until it was time to travel.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
BKK Arrival - Royal First Lounge - Royal First Spa
Remote stand is a treat. Not only to I get a good look at the aircraft but a nice tarmac ride too!
The private escort is waiting by the air stairs.
A moment to snap a couple of pictures before getting into the van.
The driver dropped us at the terminal and after a short walk we boarded an electric cart. The whole process is rather exhilarating for me and is quite remarkable.
After the wild cart ride and a trip through transit security we walked the last few meters to the Royal First Lounge.
Unfortunately my stay at the Royal First Lounge was confined to one room (well two if you count the loo). I was sleep deprived at this point and wanted to have some energy to stay awake on the 747 and enjoy the F service so I traded any lounge indulgences for a nap. I did make time for the the one hour spa service.
Upon greeting by the lounge staff I was proactively offered to setup a spa appointment and after we did the math on boarding time (which we had a small (miscommunication) it was decided i could take the massage at 17:30 and be ready for boarding at 19:00. Next I asked for a nap room and was shown directly to "Slumber Room 4" where I was able to conk out for a good 90 minutes. I know it doesn't seem like much but it helped rejuvenate me.
After the rest I dressed again and presented myself at the front desk for the Spa service. I was escorted across the hall and handed off to the Royal First Spa staff and after signing something or other I was led to this stunning room.
It's a truly beautifully appointed treatment room. Of course there is the massage table.
A toilet room with spiffy door pulls.
A dressing room with silk robes, pajamas, and a vanity.
The main room has a sink with the "menus" for the oil and beverages.
Finally there is a shower/sauna that could fit the entire first class cabin.
I was quite stunned by the beauty of this facility and the treatment provider was very patient with me wanting to snap some photos before we started. I really enjoyed teh massage and surely dozed in and out in a state of heightened relaxation. Once complete I am left in the room to enjoy the shower sauna and dress for my flight. This is where the miscommunication on timing I mentioned earlier came into play. The lounge agent said boarding at 19:00 so I lingered thinking I would stroll out of the room and to the airplane at 19:00ish. Well, a stern knock on the door at 19:00 yielded the information that it was "final boarding call" for my flight and they are "waiting for you". Oops. I quickly finished dressing and shot out the door. Luckily the gate was a 3 minute walk and all was fine but I should have given more consideration to this 19:00 boarding time for a flight that departs at 19:20.
TG475 - BKK-SYD
There was no escort to the aircraft and none was needed as the gate was the closest in to the lounge/spa. I boarded through door L1 and it indeed looked like everyone was aboard. The door was closed shortly after my arrival. Not sure about L2.
There would be 4 passengers in First for tonight's flight to SYD.
I was shown to my seat and offered a drink, "perhaps Champagne?" is how it was phrased. Yes, please was the response.
The seat is comfortable with plenty of privacy despite the lack of closing door.There are several storage compartments and a coat closet embedded int he seat. There are also overhead bins starting with row 2.
At my seat was the menu, a day blanket, pajamas, slippers, an orchid, and the rest of the bedding stored under the ottoman. The 2009 Dom was delivered with a cool towel and a box of chocolate.
Boarding somewhat tardy i decided not to push my luck and waited to change into the lounge wear until after departure. I failed to get a picture of the set out of the storage bag. They are very comfortable and soft with the words "Thai Royal First" embroidered on the lower right portion of the shirt.
With boarding complete the safety video was played and we pushed back from the gate on time. I know, strange. Of course I was pleased as it would make my connection in SYD far less stressful if this flight arrives on time.
During taxi I has a look at the menu and wine list sorry for a couple of blurry snaps.
Once airborne I was offered somehting to drink and asked if/when I would like to enjoy dinner. I requested Champagne and still water and I opted to have dinner straight away.
An amuse of dried/fried mushroom and avocado (guacamole really) was served with the Champagne. It's was odd looking but very tasty.
I take a look at the tablet (albeit on a cable) that controls the lighting and seat functions. It's clear and easy to use. It's also reasonably responsive and accurate.
The massive table is deployed and set for dinner. The Thai take on garlic bread is served where a whole head of roasted garlic is presented with the butter.
The caviar service starts the show. It's a beautiful presentation. The abalone shell with ice and the custom condiment plate are quite impressive. A pour of Stoli is offered with the caviar.
The next dish is a bit of mash up: king crab green apple & avocado remoulade, salmon roe, Iberico ham, and beetroot sauce. It's lovely to look at but I had trouble identifying all of the flavors advertised.
For the main dish I requested the Thai cuisine and specifically the grilled wagyu beef with chili fish sauce. The presentation and side dishes are stunning and almost overwhelming. Nothing really stands out as excellent in flavor or texture (aside from the chili fish sauce - I could put that on anything) but on the whole the presentation is an A+. I'm happy to not have to wash the dishes.
I am happy to accept the offer of a fruit and cheese, again, lovely presentation.
Well, better take a look at the dessert. The coconut & passion fruit mousse with passion fruit ice cream sounded too good not to have a taste. The mousse was encased in a beautiful coconut cracker crust. Just immaculate presentation.
On the whole the meal was a great experience. Each course was plated beautifully and the range of flavors was impressive. The service was very good in pacing but lacked the warmth I've come to expect from Thai hospitality.
Time to check out he lavs and change clothes. There are two lavs in the F cabin of the same dimensions and stocked with the same amenities.
I requested a pour of the Otard Cognac to finish the night.
I requested a bed to be setup in 2K.
I turned in as we were leaving the shores of Borneo and heading over the Java Sea.
The bedding was very comfortable and I slept quite well until we were about 90 minutes outside of SYD.
I was offered breakfast and I really didn't need any but I could not resist the "Soft boiled rice with nine accompaniments." Especially when the accompaniments include lobster, duck, and pork. Again a royal presentation and some very tasty bits to this congee. Look at that fruit!
I spied the sunrise out of 1A's windows.
Soon the cabin was prepared for landing and we were treated to some nice views of the coast as we made the turn for the upwind.
We landed about 15 minutes early and as a result we did not have a gate to park. We held for a bit as teh space was being made available. It is a very busy time of day at Kingsford Smith for International arrivals. It seems many aircraft are towed off the the stand to a remote parking pad only to be towed back in a couple of hours.
We finally parked and were still off the airplane on time.
Thai Airways Royal First Class Lounge
Bangkok - BKK
Sydney - SYD
The Ground Service: Exceptional ground service is one of the hallmarks of Thai Airways First Class service and this flight was no exception.
The Lounge: I know there is a wealth of Thai cuisine available in the lounge but it was not to be this visit. The nap room, although spartan, served me well to get some rest.
The Cabin: It's a good mix of comfort, privacy and quality bed.
The Crew: The lead steward and the service manager were very friendly and pleasant. The lead flight attendant was a bit aloof although she did everything required and requested it was not done with any sense of joy or graciousness. Minor quibble but it detracted from the overall enjoyment none the less.
The Food and Beverage: Samrab Thai. Extensive amount of flavor and gorgeous presentation made for two memorable dining experiences. The quality was perhaps a cut below what I would find on NH, JL or SQ but still an enjoyable experience.
Overall: The entire experience of traveling in F with Thai is a wonderful experience. The highlights for me are the ground service, spa, and Thai cuisine. It's very special and I feel very fortunate to have experienced this.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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