One meeting, a few MTR rides, a good night's sleep, lots of food and roughly 24 hours after I landed in Hong Kong, it was time to return.
Welcome to my 2nd trip report, that will take me back, as I recall now - the experience of that day. This was my return flight with Emirates, on board their daily EK384/385 run from Dubai to Hong Kong via Bangkok.
My first report is found here: Emirates A380 Business Class Experience (by magicalcarpet Jan 28 2011 in Trip Reports)
As the flight is scheduled to depart at 2115, I arrived back at my hotel at 3pm, to take the shuttle van at 4pm. As I was at the lobby, and had time to spare - I decided to call Emirate's Hong Kong office and to see how full are the suites tonight, hoping for an upgrade of course.
The customer service executive was very swift and professional. A few taps of her keyboard and it was revealed that only 4 passengers are booked on first class tonight. And that led her to the best question of the day:
Sir, it is possible for an upgrade. Shall I do it for you?
My reply was obvious.
With a big smile, and a heightened sense of anticipation, I waited for time to pass before my shuttle van departs, carrying only me for most part of the ride to Hong Kong International Airport.
By 5.10pm, I arrived. And as I entered the airport, I had to take a photo of this, just for fun.
|The shot that everyone takes|
The check-in counter only opened at 6pm. By then there was a long queue waiting at the Economy section. There was at least 20 customers as well for Business Class.
I was second to check in at the First Class lane and the gentleman was kind enough to offer a window seat on the second row, as I was initially booked for the last row which was near the galley. I took up his offer and within minutes, I was already at the immigration queue.
Unlike Bangkok, there was no fast track lane. I wished there was, as somehow I was very hungry by then and wanted to grab a bite at the lounge.
I did not take any photos in the lounge, but the usual champagne and array of wines were available. I was in the lounge by 6.40pm and at that time, there was at most 20 passengers. This was not the case by 7.30pm.
It was very full and I saw the crew offering another lounge to incoming passengers.
There was another flight, also an A380 that departs at around midnight on a direct flight to Dubai.
Even at say 50% capacity, that is over 70 passengers in Business class and 16 for First, for both flights.
Nonetheless, service in the lounge was still impeccable. The crew walked around clearing plates and refilling champagne mostly. And the occasional beer and juices. The internet speed could have been better though.
I was unsure what time boarding started, but when I got to the gate which was a short walk from the lounge, boarding had already commenced according to zones. And so, I took several snaps and video of the surrounding before heading into the aircraft.
I was the first one to enter the first class cabin. The purser of the flight, Mr. Eric from Hong Kong, warmly welcomed me. He walked me to my suite, gave a brief introduction and left me to settle in and take more pictures. I had the cabin to myself for a good ten minutes before other passengers filed in.
And the welcome drinks (and a comfy pair of Emirates slippers) were offered. As I already had three champagnes earlier, I opted for the cold and refreshing orange juice.
The seat was very much larger than the Business class seats, and enough buttons and features to keep one busy, trying them one by one. Enough storage space as well.
And more drinks too.
But we were offered free flow of welcome drinks and any cocktail of choice at any time, so I focused only on those. I had a total of 7 drinks by the time the flight ended.
The newspaper and magazine round came next before Eric dropped by and reminded me, "There is a bar at the back, so if you want, you can walk back pass memory lane and enjoy the lounge anytime".
I like how he used the phrase 'memory lane'
Eric also offered to schedule a shower for me. I don't really need the shower for such a short hop and I had no appointments in Bangkok anyway when I land, but when else to try right? So I requested for one 90 minutes before landing.
Before long, push back began and Bangkok, here we come. There was another A380 parked right next to us too. NOW, that is the one I want to try next time around, a direct HKG to DXB.
Arabian coffee and dates were also offered as we taxied to the runway. Moments later, we were airborne and as we climbed steadily into the imminent darkness of the night, I gazed out to admire the colours of the night, from cosmopolitan Hong Kong, trying to discern if I would see the harbour lights.
When the seat belt signed was switched off, the 'sign' for an epicurean journey beckons. Time to feast!
Two appetizers, one salad and five main courses were offered tonight besides the selection of coffee/tea, dessert, chocolates and international cheese.
For appetizers, we had a choice of the nonya duck or lobster medallions. I chose the duck.
It was very delicious, the sauce was divine! The roast duck breast meat were glazed with plum sauce and served with a slice pear and a cushion of potato salad.
I enjoyed every bit of it, together with my first white wine for the night. I was then offered to try the lobster as everyone was raving about it, according to the very friendly Italian stewardess.
And so I did, and understandably, it was another gourmet success. Accompanied with Balik tartar and caviar, with a lime wedge at the side, the presentation was perfetto!
|The much sought after dish |
Next up, came the steamed fillet of salmon in a bastion of celeries, boiled potatoes, carrot and broccoli.
For me, the masterpiece was the next dish. Reminiscent of my mum's home cooked curry, this dish was five stars.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Oriental Lamb Curry.
Served with hot biryani rice, sauteed okra and paneer makhani, it was explosive. Tender lamb, and the mixture of taste with the paneer (a non-melting cheese eaten throughout India, especially in the north) made this dish, a true enjoyment indeed. Till the last spoonful...
Earlier on, I skipped the salad and here, I also gave the dessert a miss, and headed for my in-flight shower. There was 80 or so minutes left of the flight time at this point.
The spa area is exclusive and spacious. As everyone knows and read about it, 30 minutes per passenger and 5 minutes of water time.
I spent a good 25 minutes in total in the spa, while the solid aircraft was cruising at 40,000 feet somewhere over central Vietnam, presumably.
Here are some photos.
|Lovely orchid at the side|
|Bvlgari & Timeless spa products|
As reviewed by Tom from businesstraveller.com, this on board spa is a gimmick, but a gimmick that works. I agree fully.
It was strange at first to be showering on a plane, but the strangeness was replaced with exhilaration moments later. Now if only there's a refresh key somewhere, for another 5 minutes of water :P
I exited the showers feeling refreshed and headed towards 'memory lane' for one last cocktail. We were flying through Laos at that time.
|Over Laos - time for the lounge|
I sat at the lounge for 15 minutes or so, watching the crew and medley of activities happening at the back of the plane while simultaneously, mapping my entire westbound business travels for the next 90 days and calculating the estimated miles I will accumulate. Flying Emirates as much as possible, naturally.
I took my cocktail back to my seat and enjoyed the rest of the flight before the descent began. We glided into Bangkok at 2315 local time and as always, how I wished it was longer.
Till the next flight then.
My next EK flight will be a hop to Athens in March.
But before that, a ride on board Lufthansa on its short hop to Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam.