As a friend of mine, TM, doesn't have an own account he asked me to put his tripreport on the net. Hereby I disclaim that his views and meanings are not necessarily mine. Here it is:
Wednesday, 24 Dec 2003
Flight No: CX270
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300 –3 class configuration with NBC
Class: Y but upgraded to J (Seat 16H)
Scheduled Dept. Time: 1320
Actual Dept. Time: 1350
Total Flying Time: 11:30
I booked this flight & hotel package from CX since October when I saw the promotion on the CX website, known as the ‘Hong Kong Supercity’ package. It was really cheap in my opinion, as it was flight and accomodation for 8 days and one of the departure date was Christmas eve. Found a friend that was interested to join me, thus making it a perfect trip and time.
Arrived Schiphol and started looking for the check-in desk which was situated in T3. I had to first go through the first security check for check-in luggage. The airport was not too busy at that time even though it was Christmas eve. Found the check-in counter and proceeded. Luckily it was not too busy ( was there 2 ½ hours before check-in time). As usual, I went to the nearest Y class check-in counter next to the Biz check-in (has become one of my practice for a long time due to previous experiences). There was only one guy behind the Biz check-in and one guy in front of me. When the guy at Biz was finished, was called to check-in at the Biz desk. Passed all the documents over and enquired about the capacity for today. She told me that the flight was overbooked. I told her that I have already made some pre-reservation and tried to ask if I could get bulk. She smiled and said she will see what is available and next thing I know, she smiled and told me and my companion “I’ll be offering you an upgrade”. I guess it was just my luck that I was asked to checked in at the Biz counter and got the upgrade there. Was really shocked when told about it. Later, I found out that those in possession of a Biz ticket got an upgrade to First class cause while on board, they were still settling the seating arrangements and this guy that had a biz ticket was told that he was upgraded to First. His seat was then given to someone else (i think a boyfriend of one of the stewardess, cause during the whole flight she kept coming to him and also introduced him to the purser of the flight).
Well, after check-in proceeded on to get a few things settled before leaving. Went through passport control and did some shopping then proceeded to the lounge area. At first I did not know where the CX lounge was, so I went to the BA lounge and was told that I had the option to use them or to the CX lounge (which is actually the Globeground lounge). The guy at the BA lounge told me that the Globeground lounge was better since they had more good and nearer to the gate. Proceeded to the Globeground lounge. When I entered, they asked for the lounge invitation and I only realised that I did not get one, anyway, they wrote down my details and was permitted to enter the lounge. The first impression of the lounge was good. It has a very calm feeling. After settling down, went to check out the food and it turned out to be not as good as expected from a lounge, there were hardly anything, just some chips, drinks, and a terrible selection of reading materials. Comparatively to the lounge that I was in two days before (the BMI business lounge at LHR), this was a terrible lounge in my opinion, besides that it had a nice atmosphere but other then that, don’t find anything exclusive about it. I would even say that the staff in there were not really that friendly, just there to do their work. Anyway, boarding was called at around 1250. Proceeded to the gate (which was about 15 mins walk from the lounge). The aircraft was parked earlier next the the MH aircraft to KUL and now it was just next to an EVA aircraft (presumably to BKK). The boarding area was already full with passengers and had to wait for another 15 mins there when they started the boarding process. As expected, they begin with Marco Polo, Oneworld elite members, First, Biz and passengers travelling with children. Everyone entered through the same airbridge. When I entered, was (as expected) saw their new biz class flat-bed seats, so got to experience their new biz class layout. Settled down in the seat and the FA begin by collecting all the Jackets to be hung and then settled down in my seat. The atmosphere was rather in a chaos (explained later in the report). Pre-flight drinks were served, Champagne or Juice and hot towels were distributed. I took the Champagne. Was rather weird sitting there sipping Champagne while the Y passengers were still streaming through and hearing the comments from them. Door closed at about 1350 after a delay of nearly 30mins because of overbooking and also awaiting of passengers from a flight out Rome (no idea if this is a Oneworld connecting flight or ??) This was followed by the inflight-safety demo video. Then the captain came on (can’t remember, but he sounded American). As mentioned by everyone, take-off roll was rather long and the climb was also long. I guess this is due to the heavy loaded aircraft. The Flight supervisor came on (she was a Japanese, I think her name was Makino) When we reached the appropriate altitude, the FA’s got into action. The separation curtains were closed and the usual activity around started in full swing. The AVOD IFE was started. We were given the Menu and Drink List. Then we were given again hot towels and this was followed by another drink round. I selected their famous signature drink, the Cathay Sunrise. In my opinion, it was not that special, just tasted somewhat like normal champagne, besides that strip of orange peel. In the beginning the FA's addressed us by name, but later, I wondered why they dropped it and just used Sir and Madam. Anyhow, they started with savouries. After this, the cabin was set for lunch, table cloth was laid out and eating utensiles distributed. In the meantime was busy checking out their IFE system and decided to watch the film S.W.A.T. A rather slow moving film until the middle where the action started, but would say it was ok. They then started with the appetizer, grilled tuna nicoise and some another selection that was not in the menu.
I did not know what to choose, so the FA suggested that I take all, which I did. It was a good appetizer. All this gushed down with the Cathay Surprise. Then we had the starter, a salad with herb vinaigrette dressing (since the theme for lunch was Mediterreanean).
This was followed by the main meal. The choices were:
Pork Filet with Lentil Madeira Sauce, gratin potatoes, carrots and spinach.
Saville Beef Stew with mash potatoes and buttered broccoli.
Steamed Halibut with Ginger, Mushroom and Black Beans with steamed rice and Pak Choy
Mushroom Filled Ravioli with Baby Mozzarella, tomato and Thyme Sauce.
By the time it came to me, there were no other choices left but only the Pork. Had no other choice but just took that. I did want to try the fish since it would be a lighter meal.
After the main meal, came the some cheese board and fresh fruit for offer. At last came the dessert. It was really good, it was the butter chocolate tart.
After the meal, I tried the famous CX signature drink, the Cathay Delight (where I had 3 cups of it, was just so refreshing and cooling). It was really wonderful.. must learn to make it. Food, was well, ok, I don' think there is anything to shout about the catering.. though the dessert was just out of the world..;o) creamy smooth chocolate cake. After the meal service, hot towels were handed out again. This was followed by the handing out of the HK Arrival cards. About 10mins after this, the FA came about asking if we needed anything else and at the same time distributed bottled mineral water. After another 5 mins, the cabin lights were dimmed and all the FA congregated at the galley and lines to the toilets started to form. When this was all settled, the cabin was calm and passengers were either reading, sleeping, or with their eyes stuck to the IFE system. I finished my movie and went on to watch Johnny English which turned out to be a rather disappointing movie, I kept ffwd it cause it was just so slow moving and was getting onto my nerves. In the end, I guess I ffwd nearly half the movie. Next, I thought I will catch one of the Asian offering, one of the Bollywood movie (since I am rather a fan for these sort of movies) but, sadly there was no subtitles which made it rather useless to just watch and not understand the dialogue. In the end I decided to get a shut-eye to try their new biz seat. The buttons were responsive and I got my seat into the ‘sleeping’ position in less then a 2 mins (I did put it all the way to the upright position first to check out fast it will go to this ‘sleeping’ position). I was rather disappointed with it cause it was not really as comfortable as I would expect of it. I had the feeling that I kept sliding down the position (not sure if it was made more for taller people, since I am only 5’6”). Anyway, manage to find a good position where I did not feel like I’m sliding off and got about 2 hours of sleep).
When I woke up, headed to the galley to get something sweet to drink and maybe a snack or so. Met one of the FA there and I got a chance to chat her. She is a FA from Korea (did not notice her name). Actually I was rather impressed with her English, she spoke with a distinctive English accent, and I was curious since the minute I heard her spoke when I boarded the flight when she took my jacket for storage. It turned out that she spend some time in UK and attended school there when she was young. She was nice and we soon we were talking about the comparison between SIA and CX inflight service. She said that she in her personal opinion, she felt that SIA offered much better services such as their IFE system. Though in her opinion, the FA's for both airlines were as mechanical as usual. She was rather surprise when I went on to the topic over the situation in CX, that I knew so much about it. I told her that I got all this from the Airliners.net forum. Anyway, we had to end out chat due to a call from a passenger and she excused herself. Went back to my seat with sandwiches and a chocolate bar. Later, she came by my seat and gave me a can of Diet Coke (which I was looking for in the first place when I went to the galley). I did tell her not to bother as she needed to go to the back galley to get that.
After that, I had another go at one of the other film on offer, this time Freaky Friday, it was at least much better then Johnny English. I did again do some ffwd cause it was again another slow film. After finishing with it, tried to get another shut-eye. This time managed to so for about 1 ½ hours. Got up again and went again to the galley to get another snack. This time I got the Haagen Daz ice cream that came in small tubes. They were as hard as rock. I had to wait for about ½ hours before I was able to even start digging it and it was with a metal spoon.
Had another go playing with the IFE and ended up watching Will&Grace. In the middle of it, the FA that took over the shift came round the cabin and asking passengers still awake if they needed anything. Me, being rather greedy at that time, asked for the chicken noodle. I received it about 10 mins later in a big blue ceramic bowl (Chinese style) with the chopsticks. When I opened it, it was really unexpected, it came with lots of chicken pieces and the chinese ‘fungus-ear’ mushroom (sorry if it sounds terrible here, but believe me, it is a nice mushroom). The noodles were those that you typically find in HK. I thought that it would be heavy on the MSG, but after finishing the meal, it was alright, I did not feel thirsty or anything that you would usually feel if it is full of MSG. It was a really good ‘instant’ noodle.
After this, I tried looking for a good program to watch on the IFE, but in the end I just ended up listening to music. 2 hours to landing, breakfast was served. There was nothing really extraordinary about the breakfast selection. Below is an overview of the menu:
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Yogurt and Cereal
Fruit Yogurt, Corn Flakes or Muesli
Asparagus Fritta with Hollandaise Sauce
Served with Pork Sausage, Grilled Bacon and Tomato
Stir Fried Noodles with Pork and Vegetables
Breakfast cold cuts
Assorted Bread and Rolls served with Preserves, Honey and Butter
Tea and Coffee
I chose the Muesli and the asparagus since I thought for the coming days it will be Chinese food all the way. The bread basket did not reach us but I did not bother to ask for any bread since I had enough for the breakfast. It was an uneventful breakfast. By the time breakfast was cleared, it was about 30 mins to landing and the coats and the Korean FA that I spoke to returned jackets to the passengers.
Since this was the first time landing at the new HK airport, my eyes was fixed on the window and the flight information channel. We did a big “U” turn before landing since we flew over the airport and just went all the way left before straightening out for landing. It was a beautiful day besides some mist for our welcome to HK. We made a smooth landing with reverse trust as we did decelerate rather quick from the landing. In what seems like 5 mins or less, we made a full stop with about 5 mins earlier then the scheduled time. Was one of the first out from the aircraft and noticed immediately the humidity and temperature leaving behind the cold and rainy weather of Netherlands behind. The airport was rather empty and did not see much action in the airport besides out flight and was through immigration within a few minutes after catching the terminal connecting train. My first impression of the airport, rather disappointed. I have heard so much about it, so I had some high expectation about it, being modern, new, savvy, etc.. but did not get the feeling of that.. I think it was due to the material used for the flooring. I still think that KLIA is a much better interior wise and gave a much better impression as a world-class modern airport. The priority tag on the baggage was respected as my luggage and those with elite status were some of the first to roll out the belt. Went through customs without any problem and was at last in HK to begin a few good days of a cuisine adventure.
In general, the whole Biz class was good, except that the agents did not take into consideration who they upgraded so u had really those that were (sorry to say) just not fit to fly biz.. but overall I was rather disappointed with the toilet in biz.. it was just so usual.. in fact now that i compare it to the one in economy, there was hardly any difference besides the extra toiletries in Biz.. Besides that, nothing different.. of course the 170 degree bed was the best.. it was nearly flat.. but what I was a bit disapointed was that it felt a bit slanted.. u felt that u will slide down in the so called flat position.. as for the entertainment, it was like the one of SIA's AVOD.. overall, the biz class experience for such a long flight is surely something very welcoming ;o) As for the flight attendants, I do think that they are just a bit much better then those from SIA, I do not see any big difference except for maybe one or two of them that really do it from the heart.
Wednesday, 31 Dec 2003
Flight No: CX271
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300 –3 class configuration with NBC
Class: Y (Seat 55A)
Scheduled Dept. Time: 010
Actual Dept. Time: 015
Total Flying Time: 13:30
Sadly on the return leg, could not manage to get an upgrade. Entered the departure hall and noticed that checks were stringent on body temperature due to the new suspected case of the SARS case in Southern China. Went through immigration without any problem. I was again looking forward to discover the shops. Again rather disappointed as I don’t understand why they shops are not under one management, it was an assortment of stalls and what was disappointing was that it was difficult to see at which shop u could spend and collect Asia Miles. And it came to me that at those shops where you could collect the miles, there was not much on offer. After getting some last minute souvenirs from HK, still had some HKD to spend off, decided to spend them on drinks. Went to the food court area and I think that is the only nice place that I found good at the airport compared to other airports that I have been too since there was a large selection of food and furthermore, the price of the food and drinks were decent. I think if the next time I need to have food before going off to the airport, this would be a good place as you could have whatever food you would like at “street” price. Staff were also friendly. After spending those last HKD’s, went to the gate to wait. It was from the gate near to the Pier lounge (can’t remember the exact gate number). I was actually at that time rather tired and sleepy, so did not bother to do anymore exploring. The airport was just filled with most of the passengers leaving for Europe, US and a few destination in Asia. One thing I found really irritating at the gate was the announcement. They were hardly interpretable. It was so soft and u just did not know what they were trying to say. Just could not be bothered anymore about it and just waited for the people to get up and board. Boarding was announced about 10 mins to midnight. Again, they started to boarding with First, Biz and elite status passengers and also passengers in need of assistance and passengers with children. When I was near the gate, there was also another gate agent checking the boarding passes of the passengers to ensure that boarding was according to row number. I found this good as to ensure faster boarding procedure. Boarded and was greeted by the Inflight supervisor and got to my seat. Everything was done and departure was on time despite a few minutes late. Take off was normal without any glitches. After reaching safe altitude, the crew began immediately inflight service and the IFE was started. I was disappointed to note that they were screening the same films and music. I thought they would have changed it since it was the end of the month. Since it was the same, I did not bother and I was anyway too tired to look for something good. After a few minutes, the supper service was started and it began from back to front. I was unlucky to seat at the back of an irritating Dutch couple especially the woman, she just kept moving and bumping against her chair. I was like so irritated with her since I was trying to see the IFE screen.. and with her constant movement, it made it rather impossible to watch and furthermore she reclined her chair to the fullest. So, I just switched the screen off and had a shut eye till the meal came. Luckily when meal service arrive, the steward noticed that she had reclined her seat to the fullest, he told her and her boyfriend to put their seat upright. I was like so relief for that. Anyway, supper was chicken with pasta, and I think the other was pork with rice.. took the pasta and it was truthfully rather terrible, quite bland. I just had to put all the pepper and salt that came with it which made it a tad better. After the meal, they made another round of drinks. Took a glass of water and just could not stand it anymore, went directly back to my shuteye. I think about half hour later, they dimmed the cabin light, I reclined my chair and that couple infront of me reclined theirs too, with her still moving constantly. I could not be bothered much and slept for nearly 4 hours straight. Woke up and went to the toilet. At this time, the FA came with a round of water. Took a glass and went back to sleep. Woke up again after about 3 hours later to find that I was hungry again (??), so when I saw the FA go by, I asked for the cup noodle again (it was more for to see what I would get this time) and surely, it was exactly the normal instant cup noodle. Tried to take another nap, and succeeded till about 4 hours before landing. Breakfast was served 2 hours again to landing. It was between Fried noodles or omelet. I chose the noodles. It was this time not too bad, but could still be improved. Landed on a very thick misted Netherlands. I though that it would not be able to land in such a weather as it was really thick, the whole “sky” was just bright due to the scattering effect of the lights, but I guess due to the technology landing in what seems to be such a thick mist, is nothing. Landed near to 0700 on 31 Dec. After landing, heard the stewardess telling the couple in front of us that they will be spending a few days in NL in the “small” city of The Hague..weird to hear the Hague being referred to as a small city. But I guess she is right if you compare that to the size of HK.
Just as a conclusion, though I would say that the service on SIA and CX are rather comparable in economy .. entertainment wise, SIA is much better cause on CX, the IFE is still not the AVOD system as on SIA.. food was ok.. though i was chosen to fill in the survey (guess due to my FFP status). as for HK, it was great.. of course food was the best. With exception of a few FA’s, the rest were just as usual. Again here I don’t see any difference between the so-called ‘premium’ carriers. It was a good flight overall. I would not hesitate flying on CX metal even in economy.
Final words: Thank you to MEA-707 for putting this report up for me on the net.