Lufthansa747
Topic Author
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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 7:45 am

Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:59 pm

I will be staying in Asia until January 2005, and plan to add all trip reports to this thread.

15 August 2004
Helsinki Vantaa (HEL/EFHK) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Finnair AY 097
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
OH-LGA
2335-1340 (2330-1320)
Economy Class, Seat 24D

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The five weeks I spent working in Finland passed by very fast, and on August 15th it was time to leave for Asia for about 5 months. I will be doing my study abroad period at Yonsei University in Seoul, and obviously will travel around Asia as well. My plan was to leave on Friday 13th of August, but Finnair had of course no Q-class availability for a popular travel day like Friday. The 296 EUR one way fare to Bangkok is great, but I can’t remember any fare ever that would have had worse availability. Booking class of that fare was later changed to O, meaning even fewer available seats.

I was dropped off at Helsinki Vantaa departure hall 2 at around 9pm – two and half hours before departure. The check-in area was deserted as usual, but the sole check-in agent for business class and Oneworld elites didn’t feel like being friendly tonight. She first questioned my eligibility to use such priority check-in desks, but accepted my single overweight piece of checked luggage without problems. Oneworld has no universal luggage policy for elites – a major drawback if you ask me. While Star Alliance gives me first class baggage allowance with my Lufthansa card, a Finnair agent basically told me they don’t care if you are not a Finnair Plus elite. Twenty kilos is not an awful lot when you are planning to stay away for almost half a year.

She offered me an exit row window seat, but realized later that it is in the 10-abreast section, the door bulge blocks most legroom, and the rear section is usually more or less packed with package tour folks from various tour operators. Good grief – I would have never accepted the seat anyway, but she was the first Finnair check-in agent that seemed to have any clue about MD-11 seating. I had tried Finnair’s eCheckin the day before – even though I was sequence number 001 for the flight, there were no good seats left.

After confirming that the Fresh Lounge is still the only one open for Oneworld Sapphires after 7pm, I breezed through security and headed to this pathetic excuse of an airport lounge. AY91/97 to Bangkok is the only daily longhaul flight at the moment for Finnair – I would expect a bit nicer lounge for Sapphires on this flight. Emeralds and business class can use the Longhaul Lounge, which is nice. Hopefully a nicer lounge is offered once the Non-Schengen area upgrade is complete. Quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with the lounge itself; it’s just the lack of amenities that pisses me off. There is no food, the alcohol offered is below onboard Y class standard, there are no Internet PCs, there is no view, and there are no showers…

Boarding started early as usual for the Bangkok flight. I still inquired about a row 21-22 seat at the gate – “There are none left but you wouldn’t enjoy those screaming babies anyway!” The sign indicating the business class side of the desk refused to work – but as I was first to board, the gate agent said “You know the procedures anyway, don’t you?” when I handed my AA card and boarding pass to her. A Finnair grandma directed me to the right upon entering “Olga” for the 6th time. Oh well, at least it wasn’t “Gorba” (OH-LGB) – I have logged 8 flights on that MD-11.

Seat 24D was quite decent – legroom was acceptable, and the 9-abreast section of MD-11s usually has quite wide seats for economy class. Load was 280/296 today – the worst possible from the pax point of view as business was so full that also rows 6-7 were needed (usually C class seats with Y class service to BKK), yet economy had a few empty middle seats, so operational upgrades were not needed either. We were pushed back early, and taxied to 22R for takeoff if my memory serves me. Takeoff roll was rather long this evening, but we then rocketed off the runway MD-11 style into the dark Finnish sky.

Service began shortly after the seatbelt sign went off – dinner was a simple salad, a roll, chicken with rice and a chocolate for dessert. In other words, the usual tiny tray with no choices. The purser was serving drinks in my aisle – my request for a double whisky and a bottle of white wine was fulfilled, and the guy asked if I’d like anything else… Maybe after the dinner I replied. The chicken was decent by western standards, though the portion was ridiculous as usual, and it would probably be classified as snack in Asia. Trays were collected after some time, and the purser asked if I’d like any cognac. Well how could I resist their new Y class choice – Renault Carte Noire VSOP? A full glass was given to me – go figure. Maybe I look like an alcoholic... The two British girls next to me were joking how much these drinks would have cost on Ryanair – the only airline they had ever flown before today’s Finnair flight.

Sleeping proved to be easy after these drinks, and I only woke up as breakfast was being served. We had flown over Estonia, Russia, Afghanistan (directly over Kabul), Lahore Pakistan, Delhi and Calcutta India and were now approaching the coast of Myanmar over the Bay of Bengal at 37000 feet. The hot breakfast consisted of an omelette, some sausages as well as tomato and hash browns. Yoghurt and bread rolls were offered as well – overall it was quite good. The captain then made his announcement – we were approaching the city of Pegu, Myanmar, and would soon enter the Thai airspace and start our descent towards Don Muang.

We left our cruising altitude at about 1pm Thai time, and landed smoothly about twenty minutes later on runway 21L. We then taxied to gate 34, but unfortunately a China Airlines 747 from Hong Kong managed to get to the concourse before us, dumping about 400 passengers to the immigration lines. I waited about 15 minutes to get through, and since the Finnair agent at HEL didn’t bother putting a priority tag to my bag, I had to wait another 10 minutes for it. Customs was a breeze, but the taxi rank had a long queue – I wonder why Don Muang was so busy today despite August being rather low season.

Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok, Bangkok

Check-in was friendly and courteous, I particularly liked the ”Please Upgrade” note on the papers. I had emailed them beforehand as usual, and was offered a suite upgrade for $50 per night, which I accepted. It used to be $25, but is $75 officially nowadays. I was then escorted to the suite – very nice as usual at this hotel. The difference between superior rooms and suites is simply huge. There was a full living room as well as a bedroom, and a hallway and a decent sized bathroom. The bathroom amenities include very nice Aigner toiletry products, and there is a separate shower stall unlike in regular rooms. The bed is also much nicer, and has a real duvet. The chocolates they bring every night to suites are mouth watering. Breakfast was included at the Next2Cafe as usual for Golden Circle members. I had two separate reservations (love the Priceline eBay points…), and the handling of such a situation was flawless as usual.

18 August 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok (HKG/VHHH)
Thai Airways International TG 628
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJF “Phanom Sarakham”
1030-1420 (1100-1430)
Economy Class, Seat 32D (Bulkhead)

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I had planned to go to Korea on August 31st, as September 1st is the day when classes begin at my university there. Unfortunately, registration and orientation was scheduled on August 19th, cutting my Bangkok visit to just two days. There would be nothing between registration and the day when classes begin, I really don’t see the logic here. Anyway, after having breakfast at the hotel, I took a taxi to the airport. Since I was in a hurry, I accepted the offer of 400 baht to the airport – highway and tollway included. The usual rate is about 300, but I really had no time to wait for another taxi. The dickhead paid only for the highway of course, driving the rest of the way downstairs. I knew it would be the case but it still pissed me off. End of Bangkok taxi rant.

Check-in was quick at the Thai Airways premium check-in aisle – C and F desks had some queues, but TG has dedicated Star Gold check-in desks. I was the only person there, and after getting a bulkhead seat released for me, off I went with seat 32D assigned. Immigration was quick, and I then headed to the remodelled Thai Royal Executive Lounge near pier 3.

Thai Airways Royal Executive Lounge, Pier 3, Bangkok

I remember what a dump this lounge was when I last visited. What a difference the remodelling has made. It is undoubtedly the nicest lounge at Don Muang now I must say. I went to the second floor – decorations are in Thai style, and lots of granite is used as well. The upstairs section was very large and airy. There were also sleeping rooms, Internet computers, showers and the new Thai Touch massage service. I didn’t have time to try it, and don’t know if it’s for all customers in the lounge or just for Thai Business/First passengers. Drink selection was very impressive; they offer six different whiskies for example. Snacks were the usual, pastries, sandwiches etc – they could offer a bit more in my opinion.

At about 10am, I headed to gate 32 through security – it was quick and painless as usual. The gate area was full of Hong Kong bound pax – they were loud as hell. One tried to simply push me away from the window to join his three friends shouting to each other and looking at the triple seven – ask me and I’ll move but his technique wasn’t appreciated. Boarding started shortly, and I was the first one to board, just before the masses started moving to the boarding door like a landslide. Though the Thai 777-200s are not ERs, ETOPS CONFIGURATION was painted on the engine cowling. I entered through door 2L, and was greeted by a very tall Thai lady – she would be serving my aisle all the way to Incheon as well.

All the 777-200s have the dreaded 3-4-3 configuration in economy, but I must say it wasn’t really that bad. The seats are installed very close together, i.e. there is no space between seats where the armrest is located. The aisles are quite narrow as well, thus the actual seat width isn’t affected that much. If the seat next to you is empty, it’s quite tolerable. The seats themselves are made by Sicma Aeroseat, and have rather nice winged headrests that you simply pull up. I have never seen those before. Boarding was soon completed, and we had a close to 100% load to “Asia’s world city” this morning. Unfortunately three passengers didn’t show up, and we’d have to wait for their bags to be offloaded. Meanwhile, newspapers were offered as well as an assortment of toys to children. The boy in 32F seemed to be very happy with his.

We were pushed half an hour late, and taxied to runway 21R for takeoff as usual. Captain Wittaya welcomed us onboard and said he’d be back with more information once we were airborne. The double ping of the seatbelt sign was soon heard, the crew rushed to their jumpseats while our triple seven lined up for takeoff. The big Trents soon spooled up, and we started the takeoff roll. You can really feel the power on the 777 on takeoff, even if it’s not quite like the MD11.

The purser soon explained the service on this flight; we would first be served a snack with drinks and later a lunch on this 2h20min flight. The snackmix was roasted pumpkin seeds, quite exotic but nevertheless tasty. I chose a Ballantines with Coke as my drink. Hot towels were later passed out – real cloth ones also in economy class. Row 32 was the last to get lunch served – however both choices were still available. I chose the lemongrass prawns with Thai jasmine rice, a special meal created to celebrate the birthday of the Queen. It is served on all TG flights from Bangkok and all classes have this meal in one form or another as well. It came with a Thai seafood salad and a special Thai dessert. Real china and glasses are still used on TG. It was an excellent meal, especially the main course. Wine, water and warm rolls were served constantly during the meal as well as Chinese tea. Later, the purser walked around with a bottle of Camus VSOP cognac and a tray of those little TG glasses. The other meal choice was roasted duck… Quite a difference from “chicken or pasta” that the western airlines usually serve.

We were already starting the descent into Chek Lap Kok when the crew collected the trays. I noticed on the airshow that we had flown over the Hainan island – in my experience at least AY and CI always avoid flying over Hainan for some reason. We flew past the city of Hong Kong, as our landing runway was 25R this afternoon. Landing was rather hard, and we taxied to the terminal behind an Orient Thai Boeing 747-146, HS-UTH to be more exact. Our gate was 42 this afternoon, and I headed through a security check to the departures level after a Cathay Pacific representative handed me a transfer card and gave instructions how to go to the lounge.

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge, Hong Kong HK

I headed to this lounge, located upstairs near gate 40. A Regal Hotels representative wrote down my LH card number and threw my card and transfer pass back – obviously I had just disturbed her magazine reading. All cocktail sticks, straw packaging etc carried the Regal logo, so it was obvious that the lounge was run by this company for TG. Snack and drink selection on the business class side was a downgraded version of what was offered at BKK, but still decent. I simply had a drink and surfed the Internet for a while. The lounge offers very nice views as well. Upon leaving, I dared to say bye to the warden. She didn’t even raise her head from the magazine, let alone say a word. This kind of a person is not suitable for a premium lounge; it’s just as simple as that. I will not choose Regal hotels either in HKG next time, so she is giving bad image to both her employer, Regal, and Thai Airways.

18 August 2004
Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok (HKG/VHHH) – Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI)
Thai Airways International TG 628
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJF “Phanom Sarakham”
1530-1945 (1525-2000)
Economy Class, Seat 32D (Bulkhead)

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Boarding had started early, and the economy class line was very long already. Luckily, there was nobody in the business class side, so after a quick glance at my Lufthansa card, the Cathay representative wished me a nice flight. Since the “premium” side automatically takes you to the first jetbridge as well, I walked through the empty business class cabin in order to get to my seat. The purser welcomed me back, and I stored my stuff in the spacious 777 overhead bins again.

Luckily this flight was not completely full, so there was nobody sitting next to me. We were pushed back a few minutes early, and headed to runway 25L for takeoff. The same Orient Thai 747-100 was taxiing in front of us for its flight back to Thailand. Meanwhile, the other 747-100, HS-UTD arrived as well. Two 747-100s in passenger service next to each other is not what you’d expect to see in 2004, is it? OX 747-300 HS-UTK was also at the terminal, preparing to return to Bangkok.

We took off after the 32-year-old OX classic, and headed towards Taiwan after departure. Khun Wittaya informed us from the cockpit that flying time would be longer than usual today, due to a typhoon near Korea. Service started shortly, and was flawless on this flight, just like on the BKK-HKG sector. After the drink/snack service, another hot meal was served. I had steak as the main course, it was very nice, and served with creamy mushroom sauce and noodles. It could have been served in AY or LH business class without any complaints. My wine glass didn’t get empty at all during the meal – the purser was very good with refills.

After the trays were cleared, I decided to try to sleep for the rest of the flight. I managed to snooze until we were about to start our descent into Incheon International. We landed quite roughly again, on runway 15L I believe. After passing all the Korean Air and Asiana jets, we docked next to a United triple seven, 15 minutes late due to the longer route. Thai had absolutely fantastic service on these two flights. The 3-4-3 seating is not optimal, but at least for me the service makes up for the slight lack of seat comfort. Pitch is still 33” in normal rows.

Renaissance Seoul Hotel, Seoul KR

Since I had neither applied for a bed at the university dormitory nor found any apartment yet, I booked this hotel for two nights via Priceline for $57 per night. The apartment costs for August would buy me a ticket to Manila anyway, so I decided to find one starting September when my university starts. The Renaissance is in Gangnam, a two-hour ride on the Korean Air limousine bus that evening. I was assigned a king bed no smoking room as requested, and the bellhop escorted me to the room with my bags. The room was fairly usual 4-star hotel room, nice enough but not something really special. There was a king bed, a couch and a table, as well as a working desk with broadband internet available. Minibar and room service were horribly overpriced. The bathroom was small and there was no separate shower stall. I had two separate bookings again to maximize the eBay points, they pretty much messed up with that – nobody had a clue what I was talking about and even though the keys were re-programmed, they didn’t work. At the Shangri-La, I have never even had to go downstairs to remind them about such situations, it’s all taken care of.

20 August 2004
Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI) – Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Asiana Airlines OZ 371
Boeing 767-38E
HL7247
0900-1150 (1010-1250)
Economy Class, Seat 26C (Bulkhead)


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My internet confirmation indicated that I need to pick up my ticket two hours prior to departure. If you know where Incheon is located, it means a very early wake up call for a 9am departure. The first KAL limousine wasn’t scheduled until 6.10am, and the regular bus for 5:35am (travel time 2h), so I had to take a taxi, which cost an awful lot. Incheon is a very nice airport, but the location is as bad as Narita. After avoiding all the speed cameras with his radar detector, we made it to the airport in about 40 minutes – Asiana counters wouldn’t be open for another 40 minutes.

At exactly 6.40am, Asiana staff walked to their counters, and my ticket was issued. Ironically it looks just like those SQ paper tickets chosen with internet booking – basically an e-ticket reissued as paper ticket. Why couldn’t Asiana just offer e-ticketing to MNL for example? I was glad to see it was booked in H class though – that means it earns full LH mileage even after the recent changes. I went to the Star Gold/Business check-in, and was checked in quickly with an exit row seat assigned.

Security was very strict – one needs to use the slippers provided while your shoes are being x-rayed. They also searched everybody with the handheld metal detector after passing through. I then went to immigration – no lines whatsoever this early in the morning. I wanted to double check that I indeed don’t need a re-entry permit to come back with my visa – the inspector simply said “No English”, which I found unbelievable. Well I hope their website is correct as I don’t have any re-entry permit.

Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, Incheon KR

This is the biggest SilverKris Lounge outside Singapore, and very much liked by a lot of Flyertalkers for example. The agent downstairs welcomed me, and apologized for the wait as she photocopied my LH card and boarding pass. At her desk, there was a list of available amenities – they even offer you wlan cards if you don’t have one. The lounge is upstairs, offers great views and is very nice. There is everything you except from a good lounge – hot breakfast buffer, salad bar, cold food, ice cream, full service bar, lots of computers, showers, sleeping rooms etc. Overall a fantastic lounge, one of the very best I have visited.

Asiana Lounge, Incheon KR

I decided to check out this lounge as well. It is as nice as the SilverKris Lounge, and the amenities are quite similar. However, there is no bar at the Asiana lounge, you just help yourself. Also, they have even portable DVD players and DVD movies available here, as well as even more computers than the SQ lounge from what I saw. There was also a hot breakfast buffet, and an even bigger salad bar. My flight was delayed by 50 minutes, so I got to spend some time here.

Boarding started at about 9:30am, due to late connections. Apparently they waited for some connecting passengers for more than an hour, which I find quite strange. They could have just rerouted them to the Philippine Airlines evening flight. Next to our 767 was a Korean 777-300 bound for Beijing Capital. I was the first to board again, and was greeted by the friendly Asiana ladies by the door. My assigned seat was 25A, the first exit door window seat. It had horrible legroom due to the bulkhead being so close. I later changed to 26C – also a bulkhead with very poor legroom, but I had 26CDE for myself. The seats are old and small; I suddenly realized that those TG 777 seats were not that bad. The 767 was also quite worn inside, the carpet was torn in front of my seat and completely wet.

There were a few Americans in rows 25 and 26 on the other side of the aircraft – very loud, demanding beer from the flight attendants as we were at the gate (it was served…) and then asking “who the hell waits for some connecting passengers delaying my flight”. We finally pushed back about 70 minutes late, and taxied for departure behind a Korean 747. Took off with no delay, and headed towards Okinawa and then The Philippine Islands.

Service started shortly, and was disappointing compared to TG. There was no initial drink service and meals were served on small trays for example. The choices were chicken or seafood with rice – I had the seafood. It was completely tasteless unfortunately. The noodles and salad were quite decent; dessert was a tiny Snickers chocolate. Drinks were served once.

I decided to sleep after the meal – not very easy with the bulkhead so close by, but since I had had pretty much no sleep the night before, I managed. I woke up as we were on descent to Ninoy Aquino, and after a rough descent, we landed quite smoothly. Our 767 parked next to a Saudi Arabian 747-400 (HZ-AIZ), which had just arrived from Jeddah about two hours late. Oh well, they seem to be catching up – it was 8 hours late last time I was at MNL.

Passport control had awful lines due to the Saudi flight as well as two JAL DC10s – I waited for half an hour before getting through. At this point, my bag was already waiting on the carousel. I didn’t feel like hauling all my stuff upstairs and re-clearing security in order to catch a cheap taxi, so I took a hotel car from downstairs instead. My plan was to travel with hand luggage only, but there was no way to fit 11 days worth of stuff to my carry-on.

Hyatt Regency Manila, Pasay City PH

Since the Faster Free Nights promo is still running, I booked the Hyatt again. I was checked in quickly, and was assigned room on the Hyatt Gold Passport floor again. It escapes me however why such floor would be a low floor like 4. The room was as described in my report last time; everything was in working order this time. But I just can’t help laughing at the empty minibar and glass drawer. I received a fruit plate and a note from the general manager welcoming me back. There was also a letter from the front desk manager, it was placed in a Regency Club envelope, which made me think it would contain something else like an invitation to use the Regency Club itself…

21 August 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) – Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC)
Philippine Airlines PR 849
Boeing 747-469M
N754PR
1500-1610 – On Time
First Class, Seat 1A


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Philippine Airlines was nice enough to schedule two Boeing 747 runs to Cebu this Saturday – I booked the afternoon one just like last time. The ride to NAIA 2 was quick from the Hyatt, and I was checked in by the same guy as last time. He gave me 1A in the First Class cabin again. I then went through security and to the Mabuhay Lounge. It was rather quiet this afternoon, and after a drink or two and some snacks, I went back to the departure area. The back of my boarding pass had a Citibank ad – I went to collect the free gift from their stand, it contained some toiletry products.

The ex-Kuwait Airways Boeing 747 was sitting at gate S1, and would be taking me to Cebu this afternoon. Boarding started shortly after I made it to the gate, and I was again amongst the first to board. The guy at the door addressed me by name and escorted me to the huge first class cabin. N754PR has the Kuwait First cabin, 32 electronically controlled seats with about 70” pitch. The seats are much nicer than those found on N752PR at least. The legrest goes horizontal, and recline is about 160 degrees. The walls have some purple artwork painted on them; overall the large first class cabin was very airy and pleasant. There are PTVs in all classes of this Boeing 747 – airshow is not available however.

We were pushed back on time, and eight seats were occupied in the F cabin. At some point, I counted 7 flight attendants in the cabin as well. One of the ladies took my meal order – I chose smoked salmon with noodles. The other option was some kind of steak. I was addressed by name again. Our jumbo taxied by the LH Technik Philippines hangar as usual – B747 RP-C8168 was sitting there going through an engine change. Apparently it was ferried in from SFO via HNL the night before as PR 007 with only two engines working.

We entered runway 24 via H1 after a Cebu Pacific B757 had landed, and took off immediately. The initial stages of the flight were very turbulent, and service only started about 30 minutes after takeoff. The captain informed us about a flying time of 55 minutes to Mactan Cebu today, and asked everybody to keep their seatbelts fastened due to the turbulent weather. We would climb up to 37000 feet on this short flight. As soon as the turbulence stopped, the crew swing into action, and the hot meals were served. The salmon was rather nice, best meal PR has served me so far on their domestic flights. Water and coffee/tea were served several times during the meal service.

Trays were collected as we were 10 minutes from touchdown – we were making the same approach as last time. This means flying a bit further out over the sea, and then turning onto finals for Mactan runway 22. Touchdown was very smooth, but the runway is in terrible condition, so the rest was extremely bumpy. Cebu Pacific’s Davao logojet DC9 was the only aircraft parked at the terminal at this time. Needless to say it looked very small next to the 747-400. My bag came out fast thanks to the priority tag, and I was out of the terminal only minutes after leaving my seat in the nose of the Jumbo.

Cebu City Marriott Hotel, Cebu City PH

I really had not made up my mind about where to stay this time, but since Marriott offered the Gold challenge for me, I opted for the Cebu City Marriott again. My request for high floor was granted – a king bed no smoking room on the 9th floor was assigned. It offers nice views towards the Ayala Center and the mountains. For Patrick and anybody else staying here, definitely try to get a room on the Ayala Center side as the views are much better from here. The room itself is fine – a bit worn here and there, but really nothing to complain about. Most of the employees are great as usual. I purchased in-room high speed internet for a week for 3500 Pesos, a bit on the expensive side but very convenient. The daily rate of PHP 1200 is a rip-off though. The fitness center in the basement is fairly nice – have been going there daily.

Regards from Cebu,

Lari
Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
 
luftaom
Posts: 553
Joined: Thu May 20, 1999 4:29 pm

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:38 pm

Mr Lari,

Your travel editorials never cease to amaze me. Keep up the good work... and hope to see a report from a flight on PX again soon.

Best Regards

Mr Bradley

 
richcandy
Posts: 623
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2001 4:49 pm

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Tue Aug 24, 2004 3:43 pm

Hi

I alway love to read you trip reports.

Keep up the good work.

Rich
 
photolppt
Posts: 531
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2004 6:17 pm

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Tue Aug 24, 2004 8:39 pm

Hi,

Really great trip report!  Smile)
Congratulations.

Regards
Luis
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8151
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Wed Aug 25, 2004 3:46 am

Great reading Lari!

I always enjoy sitting down with a glass of wine and having a good read of your reports,nothing better Smile

Rgds

Mark
111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
 
Lufthansa747
Topic Author
Posts: 2953
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 7:45 am

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:01 am

Thanks for the comments!

Most likely next flights will be:

30AUG PR 850 Y CEB-MNL 333
31AUG OZ 372 Y MNL-ICN 763
01SEP OZ 341 Y ICN-BKK 74E
05SEP OZ 342 Y BKK-ICN 74E
15SEP OZ 371 Y ICN-MNL 763
15SEP PR 849 F MNL-CEB 343
19SEP PR 844 Y CEB-MNL 333
19SEP OZ 372 Y MNL-ICN 777

I will write reports if you guys want.
Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
 
trickijedi
Posts: 3201
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:35 pm

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Sep 06, 2004 5:28 pm

I remember what a dump this lounge was when I last visited. What a difference the remodelling has made.

Absolutely! It's like going from night to day.


I finally got a chance to stay at Cebu City Marriott myself and must admit, it isn't bad. Every time I go to Cebu I've always either stayed with family or when I don't want to be bothered, at cheaper hotels within the neighborhood. It's nice to see American-style rooms (or as close as they come anyway) in the Philippines for a change.

Keep up the great reports!
Its better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than be in the air wishing you were on the ground. Fly safe!
 
Sabena332
Posts: 14938
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 3:57 am

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:43 am

Hi Lari,

another awesome report about your travels in Asia, reading was a pleasure as always!

My girlfriend and I just returned from our Asia trip and now I can really understand why you are such a big Asia fan, it was the best holiday I ever had. There are so many awesome places and cities to visit, so many fantastic beaches with warm and clear water (especially on Phuket and Cebu), low priced food, hotels and flights (even in Biz Class). I was especially impressed by the flight attendants and the hotel personnel, they were very friendly and helpful, always smiling and provided outstanding service, no matter if you are flying in Biz Class on a full frills airline or in Eco on a low fare carrier. I enjoyed the 17 days so much and can't wait to return to visit other places in Asia.

By the way: I think it is a shame that your extremly detailed, interesting and humorous reports about flights with exotic airlines in all the different travel classes only get such a few replies. It seems that the thousandths report about a 40 minute flight within Europe is more appreciated here than something really interesting  Pissed. Anyway, I hope you will continue posting your reports here despite of the low feedback, I am always happy when I can read them  Big thumbs up.

Patrick
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:49 am

A once again fantastic report from you - Good work !

I will write reports if you guys want.

Absolutely ! I love reading them !

Keep up the good work !


Marcus
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Sep 10, 2004 9:01 am

Patrick,

Did you get the 747-100? Also, how was 5J? Although I have flown on a DC 9 before, I guess I must do just one more flight with them at some point. I'm glad to hear you had such a good time!  Big thumbs up I have frankly no idea how I am going to go back to Finland in January... It's not something to worry about right now, but time flies when you stay here unfortunately. I am here at the ICN SQ lounge at the moment - absolutely fantastic lounge as mentioned before. Wonder if TG serves me steak or prawns today  Big grin Hopefully the great service and meals won't disappear from this continent when the low cost carriers are expanding..

I have quite a backlog of flights to write about, will post as a reply to this thread when I get them done.

Regards,

Lari
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sun Sep 12, 2004 12:57 am

Did you get the 747-100? Also, how was 5J?

Yes, I was successful, I got five new aircraft types on the trip (A 333, B 717, B 741, B 773, DC-9), four new airlines (Cebu Pacific, Orient-Thai, Bangkok Airways, Cathay Pacific) and five new airports (BKK, MNL, CEB, HKT, HKG). It was real fun to update my flight logbook yesterday evening  Big thumbs up. By the way, one Orient-Thai 742 is currently flying for Ghana Airways, it already visited my home airport Dusseldorf two days ago as I could read in a local spotter forum. I hope OX will earn a little bit money while flying for GH, unfortunately it looks like they don't earn much money with their flights within Asia, I can only second your experience, also my flight was really empty.

Unfortunately I could not really enjoy the DC-9 ride to CEB because I was dozing during the entire flight time, I was really glad when I finally arrived at the hotel at Cebu after four flights and a travel time of almost 28 hours.

Although I have flown on a DC 9 before, I guess I must do just one more flight with them at some point.

You should hurry up when you want to fly the DC-9 on 5J, I read that they have decided to replace the DC-9 with the A 320 family.

I have frankly no idea how I am going to go back to Finland in January... It's not something to worry about right now, but time flies when you stay here unfortunately.

That is correct, the 17 days were over way too fast, at first we had planned only 11 days but when we were relaxing on the beach at Phuket we decided to stay a few days longer, so we extended our stay at Phuket and additionally we made the trip to HKG since we got a cheap flight on CX.

Hopefully the great service and meals won't disappear from this continent when the low cost carriers are expanding.

I hope that too, it looks like low cost carriers are booming in South East Asia, Air Asia, Valuair or the brand new Tiger Airways are the best examples.

Enjoy your remaining time in Asia! I am really looking forward to more reports!

Patrick

By the way, have you ever been to Manado/Indonesia? Some Australian guy and his girlfriend recommended us this place, they told us that they stayed there in February this year and that they liked it even better than Phuket (actually hard to believe). I already looked which airlines are flying to Manado and I found out that only Silk Air and Garuda Indonesia have flights from SIN and CGK respectively, looks like an insider place without much tourism.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sun Sep 12, 2004 2:33 pm

Nice to hear you you got the 741 and other new types, I'm planning to go to HKT at the end of this month, on OX I guess. They should be making decent money on ICN/HKG routes, HS-UTD was there at ICN when I left on Friday, and from what I saw it was absolutely packed. I believe they have a 3rd 757 now as well, thus I guess HKT is the only domestic destination with 747 service.

I heard that too about Manado from someone, never been there though. Been only to Jakarta. I would guess some of the new Indonesian low cost airlines serve Manado though, tickets on them cost next to nothing when bought locally.

Regards,

Lari
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sun Sep 12, 2004 3:16 pm

Lari,

Another amazing trip report! I have really come to enjoy your trip reports. Wish I could travel as much as you.

I see you got to try the Kuwait Airways First Class seats. I have had the pleasure as well, though it was on Kuwait Airways itself. They are very comfortable when it comes to snoozing on over-night flights.

Good to see your enjoying Asia as usual, anxiously waiting for the reports on your other flights.

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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Tue Sep 14, 2004 12:14 pm

30 August 2004
Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC) - Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Philippine Airlines PR 850
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZR
1730-1840 – On Time
Fiesta Class (Economy), Seat 74K


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My plan was to fly Air Phils back to Manila, PAL was by far the cheapest, and the A330 should be a comfortable ride anyway. I wasn't cheap enough to take the 5am flight, so I paid 1700 pesos for the afternoon PR 850. This was booked in K class, philippineair.com had quoted me 2700 pesos for S-class before. After sorting out the mess the Cebu Marriott had managed to create with my 1-week broadband internet subscription, it was time to take a taxi to the airport at about 3pm. Late checkout was reluctantly granted until 2pm (Marriott Silver and I spent 9 nights there...), so I had also gone to eat lunch at the nearby Ayala Mall before leaving.

It started raining heavily, and the trip took a bit longer than expected, but I still had plenty of time for check-in. Luckily the PAL guy made no mention of my 26-kgs suitcase, simply tagged it as 1/20 to avoid any excess baggage charges. A window seat 74K was assigned for me on this half empty A330 up to Manila. I then made it through security, this time the screening machine was working unlike in July, and I was through quickly. The departure area was quite busy with a 5J DC9 departing for Iloilo and another one for Manila, as well as our big Airbus parked at gate 4. Unfortunately it was F-OHZR again, same plane I had in July.

Boarding started on time, and was done strictly by row numbers. I actually thought PAL had sent a 747 today after getting 74K assigned, but the A330 has actually seat numbers up to row 76 I believe. After the usual "Hi Sir" by a few of the F/As, I headed to my seat and was very impressed by the legroom and overall seat comfort. PAL A330s definitely have some of the most comfortable economy seats I have sat in.

We were pushed back on time, and headed to runway 22 for takeoff. The sun was just setting and it was getting dark outside at this point. After a noisy and powerful takeoff, we flew over the city while the sun was setting behind the mountains - absolutely stunning view I must say. Unfortunately, the batteries of my digital camera were about to die at this point.

Service started soon after takeoff, and a PAL Snack Pack was served in economy. There was a bag of peanuts, some crackers and a big pack of dried fruit. Drinks were served twice, and also newspapers were offered on this 55-minute flight. Can't really ask for more for mere 1700 pesos I guess. The competition seems quite intense on the Cebu route at the moment, at least two ferry companies (WG&A and somebody else) seemed to be offering P1000 saver fares as well. I plan to do the superferry at some point just for fun.

Trash was soon collected, and the captain announced descent into Ninoy Aquino. On approach, we flew over some mountain partly covered in clouds, again just superb views. Landing was quite smooth, and we taxied to Centennial Terminal 2 and this time docked at the domestic side, so no buses were needed. A 737 arrived from Cagayan de Oro I believe, and docked next to the big Airbus. My bag still had a PAL priority tag on it, and to my surprise, it was the first one to appear. This time I walked upstairs and got one of the incoming taxis again to the Hyatt Regency.

Hyatt Regency Manila, Pasay City PH

This hotel never ceases to amaze me - this was probably the worst stay so far. No welcome message from anyone (had 2 last time...), and Cesz who has checked me in on every stay, decided to assign me a twin room on a low floor. Despite the room having two beds, only one pair of slippers and toothbrush were provided for example. On the other hand, the king rooms seemed to have two sets... Consistent product they have here. This time, there was however a "Gold Passport VIP" conplimentary morning drink order form. These were absent from the other rooms on the Gold Passport floor. But I must say the room Service pizza for P240 tastes great when you know that it (incidentals on a non-qualifying stay) get you the FFN credit. Big grin I have spent 4 nights at this hotel for a total of $232, and just redeemed the two Faster Free Nights at Grand Hyatt Tokyo and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. Maybe I should stop whining after all  Big grin
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Tue Sep 14, 2004 12:48 pm

31 August 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) - Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI)
Asiana Airlines OZ 372
Boeing 767-38E
HL7515
1300-1810 - On Time
Economy Class, Seat 10C (Bulkhead)


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The taxi ride from the Hyatt was interesting to say the least, the driver didn't know the intersection near Coastal Mall was blocked, so he apologized for having to make a U-turn somewhere. We ended up on the Cavite tollway, and there was no way to make the turn before we were in Cavite itself. He tried hard to make it just before the toll booths - I was "Americano in hurry" and god knows what else as he tried to convince the security guard. No way - driver apologized to me, paid the toll both ways and drove like mad back to NAIA. Luckily I had left early enough, so there was no problem with time. Driver apologized about 6 times, and hoped I would still come back to the Philippines despite this experience... We finally arrived at NAIA 1 and I had no problem paying him the equivalent of 2 Euros after this sightseeing trip. Much more interesting than paying the said amount to someone refusing to use the meter.

Asiana check-in had just opened, and I was quickly checked in at the Business/Star Gold counter. I asked for a nice aisle seat - that request went to deaf ears, and she just tossed the boarding pass and lounge invitation to me. I knew I had the first row aisle seat assigned, but it would be appropriate to at least mention I had that seat. The flight looked overbooked in economy anyway. OZ uses the Miascor Lounge, and since our departure gate was at the duty free area, you need to clear security twice to use that lounge.

Miascor Lounge, Manila PH

The lounge was deserted, and only used by Asiana that time of day. A collection of ancient furniture would be the appropriate description for the seats etc found inside, but then again, I haven't seen a nicer lounge either at NAIA 1. Quite interesting food and drink choices were available, I wouldn't think of pizza and tequila first when it comes to lounge foods. Nothing to complain though, they also had some noodles and sandwiches as well as plenty of drinks. Staff were very friendly. I tried to mix a Singapore Sling since the ingredients were there - it's probably a good thing I don't work at the Raffles hotel bar.  Big grin After a brief chat with an American living in Korea who had been "messing around in Angeles City" as he put it, we were invited to board OZ 372 to Incheon.

The scene at the gate wasn't exactly what I expected - Asiana station manager barking us to hurry up because we are the last passengers and we are late. Nice way to treat your premium passengers who were merely following what OZ staff had told us. I politely pointed this to him - "board now" was the reply. Luckily, the overhead bin above row 10 was still empty, and I managed to stuff my roller bag to this rather small 767 overhead bin. HL 7515 was in much better condition that 7247 was, and also legroom was better in row 10 than 25/26. But the seat comfort was a far cry from Philippine Airlines A330 seats.

Door was closed right after we had boarded, and we were pushed back immediately as well. Business class had a grand total of 3 revenue passengers and two pilots (apparently they fly one sector and deadhead back while cabin crew work both sectors). It looks like the businessmen prefer KE's B747-400/777-300 services, can't really fault them based on my OZ experiences so far. We took off on time, and meal service was very rushed right after takeoff. Although a 4-hour flight, drink service was skipped once again.

Meal was a choice of fish or beef IIRC, I chose the beef which was completely tasteless. Somewhat edible after I emptied the Korean red pepper paste tube on it. Drinks were served once, had a glass of red wine and some water. When trays were collected, we still had about 3 hrs of flying time left. I plugged in the headphones and listened to some music, while waiting for my whisky+coke that the F/A conveniently forgot before disappearing after the meal service. It was delivered after pushing the call button, and I even managed to get a second one from her an hour later. Third drink order on this 4-hr flight was met with a very rude "no more". The novie was bad and I just wanted to enjoy a drink or two while listening to their music selection - I am hardly drunk after two whiskeys in two hours.  Insane Maybe it was the competitor's pin that I was wearing (Thai Airways) that put her off...

After another rather boring hour or so, we landed on tine at Incheon International Airport, and parked next to a company A321 preparing to depart for Clark AFB and KE Boeing 777-300. Immigration was deserted, and my bag made it quickly this time as well. A very poor experience overall with Asiana, but I have to choose them rather than KE since I love my miles and lounges...

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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Tue Sep 14, 2004 5:05 pm

01 September 2004
Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Asiana Airlines OZ 341
Boeing 747-48E
HL7428
1710-2050 (1710-2020)
Business Class, Seat 20A (Bulkhead)


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It was not very clear when my university would actually start, and after registering for the courses, it became apparent that I wouldn’t have anything during the first week either… Asiana September web fares were quite decent, so I decided to head back to Bangkok. Obviously I’m just a little insane. So, after registering with the Finnish embassy in Seoul and getting some documentation in order not to go to the military again (for once, they did something right and decided to invite me back for a week when I’m not in Finland  Big thumbs up), I was off to Incheon again.

The KAL Limousine driver was a bit crazy I guess, and we made it to Incheon in just one hour this afternoon. I asked politely if the OZ ticketing agent could issue my upcoming Manila ticket as well – not possible. “Pick up when go” he rumbled and tossed out the BKK ticket on the counter with his finger pointing at the Y-class check-in “now check-in there”. I am starting to believe it’s not bad luck I’m having with Asiana, they seem to have a good number of people who couldn’t care less about customer service.

Check-in was quick at the Business Class desks, and the agent offered a “wide seat for you sir today”. The main deck business cabin was used for economy class today, so I was a happy camper at this point. I then headed to the Asiana Lounge, planning to go to the Singapore Airlines lounge later, as their bar opens at 3pm and Asiana's food selections weren't the best. Had I known about Asiana’s nice own rules completely against Star Alliance procedures, I would not have made this mistake. About six pages worth of discussion regarding this matter can be found at:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=351247

I won’t add anything here about the lounge issue, but I was obviously totally pissed off. Thumbs up for the SQ loyalty department for their handling of the issue though, and even sending a follow up e-mail to wish me a pleasant trip and nice lounge visit on another trip (TG metal to BKK).

Boarding started on time, and I basically walked straight from the Asiana Lounge to my seat in the first row of business class. The seats are of the ancient type, and totally out of place on longhaul routes such as LHR where the competition CX/SQ offer flat beds in C. However, they were nice and comfortable for the BKK run, especially considering I paid for economy. Legroom is about 45-50”, and there is an old style small PTV. There are no adjustable headrests, snake lights or anything like that though. We were pushed back on time, with a very full load in the back and C-class passengers enjoying their F-class seats in the nose of the Jumbo.

I took a few pics of the usual suspects (KE/OZ) while taxiing – before one of the flight attendants shouted “turn off”. Takeoff roll was quite long; I guess we were loaded with cargo as well for the 5-hour flight. Menus were handed out on this flight after takeoff, and they also contained a nice guide about Thailand. A male f/a was serving the business class part of cattle class today, he was friendly enough and service was rather good. I had some Chivas Regal with coke during the initial drink service – OZ serves quality scotch in economy I must say.

The meal was a choice of chicken or beef – I had the beef as the fancy description printed in the menu sounded good. It came with a Thai papaya salad and some sort of fruit cake for dessert. Quite good overall, but still it was plain and simple economy class food that you would expect on any carrier. The Chivas kept flowing on this flight, and I enjoyed watching the darkening sky from my big and comfy seat. Time always flies when you are seated in a premium cabin… After a while, it had got totally dark outside, and we flew directly over Hong Kong – it surely looks stunning with all the lights on. Check Lap Kok followed, and one could clearly see the shape of the passenger terminal as it was all lit up.

We then continued avoided flying over Hainan island, and proceeded directly over Da Nang and the north-eastern cities of Ubon Ratchathani and Surin onto the Thai capital. After the usual 21R approach, a smooth landing followed, and we had arrived 30 minutes early. We then taxied to pier 2 as Asiana uses terminal 1. I always find terminal 1 immigration a bit slower than terminal 2, and today was no exception. My bag was already waiting however, and I took a taxi to the good old JW Marriott.

JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok

I was not very satisfied here on my 7th stay back in April, but must say they handled everything perfectly this time. My high floor king bed room was waiting as was the GM’s welcome letter. One of the front desk ladies escorted me to the room as well, this hadn’t happened for a while at this hotel for me. Overall I had a great stay, and looking forward to returning. For more JW info, you may want to read my older trip reports.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Wed Sep 15, 2004 8:21 pm

Excellent reports ... it's always been a pleasure reading ur article posted here. You have been travelling to lots of interesting places in Asia, which I have not had the opportunity to visit even though i am an Asian and spent most of my time there.

I have flown with Asiana a few time within the past 18 months, mostly PVG-ICH and I have to admit that the standard of service is a little off comparing to other well-known Asian airlines. However just like you, I will have no hesitation of flying with them again if I were to go to Korea simply because of the Star Alliance miles. It's pretty obvious that OZ has reaped rewards being in Star Alliance, at least from returning passengers like you and me ..  Big thumbs up

All the best in your study too ... and keep the reports coming !
 
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Thu Sep 16, 2004 12:19 am

Hi Lari, thanks for the additional reports, they are very good as usual!

It looks like PR offers very good service in their Fiesta Class on domestic routes, and I am really surprised how cheap their fares are, if memory serves me correct, 1.700 Pesos are approximately 30 Euros, ist that correct? I agree with you regarding the comfort onboard the A 330, I simply love it when short-haul flights are operated by a widebody aircraft.

Your OZ experiences don't sound very good but you are correct, miles are also an important factor, especially for you as a LH Senator (how much Senator bonus do you actually get and are these additional miles you get status or only bonus miles?).

Patrick
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:58 pm

Flyerfly,

I have to admit that the standard of service is a little off comparing to other well-known Asian airlines

Exactly my feelings too, but they are still great compared to European or American airlines.

Patrick,

Yes that was a bit shy of 30 EUR. The 5 am flight would have been 1500 Pesos. Yesterday, I finally had the PR A340-300, and got a seat in First. Very nice flight. And their domestic lounge had wireless internet for free and sushi to eat!

The "enhanched" executive bonus means no bonus on most Star Alliance carriers, but OZ seems to be the cheapest from Korea, and luckily they book the web fares in H class, meaning 100% mileage credit.

I read you chose Mahan Air to fly to Asia again, would be great to hear about that later!

Will write more reports when I'm back in Korea next week.

Regards,

Lari
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Sep 17, 2004 12:45 am

I read you chose Mahan Air to fly to Asia again, would be great to hear about that later!

Yes, a few days ago we checked our bank accounts and after much calculating, we found out that another (cheaper) Asia trip would be possible at the end of October. I was searching on many websites for cheap flights and found out that Biman Bangladesh and Mahan Air have good offers to BKK, in the end we decided for Mahan Air because they are flying from our home airport DUS and their flight times are quite good. I am very curious how they are because I never read a report about them or talked with someone who flew on them. I think I will post a trip report when I am back.

I am glad you had another good trip on PR, can't wait to read the report!

Patrick
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Sep 20, 2004 6:35 pm

05 September 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI)
Asiana Airlines OZ 342
Boeing 747-48E
HL7418
2230-0550 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 33D

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It was time to head to Don Muang at about 8:30pm, and I made it there half an hour later. Asiana check-in was crowded with more tour groups and than I have ever seen at check-in, as well as a very large number of Thai construction workers heading to work in Korea I guess. The single business class desk had a line as well, but it only took a few minutes. The desk was manned by a clueless Thai Airport Ground Services agent, with the Asiana supervisor constantly barking orders at her. I asked if I could have one of the better seats in the front of Y class – “Your seat is 33D” was the reply.

Then the fun started when she wanted to see a Korean re-entry permit… Finnish citizens don’t need one and I politely pointed out this to her. “Where card” was repeated about a dozen times until I pulled a random ticket out of Korea from my bag… Supervisor’s next order was “no Asiana card – no lounge invitation”. It would have been appropriate to at least explain that I can use any TG/SQ/LH lounge, but that would be too much to ask from Asiana I guess. I then bought my 500 baht PSC ticket – a tour group leader happened to buy 300 of these tickets just before me.

Immigration had no lines whatsoever, and I made it to the TG Royal Executive lounge by pier 3 in no time. I decided to ask for the massage service although it’s only advertised for TG C/F passengers, and the guy apologized that it is not available for passengers not travelling on TG. He tried to get an exception from his supervisor, but no way. His efforts were appreciated nevertheless. Due to the lack of computers in this lounge, he suggested that I might use any other TG lounge or the SQ lounge next door. Not exactly how Asiana folks in Incheon see Star Gold lounge access…

I headed to the SQ lounge, as the huge north corridor TG lounge has not been renovated. SQ had upgraded their single computer since I was there the last time, and I managed to check emails and book a Priceline hotel night. Drink and snack selections were pathetic compared to the TG lounge, but staff was very friendly as usual. I headed to pier 2 at around 10pm, and OZ 342 was just starting boarding at gate 24. It would be operated by the other full pax 747-400, namely HL7418.

Boarding process was ridiculous, the right side usually reserved for premium cabins and elites was roped off, and after a C-class pax was told to join the awfully long queue, I did so too. It did move relatively fast, and soon I was onboard the jumbo without any greetings whatsoever, the f/as just pointed at the aisles, depending on where your seat was located. The real Y class section was a madhouse, a couple of tour group leaders kept running in the aisles while people were boarding… Lower deck business class was again used for Y, but the agent made no effort to put me there. Obviously it’s not a right to be seated there, but it would be the appropriate place for Star Golds.

The guy in 33E was separated from his friends in 33ABC, and kept staring at me – probably wanting to change seats. They kept swapping newspapers and meal items throughout the flight – great. The seats were awful, same style as the TG 777-200 ones, but I swear these were narrower. Pitch was very tight as well, definitely not 34” that I read somewhere. This was going to be one tough red-eye to Incheon. We were pushed back on time with a 100% load in cattle class. AT this point Mr tour group leader asks the F/A if he can use the bathroom – no problems at all. He then proceeded to distribute some landing forms when we were taxiing.

Menus were distributed after takeoff – quite nice for a 5-hour flight. The dinner was a choice of fish or beef; I had the beef, which was the standard Asiana affair. Not good but not bad either. They seemed to use LSG Sky Chefs in Bangkok instead of Thai Catering, and sometimes I wonder if LSG Y-class meals from some stations are really for us passengers or our four legged friends… The beef was served with rice and the salad was of some weird looking and tasting Korean variety; I ate it for the lack of anything tastier.

Once the trays were cleared, the flight attendants simply pulled the usual US/European trick; disappeared for the rest of the flight. During the meal service, the captain gave the usual details, and proudly announced that “air condition in Incheon very cloud”. Guess the weather would be cloudy, but how can you be a 747 captain with this level of English command? Garfield was the movie for the flight, sleeping was not a possibility in the confined space of 33D, so I watched it. At least I was able to pass some time that way. Lights stayed on for the most of this night flight, I wonder why.

We started our approach to Incheon Intl at around 5:20am, and the flight attendants appeared again to serve us water or orange juice. Landing was on time – 5:50am isn’t exactly the rush hour at this airport or any other for that matter. Immigration was deserted, but I must say I’m stunned how the Koreans simply run and cut in front of you even at immigration, let alone at a subway station. Officer was probably still half asleep; he pulled out a book and tried to find how long Finnish citizens can stay in Korea. My priority tagged bag appeared quickly, and I headed to the bus stands.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Tue Sep 21, 2004 4:56 am

Great stuff as usual Lari!

I must say,I had assumed OZ were a quality airline,as almost all airlines in Asia appear to be,however,from your reports that sure is not the case,very interesting.

Really enjoyed those reports and look forward to more before you return home.

Rgds

Mark
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Wed Sep 22, 2004 1:29 am

Nice report! Too bad about your bad experiences on OZ. I have only flown on them once; ICN-SHA and it was a great flight. Flew on HL7596 and it had good legroom and even legrest in Y. Breakfeast was served and it was very good and the staff was great both on the ground and in the air. Perhaps better luck with their 777 ? They do fly it to MNL on certain days.

I would be very upset too about the denied access to their lounge and I would write their customer relations about this.

I also suggest that you try NH if you fly ICN-BKK or vv. As you are aware at this time, originating in BKK or ICN makes the tickets inexpensive, flying via NRT probably would change that. I have flown NH on several occasions and always had great flights and the flight attendents do not disappear after the meal service.

Take Care

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
beowulf
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Wed Sep 22, 2004 4:30 pm

Hi Lari,

Your reports about OZ discourage me to fly with it. Hmm .... gotta look for alternatives then.

Apart from this, excellent trip report as usual.  Big thumbs up

Nick
 
Lufthansa747
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Thu Sep 23, 2004 2:09 pm

Thanks for the comments!

The777Man,

I got HL7596 on MNL-ICN the other day, much nicer experience than the 763s. It was about half full, and the inflight e-mail was great, although a bit difficult to use as they don't have touch-screen PTVs. Indeed, I tried to get a ticket on NH ex-BKK - it was eur 200 more expensive than TG unfortunately. I'll have a few flights with them later though as part of Varig awards, namely HKG-NRT, HND-OKA and OKA-ITM.

Nick,

OZ is by no means bad - it's just not up to the standards of TG/CX/NH in my opinion. It's fine when compared to US/EU airlines.

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FinnWings
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Thu Sep 23, 2004 8:21 pm

Terve Lari!

Thanks for the excellent reports, it was really nice read about your amazing trips! I have always wondered what kind of service OZ has, but it really doesn't seem to be as good as many other airlines in Asia.

What comes to your hotels in BKK, have you ever tried Landmark which is just next to Marriot where you stayed? I really can recommend that, it is a lot cheaper than Marriott but offers excellent facilities and service.

Have a great time there in Asia!

Parhain terveisin,
FinnWings
 
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Sep 27, 2004 2:15 pm

Terve FinnWings,

I decided to book KE instead of OZ on my next Cebu trip - it will be interesting to see how they compare with OZ. KE schedule is better as well, it allows me to leave CEB in the evening and get to ICN by 0425 the next morning - just in time for the morning classes Big grin

I haven't tried the Landmark actually - but heard good things about it. Unfortunaterly it looks like my next BKK hotels will be in the 500-700 Baht per night range...

This morning I flew Orient Thai to Phuket again - quite an experience to say the least... Anyone with a fear of flying should make a u-turn and walk to Thai ticketing counter in case the OX seatmap says HS-UTB - I have never seen a plane in that poor shape operating a commercial flight to be honest. Aside from the outside appearance, there were rows with multiple missing armrests, broken seats, broken window shades, holes in the slide compartments (repaired with some green stuff), missing/broken overhead reading lights. The walls around the doors (supposed to be white I guess...) and the doors themselves looked like they had never been cleaned. Engines were started with ground power as the APU was inoperational and the wings were missing large chunks of paint. For everyone's sake, I hope this machine will not operate their HKT-ARN/CPH flights... I will write a full report later. Return is booked on PG - should be their less than 2 weeks old A320.

Regards,

Lari
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LHR27C
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Sep 27, 2004 9:55 pm

Congratulations Lari, some really excellent reports! A huge diversity of carriers and destinations, thank you very much for posting these Big grin.

Oliver
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Oct 04, 2004 10:35 pm

10 September 2004
Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Thai Airways International TG 659
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJH “Suphan Buri”
1030-1350 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 32H

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After an utterly boring lecture, I made the mistake of visiting thaiair.com – it resulted in me being about 300 eur poorer. The Thai online booking is weird to say the least, it won’t take your credit card number when the “ticket pick-up from office” is chosen as delivery method. Well, since e-tickets are not available on this route, that was my only alternative. I had no clue where the office was, and neither did the two first taxi drivers who spoke no English at all. Third one finally had some clue, and I got to the office half an hour later. A very friendly agent issued my ticket, and I was good to go three days later.

I made it to Incheon at about 7.30 am, Thai counters would be opening ten minutes later. At exactly 7.40, the station manager came to apologize that they’d need a few more minutes to turn on their system. I requested a first row aisle seat, 31C was assigned and the rude Korean Air agent tossed the boarding pass at me. Since Korean is their handling agent, I asked which lounge TG uses – “Singapore” was the answer. I was secretly hoping I would get to check out the KAL lounge but oh well.

An airport representative was checking the size of carry ons – didn’t speak a word of English but it was obvious she wanted to check how heavy my bag was. None of her business in my opinion if TG was ok with it; luckily she let me go as well. After the U.S. style security check with shoes removed, individual body check, carry on through the machine three times and opened laptop bag, I was deemed to be no threat to our 777 this morning. Immigration was quick, and I was enjoying hot breakfast in the SilverKris lounge soon. The wireless internet makes time to pass by quickly, and after witnessing a fully loaded, dirty Orient Thai 747-100 with paint peeling off taxi in from BKK as OX 300, it was time to board.

HS-TJH was waiting next to two United 777s, and boarding had just started, so I boarded through the elite/business side without delay. 31C/32H are the best seats in house behind the curtain, the bulkhead does not extend so far, so you have basically unlimited legroom. I moved to 32H later as the middle seat on that side was empty. Newspapers were distributed, and “Suphan Buri” was pushed back on time for the hop down to Bangkok Don Muang.

Service started with roasted almonds with drinks as well as hot towels. My aisle was served by a young lady and gentleman, both gave absolutely great service throughout the flight. The female one looked very cute in her blue dress as well…  Love The meal was a choice of beef or chicken, I had the beef if my memory serves me. Served with rice, it came with a very tasty seafood salad, warmed rolls, mango dessert, Korean kimchi as well as some red pepper paste and seaweed stuff for those who want it. For some reason, they served my and my seatmate’s meal directly from the galley as the first row is usually the last to get served.

Wine and water glasses were refilled constantly, and cognac was offered after the meal as usual. IFE on these 777s is pretty much non-existent, so I fired up my MP3 player after the meal service while enjoying Ballantines cokes. There was no need to ever use the call button as the crews were constantly patrolling the aisles. I happened to be in the lavatory when immigration forms were distributed – mine were conveniently left on the traytable and drink had been refilled.

Our routing took us over Taipei, then towards Vietnam and over Isaan to Bangkok as usual. As we were starting descent to Don Muang over my ex-girlfriend’s hometown, the male f/a insisted I take one more drink and he’ll bring some snacks… Sure enough, five bags of almonds and another drink arrived moments later. At this point, I had to get the “customer satisfaction survey” out of the seatpocket. Another refill was offered upon handing the survey to the guy, but I had had enough drinks by this time.

We touched down a few minutes early on 21L, and taxied to pier 3 if I remember correctly. Immigration had short lines, but I was waved over to a Thai passports only counter and was through in seconds. As I had no checked bags, I was at the airport bus stop a minute or so later. Next A3 to Thong Lo would be in 10 minutes, so I decided to wait and save some bath.
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Lufthansa747
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Tue Oct 05, 2004 12:51 am

12 September 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI)
Thai Airways International TG 658
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJD “Mukhadan”
2350-0715+1 – On Time
Royal Executive Class, Seat 22D

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This flight showed C4 D4 J4 Z4 Y0 availability the day before, but knowing TG, I wasn’t expecting anything in terms of nicer seats. After some bar hopping, it was time to catch a taxi to the airport – I was not looking forward to this red-eye at all. Thai’s Star Gold check-in was deserted while C-class desks had lines – the guy looked pretty bored in his “Thai Premium Services” jacket. I asked for 32H or an exit row seat – “Sir one minute please” and he picked up the phone. A few moments later, his printer spat out a blue boarding pass which he handed to me with a big smile and “Big seat for you tonight sir, business”.

I cleared immigration quickly, and went to the great new lounge by pier 3. Although my boarding pass had “UPG C/CL” written on it, TG decided to bear the costs of my lounge visit instead of writing down my LH card details. I believe at least Virgin and Cathay do not allow lounge access for upgraded passengers. Having arrived rather late, I had just enough time for the massage service, which is excellent. Hopefully it will be a permanent feature and not just a trial.

I left the lounge for gate 4 quite late – and then realized it was one of those bus gates in the basement. Another guy qas running towards the area as well – asked if he is by any chance on TG 658 as well. He told me to mind my own business.  InsaneObviously, I was on the last bus, with about five other passengers. We then drove to the cargo ramp, where my old friend HS-TJD was waiting next to a sad looking Orient Thai classic, also headed to Korea as OX 300 later that night. I have flown on Tango Juliet Delta previously from Bangkok to Phuket.

Thai’s 777-200s have the infamous 2-4-2 seating in business class. Although narrow, I found the seat to be ok as far as old style business class seats go. It’s a bit narrow, but legroom is about 45-50”, there is a PTV as well as a proper legrest and adjustable headrest. Royal Executive class was more or less completely empty, I had the middle block of four for myself. As soon as I got to my seat, the flight attendant rushed to me offering the usual pre-departure drinks and a hot towel. I had a glass of Piper Heidsieck champagne. Service was nice but I prefer the looks of her younger colleagues in the back Big grin.

Menus and amenity kits were handed out later; the menu features pictures of chilli on the cover and is quite nice and stylish. The amenity kit was one of the best that I have had in business class. Shaped like a traditional Thai pillow, the contents ranged from various quality toiletries to earplugs and a nice foldable comb. Unfortunately, I left the amenity kit unintentionally on the Korean Air bus the next morning – I woke up and had to rush out at the correct stop.

We were pushed back on time, and took off without delay from 21R as usual. A light snack was served after takeoff – this consisted of a plate of open sandwiches and another plate of pralines. I had champagne to drink. A hot breakfast was served in the morning – yoghurt, fruit plate and a choice of an omelette or Asian style breakfast. I fell asleep after the first meal service and woke up as we touched down at Incheon a few minutes early. A big thank you for Thai for the upgrade – 22D was a great seat to spend the red-eye in.
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luftaom
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:33 pm

Any more Lari? These are great!
 
ba319-131
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Tue Oct 26, 2004 4:28 am

Another great instalment from 'our man' in the field Lari.

Nice stuff,always enjoy the reports.

Thanks

Mark
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Lufthansa747
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Thu Oct 28, 2004 11:15 pm

I'll try to get some more typed next week - four days in Korea and no school... Should be ok if I can remember the details! Guess these will take some time though:

150904 ICN MNL OZ0371 Boeing 767-38E ER HL7268
150904 MNL CEB PR0849 Airbus A340-313X F-OHPK
190904 CEB MNL PR0848 Airbus A330-301 F-OHZR
190904 MNL ICN OZ0372 Boeing 777-28E ER HL7596
210904 ICN BKK TG0657 Boeing 777-2D7 HS-TJE
270904 BKK HKT OX0267 Boeing 747-246B HS-UTB
290904 HKT BKK PG0803 Airbus A320-214 HS-PGU
021004 BKK HKT TG0221 Boeing 747-4D7 HS-TGF
031004 HKT BKK TG0222 Boeing 747-4D7 HS-TGR
031004 BKK SIN SQ0063 Boeing 777-312 9V-SYA
031004 SIN ICN SQ0882 Boeing 747-412 9V-SMO
061004 ICN MNL KE0621 Boeing 777-3B5 HL7533
061004 MNL CEB PR0849 Airbus A340-313X F-OHPM
101004 CEB MNL PR0854 Airbus A330-301 F-OHZN
101004 MNL ICN KE0624 Boeing 777-3B5 HL7573
131004 ICN SIN SQ0883 Boeing 747-412 9V-SMQ
131004 SIN BKK SQ0066 Boeing 747-412 9V-SPD
171004 BKK HKT FD0100 Boeing 737-300 9M-AAL
181004 HKT BKK TG0218 Airbus A300B4-605R HS-TAT
181004 BKK ICN OZ0342 Boeing 747-48E HL7428
221004 ICN HKG OZ0301 Boeing 747-48EM HL7414
241004 HKG NRT UA0890 Boeing 747-422 N198UA
251004 NRT ICN OZ0105 Boeing 767-38E HL7506
271004 ICN MNL OZ0371 Boeing 767-38E HL7515
271004 MNL CEB PR0849 Airbus A320-214 RP-C3224

A few very interesting flights - OX 747 in very questionable shape, brand new Bangkok Air A320, terrible service on SQ ICN-SIN, nice UA service on HKG-NRT and KE/OZ comparison.

Regards,

Lari
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ba319-131
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Oct 29, 2004 4:01 am

Looks like you've some serious wrighting to do!! Smile

I'm looking forward to them.

Rgds

Mark
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The777Man
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Oct 29, 2004 3:19 pm

Hi Lari!

Write just the ones that you mentioned are interesting plus perhaps the OZ 777 experience !

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
Lufthansa747
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Oct 29, 2004 6:04 pm

Hi Lari!

Write just the ones that you mentioned are interesting plus perhaps the OZ 777 experience !

The777Man


I'll do just that - quick notes on other flights (as I have reported them before), and longer reports on the more interesting ones.

Cheers,

Lari
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Oct 29, 2004 6:06 pm

15 September 2004
Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI) – Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Asiana Airlines OZ 371
Boeing 767-38E/ER
HL7263
0900-1150 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 10C (Bulkhead)

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I decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency Incheon the night before in order to avoid an overpriced taxi ride in the morning. A very nice and modern hotel – but the room rate was EUR 140 and a drink in the deserted bar EUR 11, enough said. The Best Western next door will do if I need to stay in Incheon in the future. Lots of crews seemed to be staying at the Hyatt, I spotted at least CX pilots and KE cabin crews. It’s a KAL Hotel branded as a Hyatt actually.

I made it to the Asiana ticket desk at around 6:50 am – ticket printed and tossed at the desk in front of me; efficient but not friendly. Check-in was the same procedure, not that I expected anything else. Security was overly tight again, I passed through two metal detectors without a beep and they still wanted to do the additional stuff with the handheld thing. Sometimes I feel tempted to ask why those detector gates have actually been installed… The screening procedure has been exactly like this on every subsequent trip, along with some additional bag searches.

I have decided to use the lounge closest to departure gate as it’s quite a distance between the two (SQ/OZ), usually it means Asiana Lounge for OZ flights. A nice hot breakfast and some net surfing later, I was ready to board the 767 down to Manila. Filipina flight attendants warmly greeted me upon boarding; their Korean colleagues didn’t say a word. 10C is as good as economy gets on these things – legroom is decent but the seat size is more suited to Asians.

We pushed back on time, took off without delay, and service began soon. No drink service to start with, just meals and one round of water/wine refills. Choice was beef or fish – I had no idea I’d be eating this same trash on all routes ex-ICN for the next two months… I chose the beef – Korean style beef with Korean vegetables and some flavoured rice… It was completely tasteless, yet the portion was large. Service was decent until I received a decent amount of red wine on my shirt… They were simply pouring it over other pax to the passengers in middle seats while Thai and SQ for example fill your glass and then hand it to you…

No other service after the lunch – I ordered one Chivas+Coke and fortunately fell asleep for a while. OZ Manila flights don’t even have a movie, so needless to say they are rather boring. Landing was on time, I was rather shocked to see OZ has no infant seatbelts. The baby in 10A was basically jumping on her Filipina mother’s lap when touching down, while the Korean father was conveniently reading a newspaper in row 11...

Immigration was a breeze this time, and priority baggage worked fine. After getting some cash from an ATM, I lugged my staff upstairs and took a regular taxi to NAIA terminal 2 in order to avoid the downstairs rip-offs.

15 September 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) – Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC)
Philippine Airlines PR 849
Airbus A340-313X
F-OHPK
1500-1615 – On Time
First Class, Seat 2A

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Same flight as last time, but tins time I finally got to try the Airbus A340-300 First Class. Check-in and security was a breeze, and I headed to the Mabuhay Lounge as usual. As I had a few hours to spare, I decided to ask if they had an adaptor available so I could plug in my laptop and do some trip report writing  Smile. The lounge supervisor personally went to find one for me, and I was even more pleased to find out that they offered free wireless internet as well. That made time pass by a lot quicker obviously. I also enjoyed some sushi and a few beers – definitely a top notch domestic lounge.

Boarding was from S2, and started on time. The A340 First is arranged in a 2-2-2 layout just like business, but legroom was very generous. The seats are electronically controlled, and recline to almost flat position. As we were waiting for boarding to be completed, newspapers, hot towels and drinks were offered. Later, the flight attendant responsible for my section took the dinner order from me as well as introduced herself.

The flight itself was just like described earlier, so I won’t bother going into more details. My food choice was stir fried beef with noodles – tasty meal again. As soon as the trays were cleared, we were already on descent into Mactan Cebu… I could have handled a longer flight in these nice seats. I stayed again at the Marriott, nice stay with some small glitches.

19 September 2004
Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC) – Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Philippine Airlines PR 848
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZM
0930-1040 – On Time
Mabuhay Class (Business), Seat 17K

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I had bought a ticket for the 7:30 am departure, but decided that’s way too early… I first tried to upgrade it to C at the local travel agent – no business class was offered. The flight had been changed to a regional jet… err Beoing 737… one class service. It was an easy choice to rebook onto business class on PR848, leaving two hours later.

This was another CEB-MNL run, nothing special but a nice flight. This morning, my side of business class was served by a very nice lady called Erica, and assorted dim-sum was served in business class. A quick ride, and an on-time arrival into Ninoy Aquino made it easy for me to get to terminal one in good time before Asiana check-in would close.
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Lufthansa747
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Fri Oct 29, 2004 10:34 pm

19 September 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) – Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI)
Asiana Airlines OZ 372
Boeing 777-28E/ER
HL7596
1500-1615 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 10C (Bulkhead)

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Asiana check-in was quick at the business class desk – but the lady was a trainee. She had to ask everything from the supervisor, and forgot to put any priority tag on my bag. Also, it was the usual hassle showing onward tickets from Korea to here and there. “Asiana Airlines – Asia’s Hidden Jewel” lounge invitation was handed to me, and luckily this time the departure gate was in the same concourse as well.

The Misacor lounge was it’s usual self – some pasta and pizza to eat and tequila and other spirits to drink. After a while, the 777-200 landed, followed by a company 767 freighter. What I find funny is that when OZ operates a 767, KE is a 777. On days when OZ sends the 777, KE is usually a 747. Some kind of rivalry here? The lounge was deserted and comfortable, and boarding was soon called.

After the customary bag search at the gate, I boarded the triple seven, and took my seat in the first row of economy. 10C has pretty much unlimited legroom as the bulkhead doesn’t extend that far. The seat itself was old-style, thick seatback and no adjustable headrests. However, it was much more comfortable than the 767 seats of Asiana. There is also a standard PTV, and I especially liked the e-mail/SMS feature.

After a while, one of the flight attendants came and told me “your bag is too big”. I said it’s a standard Air Canada brand carry on, and the bin can be closed just fine. “It’s too big and too heavy. You move it.” Fine. If 12 kgs is too heavy for her to move, I surely can get up and move it. To her amazement, I simply closed the bin without moving the bag. Flight attendant didn’t say a word. I figured if Thai 777 bins can be closed, surely the ones on OZ could be closed as well.

The doors were closed early, and we were pushed back with two passengers in business class and about 50% load in economy. 10B remained empty which was nice. Took off without delay, and the meal service started soon. Service was poor throughout the flight, something I’d expect on a U.S. domestic flight. The meal was beef or chicken – the beef was again very bland and tasteless. I asked and got a whisky with coke after the meal, the order for a second one an hour later was met with “no more” from the same “Senior Stews” who had issues with my carry on bag. At least on Ryanair, they’d let me purchase my drink…

I sent a few e-mails using the PTV and followed the flight path on Airshow in order not to get bored – thankfully the seat was rather comfortable when reclined. We started our descent quite early, shortly after passing the island of Jeju, and touched down at Incheon a few minutes early. Korean immigration was a total joke that day – three desks were open for non-Koreans (with lines extending to the concourse), while the rest were for Koreans and were empty. I was through after about 45 minutes, and obviously my bag was waiting there on the belt.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sat Oct 30, 2004 12:10 am

21 September 2004
Seoul Incheon International (ICN/RKSI) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Thai Airways International TG 657
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJE “Chaiyaphum”
2100-0035+1 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 40 DEFG


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It was time for the Chosuk holidays in Korea. All ticket prices had been jacked up, but thankfully just a phone call to Thai was enough to get my existing Q-class ticket changed to the evening Bangkok run on Tuesday the 21st of September. I arrived at Incheon a few minutes before Thai was scheduled to open their counters. When approaching the C-class desk, the Korean Air agent rudely told me “system down, wait in line”. Meanwhile, the TG station manager running around and apologizing for the delay.

After about ten minutes, the systems were up, and I made my way to the abovementioned Royal Executive Class desk again. As usual, I asked the agent “Would you have something in the first row for me, preferably 31C or 32H?”. Not getting any of it, she asked “First row, why you want?” I said I need the extra legroom, and the supervisor immediately came to the desk and told the KE lady to issue a boarding pass for 31C for me. Bag was tagged to Don Muang, and off to the SilverKris lounge I went. Security was the usual hassle, but thankfully immigration was deserted this evening.

A cheerful Singapore Airlines agent welcomed me to the lounge by “Welcome sir, how are you tonight?”. Quite a contrast to these OZ/KE agents who don’t give a sh*t about customer service based on my experience. Needless to say, the lounge was great. I had some pasta and prawns for dinner, and later moved to the bar to enjoy a few glasses of champagne. The bar closed conveniently at 8:30pm, so I made it to the gate where boarding was just about to start.

After seeing my passport, the TG supervisor cracked a few jokes in Finnish, and told me he once had a Finnish girlfriend. A good start for a flight that would be one of the best I have had on any airline so far. I was one of the first to board, and the cheerful ladies welcomed me onboard. The flight turned out to be very empty, yet 31ABC were all occupied. Just as I was going to ask if I can move before takeoff, one of the air hostesses ( yes, the TG name tag says Air Hostess) came and asked “Mr. Lufthansa747, I have four seats reserved for you back there so you can have some rest.” I was amazed.

She then asked if I’d like a Bangkok post or some other newspaper – I told her I’d actually prefer The Nation. A few minutes later, she came to my seat, apologizing for the delay and handed me a few magazines from business class as well – “I thought you might like these as well”. We were pushed back early, and took off into the dark Korean sky, touch down in Krung Thep would be five hours later. Shortly after takeoff, drinks were served with roasted almonds and hot towels were offered.

When clearing the cups, the lady immediately asked if I want another Singha beer, ran to the galley and came back with the can a few seconds later. Meals were served shortly thereafter – the crew showed the choices with descriptions and photos on a laminated card. I had the chicken instead of pork and it was good. It came with a delicious seafood salad, warm roll, a pack of Korean kimchi, some dried seaweed and a delicious mango dessert. Wine and water refills were offered about five times throughout the meal before coffee/tea/cognac service.

Shortly after the meal, I headed to the galley to return the C-class magazines – ended up chatting there with the inflight supervisor and a steward for almost two hours. The touch-screen LCD they have on the 777 is definitely very sophisticated, the supervisor explained to me various stuff like the screen that showed that all doors were armed, passenger calls etc. He had been with Thai for a long time, and remembered flying to Helsinki on the DC10s back in the late 1980s. Meanwhile the younger guy of Indian origin never forgot to refill my glass of Ballantines and Coke.

At some point, it got a bit turbulent, and the asked me to return to my seat with “we’ll refill your drink and don’t hesitate to ask for anything” comment. Later, the purser came down with a plastic 747 model and TG playing cards as I had told him I was an aviation enthusiast. Thanks to the drinks they managed to serve me in the galley, I fell asleep and only woke up as we were taxiing to the gate at Don Muang. When deplaning, I could only think about the “We hope to provide you with the best service possible” part of the usual Thai Airways welcome aboard speech. Immigration was a breeze, and I was back in Bangkok.
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scandinavian
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sat Oct 30, 2004 12:23 am

Hyvä Lari! Always a pleasure to read your reports!

What a great flight you had from SEL to BKK, wonderful Thai service!

I guess you are starting to get a little tired of the OZ/KE agents who seems to be uninterested of customer service. How is the service in Seoul, in restaurants etc.?
"He was a wise man who invented beer"-Platon
 
The777Man
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sat Oct 30, 2004 1:08 am

Thanks for the great reports ! I've had similiar experiences in Korea with people at the airport.

Looking forward to the rest; PG A320, UA 744 etc!  Smile

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
Lufthansa747
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sat Oct 30, 2004 1:13 am

27 September 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Phuket International (HKT/VTSP)
Orient Thai Airlines OX 267
Boeing 747-246B
HS-UTB
0845-1005 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 20A (Exit Row)


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My plan was to go to Phuket for a few days – it just got postponed day after day due to enjoying a bit too much of you know what in some watering holes every night. Finally, on September 26th, I went to bed a bit earlier. My el-cheapo place to sleep obviously had no wake up calls, so I had to trust my good old mobile phone and it’s capabilities to wake up someone who loves to sleep until the afternoon on holidays… My Samsung made a lot awful noise at 6:30 am – mission completed.

The taxi ride was quick as usual from Sukhumvit, and I was queuing in front of the One-Two Go ticketing counter at about 7:20 am. I told the guy I need a one way to Phuket, handed him my passport and Mastercard, and a minute later and 1150 baht poorer, I was the proud holder of the end product of the his HP LaserJet. With “PNR: CONFIRMED SEAT”, I was obviously good to go to Phuket. According to the ticket, I had paid with a Visa card that had expired a few months ago, but we are talking about Orient Thai here…

Check-in was rather quick – I asked for the business class upgrade – “plane no have upper deck” was the agent’s answer. Hmmm, right there on the seatmap it says “HS-UTB B747-246B”. I was about to crack a joke about a 747 without upper deck but managed to just leave with 20A assigned for me. Security was a breeze as usual at Don Muang domestic, and after grabbing a greasy burger from the Burger King upstairs, I headed down to gate 9 for boarding. The downstairs bus gate area was a total madhouse, with the OX flight and TG flights to Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Soon, the TAGS buses pulled up to the gate, and boarding started for OX 267 to Phuket. The load was over 300 this morning, and the pilot in command would be First Officer Cruz from the Philippines according to the papers I saw at the gate. After a five-minute bus ride, we pulled up to Uniform Tango Bravo – not exactly a pleasant sight… Paint was falling off all over the place, the fuselage was very dirty and the registration under the wing seemed to be painted with a paintbrush… “B747-246B CN 20529” was painted next to door 5L.

After walking up the stairs, the sight that greeted me was even worse… The inside of door 1L looked like it had been beaten up by somebody, complete with holes filled with some green stuff. A young flight attendant was all smiles when greeting the passengers, the rest of the interior didn’t look as pleasant. Lower deck was fitted with ancient seats, with blue seat covers that were worn beyond imagination. Armrests were missing or hanging into the aisles. A movie screen was removed; simply a black hole was left.

The agent, who insisted we had no upper deck, had thoughtfully given me seat 20A in the exit row. But I would rather not have looked at the exit door… Window frame was crushed, the slide compartment had holes, and the door was very dirty. One of the F/A lights as well as the compartment below the crew jumpseats was broken. Overhead bins were broken and seat numbers were missing… My window shade was missing. The view outside wasn’t much better - anybody with some kind of fear of flying should not look at the engines or the wing.

APU on this particular machine was inoperational, but Orient Thai had splurged for a TAGS ground air conditioning unit this morning. We were pushed back right on time, but engine start-up with the various ground equipment took approximately 20 minutes. We then started taxiing like there was no tomorrow for runway 21R for takeoff. All of a sudden, some of the old overhead compartments of course opened on the bumpy taxiway… So what’s the solution? The flight attendant in the jumpseat told me “Sir bin very heavy – you can help me?” Yours truly got up and started closing the 2-3 bins next to my seat while the flight attendant enjoyed her jumpseat. Quite a bit of fun as Mr. Cruz was speeding on the taxiway…

Flight attendant thanked me, but suddenly I decided to review the door operation from the safety card… Might be too heavy for her as well I guess. We entered runway 21R, and after a long noise roll, the 32-years old jumbo graciously lifted off and we were on out way to Phuket. Service started as we were still climbing – the 747-200 is not exactly a rocket – and was the standard Orient Thai offering. Their new peanuts are quite tasty though. The galley looked funny with a few cases of coke stored in place of the usual carts…

I was curious to see the rest of the plane, so I went all the way to the back before using one of the lavatories. “Icelandic law provides up to 2 years of imprisonment for tampering with lavatory smoke detector” completely cracked me up… This particular jumbo is the oldest in Orient Thai fleet, having spent time with JAL, Air Atlanta Icelandic, Air Algerie, Saudia and god knows who else. Soon, our American captain announced descent into Phuket – Mr. Cruz is not very talkative based on my flights CNX-BKK and this one…

As soon as I made it to my seat, I heard a loud bang from the right side of the 747… Not especially comforting by looking at the shape of the plane, but I guess it was nothing major as I’m still here writing this report. Mr. Cruz soon slammed down the nose and we were really descending into Phuket International Airport. After the usual nice views, the poor old jumbo made a very hard landing, and the engines were screaming at full reverse thrust.

Phuket was rather busy this morning, with two company 747s operating charters to Taipei and Incheon as well as one Phuket Air B747 and a Thai A300. As I had only hand luggage, I was waiting for the shuttle bus outside in no time.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sat Oct 30, 2004 2:26 am

29 September 2004
Phuket International (HKT/VTSP) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Bangkok Airways PG 806
Airbus A320-232
HS-PGU “Guilin”
1320-1440 (1330-1440)
Economy Class, Seat 2F


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My plan was to fly Orient Thai back as well, but due to their late arrival into Bangkok, I decided to try the new Bangkok Airways A320 on this trip. It cost about 600 baht more than Orient Thai, but I’d be on a brand new A320 and get to Bangkok in the afternoon instead of 10pm. I arrived at Phuket International about an hour and a half to spare, and a Bangkok Air employee escorted me past the lines as soon as he saw I had only hand baggage. I asked for a seat in the front, and 2F was assigned promptly.

I then headed through security quickly, and into the Bangkok Airways lounge. A better description would be tourist meeting room… It was full of Russians and Italians heading home. The internet was slower than traffic in Seoul, checking my hotmail took 10 minutes. I would have preferred the serene surroundings of the Thai lounge despite the lack of internet access.

The Airbus was scheduled to arrive late from Bangkok, and the staff simply placed a sign on the gate counter. Somebody went to ask about it and the answer was “we are not boarding, have a seat.” My experience with PG is that their staff is not anywhere as friendly as on TG or even Orient Thai/Air Asia for that matter. Boarding started at around the scheduled departure time, and I was the first to board the A320 after some Korean VIPs.

Legroom in row 2 was quite good, but the seats looked cheap and small considering they were only two weeks old. Not even winged headrests. Otherwise, the interior was obviously very nice and fresh considering the age of the airplane. First flight had apparently been to Phnom Penh on 16th of September.

The flight was full of foreigners, and crew didn’t seem too enthusiastic today. Takeoff was about 20 minutes late, and we flew over the JW Marriott Resort and Sarasin Bridge when climbing. Our routing then took us over Surat Thani and from there straight into Bangkok and its Don Muang airport over the Gulf of Thailand.

Meal service on Bangkok Air is very good – this flight was no exception. We were served pork cutlets with rice and vegetables, and ice cream for dessert. A small but very tasty meal. I also purchased a can of Singha for 40 baht – unfortunately it was not cold at all. The dropdown LCDs were showing the flight path throughout the flight, so I was entertained especially after firing up my MP3 player.

Landing at Don Muang was on time, and we parked at a remote stand next to some older Phuket Air B737s. Feeling cheap, I caught the A3 Airport Bus to Sukhumvit in order to save some money.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sat Oct 30, 2004 3:27 am

02 October 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Phuket International (HKT/VTSP)
Thai Airways International TG 221
Boeing 747-4D7
HS-TGF “Sri Ubon”
1820-1940 – On Time
Royal First Class, Seat 1A


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Don’t ask why I went back to Phuket – I have no idea myself either. Anyway, I got to Don Muang at around 5pm, and after confirming that TG 221 would indeed be a 747, I purchased a full fare C ticket on that flight. My name was spelled wrong on the ticket, nobody raised an eyebrow. Check-in was a breeze, and after the agent tried to give me seat 22A, I requested something in rows 1-4… 01A was promptly assigned.

Orient Thai’s OX 283 – the cheapest flight to Hat Yai and a 747 – was just opened for check-in as well, the lines looked terrible. Anyway, I wasn’t subjected to any lines today, so I conveniently bypassed this zoo and entered the Thai Airways lounge. After a few snacks and a can of Coke, I decided to head to the concourse to do some spotting as the domestic Thai lounge is nothing special. OX283 to Hat Yai was pushed back and then sat on the taxiway for 20 minutes… All of a sudden, HS-UTC (another 747 with inop APU) was towed back to its stand and passengers deplaned. I would love to know how OX handled this…

Boarding for TG 221 started on time, and was from downstairs again as the 747 was sitting at a remote stand. I was quite pleased as we pulled next to Tango Golf Foxtrot – one of the two new Thai B747-400s. Everybody seemed to board via door 2L, I was the rebel and walked up the stairs to door 1L… I was then promptly escorted to seat 1A, my bag was stowed in the closet, and a glass of ice tea, a cold towel and The Nation arrived within minutes. TGF was equipped with the new First Class sleepers – very comfortable seats in my opinion though the older First seats are wider.

Just as doors were closed, it started raining heavily, and a thunderstorm was in full swing as we were taxiing to 21R for takeoff. I have seen U.S. airports closed in lighter weather, but Captain Alongkorn simply announced that there would be a slight delay as ATC was increasing the separation between departing aircraft. After sitting there on 21R for a few minutes, the jumbo powered up and we thundered down the runway and took off into the storm clouds. It was possibly the bumpiest takeoff roll I have experienced, nevertheless seatbelt sign went off at 10000 ft and service started despite the very bumpy ride.

Captain soon came on and apologized for the delay and bumpy ride – “we had to wait for the worst clouds to get out of the way for the safety of all of us” was what he said. Prawns in chilli sauce was served this evening – very nice but a bit on the spicy side. Flights in First always pass by too quickly, and we soon started our descent into rainy and stormy Phuket. Nobody seemed to mind the bumpy ride – everybody used the toilets as usual and the seatbelt only came on at around 10-15000 feet.

The final approach was very rough with some crosswinds combined with the thunderstorm, and the pilots slammed down the jumbo harder than I have ever experienced. The face of the Thai lady in 1H was priceless as the nose gear right below us slammed down to the runway… We then taxied to the terminal, and parked next to Orient Thai’s HS-UTJ which has apparently returned from Ghana. It was operating OX 266 to Bangkok.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sun Oct 31, 2004 1:49 am

Thanks for the interesting reports!

Orient Thai seems kinda scary; amazing that they operate aircraft in that condition!

Bangkok Air doesn't seem very impressive. I think you had another trip report on them before, on a 717 and it didnt' seem that great either. Rather fly a widebody BKK-HKT on TG than a narrowbody on PG.

Keep 'em coming! (when you have time)

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
HB-IWC
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sun Oct 31, 2004 8:06 pm

As so many here I really appreciate the recounts of your Asia travel. As I also operate out of the region here, I do fly TG quite a bit, just like yourself. TG is the best choice for me, as I often need to make stop overs in BKK. Based in CGK, I can even make a stop over in SIN on TG, so I'm often flying routings like CGK-BKK-HKG/ICN/TPE/NRT-BKK-SIN-CGK on TG's regional fleet.

As for TG's intra-Asia product, I have absolutely nothing to complain about regarding their staff and on-board service. Check-in and lounge service in BKK and many outstations is always very efficient and with a smile. Also, the on-board service is great, with some of the better meal services around Asia.

My problem with them is their cabin lay-out for the regional aircraft. Out of CGK, I'm always stuck on either the A300, which has old C-class seats and a seat pitch that's nothing to write home about, or the B777 with the infamous 2-4-2 (thats 2-FOUR-2!) seating! Also, in terms of IFE, there's really nothing much to tell, is there?

I'm living with it, because, as I said before, it's the most efficient option for me, and, not unimportant, their prices are not bad ex CGK. But I really think that promised cabin upgrade is by now long overdue and I wonder what your experiences are?

Btw, if ever your Asian travels bring you to Indonesia, I'll be glad to show you around the local aviation scence here. Just let me know. OZ is flying here thrice weekly and they're not expensive, but I guess you'd rather fly TG given your previous experiences with OZ...

 
Lufthansa747
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sun Oct 31, 2004 9:09 pm

Orient Thai seems kinda scary; amazing that they operate aircraft in that condition!

Bangkok Air doesn't seem very impressive. I think you had another trip report on them before, on a 717 and it didnt' seem that great either. Rather fly a widebody BKK-HKT on TG than a narrowbody on PG.


IMHO, Bangkok Airways is nice as far as a first-time Thailand tourist goes. Nothing special, but a hot meal and good service by Euro/American standards. After a few flights, you start to enjoy the privacy of TG C no matter if there is a meal etc...

OX stinks of course, but mad aviation enthusiasts like me just love the chance to get on a classic 747 for 22 EUR.... I suppose I'll have another OX run next time, look for the report if I survive Big grin!


Btw, how is your 777 mission doing, missing any carrier?

HB-IWC,

Indeed, the A300 C class stinks on TG. Yet, I really like the service, and book TG instead of SQ for reqional runs whenever possible. I might get to CGK on OZ in DEC, undecided between CGK and MNL (friends visiting?). The OZ 767 is not really the plane to fly to Jakarta, but I'd love to visit again...


Cheers,

Lari




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The777Man
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Sun Oct 31, 2004 11:54 pm

Hi Lari!

Too bad with TG; they announced last year that they were going to refurbish C and Y on the 777-200, but I guess that's been delayed.....

My 777 mission is going well; missing three carriers : PIA (PK), Air Austral (UU) and Kenya Airways (KQ). Hope to fly PK in February or so ORD/JFK to MAN and probably back to ORD/LAX in AI 777. Hope to fly KQ 777 next year sometime if they fly it on NBO-BKK-HKG since flights are cheap out of BKK.

Trip report will follow with each new 777 carrier that I fly.

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
ba319-131
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Nov 01, 2004 6:06 am

Lari,

Some excellent updates here.

Love the OX flight,that plane sounds like a disaster zone. I've never sat on a plane thinking i'd rather not be there,i think i'd like to fly that one just to see how it feels! - odd,yes i know!

Rgds

Mark
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Lufthansa747
Topic Author
Posts: 2953
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia

Mon Nov 01, 2004 1:19 pm

Too bad with TG; they announced last year that they were going to refurbish C and Y on the 777-200, but I guess that's been delayed.....

I brought up this issue with the IFS on TG 657 - he burst out laughing "sir not even started installing new seats yet". TJB seems to have been re-painted, I'd like to hear from someone who has recently flown on it if the interior has been refurbished or not.

What they really should do first is to refurbish the 744 config 747-400s. The business class seats are a total joke, just like on the A300. But these things fly BKK-KIX-LAX for example and not just regional routes...

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