This trip was a ‘surprise’ trip for my fiancée, who was traveling in Kenya and was transiting DXB for HKG. I was going to surprise her by my presence in DXB, which she was not expecting.
Time: 1610 h
Flight: CX 731 HKG-DXB
Plane: A330-343 Reg. B-HLS
For this leg, I used my Asia Miles to redeem a one-way Business Class ticket through the CX website. On 26/Aug/02 at 1610 hrs, exactly 48 hours prior to my departure, I checked-in on the Internet. My pre-reserved seat was 11C, an aisle seat in a 2-2-2 setting. On the 28/Aug/02, I finished my work in Kowloon that morning before taking the Airport Express train to CLK. This is the fastest and most comfortable way to the airport. It only took 23 minutes. They have PTV’s in the seat backs, showing flight information, news, weather, etc. I then received a texted message from CX on my mobile phone, saying that CX 731 will depart on time. I love this service from CX.
On arrival at the airport at 1410h, I went straight to the self-service CXpress Kioks to get my boarding pass. I swiped my Marco Polo Membership Card and got my boarding pass and my lounge invitation in no time. When I looked at the queues next to the kioks, I thought how lucky to have this service!
I went straight to the immigration and security checks, knowing that this was still high season with many travellers. Thank goodness it did not take long. I was soon in the departure hall, on my way to the CX new lounge ‘The Pier’. This is more convenient for those far away gates, and mine, this time was gate 61.
I was feeling a bit hungry and so I went for something to eat. They had a good selection of all the usual, e.g. sandwiches, fruits, cakes and drinks. They also had a selection of dim sum too. But the best bit was their Noodle Bar. I opted for a bowl of delicious Japanese noodles with seafood. It was very nice indeed. I was tempted to have another bowl, but I thought I should leave room for the food on board. And how right this decision it was as I found out later!
Boarding was called for at 1530h. I went to Gate 61 to view this lovely Airbus. B-HLS looked really clean. There were many CX aircrafts on the apron. The best was the B744 ‘Asia’s World City’. It looked fantastic. There was an aging South African Airways B742, a Lufthansa A340, a JAL 767, a SWISS MD-11 in their new livery, having just arrived from ZRH, and on way to MNL.
At 1545, I boarded through the Business Class door. It was the new Business Class with sleeper seats. 11C had books on it. I thought someone was sitting there. So I asked the staff. They removed the books for me and asked me to take my seat. Champagne, orange juice and water came round as pre-flight drinks. As I was sipping the champagne, a ground staff came to me and said that my seat had changed to 2G in First Class!! I was overjoyed!!
First Class had sleeper seats too, albeit a bit wider and more spacious. The F/A came round and greeted me. She offered me Krug, my favourite champagne with some canapes. Obviously, I did not refuse her offer! The glasses in First Class were much larger and so I had to be careful! They then came round with the wine lists and menus. They took our order for the post-take-off drink and dinner. I spent some time trying out the different buttons for the seat. One can spend hours fiddling with them! Also, they have a separate entertainment guidebook for First. So, I spent ages reading that too. It was a Video-on-demand system, i.e. you choose when you want to watch, what you want to watch. They also had CD-on-demand too, with a pretty good selection. Of course, there was the Air Show and games.
Push back was delayed at 1640 due to heavy traffic. We queued for take-off for what seemed like ages. We followed an Air China B737, possible a –500, I could not see properly (champagne!?!). Then at 1700 we rolled down the runway and was airbourne in no time.
The flight was very full. Economy was over booked. Business was completely full. Out of the eight seats in First, 6 were occupied. No wonder CX made a profit despite hard times.
The climb was a bit bumpy. The southern China path had always been bumpy. Service began soon after reaching cruising altitude. My post take-off glass of Krug came. Then they laid the tables for dinner. For starters, we had a prawn and scallop salad with a coriander dressing. Then came a red capsicum soup. Both these courses were served separately and on fine chinaware. It was a pity that they made us use plastic knives! Maybe because of higher expectation in First, these were not too great. The scallop and prawn were a bit dry, possibly due to being in the fridge too long. The soup was tasty but a bit cold. However, the best part was the guinea fowl main course. It was tender and juicy and the fruity sauce went well with it. It was 5 star restaurant quality. I was so full by now, so I skipped the cheeses. I took some fruits instead. After that, they came round with a lovely apple crumble cake. It was so irresistible that I took a bit with vanilla sauce. I could not possibly eat anymore!
The F/A then distributed the pyjamas, slippers, night-bag containing the exclusive La Prairie products and duvets. I then flattened my seat, took my shoes off, covered myself with the duvet and settled down to watch ‘Changing Lanes’. It felt like being in bed watching a video!! Fantastic!!
Time went by quickly. We had a few bumps crossing over India. Once past Mumbai, we were smooth again.
On approaching the UAE, we were asked if we would like a snack. I opted for the Chinese roast duck rice noodles. It was very good, considering it was made in-flight.
We landed on time at 2005h. The approach to DXB was over the city from the sea and we could see the Emirates Towers clearly. The lights of the city seemed to get closer and closer until we landed smoothly. It reminded me of the old Kai Tak landing in HKG. The taxi to the terminal was halted half way whilst an SQ B777 took off in front of us. We parked at the gates about ten minutes after landing. Not many Emirates planes were back to base at that time of day. A Royal Jordanian A320 took off as we were near the terminal.
I had six hours before my EK flight back to HKG. So I rested in the Transit Hotel until the arrival of my fiancée’s flight from Nairobi at 0025h. I was so tired by then I could not possibly plane watch.
Overall, this segment was extremely comfortable. The crew were superb. Only the few rather big bumps spoilt a great flight.
Plane: B777-300 (could not see the reg)
My fiancee was led to my room by the nice bellboy, who offered to meet her at her arrival gate. I was overjoyed to see her after a two-week absence, much of that time we could not communicate due to her being in the wilderness. She certainly was pleasantly surprised!
We wandered down to the Duty Free shop and spent sometime doing some last minute shopping for presents. We did not go to the temporary lounge. The original one was being renovated.
At 0230h, they called for boarding. It was rather chaotic. There was no system to the boarding. So, we waited for the crowds to disappear first.
Once on board, the F/A greeted us warmly. We were seated 1H and 1K. They offered us champagne (Duval Leroy Fleur-very nice too!), orange or apple juices for the pre-flight drinks. They then offered us the menus, a bottle of mineral water and an overnight amenity bags. They offered to take our order for breakfast, which was to be served prior to landing in BKK, the intermediate stop before HKG. My fiancée chose the Nasi Lemak (a Malaysian/Indonesian rice dish) and I chose the vegetable frittatas.
Flying EK is great because they have their forward cameras on during the flight, from take off to landing. At 0340h, we were rolling down the runway. I watched the camera as the lights flicked past us. It was great! Unfortunately, both of us were so tired that we fell asleep soon afterwards. We did not even notice that they had a round of drinks after takeoff!
The F/A’ s on EK really were superb. They were friendly and efficient. Most of them were British. On waking, we chatted with them for a little while before sleeping again. The flight took us over Mumbai and the middle section of India. Again, it was quite bumpy. We then headed north a bit to reach Bangladesh before sweeping down for BKK. Over Bangladeshi waters, the flight was again very bumpy. It woke us up.
Breakfast was served one hour fifteen minutes prior to landing. They made a mistake and gave me the vegetarian omelette, which was completely bland! The Nasi Lemak, on the other hand, was superb. The breads were good. Overall, it was not a bad meal.
Landing in BKK was at 1240h local time. It was a smooth landing. We watched the camera all the time! Funny how the runway looked so far on screen, but in fact we were only seconds from touch down! Fascinating!
We were on the ground for one hour forty minutes in total. A new set of crew came on board. We watched the ground staff change the galley items, clean the aircraft, fill in the paper work, etc. Next to our bay, a Finnair MD-11 just arrived, presumably from HEL on way to HKG. It was the first time I saw a Finnair MD-11 in real life. What a beautiful plane. The livery was just right, so simple and no unnecessary detail.
At about 1330 hours, the crew welcomed the joining passengers from BKK to HKG. On closing the doors, the business class cabin was only about 30% full. However, Y class seemed full.
Soon after take off, we were offered a light snack, which was a full meal on its own. I chose the lamb with a fruity sauce. My fiancée chose a lemon chicken with noodles. Mine was really good. But the chicken was not. Anyway, we were so tired that we did not have much of an appetite. After the meal, we slept all the way to HKG. The flight time was 2h 25min.
As we neared HK, we did a big circle, turning south first, and then northerly to pass over the New Territories and then approached CLK from the northeast. Again, the camera gave us much entertainment, especially with the hills and the waters around HK. Landing was superb. It was very smooth. We taxied to our gate and we disembarked at 1740h. we were only 10 minutes behind schedule. I saw an Emirates B74F whilst taxiingto our gate. Again, a first time for me!
Emirates offered their chauffeur service to take us home. This was like a final touch from this fantastic airline.
Overall, Emirates rates very highly in my books and I love this airline. They are reliable, safe and offer a very high standard of in-flight service. I am sure most of you will agree.