Lufthansa747
Topic Author
Posts: 2953
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 7:45 am

Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Thu Dec 09, 2004 6:37 pm

The rest of my fall travels will be posted in this thread - earlier ones can be found at http://www.airliners.net/discussions/trip_reports/read.main/48245/

09 November 2004
Osaka Kansai International (KIX/RJBB) – Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI)
Asiana Airlines OZ 111
Boeing 767-38E/ER
HL7263
1310-1500 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 10G (Bulkhead)


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I took the limousine bus from the Osaka Hilton to Kansai, another new Asian airport located in the middle of nowhere. The ride took about an hour, and I arrived at the Asiana desks well ahead of departure. Agent at the Business/Star Gold counter was apparently a trainee, and the supervisor had to help with everything. However, they managed to check me in all the way to Bangkok (separate tickets) which was appreciated.

I then headed through security and immigration without delay, and took the train to the ANA Signet Lounge closest to my gate. It was quite simply the worst international lounge I have ever been to, small selection of drinks, practically no food and no internet stations available. Also, there were no windows and the place was about the size of a closet.

Boarding for OZ 111 started on time, and a smiling OZ flight attendant greeted me at the door. I had a bulkhead seat which was comfortable enough. Also, the flight was far from full, so the seat next to me remained empty. We were pushed back roughly on time, and taxied past a bunch of Chinese jets as well as a Korean A330. I snapped a few pictures until a rude flight attendant was again pointing at me and saying “off”. I have never had a problem using my camera on any other airline.

We taxied past some Japanese cargo jumbos and took off without delay. Having browsed airlinemeals.net, I was expecting a Japanese cold obento box. Instead, the crew tossed out a tray with two sandwiches and a cup of orange juice and disappeared for the rest of the flight. I had so good views of Korea as the weather was nice, and soon we were on descent to Incheon.

During descent, various passengers and their luggage were reseated near the front. Most didn’t bother wearing a seatbelt or stow their bags properly, the crew didn’t care. As we landed, the guy next to me decided he needs to go to the toilet as we were reversing on the runway… He was told to go back to his seat though, so he stood there next to his seat for the rest of the taxi to the terminal.

09 November 2004
Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Asiana Airlines OZ 341
Boeing 747-48E/M
HL7421
1720-2050 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 14B (Upper Deck)


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I asked for a business class seat at Osaka for this flight, they had no clue what I was talking about. Upon arrival at Incheon, I went to the nearest Asiana transfer counter, where a very helpful lady assigned 14B on the upper deck for me. I believe all Bangkok flights operated by a 747 use at least one section of business for economy class, on the combi it’s the upper deck.

I then headed to the Asiana lounge, the food and drinks there were very welcome after the poor offerings on the Kansai-Incheon flight. This sector itself must be one of the most hated for business travelers – both airports are very far from downtown, but the flight takes less than two hours. I expected a full pax 747 for the BKK run, but HL 7421, a combi was waiting at gate 7. OZ has always full flights to Bangkok, but perhaps there is also a lot of cargo and a combi is needed on some days.

I was greeted by a usual Asiana flight attendant on the upper deck – not very friendly at all. She was actually the only one serving us on the upper deck, and service was very slow obviously. The seats seemed to be a bit more comfortable than the 747-400 pax business class seats – or maybe that’s just an illusion. The seat was comfortable, and I was very grateful I wasn’t stuck back in the cattle section.

Upper deck filled up completely, and it was obvious Asiana had again put just about anybody to a section that should be filled with frequent flyers. There was also a group of women from Iraq or Iran (just saw their passport for a few seconds) – they should have been sent to the nearest shower before being allowed to board. Later, they kept stealing items from the meal trays, shouting to each others a few rows apart etc etc… Premium zone indeed.

Drinks were served first; I had a Chivas with coke and an Asiana snack mix. A quick look at the menu card revealed that the meal would again be the same… I have now had the honor to eat the same meal in August, September, October and November on three different routes. Very poor in my opinion. Had some wine with the meal and another Chivas with Coke afterwards. “Last one” said the sole flight attendant. I was quite happy this would most likely be my last time this fall experiencing this kind of service from “The Jewel of Asia” (that was printed on some OZ lounge invitation).

I believe the PTVs had only 4 movies, so I got out my MP3 player, reclined my seat and stared at the airshow map showing 3:30 as remaining flight time… Request for a can of beer was declined as well, and she did not find a customer comment card when I asked. I later went to the lavatory, and amazingly this flight attendant asked how I like the service on Asiana… Trying not to be rude, I merely complained about eating the same food for four months. Also told her some folks stole about half of the contents from the meal tray – “that’s ok” was the reply. I was really pissed off about this group of middle-eastern women – I could smell the sweat even when being seated two rows apart and their shouting and loud chatting made sleeping impossible.

Water and orange juice was offered prior to landing at Don Muang. The routing was the usual one I have described before, so I won’t go into details here. Landing on 21L was slightly ahead of schedule, immigration was a breeze, but bags took a long time to arrive. Taxi driver was a complete asshole, his meter was fixed to screw up the fare by about 100 Baht, Oh well, at least I made him drive downstairs instead of the usual tollway and he seemed pissed off about that.

11 November 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Phuket International (HKT/VTSP)
Orient Thai Airlines OX 267
Boeing 747-246B
HS-UTP
0810-0935 (0840-1000)
Business Class, Seat 15K (Upper Deck)


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I bought an advance ticket from a travel agent this time – it cost about 200 Baht extra but flights to Phuket are quite full nowadays. I somehow managed to wake up for the flight as well – no idea how but I had no alarm clock or anything due to visiting too many watering holes the night before.

A quick shower, and I was soon in a taxi to good old Don Muang once again. Quick trip in the early morning, and I arrived at the Orient Thai check-in lines at 7:20am – in other words five minutes before the desks were scheduled to close. However, this is Thailand and not some Ryanairland, so I was promptly checked in at 7:50am, and the friendly lady said “we start boarding 7:30 sir”. The upgrade receipt this time says “UDDATE BUSSINES CALS”. She wrote a few versions down first before deciding which one to put on the official receipt…

Security was quick, and I walked straight onto a waiting TAGS bus at gate 9. After a long drive, we arrived next to a decent looking old bird – HS-UTP to be more exact. Uniform Tango Papa is another 1972 JAL vintage. A friendly girl greeted me at the door, and I made my way up the spiral staircase. Upper deck and the whole plane was in good shape. Another nice and friendly lady greeted me there, and offered a pre-departure drink in a Kampuchea Airlines glass. Upper deck on HS-UTP has 16 old JAL Reso’cha business class seats, quite comfortable. Also the usual Seiko clock displaying BKK and TYO times was present.

The flight attendant offered to store my bag as there are no bins whatsoever, and was surprised when I said “It’s ok, I know the closet is back there”. There were two other passengers in 15A/C, and two mechanics later took seats in the last row. We pushed back late as usual, and a noisy takeoff from 21R followed after the captain welcomed us on board the “Boeing 747 series 200 Jumbo”.

As we were slowly gaining altitude, service started – more drinks in Kampuchea glasses and new style OX peanuts – they are very tasty actually. After a few drink refills, I went to have a look downstairs, quite full and the interior looked very nice unlike the one on UTB. Snapped a few pictures and listened to the roar of the old JT9D-7s in the very back before heading back to the serene surroundings of the upper deck.

All too soon, we left our cruising altitude and started approach into Phuket International Airport. The flight attendant took her seat in front of me, and we had an interesting chat about Orient Thai and her job. Definitely not a very glamorous schedule they have… The destination she hated the most was Incheon – with a funny remark “I think better you stay here in Thailand”. I can imagine what a charter with 462 Koreans is like… Our flight to Phuket had 311 passengers, and the continuation, OX 218 to Hong Kong had about 200 booked.

We made a smooth landing a little behind schedule but it never seems to bother me on these 747 Classics with nice flight attendants. Only problem is that the schedules to HKT are rather inconvenient for me.

13 November 2004
Phuket International (HKT/VTSP) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Nok Air DD 7503
Boeing 737-4D7
HS-TDB “Phuket”
1035-1200 – On Time
Nok Plus, Seat 12A


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Since Orient Thai leaves so late in the evening, I decided to try something else this time. Booking on nokair.co.th was convenient, and I could even choose a seat from a seatmap. Seemed too good to be true, and that was unfortunately the case. I arrived about an hour before departure, and was greeted by a Thai Airways employee whose attitude was “since you are not paying to fly TG but our low fare airline, I’ll treat you like crap”.

“Your bag is too heavy. You must go pay for 5 kilos, then come back”. Funnily, Orient Thai had no problems whatsoever with my bag. So, off I went, cursing my decision to fly with this low fare airline instead of TG. After getting a receipt for the abovementioned 5 kilos (250 Baht), I went back to the unfriendly lady… She handed me a boarding pass for 58F. Getting pretty pissed off at this point, I told her I had actually paid for the Nok Plus cabin and chosen 11A as my seat. “System says you book economy. You have confirmation print out?” Well, I didn’t even have a clue of the PNR to be honest.

After some other staff went to the ticketing kiosk, I was finally given 12A in the premium section. Boarding pass said “Thai Royal Executive Class” and DD 7503 C. Now, it was time to go get a refund for the excess baggage charges. I was given 300 baht which I pocketed and walked to security. Expectedly, one of the agents soon came running and asking to get the 50 Baht back… Such a quality operation DD has here.

My Nok Plus fare was about 2000 Baht, the same would have gotten me a TG V fare with lounge access and 40kgs luggage allowance as Star Gold. TG is obviously better value in this case, but I wanted to try Nok. The best value is still 1950 Baht for Orient Thai Business Class. I obviously had to wait in the general waiting area, being booked on a low fare airline. Boarding started on time, and was handled entirely by Thai Airways staff again.

The 737 had full Thai Airways interior, and I had one of the old style Royal Executive Class seats. Unlike on the A300, pitch on the 737 is about the same as in economy class, and my seat was poor value on this almost empty flight. There is no complimentary service on Nok, they sell TG snackboxes and soft drinks. The funniest part was when one of the girls asked “Sir, you want to buy airplane?” while holding a beach toy Nok plane.

Crew was very young and friendly, dressed in beach shirts and light brown skirts. The 737 was spotless inside, had Thai Airways safety cards and was flown by TG pilots as well. The routing was the usual, and I slept the entire flight until we were on approach to Don Muang. Landed on 21R and arrived at the domestic terminal after a short taxi. There was nothing wrong with the inflight service, but considering the price, hassle, no miles, no lounges etc, I think Thai is a better deal if you have a problem flying with the best i.e. Orient Thai. Big grin

14 November 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI)
Thai Airways International TG 658
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJA “Lamphun”
2350-0700+1 (0015-0720)
Economy Class, Seat 32C


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This flight was overbooked in economy, and wide open in business, so I was hoping for an upgrade. However, when you expect one, it never happens. I got to the Star Gold counters with long lines about 1h20min before departure, and after a short wait, was checked in by your stereotypical Thai Airways BKK ground agent. No smiles, and she lied to me that 32C would be the first row. Go for the older guys if they are working at the premium desks, I’ve had much better experiences with them.

I then headed quickly through immigration to the Thai Royal Executive Lounge, and had a massage before checking out the old lounge as it was closer to the basement aka international bus gates. Trying to get a better seat, I offered to pay the discounted upgrade fee, fare difference etc, but not surprisingly it was “not possible.” I guess it makes more sense to upgrade non-status Korean tour group members for free – that was the case here.

I boarded the last bus to the aircraft; it was HS-TJA, Thai’s first 777 this time. The interior was worn, my armrest was broken, and the 3-4-3 configuration combined with a non-bulkhead/exit row was awful. I went to the lavatory but pushback just started at the same time – no problems, go ahead said the purser. Takeoff was half an hour late for some reason, and I was not looking forward to this redeye.

A snack is served after takeoff – a pastry with drinks that is. Additional pastries were offered to those who wanted. The seat was pretty damn uncomfortable, so I went to get a drink from the galley – actually ended up spending the next three hours there chatting with the purser and inflight supervisor. IFE was broken on this aircraft, but the IFS managed to get it working after a few re-boots. Although TG has pretty spartan IFE on the 777s, the control panel was still a sophisticated looking LCD screen. I had a few drinks as well, and the crew seat was much more comfortable than 32C anyway.

As they were starting the breakfast service, I went back to my seat and wished we’d be at Incheon already. A narrow seat, no empty middle seat and the guy in front of me fully reclined – as bad as cattle class seat comfort gets. The 3-4-3 config is tolerable in bulkhead/exit rows, preferably with an empty middle seat, or if you have a set of 3 or 4 seats for yourself. But since Incheon flights are always full of Korean tour groups, it is the ideal plane I guess.

As per the purser’s recommendation, I had the Thai chicken dish for breakfast, and it was pretty good with the usual extras such as yoghurt, fresh fruit and warm rolls and croissants. We landed at Incheon late, and I joined the usual long queue for passport control… This was my first bad experience with Thai this fall, although the cabin crew was great as usual except for the two Koreans.

16 November 2004
Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI) – Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Philippine Airlines PR 469
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZM
2020-2330 – On Time
Mabuhay Class, Seat 16K


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After finishing classes at university at 4pm, I took a bus to Incheon as usual. Being rush hour, it took almost two hours. Check-in is handled by Korean Air, and the agent was pleasant enough. The lines and amount of baggage for economy class were insane. Korean Air seemed to use their own system for PR, since my boarding pass has these weird KE reservation numbers etc. Although it says FQTV PR, my miles haven’t appeared in the account.

KAL Lounge, Incheon KR

I got an invitation to the smaller KAL Lounge near CX and NW lounges. Apparently, this is the place where KE sends all partner airlines’ premium passengers. I have never been to the main KAL Lounge, so I can’t compare them. This one was however quite nice, with modern design. Food offerings were poor compared to SQ though, no hot food was available. Cold snacks consisted of sushi, sandwiches and some paninis. Drink selection was smallish but decent. They had two computers available with free internet.

The lounge also has a good view of the tarmac – at the nearest gate was a good old JAL 747-246B (JA8160), preparing for departure to Kansai Osaka. Boarding for PAL 469 started on time, and the stories I have read about domestic vs international PR service were definitely true. I was greeted by a non smiling grandma who was just about to collapse from the weight of jewelry she was wearing. Another equally disinterested lady would be serving the business class cabin with her tonight.

The flight had showed full economy cabin and wide open in business the day before, but unfortunately the Korean Air agents upgraded over 20 passengers (all Koreans), and we pushed back with a full load in both cabins. Pre-departure drinks were only water or orange juice, poor for an international dinner-time flight.

Most of the upgraded Koreans sat the entire flight with their winter jackets on and had no clue how to use a PTV, reading light, seat recline etc. I know who they were as the KE agent simply came onboard and handed them all their new blue boarding passes and took the old ones. What a discrete way to handle operational upgrades. Menus were distributed after takeoff, but were immediately collected back when the grandmas had taken the dinner orders. However, I managed to hide the Cebu-Incheon menu in the seat pocket later, and will post it when I find it.

Mixed nuts in nice bowls were served with drinks first, followed by dinner. The starter was delicious and nicely presented, but the garlic bread was cold. I had the chicken for main course and it was great as well. Dessert was an economy class style piece of cake. Drink refills were offered once during the service. Fresh fruit (bananas, apples and oranges) were offered with the dessert course. The upgraded guy across the aisle from me kept asking for this and that until the flight attendant got pissed and said “could you please wait as I have to serve others as well.”

After the meal, crew disappeared for the rest of the flight but thankfully responded to call buttons. The seat, while comfortable for short domestic hops, is in my opinion not very comfortable for sleeping. I had a few glasses of champagne and relaxed for the rest of the flight. The guy next to me got out his digital camera and started browsing pictures of various clearly underage Filipina girls. I felt like stuffing the empty champagne glass into his mouth…

We landed at NAIA on time, and quickly taxied to terminal 2 which was deserted. I was the first at immigration along with a Korean guy who presented an empty immigration form. I mean, how stupid can one be? The rest seemed to ask the Filipina flight attendants to fill in their forms…

Immigrations was a breeze as was customs. The female officer said “Hi sir, good evening… err it’s morning already isn’t it? Have a nice stay.” Since it was very quiet at terminal 2, I had no choice but take an overpriced airport taxi to my hotel (350 Pesos and a jerk trying to pocket 150 as tip as I paid with a 500 Peso note).

Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila, Ermita

I have been waiting to visit this hotel since its soft opening in mid-September. The rate was a decent $81 per night, and I would also earn 2000 Gold Passport bonus points. The lobby is nice and modern and check-in was reasonably quick. The bellhop then escorted me to my room on the 9th floor. The room was large and very nice – on par with new Hyatts elsewhere with very modern design. There is also a DVD player in every room. The bathroom is great, with a superb rainfall shower and a bathtub next to it. They also have an airport style metal detector at the door and no manual check like older hotels in Manila. Ermita area has a lot of bars and clubs nearby, and the Hyatt has Manila’s largest casino I believe. A highly recommended property.
Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
 
luftaom
Posts: 525
Joined: Thu May 20, 1999 4:29 pm

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Thu Dec 09, 2004 7:32 pm

Nice report mate ...

looking forward to the next sick part of your neverending oddessy
 
pilatusguy
Posts: 302
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 5:21 am

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Thu Dec 09, 2004 7:38 pm

as usual, fantastic report!
keep 'em coming!
 
scandinavian
Posts: 258
Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2000 2:19 am

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Thu Dec 09, 2004 8:14 pm

Hi Lari!

Nice report as always! You really had to witness a lot of bizarre experiences on your latest flights....

"There was also a group of women from Iraq or Iran (just saw their passport for a few seconds) – they should have been sent to the nearest shower before being allowed to board.".....I know what you mean. Once I had the same experience between Cape Town and Frankfurt, not funny at all.

The upgrade receipt this time says “UDDATE BUSSINES CALS."....unbelievable!

"I was the first at immigration along with a Korean guy who presented an empty immigration form. I mean, how stupid can one be?"........indeed, how stupid can one be?

Regards

Markus

"He was a wise man who invented beer"-Platon
 
The777Man
Posts: 5911
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 1999 4:54 am

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Dec 10, 2004 4:43 pm

Nice report, Lari!

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
Posts: 8120
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 5:29 am

Nice reports Lari.

With each OZ report they seem to get worse,especially the no more drink stuff,must be joking!

I've just come back from a trip to the states,flew US Airways,they were excellent as usual,i'm sure they were trying to get me drunk as i never had an empty glass Smile

Looking forward to more.

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 Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 6:48 pm

17 November 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) – Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC)
Philippine Airlines PR 857
Airbus A340-313X
F-OHPJ
1200-1315 (1300-1405)
First Class, Seat 1B

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I woke up quite late, and got stuck in traffic to boot. I was pretty sure to miss the original flight as I didn’t even have the e-ticket receipt with me. This piece of crap Finnish ISP has a new system that doesn’t even let you know what it determines to be junk mail – obviously the Philippine Airlines e-mail was considered junk. I picked up a copy of the itinerary receipt at the PAL ticket office at 11:20 in order to enter the terminal building, and was surprised when I was still able to check in. No wonder after a quick glance at the boarding pass – departure had been pushed back by 30 minutes for who knows what reason. Seems to be common practice at PAL.

I was also assigned seat 08H – such seat doesn’t exist on the A330 that was scheduled. Sure enough, an A340 was waiting at S2, and I got my seat assignment changed to 1B in the Mabuhay Lounge. The snacks and drinks were the usual, and the departure time got pushed back to 1pm due to emergency lightning problems on the A340.

My return flight was booked as CEB-MNL-ICN – but according to the agents it was a too short connection in MNL. To boot, the earlier flight had been switched to a 737 with no business class. Luckily they came up with the best possible solution – “sir why don’t you take the nonstop Cebu-Incheon flight?” Booking was made and I was told to go to the Mactan ticket office to get my tickets revalidated. I wanted this flight to start with, but the contracted Korean travel agency serving as PAL agent was too incompetent to understand such a complicated request.

The flight was nice and uneventful, a good hot meal was served by a young and attentive crew. Such a total difference from the international service. PAL has a stupid seniority system in place like the American carriers, and the younger crews only fly on domestic flights. Landing was about an hour late, and I then headed to the ticket office.

They didn’t quite understand what I was trying to say, and I was sent to international check-in at first – they thought I wanted to fly to ICN on the flight leaving in 10 minutes. After explaining that I need the Sunday flight, I had to wait about an hour as PAL computer system was down. I then got an awful looking piece of paper – two separate tickets stapled together with a handwritten note “Pls accept for CEBICN nonstop.”

21 November 2004
Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC) – Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI)
Philippine Airlines PR 488
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZR
1500-2020 – On Time
Mabuhay Class, Seat 11A

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Check-in was a total zoo with probably 99% of the passengers being Korean tour groups. My fancy ticket also caused some confusion, but after a few minutes I had a boarding pass and lounge invitation in hand. I then paid the international terminal fee and cleared immigration which was very quick and painless compared to the ordeal one has to go through at NAIA 1 on busier days.

Mabuhay lounge was pretty poor by international standards – same snacks and drinks as in the domestic lounge and a few bottles of alcohol to boot. A Korean group decided it was appropriate to chat loudly, set up a camera with tripod and pose for pictures in a business class lounge. One of the main advantages of lounges is that you get away from the hustle and bustle of the general areas of the terminal – that was not the case here.

Boarding started on time as the A330 had arrived from Manila well ahead of the Incheon departure time. Security check was conducted at gate and was the usual walk through affair. I was greeted by an older lady who was very friendly and we chatted a bit about my holiday in Cebu etc. Pre-departure drink selection was the same, i.e. poor. The bulkhead row doesn’t have that great legroom, but I had the seat next to me empty and wasn’t in the middle of upgraded Koreans like on the ICN-MNL sector.

Dinner orders were taken before pushback, I chose beef medallions with roasted potatoes and champagne to drink. I was addressed by name all the time by the two ladies, while they asked the Koreans “what do you eat?” and “Drink? Beer, wine, what?” Pushback was on time, and we took off for the four hour sector without delay. Meals were served shortly after takeoff – the appetizer was crabmeat salad, and the beef main course was very tasty. Garlic bread was hot and delicious this time, and drinks were refilled a few times. Dessert was some Y class type of thing, don’t remember what exactly.

During the rest of the flight, generally no service was offered in the cabin, but the old guy working the galley made sure my champagne glass was never empty and he also kept bringing me bowls of mixed nuts. Very good service for me on this flight, although the Koreans might think differently. I was the only western passenger in the business class cabin.

We arrived at Incheon on time, and taxied to a gate that was just vacated by another PAL A330, bound for Manila as PR 469. Overall, the flights were well worth the rather low business class fare. A bit more legroom and enthusiastic crews would make the product much better.

I was treated to another full search by Korean Customs – quite pathetic as they only picked the very few foreigners while Koreans themselves simply walked through. I had of course just missed the Korean Air bus, and had to wait about 25 minutes for the next one.
Air Asia Super Elite, Cebu Pacific Titanium
 
Lufthansa747
Topic Author
Posts: 2953
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 7:45 am

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 7:38 pm

23 November 2004
Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI) – Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS)
Singapore Airlines SQ 015
Boeing 777-212ER
9V-SVI
1915-0045 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 48C (Bulkhead)

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Due to poor availability of United Business award seats, I had four days to spare. A fellow Airliners.netter also happened to be in Kuala Lumpur, a city that I had never visited previously, and Singapore Airlines had a decent fare down to Singapore. SQ 15 also had a departure time that would allow me to take my Tuesday classes at university, so a booking was made at singaporeair.com.

I arrived at Incheon after a long and boring rush-hour bus ride, and quickly collected my boarding passes at the Raffles class desk – I had already checked in online. My bag was checked in all the way to Kuala Lumpur although the SIN-KUL sector was on the next day and on a separate ticket. Security was very slow as was immigration, and I reached the SIlverKris lounge only about half an hour later. I then had some pasta and prawns for dinner before moving to the bar for a few glasses of champagne.

I also had SQ to mess up the frequent flyer data completely. I had logged in with my KrisFlyer number to make the booking. I then provided them my UA number when booking, when checking in online, at check in counter and at the lounge. The staff had no clue whatsoever when I complained that my boarding pass showed the SQ number. “Points go to SQ, miles to UA.” Now, I’d love to know what sort of points I earn in economy class in addition to miles. I still asked at the gate for them to put in the UA number – and guess what? The miles are in my SQ account that has no other miles whatsoever. I will fight this ridiculous episode with KrisFlyer until the miles appear in my Mileage Plus account.

SQ 17 with the routing Vancouver-Incheon-Singapore was an hour late, but my flight arrived on time from San Francisco and was scheduled to depart on time. Boarding started on time, and there was nobody to greet me at the door. The aircraft was full of Indians – SFO-SIN is a codeshare service with Air India. My bulkhead seat had excellent legroom as the bulkhead is not wide enough to block the C and H seats’ legroom. However, a woman with two young kids was seated in 48B. Thankfully they were very well behaved, so I didn’t need to give up the good legroom on this rather lightly loaded triple seven.

Cabin crew was predominantly Korean, and service was simply put poor and slow throughout the flight. The Singaporean LSS serving my section occasionally was much friendlier though. At times I felt I was on a Korean carrier and going to India. Menus were distributed, and had a special Indian selection for all meals listed as well. The amount of special meals was huge on this flight as well.

We were pushed back on time, and took off without delay for the rather long 5h40min flight down to Singapore Changi Airport. Peanuts and drinks were served first, but it was not until two hours into the flight when the meal cart arrived at my row. Selection was Korean beef, chicken with garlic mashed potatoes or some Indian choice. I had the chicken and it was awful. The mashed potatoes were made from the powder stuff, not real potatoes, and tasted terrible. It took another hour and no drink refills before the crew finally collected the trays. It seemed like this flight had about half of the number of flight attendants that Thai Airways has on a triple seven.

There was no further service on this flight – I listened to a playlist I had compiled from the various albums available on Wisemen 3000 and played a few rounds of SIA Inflight Challenge. Landing was a few minutes late at Changi, and I headed to the SilverKris First lounge – that’s where I would spend the night. There were still quite a few flights leaving such as those to Cape Town and Johannesburg.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:20 pm

Singapore Airlines SilverKris First Lounge, Singapore SG

Since the Kuala Lumpur shuttle has very cheap First Class tickets available, I decided to book one, spend the night in the lounge slumberettes and help my self to some fine drinks. The food buffet was still there when I arrived, so I had some chicken and beef with rice as I was hungry after the not so good offerings on ICN-SIN. Asked if they have some champagne still available – a bottle of Krug was soon opened for me to enjoy. I was the only one in the First lounge at this point. After making sure none of such fine champagne would go down the drain that night, I had a shower and headed to slumberette no. 4 for the night.

The slumberettes are poor to be honest. SQ offers flat beds in business and first, but no flat bed in a room meant for sleeping. I simply put a few blankets on the floor and slept there, as the chair type thing was uncomfortable. Hopefully they’ll have sleeping facilities such as the SAS Scandinavian Lounge in CPH soon. The SAS rooms have a normal bed and even a shower and toilet.

24 November 2004
Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS) – Kuala Lumpur International (KUL/WMKK)
Singapore Airlines SQ 110
Boeing 777-212ER
9V-SVO
1235-1330 – On Time
First Class, Seat 12K (Raffles Class Spacebed)

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I had some breakfast and more Krug in the lounge before heading to the gate for boarding. Luckily it was a Spacebed 777 scheduled for this flight, so I could finally try out the seat. Boarding started on time, and I was shown to my seat by a friendly leading stewardess. For some reason, the headrest covers had the Raffles Class logo; I thought they are usually changed to First ones on the Kuala Lumpur shuttle.

First disappointment was the pre-departure drink selection – only pre-cupped juice and water unlike the usual wide selection in First. Newspapers and hot towels were offered later. Pushback and a powerful takeoff followed – flying time to the Malaysian capital was 45 minutes this afternoon. I played a bit with the Spacebed before the meal service, quite uncomfortable in the upright position, but a very comfortable bed was what I thought. Much better than the new Swiss seats that I have tried before.

Meal was a choice of chicken or salmon – I had the salmon. It came on a huge F class plate, but there was hardly anything to eat. Two cold pieces of salmon, each about the size of a candy. My request for champagne was turned down – “there is no champagne on this flight, sorry.” I could understand offering Raffles class champagne, but no champagne in Singapore First cabin?

Trays were later collected, and we were on approach to KLIA. The approach is strange – shows you where the airport is, i.e. in the middle of nowhere. We landed on time, and I took the train to arrivals and passport control. I met my friend there, and we took the train to XKL, Kuala Lumpur Sentral that is.

JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

Since I’m just a few nights short of hitting Marriott Rewards Platinum, I chose this hotel despite many other tempting and cheap choices such as the Ritz Carlton or the Westin in the city.

Check-in was painfully slow; the guy seemed to have no clue what he was doing. No upgrade and no information about the lounge was given. They forgot to bring my bags upstairs until I called. The room was nice, albeit a bit small. But again, there was somebody else’s platinum amenity on the desk. And it was a smoking room despite booking a non-smoking directly with Marriott. The bathroom had a separate shower and tub, and was very nice. The location is great in the middle of the touristy area, and the JW Lounge was quite nice but not as nice as at the Bangkok property. Check-out took an eternity again. Overall, it was a nice property in a good location but the staff should get additional training urgently.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 9:50 pm

Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge, First Class

I checked in at KL Sentral – the MAS guy was not very friendly, but I was still looking forward to my first flight with the company. A quick train ride later, I arrived at KLIA and went to a MAS First desk to confirm that my KLM FF number was in the booking as there was no mention on the boarding pass. A very friendly lady confirmed that it was there indeed, and asked if I had a pass for fast track immigration and a lounge invitation.

I had heard many good things about this lounge, and my expectations were very high. However, the lounge exceeded all my expectations. I decided to have some lunch first – there is a dining area set up like a fine restaurant, with table linens, MAS First tableware etc. I had some chicken curry, smoked salmon and pasta as well as salad and desserts. The selections were fantastic. A few bottles of Laurent Perrier champagne were placed in a bucket on the bar counter. Some Baileys with the desserts didn’t hurt either.

I then headed to sit near the windows while enjoying more champagne. The lounge also has a sleeping area and showers with a sauna. Only two internet terminals were available, otherwise it is a perfect lounge in my opinion. It may not have Krug or Hennessy XO cognac, but otherwise beats the Singapore SilverKris F lounge hands down.

25 November 2004
Kuala Lumpur International (KUL/WMKK) – Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS)
Malaysia Airlines MH 607
Airbus A330-322
9M-MKR
1930-2025 (2030-2130)
First Class, Seat 1A

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The flight was delayed due to late arrival of the A330 from somewhere. I really enjoyed the extra time in the lounge, although a few passengers with onward connections from Singapore weren’t as happy. Boarding was finally called about 45 minutes after scheduled departure time, and I was warmly greeted by two flight attendants at door 1L of the A330 that had spent its earlier life with Skyservice.

Row 1 had great legroom (60” at least I’d say), and the old style business class seats were comfortable. The cabin was spacious with no overhead bins in the middle, although it caused some problems as well since the F cabin was full tonight. Hot towels, newspapers and various juices were offered before pushback.

Since Singapore Airlines had pretty dismal service on the sector, I wasn’t expecting much. However, service on Malaysia Airlines was from a different world. Hot snacks were offered – I had some chicken and beef satay. Extras were offered as well. I asked if they happened to have champagne – “Of course we have champagne if First class” was the guy’s reply. He even refilled my glass twice on the remainder if the 45-minute flight.

All the stewardesses in First were very friendly and attentive, much better than on Singapore Airlines I must say. No wonder MAS was voted the airline with best cabin crews. We landed at Changi late, needless to say. Immigration was quick as usual, and my bag with First priority tags came out quickly. Most passengers seemed to be connecting to BA/QF services that evening.

Before heading out, I asked one of the MAS baggage guys what aircraft it was – 9M-MKR was the reply. It was dark in both KUL and SIN and I was unable to see it from the gate. I then took a taxi to the Singapore Marriott.

Singapore Marriott Hotel

Check-in was quick, and I was promptly upgraded to executive floor due to my Gold status. They had only twin rooms left, but since I had booked via Priceline, I didn’t care much. The room was on the top floor with great views. It was also nicely appointed, and the bathroom had the usual shower and separate tub. I also got a card detailing all the executive floor benefits, but unfortunately had no time to take advantage of them. The location is unbeatable on Orchard road. I usually book Cebu Marriott and this time booked JW KUL via Marriott.com. Neither property seems to give a rat’s ass about the preferences you select or MR Gold status. I always book JW Bangkok via Priceline and most of the staff there greet me by name.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:19 pm

26 November 2004
Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS) – Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI)
Singapore Airlines SQ 886
Boeing 777-212ER
9V-SQA
0800-1510 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 45C

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I checked in online for this flight as well – snagged 45C which has no seat in front. The exit row has only two seats, thus 45C and H have great legroom. Boarding pass was printed quickly and my bag was priority tagged to Incheon, Korea. Immigration was very quick and painless as usual, and I was soon in the room for worthless individuals who gain status by not flying Raffles or First – SIA Premier Lounge that is. Breakfast selections were poor – I had a tasteless sandwich and some Pringles before heading to the gate.

Boarding started on time, and the SATS staff held back the huge Korean tour group coming from Male, so that premium passengers could board. There didn’t seem to be many passengers in first or business on this flight. My seat had very good legroom obviously, but no seat in front meant I had about 50 people of the abovementioned tour group to smash their bags into my arm.

We were pushed back a few minutes late, and took off shortly thereafter for the 6-hour day flight to Incheon. The menu listed a continental breakfast and lunch as meals on this flight. I decided to sleep and skip the small breakfast – this is apparently impossible on Singapore Airlines. I was woken up by a Korean flight attendant who tossed the small tray into my lap without taking out the tray table, and said “your breakfast”. On ICN-SIN, two different flight attendants woke up the woman with two kids next to me and tried to offer the same meal. On Asiana, they place a sticker in front of you that basically says “you missed the meal, go to the galley if you want one”.

I ate the croissant and few pieces of fruit in about three minutes and waited another 40 minutes until the tray was collected. No drink refills were offered. After the forced breakfast I managed to sleep for the rest of the flight until lunch was served. I don’t remember the choices right now, but it was an average airline meal – not great but nothing to complain about either. I’ll post the exact menus once I’m in Finland and unpack my stuff if there is interest.

I slept for the rest of the flight after tray collection, and only woke up as we touched down on Korean soil. Immigration lines were long, but moved rather fast this time. I then took the shuttle to the Hyatt Regency Incheon where I’d spend the night before my United flight the next morning. Thinking about it, I guess I could have re-deposited the UA miles to my account, caught Air Asia to BKK from Singapore, and flown back on SQ later, but I was really looking forward to United Business class.

I know I’m going to get blamed for this, but after my 15 flights with SQ I can honestly say they are the most overrated airline I have ever flown. Especially in economy class, but also SIN-KUL in F. The service is not bad or anything, but it’s just economy class with no extra attention from the crews whatsoever. In short, same stuff you get in Lufthansa Y but with fancy crew uniforms and sometimes AVOD. SQA again didn't have it. The Star Gold lounge situation also discourages me from making connections in SIN when in Y class.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:52 pm

27 November 2004
Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI) – Tokyo Narita (NRT/RJAA)
United Airlines UA 800
Boeing 777-222ER
N224UA
1245-1500 – On Time
United Business, Seat 9J

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I booked this trip to Bangkok with Mileage Plus miles – availability was very scarce even back in January. It was a total bargain though, 29000 miles and $14 in taxes, all the way in business class. Check-in was quick – a very friendly lady confirmed my selected seats and tagged my bag to Bangkok. There was no bag search nonsense here for some reason – I was glad this was the case.

Security was rather quick this time, and I went straight to the SilverKris lounge which I must say is a much nicer lounge than the SQ Singapore lounges if we speak strictly about the lounge design itself. Lunch offerings were the usual – so more SQ pasta and prawns for me as well as some beef. The bar is unfortunately only open from 3pm onwards. The lounge was practically deserted, partly due to a very light load in premium cabins on the UA flight.

Boarding started on time again, and I was selected for the ridiculous secondary check at the gate. Being a foreigner seems to guarantee it at Incheon – I didn’t see any Koreans getting this special treatment. If Korea wants to have more tourists, they definitely seem to check their attitudes first. In many places, I have felt very much out of place as a foreigner, and then this security/customs nonsense. But I guess I’m an “alien” just like in the United States.

I was greeted by an Australian purser who spoke a few words of Finnish – impressive. The cabin crew on this sector consisted of this Australian guy, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Hong Kong) and American flight attendants. Row 9 is the only row on the side of the small business class cabin – in the so called C+ configuration. There are some aircraft left with a bit less legroom and these have two rows on the sides as well. My seat had great legroom, and overall I’d say the UA C seat is the most comfortable traditional business class seat I have sat in.

I was offered three glasses of champagne before pushback – very impressive I’d say, especially on an airline that everyone blames for poor service. The mini cabin had only me and a Dutch guy next to me flying AMS-ICN-NRT as the KLM nonstop had been full in business. The purser confirmed that channel 9 would be on – very interesting to listen to it on this sector as both Korean and Japanese ATC spoke rather poor English and there were a lot of Chinese flights with dismal English to boot.

We were pushed back a few minutes early, and started the long taxi to the active runway. Old and new JAL planes were side by side a 777-200 and a 747-246B at gates 30 something. There was also an Ilyushin IL-62 of some Russian airline. We took off without delay for the short hop to Narita, Japan.

Service started soon – a cold snack was served on this sector. I chose the Japanese sushi rice – nicely presented, tasty and filling, There was also some sort of a dessert on the tray, I don’t quite know what it was but it was tasty as well. An adequate meal, although maybe United should consider hot meals on this flight. My glasses of champagne and water were refilled constantly, and I was addressed by name by the Japanese lady al the time.

Later, warmed nuts from first class were offered by an American f/a who joked that she likes to treat all passengers as first class customers. Soon, the captain announced descent into Narita, and we landed without incident some twenty minutes later. We then taxied to the new part of Terminal one – much nicer than Terminal two in my opinion. Great service on this flight.

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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 11:16 pm

United Red Carpet Club, Narita JP

The new Red Carpet Club is simply huge. I grabbed a seat near the windows, and was impressed that all seats seemed to have a power outlet for laptops. Free wireless internet is also offered. Snacks are rather non-existent – Oreo cookies and snack mix bags. Drink selection was decent, and I had a few Ballantines on the rocks while watching the endless number of Jumbos landing and taking off outside.

27 November 2004
Tokyo Narita (NRT/RJAA) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
United Airlines UA 881
Boeing 747-422
N176UA
1825-2250 – On Time
United Business, Seat 16A (Upper Deck)

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United 881 was overbooked in Business class, but the offer was too poor for me to consider a downgrade on a six-hour flight - $200 cash or $400 United travel voucher. The voucher amount is ok but since it has to be all UA metal, and they don’t fly to Finland, I passed. Boarded on time, and a Japanese guy took care of my roller bag due to the limited storage bins on the upper deck.

One of the pilots happened to be walking by, so I asked and was granted a visit to the cockpit while boarding was underway. Had a brief chat with the guys – it’s always nice to be able to visit the cockpit. I then made it back to my seat, where a glass of champagne and a menu card were waiting. Row 15 (exit) is the best on the upper deck, but also rows 16 and 17 have excellent legroom, especially on the left side. I was looking forward to a comfortable ride to Thailand.

Channel 9 was on again, and we were given permission to push back on schedule. Narita tower cleared us for takeoff shortly thereafter and we were on our way to South East Asia. Nuts and drinks as well as hot towels were offered next, and orders for dinner were taken. I chose the filet mignon. The starter was a salad with some sushi and prawns – quite nice. The filet mignon was tasty as well, even though UA is rumored to ship in the beef from the U.S. for its NRT catering operations.

The Japanese guys on the upper deck provided great service throughout the flight, and I drank quite a bit of Champagne while listening to Channel 9. Naha control spoke particularly poor English, Taipei and Hong Kong were ok and then again Ho Chi Ming was very poor. We flew all the way with NW 27, JO 707, JO 727 and TG 775 nearby. All are Boeing 747s from Japan to Bangkok.

Hong Kong granted us a higher flight level – seemed like our pilots were quite frustrated with the current one with occasional turbulence. We also had a medical problem on board, but the crew decided to continue to Bangkok. Finally, at around 2210, Ho Chi Minh instructed “United 881, contact Bangkok control at …”, and we were just crossing into Thai airspace. Bangkok spoke good English, and our crew requested priority approach to Don Muang due to the medical.

I suppose the JALWays guys had flown flown a few times to Bangkok before – just like all Thai flights, they said “Bangkok, Sawadee Khap, Jalways 707 with you” etc. We had indeed been granted priority approach, and at around 10:40pm, the female controller cleared us for landing. “United eight eight one, cleared to land runway two one right”. We made a smooth landing, and quickly exited the active runway and taxied to a remote stand next to a JALWays 747 classic.

The crew asked for our patience while the patient was offloaded first, and my bag was waiting at the top of the stairs. Said thanks to the all-Japanese crew, quickly cleared immigration and headed to town. Another excellent flight on United.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Dec 13, 2004 11:23 pm

That's it for today's update. Need to study, I have my last day at uni tomorrow here.

Now missing:

9R 376 Y BKK-HKT 732 HS-AKU
TG 630 Y HKT-BKK AB6 HS-TAX
DD 9200 Y BKK-UTH 734 HS-TDA
DD 9217 Y UTH-BKK 734 HS-TDE
UA 882 C BKK-NRT 744 N128UA
UA 801 C NRT-ICN 772 N786UA
CX 419 Y ICN-HKG 333 B-HLB
CX 907 C HKG-MNL 744 B-HOV
PR 857 C MNL-CEB 333 F-OHZO
PR 848 C CEB-MNL 333 F-OHZQ
CX 900 Y MNL-HKG 744 B-HUE
CX 416 Y HKG-ICN 333 B-HLL

Still to come:

14DEC TG 635 C ICN-TPE-BKK 772
19DEC TG 656 C BKK-ICN 772
20DEC TG 629 Y ICN-HKG-BKK 772
22DEC LH 744 Y BKK-MNL 744
23DEC PR 857 C MNL-CEB 333
31DEC PR 858 C CEB-MNL 333
31DEC LH 745 Y MNL-BKK 744
03JAN AY 098 Y BKK-HEL M11

Regards,

Lari
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Tue Dec 14, 2004 1:47 am

Great reports as always!

Nice to hear that they had Channel 9 on! It's always great and even more interesting when you are outside the US.Channel 9 and Airshow is a great combination.

My experience on SQ is similiar; not really great and vastly overrated.

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
 
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Tue Dec 14, 2004 1:36 pm

Lufthansa747: Thanks for the great trip reports! Looking forward to the next ones. I noticed in the previous thread that you went to Okinawa. Hope you enjoyed your time there although it seemed like you didn't have much time to enjoy the place. The ANA Laguna is very far from the city, but it is true that it is hard to find hotels in Naha City. For the most part, the nicer hotels on Okinawa are out in places like Onna like the ANA Laguna. Most hotels in Naha City offer cheap accomodations, but there are a few exceptions out there like the Hotel Nikko Grand Castle, Naha Terrace, and the Kariyushi Urban Resort Naha. Even though I was in coach, I agree that the flights to Okinawa are expensive and the service could be a lot better for the price. Anyway, thanks for telling us about your experiences. I wish I could travel like that.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Wed Dec 15, 2004 2:14 am

Nice reports Lari,as usual Smile

Interesting to note that UA came out better than SQ on recent flights.

Perhaps SQ is mainly hype,just like EK sem to be from a number of recent reports.

Catch you soon.

Rgds

Mark
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Wed Dec 15, 2004 2:24 pm

Excellent trip report as always. I agree with your comments about SQ, but I have to say, once upon a time they were really something nice. I would however say the most overrated airline for me has been Emirates.

Thanks for the heads up on Malaysian. I am flying them next month to the US and am happy to hear you think they deserve their reputation. I can't wait for you Cathay Pacific part. I'd love to know how your flights were with my all time favorite carrier.

So while you fly TG this week, I'll be flying NW and KL. Wonder which one of us got the better deal.  Big grin

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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:34 pm

I agree that EK is also vastly overrated.

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
 
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:53 pm

The777Man,

Channel 9 is indeed great - unfortunately it wasn't on for BKK-ICN and the f/a couldn't care less when I asked. It was on for NRT-ICN again - any idea who uses the call sign "Cargo King"?

BH346,

I found rather limited number of hotels available for online booking in Naha. Thinking about it now, I should have stayed either at a nice resort or a city hotel. I did the flights mainly to get the 744D and 747SR - the latter of which ANA swapped for another 744D.  Pissed

Mark,

SQ should be great on longer flights in F and C - MNL-SIN in F was very good. But for economy, well it's your standard economy class. What irks me the most is that they have huge advertisements for this and that and don't deliver. I have had AVOD on about half of my flights for example. SIN-KUL is marketed as "First" - SQ First offers Dom or Krug champagne. Obviously nobody "needs" it for such a short flight, but how about adding "Not offered on KUL flights" to all the advertising. They only mention that no book the cook is available on these flights.

SR 103,

I too remember my first flight with SQ - champagne, cocktails, big meals and nice movie snacks in Y. CX elite treatment is fantastic - more about that later - but I'm afraid to say Y is pretty basic nowadays on CX as well. No hot towels and 2/3 size trays for example. I guess it boils down to the fact that Y class is Y class no matter what carrier. They upgraded me to C on HKG-MNL - that was a superb flight.

TG Royal Executive Class was simply fantastic on ICN-TPE-BKK, wish I would have found this "L" class business class bargain. The dinner service on Taipei-Bangkok put many long haul meals to shame. Enjoy KL/NW, WBC should be nice enough  Big grin

30 November 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Phuket International (HKT/VTSP)
Phuket Airlines 9R 376
Boeing 737-2B7/Adv
HS-AKU
1050-1210 (1440-1600)
Economy Class, Seat 18A

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I was too lazy to wake up for the Orient Thai morning flight… So, at around 11.20 am, I took a cab to Don Muang – my plan was to go to Phuket but I had no flight reservations whatsoever. Arrived at the domestic terminal at 11.55, and noticed that there was a delayed Phuket Air flight leaving in fifteen minutes.

Can you still sell me a ticket to Phuket, I asked. “Sure sir, 2305 Baht please.” I got a fancy hand written ticket, and the agents told me to run to check-in as the flight would be departing in 15 minutes. Check-in was quick, and I was soon at the only Phuket Air gate at Don Muang domestic. No sign of boarding, and soon the agent announced that 9R 376 to Phuket would be delayed. She kept repeating this a few times with about 20-minute intervals, until we finally boarded a bus at 13.50 pm.

Too good to be true, we were told to go back to the terminal only five minutes later. Phuket Air three-seven-six would be further delayed “due to technical reason”. A few Europeans blew their fuses at this point, one clown kept repeating “Who is responsible for this, you ruin my holiday.” Maybe it would have been better for her to stay in Sweden if three hours is going to ruin her holiday. A Phuket Air representative offered me coffee or tea with some snacks from the complimentary gate bar, and said “I know you probably hate me but can I offer you some refreshments?” He was pretty surprised as I said it was ok, I didn’t hate him or his airline, actually I was happy to get a ticket on the flight at 12pm!

Boarding started again about half an hour later, and this time we were bussed to HS-AKU – a 737-200 in US Airways Metrojet colours. A very friendly lady greeted me at the door, and directed me to the back of the classic 737. Load this afternoon was about 50%, and Phuket Airlines had six very attentive and friendly flight attendants to take care of us on the one-hour flight down to Phuket.

Takeoff was a bit delayed, but eventually we rocketed off runway 21R after a few Thai Airways jets. Takeoff was very noisy on the old baby Boeing. The interior was in good condition – looks like US Airways refurbished the plane for Metrojet service. No wonder Phuket Air got a few of them, probably at bargain prices. Legroom was good as well, and there was an interesting magazine about Phuket Airlines in the seat pocket.

Service was excellent on this flight; a hot meal of fish curry and Thai jasmine rice was served. Drink service was very frequent as well – Thai Airways should be ashamed of their poor domestic economy class offerings. All too soon, we were on descent into Phuket International Airport. Landing was roughly four hours behind schedule, and we then parked next to a company YS-11 at a remote stand. I had no checked luggage, so I was soon sitting in a metered taxi going to Patong beach.
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KL808
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:48 am

Great reports Lari.

Im happy you had a good flight from CEB to INC on PR. I too hate the fact that PR uses the American system of seniority, with regards to F/A's. You always get the old hags working the international routes.

Great report man keep em comin'

drew
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Interpaul
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Thu Dec 16, 2004 3:02 am

It was on for NRT-ICN again - any idea who uses the call sign "Cargo King"?


Hi Lari,
I think that must have been China Cargo Airlines. By the way, I really enjoy all of you trip reports so keep 'em coming.

Cheers
Jan

 
Lufthansa747
Topic Author
Posts: 2953
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 7:45 am

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Dec 17, 2004 3:17 pm

Some highlights of Singapore Airlines Krisflyer customer service:

We wish to inform you that mileage once credited to KrisFlyer cannot be transferred to another Frequent Flyer Programme (FFP) or vice-versa. These rules can be found in the Terms and Conditions stated in your KrisFlyer Programme Guide book. Nevertheless, under the circumstances mentioned please confirm whether the following flights should be removed from your KrisFlyer account. Upon confirmation from you we will raise a request to the relevant department to delete the flights from your KrisFlyer account. Upon approval and deletion of the flights you will need to retroactively claim the flights with United Mileage Plus.

Next e-mail:

With reference to your email, our records show that your KrisFlyer
Membership Number has been quoted in your reservation as well as your
check-in. We do not have records of your United Airlines Mileage Plus
Membership Number. Hence, we are unable to remove the following
flight from your KrisFlyer Membership Account:

SQ15 - 23 November 2004 - Seoul to Singapore - Economy Class

We wish to highlight that mileage once credited to KrisFlyer cannot
be transferred to another Frequent Flyer Programme (FFP) or
vice-versa.

I merely quoted my UA number four times.

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SQno1
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:58 am

I am impressed about your trip reports. A great job for having the determination to keep it going. I am suprised that you had a dissapointing experience with SQ. I found their service excellent on a round trip between SIN & PEK.
Just wondering how many mileage plus po do you have, and are you returning to helsinki on AY and on what date.

Regards,
Sqno1
 
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Posts: 525
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Wed Dec 22, 2004 9:38 pm

Nice reports lari... keep em coming ... just one little request if I may... would you be able to give a brief outline of the other activities you get up to at all these interesting and exotic locations. I know this is a plane site, and dont get me wrong I love the flying reports - but id love to read what else there is to see and do, especially to do, at all these locations (even if its just what you do, because knowing what ones options are is only half as good as knowing the quality of the options one does).

Cheers.

 
Sabena332
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 3:57 am

RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sun Jan 02, 2005 8:30 am

Hi Lari,

Unfortunately I had to skip some reports of part 1 because of the lack of time lately so I started directly with part 2 (rest assured that I will read the missing reports of part 1 when I have more time!). I can only repeat myself, your reports are simply amazing and I always enjoy to read them, keep up the good work! I really wish that I could travel as much as you do, unfortunately I have to make a six months travel break from now on because I changed my employer and I won't get free days during the "trial period".

Are you still in South Korea or already back in Finland?

All the best and many happy landings to you in 2005! I hope that we can meet someday in BKK (or anyone else) to have a few beers together.

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
Lufthansa747
Topic Author
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Mon Jan 03, 2005 1:11 am

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for the compliments - I am actually at Bangkok Airport right now. QF directed me to the First class side of the lounge, can't complain I guess. And seat in business as well.  Big grin
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 1:36 am

02 December 2004
Phuket International (HKT/VTSP) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Thai Airways International TG 630
Airbus A300B4-622R
HS-TAX
1300-1425 (1315-1430)
Economy Class, Seat 49B (Exit Row)

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I booked my ticket to Bangkok at the Thai ticket office after arriving on Phuket Air. TG 630 comes from or goes to Hong Kong, so I hoped for an A330 at least when I made the booking. A quick check at an internet café revealed that it would be another uncomfortable A300. My ride from Patong was an overpriced hotel car, but the route was rather scenic as he opted to take some coastal road.

Check-in was quick at the empty Royal Executive Class counter, but economy class lines looked extremely long. Security was a non-issue even with a huge pile of coins in my pocket, and I was soon in the Royal Orchid Lounge. Countless glasses of Sangsom with Coke the night before made sure I was only able to enjoy a glass of refreshing ice cold water… After about twenty minutes, boarding started and luckily my LH Senator card got me past the masses mainly of home-going European tourists.

Legroom was excellent in the exit row, but the seat was the most uncomfortable I have ever sat in. The audio control unit sticks a good two inches out of the fixed armrest, making the seat extremely narrow. In my opinion Airbus widebody seats are rather narrow to start with. My seatmate had forgotten his beachwear and sandals on, and looked like a lottery jackpot winner when he saw the legroom.

Pushback was late, and we took off without delay for the short hop. Service was the usual Thai domestic affair, a lunchbox with a few snacks and some juice. They could at least offer soft drinks in economy, even Orient Thai and Phuket Air do. Oh well, at least they had deemed this service to be a meal time flight, so the larger lunchbox was offered.

Landing at Don Muang was a few minutes late and we docked at the domestic terminal a few minutes later. I had only carry-on luggage, so I was outside waiting for a taxi soon. The taxi drivers at the airport have always been scam artists in my experience, and now the idiots have decided that better deals are to be had from the international terminals. Thus, there were hardly any taxis passing the domestic terminal, none at the official stand.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 2:28 am

04 December 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Udon Thani (UTH/VTUD)
Nok Air DD 9200
Boeing 737-4D7
HS-TDA “Songkhla”
0600-0705 (0620-0715)
Economy Class, Seat 39H (Exit Row)

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I decided to go see a friend of mine in Udon Thani for a day, and planned to fly Thai Airways obviously for lounges, miles etc. However, TG 8 in the morning was fully booked, so I had to look for alternatives. Air Asia is not really my type of thing, and on top of that they require two days advance booking on the website. So I booked a return trip with Sky Asia Co. Ltd., i.e. Nok Air. The return fare was 2500 Baht, Thai’s lowest available fare (Business) would have been more than double.

I woke up at 4:30am, after hardly any sleep. The taxi driver was a great one – 14 minutes from the JW Marriott to Don Muang is a remarkable time even at night I must say. Check-in had pretty long lines, but after about 10 minutes I was checked in by a friendly Nok agent in a yellow t-shirt. Security was again very quick as usual in Thailand, and I then went downstairs as boarding should have started already.

Gates 8, 9 and 10 were all used by Nok’s morning departures, to Udon Thani, Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok that is. Boarding started very late, and we were bussed with an ancient Thai Airways bus to HS-TDA. Another bus came at 6.15am, and we were already pushing back as people were walking to their seats. Exit row had excellent legroom, and the Thai seats were the same as on newer B747-400s. I was grateful that the agent gave me an exit row without asking.

The flight itself was short and uneventful, quite a few people seemed to buy the snackboxes that are identical to Thai’s small boxes. We soon started descent to Udon Thani Airport, and the endless rice fields came into view. Landing was rather smooth, and we then taxied to the old terminal. The new one, Udonthani International Airport, looks quite nice and modern, but isn’t yet open.

I met my friend at the arrivals hall, and we then went with her motorbike to town.

04 December 2004
Udon Thani (UTH/VTUD) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Nok Air DD 9217
Boeing 737-4D7
HS-TDE “Surin”
1805-1910 (1825-1915)
Economy Class, Seat 39A (Exit Row)

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After a fun day in the northeastern town, it was time to go back to the airport. A short motorbike ride on the highway going to Khon Kaen, and we arrived at the small terminal. Check-in was a breeze, and the friendly Thai Airways agent again assigned me an exit row seat, 39A this time. Thai Airways has the same numbering system on every aircraft: First starts with 1, Royal Executive with 11 and Economy with 31. The only exception is the one-class ATR-72 I believe.

We then headed upstairs to have some food at the restaurant – great views from there as well. A decent meal with soft drinks cost a bit shy of two euros, and a Thai Air Asia B737-300 was just boarding outside. Nok Air then announced a delay of twenty minutes for flight DD 9217. Not a big deal, but I strongly recommend Thai Airways for domestic flights if you need to be on time.

We then said our goodbyes, and I headed through the sole security checkpoint before reaching the only gate at the old terminal. I was glad to see the flight would be operated by the green Nok jet. Boarding started a bit after the original scheduled departure time, and the load was very light this evening. I had three exit row seats for myself.

We started taxiing from the remote stand about twenty minutes late, and obviously took off without delay as our 737 was the only aircraft at the airport. The flight was again short and uneventful; and the young, cute and friendly flight attendants managed to sell a few snacks again. Landing at Don Muang was only slightly late, and we taxied to a remote stand where the “green bird” (Nok means bird in Thai) would be spending the night.

I didn’t bother with the downstairs taxis this time, and headed right away to departures where I got an incoming taxi right away and headed to city. Overall a decent trip on Nok, although I would still buy the TG promotional V fares if available (about 5 eur more one way).
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 4:03 am

06 December 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Tokyo Narita (NRT/RJAA)
United Airlines UA 882
Boeing 747-422
N128UA
0700-1435 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 16A (Upper Deck)

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It was time to return to Korea on Finland’s Independence Day. Since United departs at the crack of dawn, I had to wake up awfully early again. The taxi ride was quick again, but the show at United and Northwest counters was unbelievable. No other counter had any lines, but the line for baggage inspection was very long for United. My checked bag was basically emptied on the counter…

A stupid interview was also conducted before the check-in counters; the friendly Thai lady first chatted with me about my holiday there, and then started asking useless questions like a robot. I finally reached the long business class line about 20 minutes after arriving at the airport; United had thoughtfully just closed the Star Gold counter although lines were very long. I waited about ten minutes before a United representative checked me in. United has one flight per day to Bangkok, so I don’t understand why they don’t outsource check-in to cut unnecessary costs.

Quite honestly, I can’t see why anybody would buy a ticket on this service instead of a more convenient and hassle free later departure on other airlines. Also, I don’t understand why these useless checks were not performed in Korea for example; obviously Bangkok International Airport and its security procedures are considered second rate somehow. Passport control was very quick, and the United Lounge was full. I was asked if I’d mind using the Thai lounge instead. No problem, so I headed to the very pleasant Royal Executive Class lounge near pier 3. Also, why on the earth does UA operate a lounge for one departure per day when there are three TG, one SQ and one LH lounge available as well as three Thai Royal First Lounges?

Boarding started on time, and there was more questioning at the gate. One of the questions was “Did you buy any items from duty free?” I don’t quite understand what relevance that has to flight safety. I boarded right away, and boarded the Jumbo – it could have been called sauna just as well. The air conditioning packs were not working.

As I made it to the upper deck, a surly American F/A didn’t bother to greet me, just asked if I want to store my roller bag. I said yes, and left the bag there. “Put it there in the closet!”, she said. So, in a +35 degres celsius business class cabin, I struggled with my laptop bag and tried to store it in the small closet. The Japanese guys on NRT-BKK took care of everybody’s bags as appropriate, especially in premium cabin.

I took my seat, and drinks in plastic cups arrived a few minutes later, served by a friendly Japanese lady. A passenger on the upper deck acted like he knew everything, directed people here and there etc. Later, his seatmate was upgraded to First – he didn’t quite get that and asked the F/A why the lady was upgraded and mentioned all the possible cards he had and said that he should have been upgraded instead. I guess some people just have to make an asshole of themselves.

I then asked the American F/A if channel 9 would be on – she didn’t understand. So after further explanation, she said “yeah yeah”. Channel 9 was not on. All I wanted was her to ask the pilots – every other cabin crew member has done just that. The mechanics (also UA staff for some reason…) got the air conditioning working soon, and we were ready for pushback shortly thereafter. Safety demo was performed, and the Japanese f/a had to go and ask the American one to do her part as she was too busy chatting what seemed like friends. Guess this was the infamous employee class. This particular lady provided poor service throughout the flight, so I won’t go into any more details.

Takeoff was roughly on time, and the Japanese purser soon explained the service and told everyone they can now have their last glimpse of South East Asia on this trip as we were making a left turn over downtown Bangkok. Breakfast was served soon, here’s the menu:

Breakfast

To Begin

Your selected entrée will be served with breakfast breads, butter and fruit preserves.

Main Course

Scrambled eggs with mozzarella on a chicken sausage patty
Roasted tourney potatoes, herb tomato,
Buttered spinach with red peppers and a fresh fruit appetizer

Spicy Thai noodles and stir-fried shrimp in an egg wrap
Tofu with chili sauce and a fresh fruit appetizer

Continental Breakfast
Selection of seasonal fruit, cereal and yoghurt


Prior to Arrival

Bow tie pasta with bacon and tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese

Or

Peppered roast beef and mango with plum sauce
Potato salad with corn, kidney beans and mustard vinaigrette

Dessert

Carrot cake

Champagne: Baron-Fuente

I really wanted the Thai dish – proved not to be a problem as the cabin was full of Americans, who all seemed to want either eggs or the continental offering. Breakfast was pretty good, and the Thai dish was not overly spicy although spicy in Thailand usually means HOT. So I guess spicy in this menu card had the western meaning of the word. The Japanese F/A refilled drinks constantly.

I then reclined my seat and managed to sleep until it was time for the pre-landing snack. A certain crew member seemed to be inconvenienced as I asked for the pasta – I woke up when they had already passed my row. However, I got it and it was a rather good snack dish. We landed at Narita on time, and everybody had to dig out their bags, obviously creating a traffic jam at the top of the stairs. I then made my way to the Red Carpet Club.

06 December 2004
Tokyo Narita (NRT/RJAA) – Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI)
United Airlines UA 801
Boeing 777-222/ER
N786UA
1730-2020 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 9J

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Time passed by fast in the lounge with the help of free wireless internet, and it was soon time to board the final leg of this trip to Thailand. A bus gate was used, and a Friendly Airport Limousine drove us a long way to N786UA, an older 777 in the United fleet. A ground handling agent made everybody board the plane via door 2, although the front stairs were still there and the door was open.

I was greeted by a cheerful lady upon boarding; I believe she and her colleague serving my section were of Latin American origin. They both provided excellent service on this flight. Unfortunately N786UA doesn’t have C+, meaning there was also row 8 on the sides of the small cabin and less legroom. Business class filled up, and there were many employees in First. They had NRSA baggage tags still attached to their rollers, that’s why I know.

The captain soon welcomed us onboard, and also announced that anyone interested can track the flight on Airshow and channel 9. We pushed back on time, and followed a variety of North American heavies and a Thai International B747 for takeoff. Our takeoff roll was short, and we then headed towards the Korean peninsula.

Service was more or less the same as on ICN-NRT; meal was a choice of assorted sushi or a ham and cheese sandwich. I was almost the only one who dared to take the Japanese option which was excellent. The sandwich looked pathetic. Drinks were refilled a few times – got some champagne from First as well but it wasn’t Dom Perignon on this flight unfortunately.

Weather was terrible on approach – it was windy and rainy at Incheon airport. We were following TG 629 from Bangkok and Hong Kong, and Incheon tower cleared us for landing quite early. A while later, our pilots confirmed if we were indeed cleared to land, and a minute later we touched down on the wet runway.

A long taxi to the terminal, but luckily passport control was rather quiet this evening. Priority tags did not work, and I had to wait quite a while for my bag to arrive. I then took the usual Korean Air limousine to town.

Overall, 29000 miles was obviously a total bargain for these flights. Crews were fantastic on ICN-NRT and NRT-BKK and good on NRT-ICN. Service on BKK-NRT was quite bad to be honest. The United business seat was great in my opinion, and food was adequate although the presentation is not as well thought as on the finest airlines such as CX. United for example uses plastic butter and preserve containers while CX and AY use nice glass/ceramic bowls.
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ba319-131
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 5:57 am

Thanks for the updates Lari,good to see a nice assortment of trips.

Regardung UA and the BKK lounge etc,i totally agree,it would make far more financial sense to outsource for the one daily flight.

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
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 5:59 am

07 December 2004
Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI) – Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok (HKG/VHHH)
Cathay Pacific Airways CX 419
Airbus A330-342
B-HLB
1945-2235 (1945-2305)
Economy Class, Seat 30K (Bulkhead)

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My plan was to go to the Philippines on Wednesday as usual, but both Asiana and Korean Air were completely full in economy class. Cathay Pacific was a bit more expensive, but with them I could leave already on Tuesday and spend the night in Hong Kong – not a bad option actually. On top of that, Cathay is one of my favourites and I would also earn double miles to my AAdvantage account.

The bus ride was painfully long as usual in the early evening, but check in was quick as expected due to my Oneworld Sapphire status. Also, I had to ask for an e-ticket receipt since the original one was in my old laptop’s now dead hard disk. This was also quickly printed. No comments about the slightly overweight checked bag or two carry-ons. I really think Oneworld should streamline elite baggage allowance – usually it’s no problem but a limit like 40kg for Star Gold would make more sense.

Cathay Pacific Business Lounge, Incheon KR

Cathay Pacific operates its own lounge at Incheon. It’s located near the smaller KAL Lounge and Northwest Worldclub. The design is quite similar as in their Hong Kong lounges, and overall it’s a pleasant and spacious lounge. They offer some workstations as well as free wireless internet. Food items included warm pasta, sandwiches and cup noodles. Drink selection wasn’t too big but adequate. Views were good and staff nice.

Boarding started on time, and priority boarding was strictly enforced as usual on Cathay Pacific. I was greeted by two smiling flight attendants, and made my way to bulkhead row 30. The regional A330-300 has extremely tight pitch, and even the bulkhead didn’t have that much legroom. I was of course more comfortable than normal rows though – I tried a seat in the last row during the flight as it was not full at all. Seat pocket contents are sealed in a plastic bag – a nice touch in my opinion. That also means you get all the magazines etc; on many airlines some contents are missing and ground staff can’t be bothered to check.

We were pushed back on time, and took off shortly thereafter for the 3h40min flight down to Hong Kong. Drinks and packaged towels were served after takeoff – the lovely ladies serving my section were happy to get me a Cathay Delight cocktail from business class. That’s my favourite non-alcoholic drink hands down.

Dinner service started soon, and it was a choice of chicken or fish I believe; I took the chicken. It came on a small tray and with some seafood appetizer and orange dessert. The main course was generic airline chicken with rice dish – bland but not too bad. I then took out my laptop and typed some trip reports, using the baby bassinet holder as a table.

We flew past Hong Kong on approach – a great view at night! Landing was late due to strong headwinds, and I was now looking at getting to my hotel around midnight as we also parked at the furthest gate possible. But… Cathay Pacific knows how to make a frequent traveler happy though – an agent was waiting with my name written on the board at the arrival gate. “Sir we changed your seat for your connecting flight to Manila, have a nice trip.” It’s hard to believe any other airline would send somebody to hand out your upgraded boarding pass at the arrival gate.

Regal Kowloon Hotel

I took the airport express to town and a taxi to my worst Priceline hotel ever. The check-in agent was busy talking to on the phone; he finally helped me after a ten minute wait. Check-in took further ten minutes. And all this at around 12am. The room was awful, no other way to put it. They had renovated the hallways which looked decent but not the rooms. Apparently I got one of the so called “economy rooms” mentioned on their website – it was old and tiny. The bed was awful and the furniture was ancient. Bathroom was extremely basic and old. Priceline called this a 4-star hotel. I’ll call them a two-star. Normal rooms might be nicer though. Check-out took another 10 minutes; they had one clerk on duty at 6 am. Priceline will get mail from me – no sane person on this planet would call that room a four star room, and that’s what I bid for.
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Topic Author
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 6:21 am

08 December 2004
Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok (HKG/VHHH) – Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Cathay Pacific Airways CX 907
Boeing 747-467
B-HOV
0805-1000 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 12D

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No check-in required for me this morning – my bag was checked through and I had my boarding pass already as well. After a quick ride on the comfortable Airport Express, I cleared the formalities and was glad to see CX 907 would be departing from gate 3; one of the so called Preferred Gates in front of the Wing lounge. Noticed an Orient Thai crew looking at the screens as well – their ride home would be a good old 747-146 today.

I had some Chinese cooked-to-order breakfast and some sandwiches at the Wing for breakfast, and printed my Manila-Cebu e-ticket receipt. It was then time to take the elevator downstairs and board the Jumbo. A pile of new boarding passes was waiting on the desk – the flight was quite heavily overbooked in economy class.

I was greeted by the inflight services manager at door 1L, and took my seat in the second row of business class downstairs. The cabin, of course fitted with the new lie-flat seats, looked beautiful with even some artwork on the walls. A selection of newspapers and juices was offered soon – I took a Filipino paper and some orange juice. The guy in the middle seat seemed totally overwhelmed by the service; I guess he had never flown in a proper premium cabin and was obviously upgraded given that he had a middle seat.

The Aussie captain then welcomed us onboard, and we pushed back on schedule for the short 1h30min flight to the Philippine capital. After takeoff, menus were distributes, and a hot breakfast would be served later. The ISM came to greet me as a Oneworld status holder – a very nice touch.

Welcome Aboard Cathay Pacific Business Class

Breakfast


Juice selection

Appetizer

Fresh Seasonal Fruits

Fruit yoghurt

Main Courses

Scrambled Egg on Hash Brown Potato
Grilled Ham Slices, Broiled Tomato with Herbs and Button Mushrooms

Chinese Dim Sum
E-fu Noodles with Straw Mushrooms and Chives
Served with Chili Sauce


Assorted Breads and Rolls
Served with Preserves, Honey and Butter

Tea and Coffee

Hot towels were distributed first, then the trays with the appetizer and yoghurt. Cathay Pacific’s business class meal presentation is in my opinion very nice, and even the small details like salt and pepper shakers and butter presentation is nice. Fruit preserves were also offered on glass jars, not in a cheap looking plastic box. My tea came in a big mug. It was a filling and nice meal.

For the rest of the short flight, I reclined my seat and listened to some on demand audio, namely Tata Young’s album I Believe. The Cathay seat is rather comfortable in a lie-flat position, and I’d love to try it for a longhaul flight soon. Arrival in Manila was on time, passport control was deserted and priority baggage worked.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 6:46 am

08 December 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) – Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC)
Philippine Airlines PR 857
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZO
1200-1315 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 17K

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I arrived at the Centennial Terminal after a five minute taxi ride from NAIA 1. To be honest, the check-in area is always totally disorganized, and you never know where to check-in. The terminal is not even old; I guess it’s just the Filipino nature of things… After wandering around I finally found which counter was used for Mabuhay Class today. How about using a fixed counter and putting a big sign over it?

I cleared the formalities quickly, and was soon enjoying some sushi rolls at the Mabuhay Lounge. I have been on Philippine Airlines A330s countless times, but mostly on same machines. So I was obviously happy to note that F-OHZO would be my ride to Cebu this afternoon, one of the aircraft I had not been on before.

Boarding started early, and doors were closed ahead of schedule as well. Load was very light in business class as usual I’d say. Meal orders were taken before pushback – I chose barbecued pork with noodles. Whilst taxiing, I noticed an all white A320 (OY-VKP) – perhaps this is the new PAL A320. There was also a Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Boeing Business Jet.

Takeoff for the short hop was powerful, and meals were served a few minutes later. The pork was excellent as was the dessert cake, and the young crew provided excellent service as usual. Hot towels were distributed before landing, and we touched down a few minutes early at Mactan Cebu International.

12 December 2004
Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC) – Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Philippine Airlines PR 848
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZQ
0930-1040 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 11A

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Four days went by so quickly in Cebu again, and it was time to fly back to Korea. Check-in was quick as usual in Cebu – the Mabuhay Class counter there does have a big sign unlike in Manila. I then went to the small lounge and had some breakfast.

Boarding started on time thankfully – I’m always a bit worried of tight connections on separate tickets. F-OHZQ was waiting, another new A330 for me. My seat was in the first row, and I had a nice chat with the friendly ladies who would be serving the business class cabin this morning. The crews on domestic Philippine Airlines flights are some of the very best around in my opinion.

Pushback was early, and we took off after a lengthy taxi. The Indonesian 727 freighter is gone from Cebu, nowadays I always see a South African registered 727-100F there. I can’t remember the meal choices on this flight, but it was another tasty hot meal.

Landing at Manila was early as well, and we quickly taxied to gate S2 in the domestic terminal. My bag came out after a short while, and it was time for another taxi ride thanks to some bonehead who designed the NAIA terminals to be so far apart from each other.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 7:24 am

12 December 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) – Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok (HKG/VHHH)
Cathay Pacific Airways CX 900
Boeing 747-467
B-HUE
1300-1505 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 30K (Bulkhead)

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I checked in online for the return portion of the journey, and was a bit sad to see my pre-assigned bulkheads were gone. There were rumors though that even though one can reserve them at cathaypacific.com, seat assignments would be later rejected if one does not have Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club status. That seemed to be the case here.

Check-in for CX 900 was a total madhouse – it looked like every Filipino checking in there had their household and more with them. Everybody seemed to be connecting to North America. The agent was a bit frustrated when I asked for a bulkhead seat – “Sir, the man before you asked for one too, I don’t have any”. That was a lie as I later found out. Anyway, my bag was priority tagged to Incheon, and I headed to passport control with awful lines.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, Manila PH

As soon as I was through, I went to the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge as that’s what the invitation said. The whole lounge was old, and just like the rest. A collection of ancient furniture in a room with rather bad air conditioning. The first class side was a bit smaller, but I didn’t notice any other difference to be honest. They had some pasta and sandwiches to eat and a decent selection of drinks including Baileys. Apparently free wireless was available as well. The lounge agent switched me to 30K right away, so I was a happy camper.

Boarding started on time, and I took my seat which had excellent legroom. Perhaps the most comfortable economy bulkhead seat I have sat in. Next to me was some rich girl’s nanny with a baby. The girl was flying in business class… As we were still at the gate, these two went to change diapers in the nearby lavatory, and apparently left the used stuff in the sink. The purser got very angry, and these two got a long lecture what the difference between a waste bin and a sink is.

Pushback was on time, but there was a short wait before we could take off as traffic seemed quite heavy. Asiana B767 landed almost an hour late amongst others. Flight time to Hong Kong was a short 1h30min again, and service started as soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off.

Lunch was a joke in economy class; something I don’t expect in Asia. A small ham and cheese sandwich was all we got. I was expecting a hot meal obviously. Nothing wrong with the quality, but I could have eaten four of those in four minutes. Service was also very rushed and not too friendly.

There is no on-demand stuff in Cathay economy class, so I took out my MP3 player and the rest of the short flight passed by quickly. We landed at Chek Lap Kok on time, and taxied to gate 20 something. It was quite a hike to The Pier, but thankfully the Incheon flight would be leaving from gate 66, right next to this lounge.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 7:57 am

12 December 2004
Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok (HKG/VHHH) – Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI)
Cathay Pacific Airways CX 416
Airbus A330-342
B-HLL
1630-2050 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 30C (Bulkhead)

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Upon entering The Pier, I asked for a bulkhead seat at the service desk. The agents promised to do their best and asked me to check back before leaving. The flight was completely full in both classes, so I wasn’t very hopeful at all. Meanwhile, I enjoyed some noodles at the noodle bar and a few glasses of champagne at the long bar. The Wing and Pier are some of my favourite lounges for sure.

As I was leaving, sure enough, the agents had worked things out and handed me a new boarding pass for 30C. Excellent work I must say. The flight was full of Koreans in economy class and westerners in business class. Pushback was on time, and we taxied to 07R for takeoff. Took off after a company Boeing 747 a short while later. Menus were distributed on this flight also in economy class.

Dinner

Ham with Roasted Vegetables

Braised Beef Brisket with Peanuts
Steamed Rice and Seasonal Vegetables

Or

Roast Fish with Red Onion and Mushroom Cream Sauce
Parmentier Potatoes, Carrots and Green Beans

Fresh Seasonal Fruits

Haagen Dazs Ice Cream

Bread Roll and Butter

Tea and Coffee


Drink and meal service took an eternity – my aisle was served by a very slow guy and a Korean flight attendant. I had the fish and it was quite good for economy class. However, the ice cream never appeared.

I tried to sleep for the rest of the flight, and managed about half an hour before we were on descent to Incheon airport. We landed on time, and as it was quite late, passport control was deserted. I waited an eternity for my bag before contacting the Cathay agent there. “We have a lot of bags left in Hong Kong.”

A report was filed and they didn’t even check where the bags were or anything. I headed upstairs to the Cathay Pacific office, where a few other people were already. They were very unhelpful and told everybody that the bags will be delivered later. However, a guy from business class who also came from Manila and I pressed the issue, and finally a Cathay agent took charge of our claims and promised to get the bags onto the Korean Air midnight departure from Hong Kong. He was actually a very helpful guy, the only one who seemed to care at all at their Incheon office. He even offered his jacket for me to use as my own was in the checked bag and it was freezing outside.

Overall the handling of the situation was pathetic. There was enough time to for Hong Kong to send a list of left bags to Incheon, and passengers could have been contacted either before landing or at the airport. That’s what SAS and Finnair always try to do at Helsinki so one doesn’t need to wait for a bag that is not coming. To CX’s credit, the bag indeed arrived on the KE flight and was delivered the next day.

Overall the ticket was too expensive and not worth the price. Cathay’s economy class is unfortunately another basic economy class product. I would rate SQ’s physical product better, but Cathay’s service is much better in my opinion. CX flight attendants, elite treatment, lounges and business class are amongst the very best.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 8:51 am

14 December 2004
Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI) – Taipei Chiang Kai Shek (TPE/RCTP)
Thai Airways International TG 635
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJB
1705-1845 – On Time
Royal Executive Class, Seat 12G

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I had my two last days at university in Korea, basically final exams. Originally I had the evening nonstop, but luckily seats opened up in business class on the earlier Taipei stopper and my booking was quickly changed. Finishing my exam at 1:40pm cut things a bit close, but I finally arrived at the Thai check-in counters at 4:05pm. A very friendly Korean Air agent checked me in, and off I went. Cathay office was my first stop – I wanted to return the jacket the guy gave me two days earlier.

Security and immigration were slow, and I got all sorts of searches and questioning at both again. The SilverKris lounge was its usual self – I had some prawns first before heading to the bar for some champagne. Boarding was soon called for TG 635, and I was glad to see HS-TJB would be operating the flight as it was missing from my logbook. A few wai greetings from the ladies, and I was soon settled in my rather comfortable aisle seat in the second row.

Thai’s B777-200 seating has got a lot of negative feedback in various forums. Nobody seems to realize that the whole fleet is 777 A-version, and used for regional routes. Business class is 2-4-2 seating, with about 48” pitch. A perfectly comfortable seat for these regional flights and I’m not a small guy at all. The back of the bus is tight with 3-4-3 and 33” pitch I admit, but would you want to offer something better for group tourists? 777-200s operate 4 flights a day to Incheon for example, where economy is always filled with tour groups. Obviously everybody would like a flat bed, but the 777-200 business seating is miles better than any U.S. domestic two-class first for example.

Pre-departure drinks were soon served – I took champagne as usual. Thai serves Lanson Black Label in regional business class at the moment. The cabin filled up except for two seats – one happened to be next to me. As the guy was pouring away the pre-departure drinks, he had one champagne left, winked at me and brought it over. “I knew already you help me sir.” Load in business was 53/55 this afternoon to Taipei.

Menus, socks and headphones were distributed before pushback, and dinner orders were taken. Here’s the menu for the entire ICN-TPE-BKK flight.

Thai Airways International takes great pleasure in welcoming you onboard. Our legendary Royal Orchid Service will make your journey Smooth as Silk. Our dedicated chefs choose the finest ingredients and add Thai herbs to Thai dishes that are being served as in-flight meals. Also, only the finest wines from the best vineyards have been selected to accompany your meal.

Seoul – Taipei

First Course

Chicken with Pistachio Terrine, Apple and Celery Salad

Main Course

Stir-fried Lemon Beef, Chinese Fried Rice
Pak-choi, Baby Corn

Or

Sautéed Prawns with Newburg Sauce, Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice
Buttered Broccoli, Carrot

Assorted Breads, Crackers, Butter, Cheese


Dessert

Charlotte Royal
Tea, Coffee
Espresso, Cappuccino


Taipei – Bangkok

First Course

Sicilian Scallops, Chicken Sesame, Apple and Potato Salad

Main Course

Pork Rib with Pineapple, Buttered Rice, Broccoli, Carrots

or

Steamed Sea Perch with Lemon Grass Sauce, Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice
Soy Beans, Half Tomato

Assorted Breads, Crackers, Butter

Cheese and Fresh Fruits


Dessert

Chocolate Marquise
Tea, Coffee
Espresso, Cappuccino


Takeoff was on time, and service started shortly after the seatbelt sign went off. All service in business class was from the nice old-style open service cart. Drinks were served with a snackmix first, I had more champagne. Since this, the old guy kept refilling my champagne glass constantly from the galley all the way to Bangkok.

Table linens were soon laid out, and appetizers and breads were offered; I opted for some garlic bread. More bread and drinks were offered constantly, Thai had six flight attendants taking care of us in the business class cabin. I had the prawns for main course, an excellent Thai dish. Dessert service was rather extensive as well, and I opted for some cognac with the “Charlotte Royal” which was mouth-watering.

As the meal service was about to finish, the captain announced descent to Chiang Kai Shek airport in Taipei. We landed on schedule and were met by rude China Airlines agents at the gate. I asked where the lounge is – “You have to sit there and wait!”

Transit at Taipei Chiang Kai Shek International

The airport looked awful, this was terminal one. I assume terminal two is somewhat better. There was nothing in this terminal to be honest – a cafeteria, some gates and a couple of sad looking lounges and small duty free shops. As I later found out, Thai uses a lounge outside security. The only airport in the same class that I have visited is Manila Ninoy Aquino terminal 1. Definitely choose the Hong Kong stopper instead of this one (TG 628/9).

14 December 2004
Taipei Chiang Kai Shek (TPE/RCTP) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Thai Airways International TG 635
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJB
1945-2250 – On Time
Royal Executive Class, Seat 12G

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Thankfully they started boarding soon, and I was back in my comfortable seat. A glass of champagne arrived in no time and one of the ladies informed me to take any seat after takeoff if I want; the load would be only 14 passengers in business class on this sector. Doors were closed on schedule, and we took off after the China Airlines 747 in Dreamliner colours landed.

A full dinner was served on this sector, and service was even better and more attentive than on the previous leg, due to the lower load I guess. There was an added cheese and fruit course, and the appetizer was larger on this flight. The champagne kept flowing, and I tried to finish another part of this ultra long trip report on this flight.

We started our descent to Bangkok over the northeastern town of Khon Kaen, and landed on schedule on runway 21L. Overall, service was flawless on these flights and the meals were great. I don’t quite understand why Thai has such a bad reputation when it comes to business class. Sure, B747s with 7431/7441 configuration and MD11s have ancient seats that belong to a museum, but the rest of the fleet is fine. Service on Thai is always fantastic.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:20 am

18 December 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Phuket International (HKT/VTSP)
Phuket Airlines 9R 376
Boeing 757-2Q8
HS-KAA
1050-1205 (1230-1340)
Economy Class, Seat 36F

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I wanted to go to Phuket one last time before flying back to Finland at the beginning of January, so I chose the weekend of 18-19 December. Orient Thai had two classic 747s flying down on Saturday morning – unfortunately both full. The travel agent suggested I book Phuket Air as it was cheaper than Thai – so that’s what I did. Big mistake as you will see later.

I went to the airport quite late, and arrived at the Phuket Air check-in counter (yes, one counter) about an hour before departure. Or so I thought. I was hoping for an interesting aircraft, so the good news was it would be operated by one of their 757s. Unfortunately, I was informed that departure will probably be around 12 noon.

An hour’s wait at the gate area isn’t exactly fun, although you have a good view of the runways from there. I ate a few tuna pastries that they had on offer, and drank approximately half of the contents of their water tank. Meanwhile, a Kuwait Airways A340-300 arrived from Kuwait City, and docked at pier 5 for the short stopover before continuing to Manila. The crew for our flight also arrived; the captain was talking with someone about serious maintenance problems… convincing.

Boarding finally started around noon, and we were bussed to HS-KAA. It’s the latest addition to the Phuket Airlines fleet, and has been operated by Lan Chile, Ladeco and LAPA before in South America. Unfortunately this bird has a horrible configuration of 219 bright blue seats; legroom was unbearable. I can only imagine how the Finnair leisure 757s are - they have 8 more seats and fly long flights.

The flight was practically empty, and we pushed back around 12:30pm. Orient Thai’s HS-UTD was undergoing an engine change this time, they just changed an engine on HS-UTP as well. If somebody is interested, both Orient Thai and Onetwo-go turned a profit last year, the parent company a significant one. They plan to add 12 jets to the fleet this year.

The 757 took off like a rocket from 21R, and I was finally on my way to the south. Oh well, it was only a delay of 1h40min, last time it was almost four hours. A hot meal was served, and consisted of fish curry and Thai Jasmine rice. A decent meal for an hour’s domestic flight. Crew was nice and friendly again, and there were at least 6 flight attendants on this empty fight.

We landed from the ocean side of Phuket Airport, and this time used a jetway. The airport was deserted, not a single classic Jumbo of 9R or OX and just one Bangkok-bound Thai A300 that was boarding. I took a taxi to the Marriott Resort where I was staying.

JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa

Today was the start of the peak season, and the rate had jumped up to $505 per night. Obviously, I had to see how I could do on Priceline. $78 did the trick, and upon arrival I was upgraded to a terrace room due to my status with Marriott. A note and welcome gift from the manager was waiting. “Welcome back to the Pearl of the Andaman Sea and our beautiful resort”. It’s very sad to think what happened just a week later… The resort was not damaged, but that’s pretty minor compared to the magnitude of the disaster.

As I returned from Patong at night (the JW shuttle now costs 100 Baht per way), a note was waiting under my door. “As you informed me you have a late flight tomorrow, you can check out without charge at 3pm and use all the facilities until you leave”. Talk about service. Also, the customary little turtle souvenir had been placed on my bed at turndown service. The JW Marriott resort is just amazing. I can’t wait to be back.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:54 am

19 December 2004
Phuket International (HKT/VTSP) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Thai Airways International TG 218
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
HS-TMG “Nakhon Sawan”
1855-2020 (1930-2040)
Royal First Class, Seat 2F

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I went back to the airport, fearing the worst when it comes to Phuket Airlines. And what did I see? “9R375 Bangkok – DELAYED”. Bingo, I had an international connection out of Bangkok, and of course this joke of an airline was again late. Orient Thai was my next choice – delayed only 6hours and 10 minutes that evening. Actually, their 747 just left for Hong Kong, and it also has to fly back from there before operating OX 266 to BKK.

So, off to the Thai counter I went, inquiring about the equipment for TG218. I didn’t book it in the first place, because the MD11s always get switched to other types. “Sir 218 is MD today”. So can you sell me a ticket? “No more tickets today, everything full. You try stand-by counter.”

Off to the abovementioned standby counter I went… The guy took my LH Senator card and said yes it’s full, but he’ll have a chat with his supervisor. “Sir you are confirmed on the 218 now, you need to buy a ticket and come see me again.” The ticket agent was confused to say the least, but managed to sell me the ticket. The guy had written open paper ticket on the small note, but the agent sold a fixed e-ticket for a random date.

The standby line was horrible by now, but the legend waved me down to another counter as soon as I went back. The paper/e-ticket confusion caused some problems, but eventually he printed me a boarding pass for 2F in First Class of the MD-11. All this was handled at a counter that had a big “closed” sign – a German tourist had a big problem with this. This person insisted she must be able to use this counter as well… An interesting conversation followed: “Madam, I have special case here, you need to go to that line” No, you must help me too! “Madam the standby line is that one” But this is not closed! “Yes madam, it’s closed, please go to that line, sorry” Perhaps closed is an unclear word to some…

The airport was a total zoo, I have never seen so many people there. I’m very grateful the guy decided to get my seat confirmed and checked me all the way through to Seoul. I then cleared immigration and went to the international Royal Orchid Lounge. Immigration officer was a total legend – he joked about Korean women, asked when I’m coming back and said thanks in Finnish.

The international lounge is just like the domestic one with the addition of Singha beer. Malaysian and Silk Air flights were boarding and a Finnair 757-200 took off for Ahmedabad and Helsinki. That particular aircraft perhaps brought many of the tsunami victims to Phuket. Singapore is apparently adopting some ridiculous TSA searches – all Silk Air passengers had their carry ons hand-searched.

The big three-holer landed late from Bangkok, but I didn’t really care at that point. I was finally getting on a Thai MD-11. Tango Mike Golf had operated a flight to Kuala Lumpur the same day as one of the above pictures shows. Upon entering the beast, I felt like going right to the 1970s. I have been on countless Finnair MD-11 flights as well as on a Varig one, but the Thai interior was just unique.

My first class seat was in the middle section, with unlimited legroom. The MD-11 has rows 1 and 4 on the sides and 2 in the middle. The seats were ancient as well, yet very wide, plush and comfortable. In front of me was a huge TV/video thing, I have never seen such thing on an aircraft before. Actually I felt like sitting in one of those deluxe movie theater chairs because of that screen…

Behind the First cabin are two rows of business class seats on the sides – they are used for crew rest on long flights. Business class itself starts with row 11 behind the galley and doors 2L/R. Business has the pathetic old seats and 38” pitch. Economy seats looked comfortable; wide with good legroom.

The flight was totally full, and two passengers were sitting in the crew rest business class seats I believe. The First Class cabin was full of mostly locals/Asians, all the tourists seemed to be in the back. Takeoff was late, but was undoubtedly the most powerful I have ever experienced. I simply love the MD11 and its performance.

A hot meal was served after takeoff, and was the same seafood pasta dish as on TG 218 in October. Not bad but not a culinary delight either. We flew over Surat Thani and then straight to Bangkok, and all too soon my only Thai MD-11 flight was over. Landing was a bit late on 21R, and we then taxied all the way to a remote stand near the Thai maintenance hangars. As I had already cleared immigration in Phuket, a bus took me right to an entrance near pier 3. I walked upstairs and into the Thai lounge.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 10:04 am

Interpaul,

I think that must have been China Cargo Airlines. By the way, I really enjoy all of you trip reports so keep 'em coming.

Thanks for the info and compliments! I couldn't find that call sign anywhere...

SQNo1,

Just wondering how many mileage plus po do you have, and are you returning to helsinki on AY and on what date.

Sorry for the late reply, flew to Helsinki on January 3. I don't have that many UA miles; usually I credit to LH (about 400,000 miles), but started crediting discount economy to UA (only about 30,000 miles) as LH made some significant changes to the program.

The rest of the reports will be posted tomorrow, here's what is missing:

19DEC TG 656 C BKK ICN 772 HS-TJG
20DEC TG 659 C ICN BKK 772 HS-TJA
22DEC LH 744 Y BKK MNL 744 D-ABVL
23DEC PR 857 C MNL CEB 333 F-OHZS
31DEC PR 858 C CEB MNL 333 F-OHZO
31DEC LH 745 Y MNL BKK 744 D-ABVD
03JAN AY 098 C BKK HEL M11 OH-LGD

Two nice upgrades (TG 659, AY 098), very poor service on LH and usual PR domestics.

Cheers,

Lari
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:50 pm

All this was handled at a counter that had a big “closed” sign – a German tourist had a big problem with this. This person insisted she must be able to use this counter as well… An interesting conversation followed: “Madam, I have special case here, you need to go to that line” No, you must help me too! “Madam the standby line is that one” But this is not closed! “Yes madam, it’s closed, please go to that line, sorry” Perhaps closed is an unclear word to some…

Are you sure you wern't the one confused with the closed sign. I would have insisted that the thai agent change the sign above the counter to "PX legend" or something similar and very appropriate for the person being served at this counter. Anything short of such signage is a joke and borders on insulting. Dont you agree?

Other than that a very fine trip report. See you soon mr Lari.

 
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 9:57 pm

Are you sure you wern't the one confused with the closed sign. I would have insisted that the thai agent change the sign above the counter to "PX legend" or something similar and very appropriate for the person being served at this counter. Anything short of such signage is a joke and borders on insulting. Dont you agree?

 Innocent  Big grin
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Fri Jan 07, 2005 10:36 pm

Great report as usual.


Thanks for the heads up on TPE. I'll be traveling through there in a couple of hours on my way to LAX.

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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sat Jan 08, 2005 12:47 am

19 December 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI)
Thai Airways International TG 656
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJG “Pattani”
2330-0640+1 – On Time
Royal Executive Class, Seat 12B

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I had to go back to Korea as I had my return ticket booked on the 21st of December. Originally, I thought I would still have exams on the 20th and 21st, but that was not the case. Also, since my exchange should be at least four months, this silly little trip was unavoidable. The new Thai lounge was as good as ever – after a relaxing shoulder massage and a few drinks, I was good to go.

As usual, both Seoul flights would be departing from the basement… err bus gates. With two 777s full of group tourists, the scene there was noting short of a zoo. Boarding had just started, and thankfully the Thai ground agent was for once enforcing priority boarding. He waved me and some others over – it wasn’t particularly easy with the economy class passengers simply blocking access to the gate.

We drove to HS-TJG, named after the troubled southern province of Pattani. Two sets of stairs were used, and I was soon settled in 12B, with 12A blocked as the flight was very empty in business class. Another friendly crew this evening, and I had my glass of champagne in no time at all. Also amenity kits and menus were distributed along with the usual assortment of newspapers and magazines.

The amenity kit is a rather nice purple bag with a golden Thai logo on it. Inside, one can find socks, eyeshade, earplugs, moisturizer, lip balm (Nivea brand), toothbrush, comb as well as a decent hairbrush. A rather nice business class kit in my opinion.

Pushback was slightly late, and we took off from 21R as usual at Don Muang. Glasses were collected as we were taxiing with a remark “we’ll serve you more in the air, don’t worry”. A standard 777 takeoff, and we headed towards the Isaan region, then over Da Nang and Taipei straight to Korea. Service started immediately, and due to the late departure, the initial drink/snack service was skipped.

Thai Airways International takes great pleasure in welcoming you onboard. Our legendary Royal Orchid Service will make your journey Smooth as Silk. Our dedicated chefs choose the finest ingredients and add Thai herbs to Thai dishes that are being served as in-flight meals. Also, only the finest wines from the best vineyards have been selected to accompany your meal.

Bangkok – Seoul

Snack

Smoked Ham, Marinated Zucchini and Mozzarella Open Sandwiches
Assorted Pralines
Tea, Coffee


Breakfast

Fruit Juice
Fresh Fruits and Fruit Yoghurt

Shredded Pork with Woodear Mushroom and Ginger Oyster Sauce
Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice, Stir-fried Vegetables

Or

Herb Omelet, Grilled Chicken Thigh, Vegetables

Noodle Soup available upon request

Roll, Croissant, Butter, Jam

Tea, Coffee, Ovaltine


Light snack was served after departure, two decent sandwiches and some pralines, very nicely presented. The champagne kept flowing as usual. For some reason, I wasn’t tired at all, So I just reclined my seat and listened to more Thai music while the very friendly lady kept refilling my champagne glass constantly.

I later had a chat with this flight attendant and the inflight manager – they had both started on the DC-8 and had also flown on DC-10 to Helsinki. Somehow the discussion drifted to all the airlines in Thailand – the lady told me “Sir, you can fly all the others but not Orient Thai! They have too old airplanes.” They couldn’t stop laughing when I told them some OX stories, and I got a nice Christmas present the inflight manager at the end.

Breakfast service soon started – I chose the Thai pork dish and it was excellent. Bread and drinks were offered numerous times, and even my champagne glass was never empty. As we were on approach, she emptied the bottle to my glass – “Just enough time for one more.” We landed fifteen minutes early at Incheon, and docked at gate 31 a few minutes later. Said thanks to the wonderful crew, and headed to what was the usual morning mess at Incheon. Passport control took exactly an hour.

20 December 2004
Seoul Incheon (ICN/RKSI) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Thai Airways International TG 659
Boeing 777-2D7
HS-TJA “Lamphun”
0950-1340 (1005-1400)
Royal Executive Class, Seat 11D

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Photo © Sam Chui
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Photo © Gautam Changela



As I had no exams and all my stuff was in Bangkok already, I had changed my return from Tuesday’s evening flight to the Hong Kong stopper on Monday morning. It was totally full, but waitlist cleared thanks to my Star Gold status in about three hours. So, I proceeded straight from the arrivals hall to the Thai Airways check-in. The same cheerful Korean Air lady was working at the business class desk and commented about my long routing.

After a chat with the supervisor, she said that the nonstop was totally full, but thanks to my card, the supervisor put me on the nonstop anyway. I thanked her and off I went with bulkhead seat 31C assigned. Security was rather quick, and I was soon enjoying the SilverKris lounge one last time. It was rather quiet, and it was clear that the Christmas season meant mostly leisure travelers.

TJG was operating the Hong Kong stopper back, but unfortunately the nonstop was TJA. So, I’m still missing HS-TJC from my logbook. Two Koreans were handed new boarding cards at the departure gate, so I asked the KE agent if she might have a new one for me too. “Flight already closed, sorry sir.” Boarding started on time, and as soon as I reached my original seat, the same agent came onboard and handed me a handwritten boarding pass for 11D. “Sorry about that sir, they change your seat already”.

Off I went to my new, much more comfortable seat. Magazines and newspapers were offered – one of the ladies gave me a huge Christmas edition of a Korean lifestyle magazine – “Just look at the nice pictures if you don’t speak Korean”. Amenity kits and menus were offered later, and a glass of Lanson arrived as well. I was quite impressed that they offer an amenity kit even on such a short day dlight. The cabin filled up because of numerous upgrades, but the middle seat next to me still stayed empty.

Pushback was a bit late due to problems at immigration according to the captain. At 10:05am, the triple seven was pushed back, and we started our long taxi to the active runway. The pair of huge Rolls Royce Trents started screaming at 10:21am and I would be leaving Korea for the last time for some time. Takeoff was powerful, and once the seatbelt sign went off, service started. Almonds and drinks were offered first, along with the customary hot towels. All napkins etc had special “Seasons Greetings” markings.

Thai Airways International takes great pleasure in welcoming you onboard. Our legendary Royal Orchid Service will make your journey Smooth as Silk. Our dedicated chefs choose the finest ingredients and add Thai herbs to Thai dishes that are being served as in-flight meals. Also, only the finest wines from the best vineyards have been selected to accompany your meal.

Seoul - Bangkok

First Course

Marinated Prawns, Vegetables Chaudfroid

Mixed Green Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing


Main Course

Beef Short Rib Korean Style, Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice
Pak-choi

Or

Duo of Salmon and Cod Veloute, Cream Chive Sauce
Saffron Potatoes, Vegetables

Or

Roast Chicken Thigh Korean Style, Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice
Pak-choi

Or

Pork Fillet in Red Curry Thai Style, Steamed Thai Jasmine Rice
(Medium Hot)

Assorted Breads, Crackers, Butter
Cheese and Fresh Fruits


Dessert

Sponge Cake with Lemon Cream Mousse
Tea, Coffee
Espresso, Cappuccino


I was expecting a meal similar to that of Seoul-Taipei, but got something entirely different. A huge lunch with four choices – and everybody got their choice to boot. The appetizer was also significantly larger, and there was a separate salad course. Service was good, with a lot of drink/bread refills, but obviously not as personal as on the emptier flights. I had the Salmon main course which was tasty and the presentation was excellent. Overall perhaps one of the best meals I have had – puts all LH/AY longhaul business class meals to shame.

I was getting tired at this point, so decided to sleep. Woke up as the new ticket raffle was about to take place – 20000 free tickets are given on inbound flights to Thailand. Not many people in business class bothered to fill out the form, but given my terrible luck in such raffles, I obviously didn’t win. Oh well, an upgrade and a bottle of champagne was a nice enough Christmas present from my favourite airline.

We started our descent into Don Muang soon, and landed about twenty minutes late on 21L. A quick taxi to the terminal concluded my Thai Airways experiences for this year. Immigration had terrible lines, and the Thai Premium Service Fast Track counter was full of backpackers from an El Al flight. The immigration officer should have sent them to other lines instead of stamping their passports.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sat Jan 08, 2005 1:14 am

22 December 2004
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Lufthansa LH 744
Boeing 747-430
D-ABVL “München”
1500-1910 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 33K (Exit Row)

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Photo © Poowin Bunyavejchewin


The only reason for choosing Lufthansa was price. The flights cost 7000 THB return, Thai would have been significantly more expensive. Philippine Airlines or Kuwait were not really feasible alternatives as that would mean no lounge access, miles etc. I arrived at Don Muang around 2pm, and got quickly checked in by a Lufthansa agent at the F desk who managed to find me an exit row seat, and confirmed that the flight was full.

I then headed to the Thai lounge near pier 5, as that’s where my flight would be departing today. D-ABVL was the aircraft today – Poowin B. snapped a shot of it at Bangkok the very same day as you can see above. Also, it had been reconfigured to the F16 C61 Y310 configuration since my last flight on Victor Lima. Guess it was done in Xiamen based on the other photo above.

No friendly greetings at the door, but luckily my seat was somewhat comfortable. Lufthansa has only two seats by the exit door, meaning 33A/K have no seat in front. Just for laughs, my knees were a good 5cm past the seatback of 32J. I can’t imagine sitting in a regular LH cattle class seat for a longhaul flight. We pushed back roughly on time, and took off from 21R without delay.

The flight had somewhat younger crew than usual, possible due to the holiday season. Service was poor (or should I say non existent…). A tiny hot meal was slammed down on the traytables, drinks were offered and crew disappeared. The meal went back almost untouched; I only ate the two pieces of fruit as the main course was totally inedible. I believe it was chicken.

I listened to Lufthansa Club Mix for the rest of the flight, and soon we were on approach to Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Landed on schedule, and luckily the dump called NAIA 1 was very quiet this evening, meaning I was on my way to my hotel in no time at all.

New World Renaissance Hotel Makati City

A place where Marriott Platinum status means nothing. I had specifically called the hotel one day in advance to ensure that my number was in the reservation. Marriott terms and conditions state that the status card number must be in the reservation in order to enjoy the benefits. I was told I get nothing this hotel if I don’t have the physical piece of plastic. She even suggested upgrading me the next morning for two hours after verifying my status with someone. Shows how much they trust their customers, and on top of that, every single Marriott’s Fidelio screen has showed P1 after my number, meaning platinum. Marriott Platinum requires 75 nights per year, undoubtedly this kind of people can’t check their mailbox every day for a piece of plastic.

The room itself wasn’t half bad, your usual Manila hotel room. It was supposed to be non-smoking but reeked of smoke. However, the room was rather large and decently appointed. There was no separate shower cubicle. Security was way over the top, if Intercontinental and Hyatt can do without huge metal barriers at the entrance and physical luggage searches, I can’t see why the Renaissance would need them. My future stays will be at the new Hyatt Hotel and Casino in Malate.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sat Jan 08, 2005 1:32 am

23 December 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) – Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC)
Philippine Airlines PR 857
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZS
1200-1315 (1310-1425)
Business Class, Seat 17A

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Photo © TonyV



The Renaissance lost me completely as a customer with the taxi hassle. Here’s how the discussion went:

- “Can I help you with the bags?”
- Sure
- “Do you need transportation?”
- Yes, I’d like a taxi please.
- “Hotel car you mean”
- No, just a taxi please.
- “Hotel car. You can pay there.”
- I want a metered taxi from the street

That was ridiculous. I understand if they ask if you want a hotel car or a taxi, but trying to sell their own overpriced piece of shit taxi-like car like that is something I find unacceptable. Anyway, the bill was quickly settled, my bags had been dumped next to the doors, and I got the guy outside to hail me a taxi.

The scene at the Philippine Airlines domestic terminal was beyond my worst nightmare. Lines were forming outside as the terminal was too full inside. All flights were overbooked and late. Check-in counters had basically no clear signage. I finally pushed my way to a counter that said “Mabuhay Class – Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga” Luckily the lady there checked me in, and a PAL guy took my bag somewhere.

The domestic Mabuhay lounge was a madhouse as well, but I was greeted by name there! Obviously I have used the lounge too many times this fall. They had opened a room for extra seating as well, but it was still full. Elite and Premier Elite members were upgraded on various flights.

The flight was late for more than an hour, but we finally took off around 13:15. According to the captain, the aircraft arrived late from Puerto Princesa earlier that day. I had Chinese dim sum with noodles to eat, a good domestic meal again. Arrival at Mactan Cebu was a mess as well. The airport has three baggage carousels, yet they dumped bags from a Cebu Pacific flight as well as from our full Airbus to one single carousel.

My girlfriend was waiting outside, as was our usual taxi driver. Much less hassle than trying to negotiate a decent fare with the drivers waiting at the airport.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sat Jan 08, 2005 1:48 am

31 December 2004
Mactan Cebu International (CEB/RPMC) – Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL)
Philippine Airlines PR 858
Airbus A330-301
F-OHZO
1500-1615 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 14A

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Photo © Brenden



Christmas holidays passed by way too fast, and the dreaded day of December 31 was reality. I could not stay for New Year because the LH W fare was only valid until December 31. I quickly checked in, and went back outside for obvious reasons. Headed through security finally around 14:20, and had a drink or two in the Lounge before it was time to board.

The flight was not particularly full this afternoon, and the meal was a choice of a Filipino dish or chicken – I took the former and it was good. Service was good as well, and we landed early at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Hopefully the new NAIA 3 will finally open in 2005, now that the government has taken over the building.

The cabin crew wished us Merry Christmas and Happy New Year on behalf of the Philippine Airlines management just like on the previous flight, and Christmas carols were being played in the cabin when deplaning.

This flight pushed me over the threshold of 15 business class flights, and I’m now a proud holder of a Mabuhay Miles Elite card. My bag came out quickly, and I then took a taxi to the international terminal as usual.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sat Jan 08, 2005 2:08 am

31 December 2004
Manila Ninoy Aquino Intl (MNL/RPLL) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Lufthansa LH 745
Boeing 747-430
D-ABVD “Bochum”
2035-2240 – On Time
Economy Class, Seat 32J (Exit Row)

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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt



The Lufthansa counters were not open yet, but I couldn’t risk taking the later PAL flight as it would have meant a too tight connection. So, I waited by the very dirty red carpet with words First Class on it. This check-in line was for First, HON Circle, Senators and Star Golds. Finally, after about half an hour, I was checked in and the reasonably friendly guy gave me an exit row seat.

Passport control and security were relatively quick, and I was soon in the Northwest Worldclub. Lufthansa is now using this lounge in Manila, and it’s more conveniently located after security than the old lounge. It’s a quite decent lounge, and they had a limited selection for drinks and food for Lufthansa only. However, once the Baileys bottle was finished, that was it. Lufthansa has to bring them a new one apparently.

I then headed to the empty Thai lounge – they tried to send me back to the Worldclub, but I stood by my case and got access. They had a bit more food and significantly more drinks. The Thai Airways flight had no passengers booked in business class that night, so the lounge was very empty.

Boarding started on time, and the load was not that good as it was New Years Eve. My seat was nice enough, and there was nobody sitting next to me. Chatted a bit with the guy who had the jumpseat in front of me – he provided good service throughout the flight. We pushed back early and took off exactly at 8:35pm for the short hop to Bangkok.

Meal was pathetic – almost cold noodles and two pieces of fruit. I had some sparkling wine with the meal and a Baileys afterwards. Upon asking one of the ladies for more sparkling wine, it was apparently finished. She also gave me a lecture how I had already had a sparkling wine (LH Y standard – half glass) and a Baileys (LH Y standard – 1cl). One can not mix other drinks with that. She then disappeared.

For the rest of the flight I had a few drinks in the galley with two LH guys – they seemed to have no problem with it. It was New Years Eve after all. We landed a bit early, and I was met by a Marriott representative in the arrivals hall and then whisked to the JW Marriott with their comfortable limousine. I was in my favourite bar in time for midnight.

Service on Lufthansa was poor and food was terrible. Only good point was the EUR 140 return fare.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sat Jan 08, 2005 2:36 am

03 January 2005
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Helsinki Vantaa (HEL/EFHK)
Finnair AY 098
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
OH-LGD
0050-0645 (0050-0615)
Business Class, Seat 2H

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I arrived at Terminal 2 around 10:30pm, and it was a total madhouse. I have never seen so many people at Don Muang. Emirates check-in looked the worst. Also, the Uttaraphimuk Elevated Tollway was totally jammed around Don Muang toll plaza when going to Bangkok. Apparently everybody had been home for the holidays and was now going back to town.

Finnair 98 was on time, 92 a day late. The aircraft of AY 92 broke down in Hong Kong and that was the result. It also royally screwed up other Finnair schedules – the result of flying too many flights with too few old aircraft. A friendly Lufthansa agent checked me in, and handed me a lounge invitation and boarding pas for business class seat 7H with economy class service. My 10kg overweight suitcase disappeared from the belt with a priority tag and no comment was made about the weight. I also had three big carry ons.

Passport control was relatively quick, and Qantas invited me to use the first class side of their lounge. Drink selection there is decent – Moet & Chandon Cordon Rouge champagne and Courvoiser XO cognac for example. Although in my opinion first class side should have another Moet product, Dom Perignon 1995. Food selection is very poor for an Asian first class lounge – only canapés and cold cuts and no hot food. Anyway, overall the lounge is very nice.

Boarding started on time, and another Lufthansa agent handed me new boarding pass for 2H in the proper business class cabin. Ironically, my first upgrade on Finnair was also to 2H on OH-LGD, going from Helsinki to Bangkok. I stored my pile of carry-ons without problems, and settled in my comfortable seat for the 11-hour journey. Newspapers and magazines were offered before pushback as well as drinks in those stylish Finnair glasses. I had some champagne – Finnair uses Pol Roger Vintage 1996 at the moment and it is excellent.

Our aircraft was filled to the last seat, and we pushed back a few minutes late. Takeoff was from 21R, a powerful MD11 experience as usual. Menus and amenities were given out after takeoff – Finnair does not have amenity kits anymore, a poor joke in my opinion. Here’s the menu:

Bangkok – Helsinki

Supper

Tapas style platter

Chef’s soup


Seafood in pernod sauce, duchesse potato

Or

Penne pasta carbonara style


Fresh fruit salad with amaretto syrup


Breakfast

Assorted fruit juices

Seasonal fresh fruit

Yoghurt

Crepe filled with scrambled eggs, cream sauce
Chicken chipolata, sautéed spinach and grilled tomato


The supper was good and service reasonable, as usual in Finnair Business Class. I had both the tapas platter and soup, and seafood for main course. Drinks were offered constantly, I had two glasses of Baileys to finish the meal.

Some of the nicest features on Finnair are the decent duvets and pillows, so I decided to sleep after the meal. I managed to sleep quite a bit, and only woke up as breakfast service was underway. Breakfast was the usual affair – the crepe was not particularly tasty, but the selection of breads and pastries is excellent. I also like the grapefruit juice that Finnair offers. We then flew by the city of Helsinki, and landed on 22L half an hour early.

Our flight had quite a few Swedes from the regions affected by the tragedy, and I was impressed with the arrangements they had at the gate for registration and connecting flights. The new non-Schengen area is quite nice at Helsinki from what I saw. Bags took 19 minutes to arrive which is unacceptable. I then headed home for the first time in over 4 months.

That’s it for now. It was quite a bit of typing, hope you enjoyed the reports. I’d love to hear more comments.
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RE: Fall 2004 Travels In Asia Part 2

Sat Jan 08, 2005 2:44 am

Nice reports!

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

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