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The Great Asian Adventure 2005, SQ First And Others  
User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 13132 times:

Here it is – the First Class adventure to Asia in March-April 2005. I flew on 12 flights with seven different airlines in First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy class. There is also a ferry ride included from Cebu to Manila as well as reports of various hotels.

It all started a day after I returned to Finland in January – I decided to call Lufthansa Senator Service about First Class availability in March. To my surprise, there was availability on SQ 325 to Singapore on pretty much any day in March, so I picked Friday 4 March, as that would be my last day in university in Finland. The F award routing was HEL-FRA-SIN-MNL-BKK-FRA-HEL, and I bought separate tickets for MNL-CEB, BKK-HKT-SIN-BKK and BKK-HKT-BKK.

Also, this was my last big holiday to Asia for quite a while. When CX 709 touches down at Don Muang just before midnight on May 12th, I’ll be spending at least the next two years in the Thai capital.

Part 1 - Helsinki-Frankfurt-Singapore
Pictures can be found at http://lari.pp.fi/helsin/index.html

04 March 2005
Helsinki Vantaa (HEL/EFHK) – Frankfurt Main (FRA/EDDF)
Lufthansa LH 3101
Airbus Industrie A320-211
D-AIPK “Wiesbaden”
1425-1555 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 1A


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I got a ride to Helsinki Vantaa, and got there about an hour before departure. Dumped my jacket in the car – I wouldn’t be needing it in the warmer climates of Southeast Asia anyway. There was a bit of a wait for the SAS Business Class counters as usual – and check in was a hassle. I had a 23 hour connection at Singapore, thus wanted to get my bag there as well. However, the system wanted to check me in all the way to Manila. At the end, the agent manually tagged the bag to Singapore and only gave me a boarding pass for the HEL-FRA sector.

Next stop was the security check which was a breeze as usual, and I was soon in the SAS Business Class Lounge. Snack selection had improved a bit – they had various breads and cold cuts available instead of just one type of each. Still, it’s a pretty basic lounge with no alcoholic drinks apart from wine and beer for example.

D-AIPK soon landed from Frankfurt and it looked like LH3101 would be on time. Boarding started at gate 28 around 20 minutes before departure, and was the usual cattle call that I hate with passion. I had seat 1A assigned, and it has pretty decent legroom and as usual, the middle seat in business stayed empty. Newspapers and magazines were handed out before pushback but no drinks which I find lousy in business class. Yet, this is how it works on most European flights.

Pushback was on time, and we taxied to 22R for immediate takeoff. Service started shortly after the seatbelt sign went off – cashews and drinks were offered first. Another thing that I don’t understand is the sparkling wine – proper champagne should be offered. The usual packaged towels were handed out before the meal service began. Meal choices were reindeer or chicken – I took the chicken as reindeer pronounced by the flight attendant sounded like beef… oh well. It was a nice meal – a large salad appetizer, chicken with pasta, a nicely presented dessert dish and Godiva chocolates.

I spent the rest of the flight drinking Baileys – thankfully they give a bit more in business class compared to the absolutely tiny shots in economy. We landed at Frankfurt Main a few minutes early and taxied to the A-concourse as usual. I then headed to the check-in area as SK was unable to print me a boarding pass with baggage only tagged to Singapore.

04 March 2005
Frankfurt Main (FRA/EDDF) – Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS)
Singapore Airlines SQ 325
Boeing 747-412
9V-SPB
2225-1725+1 – On Time
First Class, Seat 2A


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Photo © Kevin Minter - Mint Photography



Singapore Airlines counters were properly arranged – two for First, two for Business and two for Economy. I was immediately checked in by a Lufthansa agent who confirmed my pre booked seat 2A and told me to go to the Senator Lounge. Against Star Alliance rules, Lufthansa has decided not to let other airlines’ First customers to the new First Class Lounges. The terminal use for LH only I understand, but not letting pax use the lounges is ridiculous and against the guidelines that Star carriers should follow.

I headed to the United Airlines International First Lounge first – another joke basically nowadays. The lounge itself was as good as last time, but in true American cost cutting fashion; it closes at 6pm now. So I spent 1h20minutes there before getting thrown out. Off to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge B… I waited 40 minutes for a seat, and meanwhile one of the rude wardens was going around the lounge telling people not to use their phones, where they can not stand and where they can’t put their feet. Unbelievable and totally ridiculous to call this place a First Class Lounge. It is used by at least SQ/TG/NH First passengers. Well, I finally found a seat – an uncomfortable one in the section with tables.

I headed to the gate quite early – 9V-SPB was waiting. Boarding order was fortunately strictly enforced, and only First Class was allowed to board in the first group. I was escorted to my suite 2A, and the leading stewardess opened the overhead bin for me. Waited for a while for a drink order to be taken – a glass of Dom for me please. Service is the same as last time – the bottle comes on a silver tray and they pour a glass for you right next to the suite. Newspapers, amenity kits, pyjamas and menus were offered shortly as well.

Meanwhile the other passengers started arriving – and it was just unbelievable how rude some of them were. One Asian guy dumped his bag in the aisle, jacket in the suite and meanwhile complained why his pyjama wasn’t there yet. The SkySuite is great – very private and comfortable. Storage space is good, the PTV is huge, the table is an actual table etc etc. The best seat I have sat in without a doubt. My Dom glass was refilled after I asked – some room for improvement there. My Book the Cook lobster meal was also confirmed and drink, appetizer, soup and salad dressing orders were taken.

The pyjama is presented in a very nice Givenchy bag, and is quite nice. The Bvlgari amenity kits contain a bottle of BLV cologne amongst other things. Socks are provided in a separate bag, and the lavatories have a wide range of toiletries and other products such as toothbrushes and razors.

We were pushed back on time with a full load in the premium cabins, but economy wasn’t completely full. Takeoff was from runway 18 as usual for these late-night departures. Service started shortly after takeoff, and was efficient, friendly but a bit cold for my taste. The Singapore flight attendants definitely do everything according to the book, but they could have been a bit more relaxed in my opinion. The inflight supervisor was probably the friendliest throughout the flight. I was addressed by name all the time as appropriate.

My glass of chilled Dom arrived soon with a bowl of warm nuts. The tables were soon set up and the full dinner service began. Only one other passenger decided to eat in addition to myself. I hate to imagine how much food was left after the service. Here’s the menu:

Frankfurt to Singapore

Dinner


Appetisers

Iranian ossetra caviar
With melba toast and condiments

Gooseliver with mesclun salad and
Fruits in season
Walnut oil and xeres vinegar dressing

Soup

Puree of vegetables soup garnished
With flageolet beans and chives

Oriental clear broth with
Mushrooms, tofu and carrot

Salad

Garden salad
Balsamico dressing
Thousand Island dressing

Main Courses

Corn-fed chicken with polenta cake,
Shimeji mushrooms and nouilly
Prat jus

Wok fried red snapper in sweet and
Sour sauce with vegetables and
Fried rice

Oriental style braised brisket of
Beef in dark soya with beancurd
Sticks and steamed rice

Stewed New Zealand lamb shank in
Red wine with green pea mash

Cheese

Selection of cheese with garnishes

Fresh Fruit

A selection of fresh fruit

Dessert

Almond tuile with rum-raisin ice
Cream and fruit salad

From the Bakery

Oven fresh rolls
With a choice of extra virgin olive oil or
Butter

Garlic Bread

Hot Beverages

Freshly brewed coffee
Espresso or cappuccino
Selection of tea

Pralines

To end on a sweet note

I started with the caviar, vegetable soup and salad with Thousand Island dressing. At this point they ran out of Dom Perignon – only two bottles had been loaded which is inexcusable for a full house on a 13-hour flight. So I went on with Krug which is excellent as well so I didn’t mind – but Dom appears on all SQ ads so they most definitely shouldn’t run out. It’s United and the likes that I expect to run out of stuff in international First Class.

My main course was the pre-ordered Lobster Thermidor – it was absolutely mouth watering, and I guess beats the Springbok I had in LH F as the best airline meal for me. I was pretty much stuffed, but dinner was far from over at this point. Next, I had a full plate of cheese and other stuff, followed by a bowl of strawberries and a lovely ice cream dessert. This was pretty much the perfect airline meal and the presentation was extremely nice.

I then asked the LSS to turn down my bed while I made a trip to the loo. As the inflight supervisor saw me coming, he thoughtfully opened the lavatory door for me. When I returned, a bed was waiting with a bottle of Vittel water placed on my armrest. The bed is long, wide and very comfortable, so I slept well until about an hour before breakfast was served. As soon as I woke up, I was offered a drink. Breakfast service started soon thereafter, here’s the menu:

Before touch-down

Juices

A choice of apple, tomato and
Freshly squeezed orange

Fruit

A selection of fresh fruit

Light Starters

Fresh Bircher muesli or
Cornflakes
With low fat or full cream milk

Reduced fat yoghurt
Plain or fruit flavoured

Wholesome Beginnings

Chicken noodle soup
Egg noodles in chicken broth garnished
With chicken, leafy greens and
Mushrooms

German breakfast
Cold cuts, cheese and fresh eggs
Prepared on board

Free range eggs prepared on board
With bacon or sausage, vine-ripened
Tomato, mushrooms
Baked, boiled or scrambled

From the Bakery

Assorted breakfast rolls
Butter, jam, marmalade or honey

Hot Beverages

Freshly brewed coffee
Espresso or cappuccino
Selection of tea

I was not particularly hungry after the huge dinner, but since I don’t fly in First everyday, obviously I had to try this stuff as well. I had apple juice, fruit, yoghurt and scrambled eggs – excellent job by the catering and our crew again. All too soon, my first SkySuite experience was coming to an end as 9V-SPB started its descent into Singapore Changi. We landed roughly on time and taxied to gate F59 for disembarkation.

There was a little wait for my bag as nobody at Frankfurt had attached a proper SQ First priority tag to it – unimpressive. Even AY added a C class tag when my bag transferred at BKK, being checked in by Thai at Phuket. I took the MRT to Orchard, perhaps one of the very few SQ F pax to do so.

Grand Hyatt Singapore

This was a Hyatt Gold Passport Faster Free Nights award. Regular rates are quite high so I wouldn’t have stayed here otherwise. I was assigned a king room on the older tower – something I knew to expect. Although with Hyatt platinum status on an award stay one could expect one of the better rooms.

The room was fine, very large as was the bathroom. There was a king bed, a sofa, a sitting area by the windows, separate shower and bathtub etc. Location is convenient to Orchard Road, no complaints from me regarding this property. However, regular rates hover around those of the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, and clearly the Hyatt is not in the same league as the Ritz for example.


Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
29 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineUdo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 12333 times:

Hey Lari,

thanks for the great report. Interesting insights into SQ's First Class! All that food would kill me as the normal Economy meals usually are enough for me.

Unbelievable that LH employees even misbehave towards premium passengers - isn't that the group they obviously have decided to concentrate on?
Another mystery is their First Class Terminal. I still don't get it why LH grants access to OS and LO premium pax while other Star flyers must stay out.

Btw, nice pictures, too.


Regards
Udo


User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 2, posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 12118 times:

Quoting Udo (Reply 1):
Unbelievable that LH employees even misbehave towards premium passengers - isn't that the group they obviously have decided to concentrate on?

Hi Udo,

Well it doesn't surprise me one bit. The Senator/F Lounge B is an offence towards premium passengers itself. I mean, 40 minutes wait for a seat and 27 people on the shower waitlist on my return... Enough said.

However, LH First class and apparently the new ground facilities are a world class product. They have hired new young staff in the F terminal instead of these misbehaving wardens.

Next part coming soon.



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 3, posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 12029 times:

Part 2 - Singapore-Manila
Pictures can be found at http://lari.pp.fi/sinmnl/index.html

06 March 2005
Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS) – Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL/RPLL)
Singapore Airlines SQ 076
Boeing 777-212ER
9V-SQA
1655-2030 – On Time
First Class, Seat 1A


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Photo © Resocha
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Photo © K.H. Ng - HKAEC



I took the MRT back to Changi as well, and my bag got searched at Orchard station. I had to open the damn thing on a dedicated table and a security guard went through the contents… Whatever. Check-in was quick at the First Class check-in lounge, and I got my pre-assigned seat 1A. Immigration was a breeze as usual at Changi, and I was on my way to the SilverKris First lounge.

The lounge was quite busy, but of course nothing like the Senator Standing Room. I had some food from the nice buffet, some ice cream and Krug champagne. Meanwhile I enjoyed the free wireless internet provided in the lounge. I asked for a seat with nobody next to me – the agent’s reply was “There is one other passenger in first class, so you can sit anywhere. Just don’t have a too big party on board.” The screens in Singapore are notorious for flashing “final call” about an hour before departure, but I only headed to the gate around 30 minutes before departure, and boarding was just about to start.

I was greeted by a leading stewardess again, and escorted to my seat 1A. A noise-canceling headset, menu and newspaper were offered, and my glass of Dom arrived shortly. This flight would be operated by SQ’s first Boeing 777, namely 9V-SQA. This aircraft was painted in the 50th anniversary colors a while back. My Dom glass was constantly refilled, and we pushed back on time for the short hop to Manila.

Terminal 2 was full of SQ planes as usual, and we taxied to runway 02L for takeoff. Trailing us was a Valuair A320. Takeoff was the usual powerful triple seven one, but the seatbelt sign stayed on for a while due to turbulent weather along our departure path. This was not a good thing after numerous glasses of fine champagne…

Service started with the customary warm nuts and a glass of Dom for me – crew was young and attentive on this flight. My glasses were never empty and they offered more warm nuts as well. I was asked when I want to eat my dinner – didn’t really matter to me with that fine champagne flowing, so they served they guy sitting in 2A first which was fine for me. Service was extremely attentive with three flight attendants serving the two of us. Here’s the menu for this flight:

Singapore to Manila

Dinner


Appetisers

Duckliver terrine with port wine
Aspic and mesclun salad
Balsamic dressing

Main Courses

Corn-fed chicken with polenta cake,
Shimeji mushrooms and nouilly prat jus

Wok seared beef steak in five
Spices sauce with seasonal
Vegetables and egg noodles

Pan-roasted seafood with chive
Sauce, vegetable medley and
Buttered fettuccine pasta with
Tomatoes

Fresh Fruit

A selection of fresh fruit

Dessert

Warm apricot frangipane tart with
Apricot ice cream

From the Bakery

Oven fresh rolls
With a choice of extra virgin olive oil or
Butter

Garlic Bread

Hot Beverages

Freshly brewed coffee
Espresso or cappuccino
Selection of tea

It was another excellent SQ First dinner – but obviously a scaled down version for intra-Asian flights. I had ordered the roast rack of lamb for this flight, and it was superb but not as great as the lobster in my opinion. The two bottles of Dom loaded for this flight were gone as we were about to start our descent into Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The Malaysian guy behind me must have done a good job finishing the red wine as well. The atmosphere onboard was great and much more relaxed than on the full FRA-SIN sector.

We landed at NAIA on time, and taxied to the old dump. Thankfully the new NAIA 3 will be opening soon. I thanked the crew, was first to deplane and headed to the empty passport control hall. My bag came after a few Raffles class bags – I pointed out this to the GlobeGround guys who said “it happens”. I guess the Manila baggage handlers couldn’t care less.

I then gave a call to my girlfriend who has moved to Manila – a stupid taxi driver had dumped her to the parking lot claiming one can’t go to departures. Most Manila taxi drivers are useless asshole scam artists, and they piss me off to no end. After my call, a guy armed with a knife demanded my girlfriend’s cellphone as she was walking towards the terminal… At Manila International Airport, no less. And that was an old Nokia worth maybe $50. Thankfully she found the departures entrance, and we met there a few minutes later.

Went to file a report in the so-called police station – a guy in jeans and white t-shirt asked why she didn’t shout or tell the guy to get lost. Sure, a small girl alone in a dark parking lot being threatened with a knife. Pathetic. Meanwhile some f*cker from this number has tried to call me twice.



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineUdo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 11878 times:

Hi Lari,

thanks for another interesting report. Too bad what happened to your girlfriend, MNL doesn't seem to be a safe address - sounds more like Lagos. But you can be glad nothing even worse happened.
How's security organized at and around the airport? I had expected it's much more strict in these areas due to the permanent Islamic terrorist threat in the Philippines.


Regards
Udo


User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 5, posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 11859 times:

Quoting Udo (Reply 4):
How's security organized at and around the airport? I had expected it's much more strict in these areas due to the permanent Islamic terrorist threat in the Philippines.

There are checkpoints for vehicles arriving at departures and arrivals at least - no idea if this applies to the parking area. But anybody can get in on the jeepneys anyway. Arrivals area is closed for meeters/greeters, and you can't enter the departure hall without a security check. But you can freely walk outside the departures hall, that's why I told her to go wait for me there. The so-called police station and the officers were a joke.

For departing passengers, there is a security check upon entry, another checkpoint before the concourses, a patdown search and random baggage checks at the gate. But it doesn't feel very effective at all in my opinion. Hopefully things will be better arranged when the new terminal opens.

I haven't had problems in Manila personally even when walking outside at night in Malate or Pasay, but I always leave credit cards and such in my room, and never flash anything including phone in public. But you're right, it's not that safe and I recommen Cebu, Bohol or other destinations in Manila especially for first-time visitors.

Regards,

Lari



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineIslipWN From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 11722 times:

Great trip reports Lari! Great pictures as well! I love SQ first class! Its awesome!

Sorry to hear about you girlfirend and her cell phone. Now I know what Asian airport I won't be visiting! Sounds like there are some real a$$ holes at MNL.


Joe


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6596 posts, RR: 55
Reply 7, posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 11677 times:

Great report as always and even better with your link to your pictures.

I haven't felt unsafe in Malate or Pasay either but it's been about ten years since I was last there. Those taxi drivers are out to scam you, I remember that.

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 8, posted (9 years 5 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 11564 times:

Part 3 - Manila-Cebu
No Pictures

08 March 2005
Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL/RPLL) – Mactan Cebu Interational (CEB/RPMC)
Philippine Airlines PR 849
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZN
1500-1615 (1540-1650)
Fiesta Class (Economy), Seat 42F


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Photo © Sam Chui
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Photo © Alexander Watts



I booked this flight on the internet – not a very easy process to say the least. First time, PAL declined my credit card, second booking went through. However, as I was not traveling alone, I would have to collect the e-ticket receipts, required for entry to the terminal, at the PAL ticket office. And the point of e-tickets in this case is?

The abovementioned PAL office was a madhouse as usual, I got in after a security check only to be told that the reservation system is down. It was down last time I was in this place as well… After a 40-minute wait, I had two e-ticket receipts in hand – something that they could have emailed me a few days ago. The queue for the entrance security check was long and we had only about 10 minutes before check-in would close. The terminal was a madhouse inside as well – too many people in a too small area.

There was one desk for business class, Mabuhay Miles Premier Elites and Elites which I find totally ridiculous. After a 15-minute wait, a rude agent checked us in and when I asked for the two seats on the side, the reply was “full flight, you have middle seats”, and tossed the two boarding passes on the table. For example Qantas always pre-assigns its elites according to preferences to the best seats the night before domestic flights. No such luck here.

Security check was quick, and we headed to the Mabuhay Lounge only to be denied access. I know Elites can not bring a guest, but at least Lufthansa and Finnair usually waive the guest restrictions for spouse and family members. For example, my Senator card says one guest but apparently they let families in despite that. Well, off to the café to eat two very overpriced cheeseburgers – 350 pesos total.

Boarding started very late without any explanations, and we were pushed back 40 minutes delayed. The middle seats were somewhat tolerable as I was not traveling alone, and the PAL Y seats have good legroom and are pretty decent otherwise as well. The flight was very uneventful, juice, water, coffee or tea and a piece of cake were served, not too bad. We landed late at Cebu, and bags took quite a while to appear on the belt.

Very poor experience on Philippine Airlines – I have found them to be fine if everything goes well, but if there are delays and full flights, they are simply clueless.



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 9, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 11464 times:

Part 4 - Cebu-Manila
Pictures can be found at http://lari.pp.fi/superferry/index.html

We stayed mostly at the Marriott as usual, and it was pleasant enough, yet nothing luxury. There have been some improvements in the lounge offerings and also check-in was done in our room thanks to my top-tier Marriott Rewards status. Unfortunately, no upgrade this time either – I find that rather ridiculous. Also, a few calls needed again to get the Platinum amenity delivered. That kind of things just shouldn’t happen and never do at JW Marriott Bangkok for example. A nice place we visited this time was top hills – fantastic views of the city from the mountains. The taxi fare was a total rip-off though – 400pesos one way. I find it interesting that Filipino taxi drivers won’t budge even with a local person on board – in Bangkok they hardly ever try to cheat you in that case.

20 March 2005
Cebu CIP – Manila South Harbor (Routing Davao-General Santos-Cebu-Manila)
WG&A Shipping Philippines
M/V SuperFerry 15
1345-1200+1 – On Time
Suite 1


Since there were no specials for the flights on any airline, we decided to take the ferry back to Manila. I booked online as there were no promotions – another joke of an online booking. E-tickets were issued, yet paper tickets had to be picked up at the terminal. The fare posted there was also much cheaper – the Philippines has not caught up with online booking yet I suppose. Avoid booking online, it’s in many cases more expensive and you will also have to pick up tickets or receipts.

Upon entering the terminal, bomb-sniffing dogs checked our bags. There was no check-in required – tickets were simply checked at the door. The passport/ID requirement turned out to be a joke. We were then directed to an outside waiting area and given priority numbers for the bus transfer. They were currently boarding number 6, and we had 15. There were some seats available; otherwise the waiting area was somewhat dumpy. Everybody seemed to have tons of baggage – in bags, boxes etc.

Once our number was called, an ancient bus took us through the piles of rusty containers to a shiny white ship – it looked very much out of place there. There was a pat-down search upon entry, and a crew member rushed to help us with our bags. There was an escalator taking us up to the lobby, where another crew member asked us to take a seat when they checked us in. He then escorted us to the suite. I wouldn’t call it a suite, but a luxury cabin instead. There were two beds, a TV with countless programs (including Star Sports for the F1 race that day), a leather sofa, a writing desk and a closet. The suite also featured a private bathroom with a bathtub.

We booked the meals inclusive ticket – a mistake. The dinner and breakfast were served in the first class dining room – both were chicken and rice, not very tasty or anything special. I would rather buy the ticket only next time, and buy the meals I need on board. The scenery along the route was fantastic with small islands nearby all the time; sunset was especially beautiful. Later, we had some beers in the bar on the promenade deck (outside), and headed to the small disco later. Drinks were dirt cheap, the atmosphere was good, but unfortunately there were hardly any people.

The vessel had previously sailed with City Line in Japan, either as M/V Ferry Kyoto or Ferry Fukuoka – those two were acquired by WG&A and became SuperFerry 15 and 16 respectively. Safety equipment onboard and the overall condition of the ship had been inspected and accepted in Singapore, and according to the local media, random alcohol and drug testing had been conducted onboard SuperFerry 15 recently.

In the morning, we enjoyed some more sights from the promenade deck, and arrived in Manila early. There was a wait for the pilot to take us to the harbor, so that meant an on-time arrival. The skyline looks quite nice from the sea; I also enjoyed spotting a few planes, including a Cathay 747, on approach to Ninoy Aquino International Airport. We docked at pier 15, next to SuperFerry 18, and disembarked. The show for a metered taxi is a total joke here – we found one by walking about 15 minutes away from the harbor.

It was a very enjoyable trip, the ship was in excellent condition, and the crew was pleasant and friendly – highly recommended. The suite costs around 4200+ pesos on this route while a bed in super value starts at 1000 pesos.

I couldn’t resist this piece of advice from a certain travel advisory – let’s not name the country here, but it’s totally ridiculous. I’d happily travel with the SuperFerry, Sulpicio Lines or Negros Navigation without worries just to mention a few major companies. Yet the advice gives the impression that all sea transportation is dangerous.

Quote:
Sea travel in the Philippines is hazardous. Ferries are often overloaded, lack necessary life-saving equipment and are not adequately maintained. Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of the Philippines.

Manila Hotels

We stayed at a few hotels during this trip – Traders, Intercontinental and Hyatt Hotel & Casino.

Traders Hotel by Shangri-La, Pasay City

Stayed here the first night – I wasn’t expecting much as it was similarly priced as the dumpy old Hyatt Regency. Was very pleasantly surprised though – as a Golden Circle member, we were upgraded to a deluxe room, complete with a personal welcome note and a fruit basket. The room was nicely decorated with a king bed, sitting area and a rather small bathroom. Nice view of Roxas Boulevard and Manila Bay. Total bargain at $54 including taxes. This also earned me 5500 Asia Miles as it was my 5th hotel booking through Zuji.

Intercontinental Manila, Makati City

I tried for the Renaissance via Priceline despite wowing never to stay there again, but got this one instead. It’s a nice enough 5-Star hotel, and the location next to Ayala Center is very convenient. I wrote a longer report about it previously, can be found in my previous First Class report.

Hyatt Hotel & Casino Manila, Malate

The best hotel in Manila I’d say. We got a high floor room – it was perfect including the view. The rooms are furnished with great modern style, the bathrooms are amazing with rainfall showers and everything you’d expect. The current Hyatt.com rate is a bargain at $81. Highly recommended. Robinson’s Place mall is within walking distance and there are also tons of bars in the Malate district. Also very convenient loaction for the SuperFerry terminal.



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineMrniji From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 11315 times:

And, as usual, again an amazing report of Lufthansa747 ! Well done!  Wink

User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 11, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 11178 times:

Part 5 - Manila-Bangkok
Pictures can be found at http://lari.pp.fi/lh745/index.html

23 March 2005
Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL/RPLL) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Lufthansa LH 745
Boeing 747-430
D-ABVN “Dortmund”
2035-2240 – On Time
First Class, Seat 83A


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Time to leave the Philippines… Quite a coincidence that I had picked 23rd of March for this flight – 24th would be the last day to apply for Bangkok University masters programs. We said our goodbyes at the airport, and I almost forgot my camera in my girlfriend’s purse. Luckily the airport wasn’t too busy, meaning there was no queue for the entrance security checks.

The Lufthansa check-in area was a total zoo – the economy class line must have had at least 100 passengers. Everybody with a huge pile of luggage. Fortunately, there was only one guy in front of me at the First Class desk, and I was quickly checked in and given the best seat in house – 83A. This would be one of the last Lufthansa flight out of Manila with First Class service – from the summer timetable onwards, Manila operates via Guangzhou with a two-class A340-600.

Passport control took a while as usual, and I then headed to the Northwest WorldClub. Lufthansa uses this lounge for Business, First and Star Golds – it’s decent but nothing to write home about. The selections today included sandwiches and other snacks as well as a limited selection of drinks, including Baileys and Johnnie Walker Black Label. No luxuries such as internet or showers are available, but otherwise the lounge is not bad.

I wasn’t chosen for a bag check at the gate, and was the first to board. I was directed to the upper deck as usual, and a flight attendant took care of my roller bag as it doesn’t fit in the small overhead lockers found on the upper deck. I was immediately offered a drink, and a hot towel arrived later, nicely presented on a plate. Champagne was refilled a few times. I was the only passenger with an assigned seat for a long time, but the doors were closed with 8 passengers seated on the upper deck. The load was excellent in other cabins as well – C 48/61 and Y 300/310 if I remember correctly.

We were pushed back on time and took off into the dark Manila sky without delay. The crew jumpseat is in front of 83A/C, so I had a nice chat about Lufthansa with the flight attendant on takeoff. Drinks were served and tables were set up shortly after takeoff – I was glad to see the revamped drink list. Lufthansa now serves Johnnie Walker Blue Label and other fine spirits in its First Class. About time. I ordered a Blue Label on the rocks, and the very friendly flight attendant brought me a full glass. After a few minutes she would come to refill it…

The table setup is nice with the stylish metal salt and pepper shakers etc, but the meal service is not that impressive on this sector as catering is done at Bangkok for the return sector as well. I had some delicious garlic bread, a salmon appetizer, prawns with noodles as the main course and a fruit plate and pralines for dessert. My glasses of champagne, Blue and water were constantly topped up by the very attentive and friendly crew. A nice cup of cappuccino rounded of this meal. No menu was provided, but the crew decided to hand out the wine lists on this flight.

After the meal, I just relaxed in the comfortable seat and the lady serving me persuaded me to have some more Blue Label and champagne… Why not! I asked if she could by any chance find one of those shirts for me – she promised to do her best. These nice sweat shirts are obviously handed out only on the longhauls, but she soon came back with one. “There you go, just put it in your bag so I don’t need to hand out them to everybody!” Sure, no problem. Now I have three different shirts – this latest one is very nice.

All too soon we started our descent into Don Muang, and landed on time on 21L I believe. Had a nice chat with the flight attendant during landing as well. We docked at pier 4, and it was quite a hike to immigration as usual. Great flight in Lufthansa First Class – they definitely have a world class product especially with the new ground facilities at Frankfurt Main.

My bag came out quickly enough although they didn’t have the HON priority tags at Manila. I took a taxi from the departures level as usual – you get better drivers, newer cars and avoid the 50Baht surcharge this way. Somehow the official downstairs taxi stand tends to attract the most beaten up cars and scam artists in my opinion. My driver was a nice guy from Khon Kaen, drove like mad and seemed to genuinely surprised and happy about the 20Baht tip I gave him. A world of difference from the Manila taxi drivers.

I dropped in my application for Bangkok University the next morning – only to be told to come to the written examination two days later. Luckily I had nothing planned for that day so it was fine. I then spent some days in Pattaya with some Finnish friends before going back to Bangkok for one night and onwards to Phuket.



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User currently offlineKaran69 From India, joined Oct 2004, 2892 posts, RR: 18
Reply 12, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 11105 times:

Way to go mate,brilliant report

User currently offlineScandinavian From Sweden, joined Sep 2000, 267 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 11081 times:

Hi Lari, great report as always!

The ferry from Cebu to Manila seems to be nice, some incredible scenery!

Blue Label is not a bad whisky, I just wonder what kind of beer LH serves in First Class?

Regards



"He was a wise man who invented beer"-Platon
User currently offline9V-SPF From Germany, joined Sep 2001, 1375 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 10986 times:

Thanks for posting another wonderful report. For people like me who haven´t had the opprtunity to fly First Class yet, it´s particularly interesting to read about how different things are going just a few rows further in the front of the airplane...impressive.
May I ask you if you have already included your experiences with LH´s First Class terminal in one of your reports? I would be interested in how that oasis in the middle of LH´s service desert looks like.

Daniel


User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 15, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 10996 times:

Thanks for the comments!

Quoting Scandinavian (Reply 13):
I just wonder what kind of beer LH serves in First Class?

LH: Warsteiner, Becks, Clausthaler alcohol free
SQ: "International selection" no idea what they had
TG: Beer Chang, Singha, Heineken, Asahi/Sapporo for Japan flights

Daniel,

I haven't used the LH terminal myself. But it should be amazing - it has its own security check, duty free (they'll go buy the stuff from main terminal if they don't have it there), personal assistant takes care of passport control, gourmet food selections, 60 different whiskies, luxury bathrooms/showers, cigar bar, personal transfer to the aircraft by a Mercedes Benz or Porsche etc etc.

Next reports will probably be posted after the weekend unless I can get some finished right now. Missing reports:

31MAR BKK-HKT TG 221 744 F HS-TGT
05APR HKT-SIN TR 153 320 Y 9V-TAA
05APR SIN-BKK 3K 513 320 Y 9V-JSA
10APR BKK-HKT TG 921 345 W HS-TLA
11APR HKT-BKK OX 266 742 C HS-UTI
21APR BKK-FRA TG 920 744 F HS-TGF
22APR FRA-HEL LH 3100 320 C D-AIPL

Regards,

Lari



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User currently offlineFbgdavidson From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 3713 posts, RR: 28
Reply 16, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 10978 times:

Lufthansa747, very nice report and lots of great pictures. I really like service orientated reports and so really like your style of writing, SQ F does look like one of the best in the sky and was disappointed when I had to cancel my SQ F trip from FRA-JFK  Sad Good to see what I missed out on! That menu looks mouthwateringly good although surprised they only loaded two bottles of Dom Perignon...besides, I prefer Krug  Wink


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User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 10969 times:

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 16):
SQ F does look like one of the best in the sky and was disappointed when I had to cancel my SQ F trip from FRA-JFK

Indeed - SQ is the clear winner based on my experiences on (only) LH/SQ/TG First. Seems to be only 180K LH miles from Southeast Asia to North America in F, so I'll probably try to do BKK-SIN-stop somewhere-LAX/SFO on SQ with my remaining miles.

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 16):
That menu looks mouthwateringly good although surprised they only loaded two bottles of Dom Perignon...besides, I prefer Krug

I guess I prefer Krug as well. But decided to have Dom on the flights as Krug is flowing freely in the SIN F lounge.



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User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 18, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 10988 times:

Part 6 - Bangkok-Phuket-Singapore-Bangkok
Pictures can be found at http://lari.pp.fi/bkkhktsinbkk/index.html

31 March 2005
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Phuket International (HKT/VTSP)
Thai Airways International TG 221
Boeing 747-4D7
HS-TGT “Watthanothai”
1820-1940 – On Time
Royal First Class, Seat 4A


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I booked an el cheapo V-class ticket for this sector on the Thai Airways website as usual. 2005 Baht is pretty decent for a TG 747 compared to about 1500 Baht for Nok or Air Asia. This time I didn’t fancy the early Orient Thai departure as I wasn’t sure if it would be a 747 or a cattle truck 757. Since this was a 747 service, I couldn’t resist asking how much an upgrade would cost – after some thinking, the agent came to a conclusion that it would be 1200 Baht extra. After confirming a First Class seat, I headed to the ticket counter to pay this fee.

The ticketing agent was very unfriendly to say the least, didn’t say a word, and just tossed the documents on the counter. After handing the voucher to the same check-in agent, I got my boarding pass for 4A and was good to go to the lounge. The First Class seat ended up costing 500 Baht less than full fare C, not a bad deal. The lounge was its usual self with some improvements, more about them in the A340-500 report later.

I headed to the gate quite early – unfortunately it was HS-TGT waiting there. I seem to get this aircraft all the time. Spotted the new PB Air (9Q) B767-300 for the first time; a nice looking aircraft, Boarding started on time, and the flight was very empty. I was escorted to my seat in the nose, and drinks, a cold towel and newspapers were offered shortly. The seat next to me remained empty – always nice.

Pushback was on time, and we taxied to 21R for takeoff. I spotted the Thai Sky Airlines (9I) L1011 TriStar for the first time near the maintenance hangars. Nice looking bird –I definitely need to get a ride on that one. “Watthanothai” took off like a rocket for the short hop down to Phuket, and service started shortly after takeoff. A hot meal was served – prawns in chili paste and steamed rice. It was nice but somewhat spicy.

As I had finished the meal, a flight attendant appeared with another tray – “Sir would you like some more? I know you like the dessert, just have one more!” Again, I got the special treatment on Thai. I don’t know what it is, it happens regularly for me on this airline. They probably just read the manifests carefully and spot Star Golds. Needless to say, service was very good on this flight.

As we were approaching Surat Thani, there were heavy thunderstorms ahead – a fantastic view to see the lightning on both sides from the nose of the Jumbo. We did the scenic approach, and landed on runway 27 roughly on time. It was a rather rough landing as well. Phuket Airport was very quiet and the driver from C&N Hotel was waiting outside. There was also an Australian guy in the van.

The driver was from Khao Lak, had lost his house but everybody in his family was ok. This Aussie guy probably thought I was a creature from the moon or something when I tipped the driver a very small amount for the free transfer. Later he made an ass of himself at check in – the lady asked for his address as usual. The guy’s reply was “Why the fuck do you need my address, it doesn’t matter to you and I won’t give it”. I would have told him to get lost at this point but obviously the Thais are too polite to do so. Apparently he had given up as I saw him dragging his bags to his room when I was leaving 10 minutes later.

Patong was dead. No way around that. There were hardly any tourists especially as there had been the second tsunami warning, the hotel was empty and bars opened after 9pm if at all. Quite a difference from my last visit. Some buildings along the beach road were still damaged, otherwise it seemed to have recovered pretty well.

05 April 2005
Phuket International (HKT/VTSP) – Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS)
Tiger Airways TR 153
Airbus Industrie A320-232
9V-TAA
0900-1155 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 14A (Exit Row)


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Photo © Sam Chui



Since JetStar Asia was handing out free tickets on their new Singapore-Bangkok route, I decided to fly back to Bangkok the long way – via Singapore. Total cost of these two flights was about 1600 Baht plus the 500 Baht international departure tax, so about 42 Euros. I took a hotel car to the airport, and arrived around 7.30 am – a little too early. Tiger Airways is handled by TAGS, and the friendly agent made no fuss about my 3kgs too heavy bag. At least at Phuket, TR uses somewhat decent looking paper boarding passes instead of the re-usable trash some low cost airlines use.

Immigration was a breeze, and I was soon in the rather empty international departures hall. Phuket Airport was rather quiet with just a Thai A300 departing for Bangkok. 9V-TAA landed early from Singapore, and taxied to the gate in front of me. At this point I realized I had forgotten to charge the batteries of my camera, so I decided to buy some at the souvenir store. Batteries that cost 42 Baht at 7-Eleven cost 90 Baht there. Oh well.

Boarding started on time, and families with small children were invited to board first. Luckily I managed to board right after them, so I could still secure an exit row window seat. After boarding was completed, I realized I had the row of three seats all for myself. The flight was rather empty, perhaps around 50 passengers on board. No wonder Thai decided to stop its A300 services between Phuket and Singapore.

The seats were ok, but legroom in normal rows seemed to be minimal. The overhead lockers had some Visa advertisements on them – not too many so it wasn’t quite the Ryanair feeling. Flight attendants weren’t particularly friendly, but nothing to complain about either. We were pushed back on time, and took off from runway 09 for the short hop to Changi airport after an LTU A330 landed.

The flight was very uneventful like all low cost flights in my opinion – crew tried to sell snacks without much success and that was it. I slept for the rest of the flight, and woke up as we were on approach to Singapore Changi. We landed roughly on time, and taxied to the C gates for disembarkation. Passport control at Changi was very quick as usual, and bags came out without a wait as well.

05 April 2005
Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Jetstar Asia Airways 3K 513
Airbus Industrie A320-232
9V-JSA
1800-1920 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 14F (Exit Row)


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I had planned to go to the city, but as I felt very tired after a night of partying in Phuket, I decided to just stay at the airport. Had a quick bite at the Burger King – luckily they accepted credit cards. I then headed to the viewing area and spent most of the time there. All seats had the annoying armrests, so sleeping was impossible. Changi terminal 1 was not too busy at this time – mostly these new low cost airlines, plenty of Garuda 737s and some Cathay jets, including an incredibly dirty A340.

Check-in for 3K 513 opened at 3:30pm I believe – interesting to note that Jetstar uses their own laptops and printers at check in and at the departure gate as well. My slightly overweight bag was no problem here either, and I got the exit row seat that I asked for. They use the supermarket style receipts as boarding passes. This same paper is also used for passenger manifests etc. Baggage tag was a plain white tag with a Jetstar logo – the agent simply wrote 3K 513 BKK on it with a marker.

I wandered around the departures area a bit after clearing departure immigration – geez how I missed lounge access at this point. I then decided to buy an hour of wireless access for my laptop – it was very fast and only cost about 4 EUR. Boarding started late, and the boarding lounge was practically empty. My estimate is that there were about 20-30 passengers on board.

The flight attendants were friendlier than on Tiger, and the cabin layout was the same – 180 seats I believe. However, the exit row was comfortable again. Instead of overhead bins, Jetstar has advertisements on the traytables. It was raining heavily outside, and a Garuda 737 was parked next to us. I also spotted a RAF VC-10 – wonder what it was doing in Singapore. Takeoff was on time, and the Australian captain estimated an on time arrival at Don Muang.

I was very hungry at this point, so decided to try some of the food they had on the menu. All of a sudden the flight attendant said they only take credit cards for SGD 20 or more – so I had to order a pile of stuff. I took the panini and the hot meal (Nasi lemak I believe), as well as a can of Seven Up and Tiger beer. The prices are cheap if you are used to Ryanair-like rip-offs. The hot meal was revolting, and the panini totally tasteless. Poor value for money.

The rest of the flight was very uneventful, and we landed on Don Muang’s 21R on time. Thai’s HS-TGJ was just being pushed back from the hangar with the new colours and interior – sad to see the Royal Barge livery go, but “Hariphunchai” looked good in the new livery as well. I forgot where we parked, but it wasn’t too far from immigration as far as I can remember. Passport control was quick, and my bag also came out surprisingly quickly again.

I wouldn’t hesitate to fly on these two carriers again at these bargain prices – they are in a different league compared to the European low cost airline I have tried – Ryanair.



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User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 19, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 10953 times:

Part 7 - Bangkok-Phuket, First Flight of Thai A340-541
Pictures can be found at http://lari.pp.fi/tg345/index.html
The report was posted separately earlier, but without pictures.

10 April 2005
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) - Phuket International (HKT/VTSP)
Thai Airways International TG 921
Airbus Industrie A340-541
HS-TLA "Chiang Kham"
0800-0920 (0820-0935)
Premium Economy, Seat 34A


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I had to wake up at 6am - wondering why on the earth I had consumed too many bottles of Beer Chang the night before again. A quick ride to Don Muang from Sukhumvit Soi 11, and I was again in the hustle and bustle of the domestic terminal. Fearing the worst, i.e. A300-600, I was one happy camper when the check-in agent confirmed that the flight will indeed be operated by the new Airbus. However, I was informed that they have some problems with the new Royal Silk Class seats and they'd need to downgrade me if I want to get on this flight. Another option was escorting me to the B737 leaving in 2 minutes as it had business class. Not a very tough choice really! With a boarding pass in hand and bag priority tagged to HKT, I headed to the lounge where somebody would contact me about the downgrading compensation.

The domestic lounge has new tableware - the kind used on the new international lounges as well. Drinks are also self service nowadays, and a new buffet area has been set up in the corner opposite the old drink ordering desk. The lounge was quite empty this morning, and soon some guru in a suit approached me and handed me 1000 Baht with approximately 10 sets of apologies for the downgrade. 1000 baht is the difference between Y and C on domestic routes nowadays. I downed a hot dog and a coke for breakfast, and headed out to the departures area. TG 921 would be using gate 8 with OX 267 to HKT leaving from gate 9.

Orient Thai started boarding first although they depart later. They seem to have acquired another "new" bus from SATS - you can still see where the SATS logos were. The other huge one (OX-35) had had a window smashed, it had been conveniently repaired with a few Orient Thai Airlines stickers. OX never ceases to amaze me. No information was given why our flight was late, although there were six TG employees behind the podium looking bored. Finally, around 7:50, the doors were opened and soon I was riding on a bus to the new beauty. It was parked almost as far from the domestic terminal as possible - near the maintenance hangars.

I snapped a few pictures and boarded via the second door. The aircraft interior is very nicely done. I don't particularly like the yellow economy class seats, but especially Royal Silk class and the Thai artwork on the bulkheads looked very classy. Royal Silk consists of two large cabins, and takes up a lot of space. Premium Economy follows with only the rearmost cabin left for regular cattle class. It's hardly cattle class with 36" seat pitch though. I was seated in the premium section - not a bad deal to get the fare difference back and still a much better seat than business class on 734/AB6/743/7441/M11. Pitch is 42", and there is a proper legrest, adjustable headrest and a huge PTV. The same PTVs are also installed on the regular economy class seats. This was my first time on any Airbus widebody with the newer style interior - much nicer than the older one.

We sat at the parking position for quite a while for some reason, and meanwhile guys from the maintenance hangars came to see our pushback. The A340 was surrounded by a bunch of TG Jumbos, and the Thai Sky TriStar was also parked nearby. According to Amadeus, we were pushed back at 8.23am and took off ten minutes later from runway 21R. The A340-500 feels very powerful, yet quiet on takeoff. As we were probably super light for this plane type, climb was very steep and soon we were passing the cloud layers over the Thai capital. Royal Silk Class was not used at all as I said above, premium economy had meybe 30% load and the regular economy class cabin was packed. I assume all of us that were downgraded were seated in the premium economy cabin. After takeoff, the Inflight manager gave a long speech about the flight and how this is the first A340-500 flight of Thai. Captain also gave unusually much information. But it seemed the mostly European tourists aboard this flight didn't care at all... (TG 921 originates at Frankfurt/Main)

Service consisted of the larger version of the snack box - another hot dog similar to those in the lounge, some vegetables and two slices of fruit. Water, orange juice, coffee and tea were offered a few times during the service. After the boxes were collected, I had a look at the other cabins and took photos. The abovementioned inflight manager offered to take one of me as well in the empty forward Royal Silk cabin - nice touch. Meanwhile a mechanic was trying to solve the issues they had with the new seats. After returning to my seat, I played around a bit with the new AVOD system - the PTV is very large to start with. The system has AVOD music, movies and TV as well as games and other stuff. The Skymap is interactive in the sense that you can choose what kind of view you want and it's also possible to zoom in/out. There is also a nose camera.

Approach to Phuket was the scenic one this time (runway 27), but it was pretty cloudy and I was sitting over the wing, so not much of a view. The A340 touched down very gently on runway 27 at 9:28am - smooth as silk. We had to wait for a Lauda 767 to be towed to its gate before parking at gate 3 seven minutes after touchdown. Great flight on a very nice aircraft - seems like Thai is finally getting it when it comes to premium seating for example. However, I'm appalled to see the newly configured jumbo retains the ancient Recaro seats with no winged headrest or PTV in economy class. Looks like they just changed the seat covers.

My bag arrived quickly thanks to the priority tag, and I went upstairs to but the return ticket before taking a metered taxi to Patong. Inquired at the Orient Thai counter whether tomorrow's flight is a 747 or not (the website is confusing to say the least). "Sir, this is Orient Thai Airline, fly 747". I was shocked to see they have implemented a reservation system in place of the old manual Microsoft Excel ticketing... OX 266 will be the next report.



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User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 20, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 10977 times:

Part 8 - Phuket-Bangkok on Orient Thai
Pictures will be available with the last part - BKK-FRA-HEL

12 April 2005
Phuket International (HKT/VTSP) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Orient Thai Airlines OX 266
Boeing 747-246B
HS-UTI
2015-2135 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 15A (Upper Deck)


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The meter taxi guy had promised to pick me up at 6pm. I changed a 1000 Baht note to smaller ones at the C&N Hotel front desk – the lady let me know it was not her job and that she was seriously pissed off. Next, the bellboy laughed at the 40Baht tip I gave him – I usually give 20 if anything at all. Ridiculous, especially as tourism in Phuket is anything but booming at the moment.

Taxi arrived, and drove via the coastal road to the airport. Another scam artist – he insisted on the 100Baht surcharge that is applicable FROM the airport only. Thai and Nok had a few flights cancelled, and the Orient Thai desks were very busy. I got to the counter after about a ten-minute wait. and was served by a very friendly OX agent. I then handed her 600 Baht and asked for a seat on the upper deck – no problem. Even the MCO is correct this time – “UPG C CL” is what it says. I got 15A on an old friend, HS-UTI.

Apparently the reservation system doesn’t work or is a joke – my boarding pass has my name spelled differently, and the PNR field is empty. Whatever. I forgot the number of the boarding gate, but I remember it had a huge sign for Bangkok Air’s Samui flight right next to it. I would have rolled it right down the escalator had I worked for Orient Thai. Phuket Air and Air Asia had of course pushed their signs away from a gate they were not using.

The flight was rather full – at least 300 passenger on board. Everybody seemed to be in a hurry to board, so I let them queue first. Nonsense with assigned seats. A Thai Airways bus took us the 100 metres from the door to HS-UTI – could have walked just as well. The APU was not working, so a ground air conditioning unit was present as well. Luckily Orient Thai didn’t require one to identify bags like Thai does in the southern airports nowadays.

I was greeted by nice Orient Thai ladies as usual, and directed towards the spiral staircase, leading to the small upper deck of the classic from 1975. Another flight attendant greeted me there, and I took my comfortable seat. 15A looked very worn while the rest of the cabin was in excellent shape – I guess they assign that seat first and OX flights rarely have many passengers in business class. A cup of Fanta and a magazine arrived shortly.

HS-UTI had spent all day at Phuket Airport as the Hong Kong flights had been cancelled, so it was very hot inside for a while. Boarding was completed early, and we were pushed back a few minutes before scheduled departure as well. A revamped safety video was shown on the old TV, and the flight attendant turned off all lights after that for takeoff. Quite a surreal feeling being the only passenger on the upper deck, and in total darkness.

Soon, the whine of the old Pratts filled the upper deck, and we took off from runway 09. Even the old 747 took off in quite a steep angle for the short hop to Bangkok. Service was the usual – I got two rounds of drinks and Orient Thai brand peanuts. HS-UTI now has a new cockpit door in place, so it will be used for the European services in the future I suppose. Our Filipino captain gave some route information, and estimated an on-time arrival at Don Muang.

I went to take a few pictures downstairs – the forward bulkhead with the rising sun looks very unique. I guess all old Japan Airlines jumbos have had that at some point. Again, great views of thunderstorms on this flight. Soon, we started our approach to Bangkok, lights were turned off, and I had a nice chat with the upper deck flight attendant about Orient Thai. She insisted that MD80s and a B747-400 would be joining soon. I believe it when I see an ex-SQ 747-400 in Orient Thai colours.

The pilots made a very smooth landing on runway 21L, and we then taxied to a remote stand next to a company 747 – HS-UTK. The flight attendant I chatted with confirmed that the bird still has KLM World Business Class on the upper deck. Definitely need to get a ride up there in the future.

Bags came out quickly, and that concluded another great flight with Orient Thai Airlines. The taxi show was ridiculous at the domestic terminal – no taxis came to the stand before police ordered them to do so. Before this, they were quoting ridiculous fares like 500 Baht to the city. There were no taxis at the departure level as there were no departures left that evening. Hopefully the taxi situation will be better arranged at Suvarnabhumi.



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User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 10848 times:

Hi Lari,

Yet another fantastic report about another fantastic Asia trip, I enjoyed reading and watching very much, the report of the ferry trip was a nice addition to the flight reports.

Too bad what happened to your girlfriend in MNL but the main thing is that she didn't get hurt by the thief.

The description of the LH lounges in FRA sounds horrible, no wonder they opened the new First Class Terminal, I can imagine that many people complained about the old lounges in the past. I can simply not understand that not all Star Alliance First Class passengers are allowed to use the new terminal, sharing flights and lounges is what an alliance is all about. I bet that Lufthansa had already cried a river when another Star Allince partner had done the same.

I am looking forward to the continuation of the report!

Patrick


User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 22, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 10608 times:

Final Part - Bangkok-Frankfurt-Helsinki
Pictures (Including Orient Thai) can be found at http://lari.pp.fi/bkkhel/index.html

21 April 2005
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Frankfurt Main (FRA/EDDF)
Thai Airways International TG 920
Boeing 747-4D7
HS-TGF “Sri Ubon”
2345-0600 (2350-0620)
Royal First Class, Seat 1A


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Photo © Colin Hunter
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Photo © Jay Piboontum



I had a good time in Bangkok for the rest of my holiday – my first time in Thailand for Songkran etc. Luckily it was more or less only three days in the capital; apparently the celebrations take much longer in some places. On April 20th, I got the good news from Bangkok University, so I had to arrange all the registration papers the next two days – quite a busy end to my last holiday in Thailand for the time being.

Thai Airways confirmed the limousine transfer and lobster meal on the 20th as well, so I was all set to go on the 21st. I went back to my hotel around 8.40pm – the bellboy informed me that my transfer was waiting already. A brand new Mercedes Benz limo pulled up with “Royal Transfer” stickers, and we left at 8.41pm. 34 minutes later I was in the Royal First Class Lounge shower. That’s pretty hard to beat considering the distance, passport control etc.

We arrived at the First Class reception desk after about 20 minutes, and a guy rushed to take care of my bags and escorted me to the check-in desks. They had a problem with the computers, so check-in took around 5 minutes. I got my pre-assigned seats all the way to Helsinki, and another passenger service agent came to escort me to the lounge. He took my passport, boarding pass and 500 Baht, cleared passport control via the Fast Track line etc. Basically I just followed him to the lounge. I was the only passenger there at this point.

Thai Airways Royal First Class Lounge, Don Muang

I had only been to the smaller F lounge before, and this time used the one nearest to passport control. There is an additional one near the old Royal Orchid Lounge. This one was very nicely decorated in modern Thai style, and had all the amenities you’d expect. The shower room was huge, and had L’Occitane en Provence toiletries. Towels etc. were placed in a nice box decorated in Thai style. Definitely one of the top lounge showers.

The food selections include open sandwiches, pastries, small hot dishes and Hagen Dazs ice cream – the staff will serve them directly to your table. Drink selection includes fine spirits such as Chivas Royal Salute whisky and XO cognac. Later, one of the ladies asked if I’d like to have the massage – sure. At this point, the lounge was getting full with the upcoming European departures – some Italian guys on the FCO flight should be ashamed of their behaviour.

I left the lounge 8 minutes before scheduled departure time, and a passenger service agent escorted me right past the small line still at the gate. This didn’t seem to go well with the Germans seated in economy class – the agent had a hard time stopping that line. A male flight attendant greeted me upon boarding, and said “1A – right there in the front” with a smile. I asked if I could store my bag in the closet – “put it on top of that one” the f/a said. The guy in 1J had a fit about that and said “Nothing goes on top of my bag, do you understand?”, grabbed his bag and stored it in the overhead locker. Maybe people should use their brain and put stuff that fits in the overhead lockers first… My roller/laptop bah is too thick to fit in the small nose bins of a 747.

Menus, pyjamas and amenity kits were offered shortly, with drinks and hot towels following later. Royal First Class now has Hermes amenity kits and Elle pyjamas and slippers – the pyjama was nicer than its SQ counterpart while the amenity kit was slightly below the SQ Bvlgari one. Menu and wine list were nicely presented in a Thai style folder.

Pre-departure drinks were offered from a tray – that procedure belongs to business class. Thankfully, the old-style screen and projector weren’t working, so that would not be disturbing us tonight. Safety demo was shown on the PTVs and main course and drink orders were taken. We were pushed back a bit late, and took off after a very long takeoff roll from runway 21R. It was a cloudless night in Bangkok, and the lights of my future hometown looked nice from the air.

Drinks were offered as soon as the seatbelt sign went off – I had a glass of Dom Perignon. I just got the glass, no SQ style service and no warm nuts or any snacks. Dinner service followed, here’s the menu:

Bangkok – Frankfurt

First Serving


First Course

Oscietra caviar with Garnitures

Fresh and Smoked Salmon Mousse with Tomato, Basil and Olive Oil

Main Course

Pan-fried Chilean Seabass with Three Pepper Sauce
Wild Rice Pilaf
Sauteed Spinach and Mixed Vegetables

Or

**Chicken Curry “Mussaman”
(Chicken Cooked in Coconut-Chilli Paste, Peanuts, Potato, Onion)
Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice, Mixed Vegetables Thai Style

Or

Lamb Cutlet Navarin Printanier with Red Wine Sauce
Mixed Vegetables

Or

Stir-fried Beef Fillet with Carrots and Black Mushrooms
Yellow Noodles, Sauteed Kai-lan

Assorted Breads/Butter

Soy Bean Bread, Foccacia Bread Roll, Laugen Pretzel
French Garlic Bread, Buttered Grissini, Homemade Sesame Crackers

Fruit/Cheese

Assorted Cheese and Dried Fruit Tray/Crackers

Fresh Fruits

Dessert

**Assorted Mini Thai Sweet

Mini Cake and Tartlet

Crème Brulee

Tea, Coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino

** On 13th-15th April, changed to special menu in celebration of Thai New Year “Songkran” as shown on leaflet.

I started with the caviar, nicely served from the service trolley with a glass of chilled Stolichnaya vodka. The salmon appetizer came next, and was excellent as well. No salad or soup was offered, so I got my pre-ordered lobster thermidor next. It was as good as the SQ one, but the portion was much smaller. I also preferred the SQ rice instead of potatoes on TG. Fruit and cheese was offered next – flushed down with some Port wine. Dessert was quite weak; I had some of the mini cakes and crème brulee as well. Service was far from the best I have had on Thai – I constantly had to ask for water and Dom refills. Overall it was a nice meal but not in the same league as the SQ dinner on FRA-SIN.

I had a few more glasses of champagne before calling it a night – no sign of running out of Dom on Thai. The wine list was the best I have seen on any airline – Dom Perignon 1996 or La Grande Dame1995 champagne, JW Blue or Royal Salute whiskies and Hennessy Paradis Extra cognac just to mention a few. The wine list also explains the different regions of France – a nice touch.

The old-style lie-flat seat is very comfortable for sleeping – no complaints there although I didn’t manage to change to a flight with the new suites. The privacy divider is adequate, and row 1 has great legroom. I woke up around 1 hour before breakfast would be served – just to see the empty Dom and water glasses still on the armrest. Quite unacceptable for First Class. Here’s the breakfast menu:

Second Serving

Fresh Fruits

Plain Yoghurt, Fruit Yoghurt

Cereals

Main Course

Italian Basil Frittata topped with Lobster in Tomato Herb Sauce
Premium Breakfast Herb Sausage, Vegetable Nugget
Combination of Mushrooms and Grilled Vegetables

Or

Plain Omelet, Grilled Bacon
Premium Breakfast Herb Sausage
Mushrooms and Grilled Vegetables

Or

Cold Cuts Platter
Gruyere Cheese, Mushroom, Herb Sausage
Steak Ham, Smoked Beef

Or

Yellow Noodle Soup with Fish and Shrimp Balls

Assorted Breads/Butter

Assorted Bread Roll, Croissant, Blueberry Danish
Assorted Preserves, Honey

Tea, Coffee, Ovaltine

Additional Choice of Meal Service

Boiled Rice with garnitures (Oriental style) available for Supper or Breakfast

Mushroom Cream Soup is available on request

Breakfast was pretty extensive – I had the fresh fruit and yoghurt to start with. While SQ served yoghurt in a nice bowl, TG gave me the plastic cup. I had the Frittata for main course, it was good. Had various breads/pastries as well. Drink service was spotty again – had to ask for juices and tea refills.

After breakfast, the German lady next to me decided she needs to check out the various packages… She opened the pyjama pack, headphones etc. Didn’t use any item, but simply tossed them and other garbage in a pile on the floor. Nice behaviour, she probably enjoyed watching a Thai person cleaning up the mess. I put my trash in the plastic bag from the pyjama… Soon, we were approaching Frankfurt, and the cabin was prepared for landing. Two different crew members reminded me not to forget my camera in the seat pocket.

We flew past the city and airport, and then turned onto finals for runway 07R. “Sri Ubon” made a very smooth landing, and soon I heard the familiar words from the crew – “Captain xxxxx and his crew would like to thank you for choosing Thai Airways International, Lufthansa Airlines, Air Canada, United Airlines and Star Alliance. Thank you for flying Thai.” Time to forget Thailand, Thai Airways etc. for a few weeks.

22 April 2005
Frankfurt Main (FRA/EDDF) – Helsinki Vantaa (HEL/EFHK)
Lufthansa LH 3100
Airbus Industrie A320-211
D-AIPL “Ludwigshafen am Rhein”
1000-1325 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 1A


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Photo © Harri Koskinen
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Photo © Tamás Mihalik - Skyarts Aviation Photography



Apparently the German police has stopped the ridiculous passport checks at the gate – none were present this morning. I headed to the Senator Lounge B, drank a glass of water while looking for a seat, checked the shower waitlist (27 people), and decided there are better lounges at this airport. Totally laughable. Passport control didn’t have too long lines, and I then made my way to the A-concourse.

Senator Lounge Schengen A was a lot quieter, I got a decent seat and the shower waitlist was only 7 people deep. However, the food offerings were worse than Senator Lounge B (if that is even possible…). I drank a few glasses of Baileys, had some snacks and a refreshing shower. Could somebody please tell Lufthansa not to install those crappy auto-stop showers in a premium class lounge – ridiculous.

LH 3100 boarded from gate A28 – not too far from the lounge. It was clearly evident that I was back in Europe – one gate agent was handling the flight. Boarding was a mess with no priority for anybody. I was greeted by the rather friendly crew, who kindly stored my suit and duty free bottles in the forward closet as I was seated in the first row. We were pushed back on time with a rather full load, and the female first officer expected an on time arrival at chilly Helsinki.

Frankfurt weather was great – sunny and no clouds – so I had great views of the airport and the city on takeoff. Service started with the usual bag of snacks and a drink – I was shocked when the flight attendant addressed me by name. That was totally lacking in Thai Royal First Class. I ordered a gin tonic – it was one of the strongest I have had. She simply poured the glass full of Bombay Sapphire and handed me the tonic can.

Meal was a choice of some kind of chicken or beef – I had the chicken and it was good. The appetizer and dessert were excellent as well. We flew over the Baltic States, and started approach to Helsinki Vantaa somewhere over Estonia. Soon, the snowy small islands came into view, followed by downtown Helsinki, and eventually Helsinki Vantaa Airport.

We landed at runway 33 on time, and taxied to the domestic terminal, gate 18 to be more exact. Vantaa airport was its usual quiet self – another Lufthansa jet, a KLM 737 and some Finnair planes. My bag with a fancy “Royal First Class” tag arrived shortly, and I took a bus home. My graduation ceremony was on the very next day.

Overall, a great trip worth every single mile. Singapore Airlines First is a notch above TG and LH based on my experience now and on my last First Class trip. For me, the choice between LH and TG would be a tough one – TG offers limousine transfers at Bangkok and LH offers the new First Class Terminal at FRA. So my choice would probably TG ex-BKK and LH ex-FRA.

Hope you enjoyed the long report.

Lari



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineLufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 34
Reply 23, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 10613 times:

Next flights:

04MAY BA 795 C HEL-LHR 320
04MAY BA 093 C LHR-YYZ 744
06MAY CX 829 C YYZ-HKG 34D via ANC
08MAY CX 901 C HKG-MNL 744
12MAY CX 918 C MNL-HKG 34D
12MAY CX 709 C HKG-BKK 34D

25JUN AK 881 Y BKK-KUL 733
26JUN SQ 111 Y KUL-SIN 772
26JUN SQ 146 Y SIN-DPS 772
28JUN SQ 141 Y DPS-SIN 772
28JUN SQ 110 Y SIN-KUL 772
28JUN AK 884 Y KUL-BKK 733

12OCT BA 010 C BKK-LHR 744
13OCT AY 832 C LHR-HEL 321
22OCT ?? ??? ? HEL-BKK



Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
User currently offlineHuawey From Australia, joined Oct 2004, 54 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (9 years 5 months 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 10319 times:

I am glad you enjoyed your F in SQ. I always felt its money worth it flying SQ F as even on average days, the service is still professional, efficient and personal.

Great report! Looking forward to see more of your trip reports!


25 KL808 : Things like this happen now and then no matter where you are in the world, however, third world countries such as the Philippines it happens more oft
26 Lufthansa747 : I agree 100%. I was a bit hesitant before my first trip, but generally it's fine. I don't feel any safer in let's say NYC, Chicago, L.A. or Toronto i
27 MichaelJP : Bloody awesome TR's!!! Lucky guy! Great and indepth and just fantastic! I've had the chance to fly LH F once to HKG and that was the day after Chinese
28 Post contains images N751PR : Awesome coverage and great pics to compliment it! Indeed I'd watch out for taxi drivers in MNL and I'm sorry to hear what happened to your girlfriend.
29 CXA330300 : Fabulous report! Clue: not the USA (Google it!)
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