17 September 2005
Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD) – Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS)
Cathay Pacific Airways CX 713
1150-1505 – On Time
New Business Class, Seat 86A (Upper Deck Exit Row)
Photo © Kenneth Cheng
Photo © K.L.Yim
As I was traveling with a friend, after a speedy and oh so safe motorbike taxi ride, I met him at his hotel in one of the early sois of Sukhumvit. The ride to Don Muang was quick as usual on the Tollway, and we soon made our way to the Cathay Pacific check-in desks in terminal 2. We were quickly checked in, and seats were changed to 86A/C – best business class seats on the plane.
After that it was time to pay the airport tax again – hopefully AOT will finally collect it at ticketing when Suvarnabhumi opens for traffic. Immigration had no lines, but Khun Thaksin appears to have copied Mr Bush’s absolutely brilliant idea to take a photo of each person at the desks… Oh well, at least in Thailand you don’t feel like being questioned at the police station or court room when your handsome face gets saved in the system.
We then headed to the Cathay Pacific business class lounge, quite nice modern design but it’s no Wing or Pier for sure. Breakfast there consisted of some dim sum, sandwiches and cup noodles. Quite basic drink selection but at least JW Black Label is on offer. There are no windows in this lounge unfortunately, and HKG/LAX bound lady decided it was appropriate to use the computer for 40 minutes although I was staring her after every 5 minutes after the 15 minutes Cathay had appropriately suggested “as a courtesy to other guests.” Overall, I think the CX lounge is a bit below the new Qantas Club at BKK, but not bad at all.
Boarding was from gate 42 – right next to the Lufthansa business class lounge. Breakfast time had passed, so we came up with this brilliant idea to raid the bar there before heading to the gate. The ability to use Lufthansa lounges as a Senator is a nice benefit, but unfortunately just about the only one that the shiny gold card gets you anymore.
Boarding & Flight
Boarding was well underway when we made it to the gate, but as usual, the first/business class line was well guarded, and only those entitled to use it could do so. A few cheerful flight attendants greeted us at the door, and we made our way to the upper deck of B-HOT. Pacific Sunrise was my choice for pre-departure drink. Menus, hot towels and newspapers were then distributed by the Filipina purser and Hong Kong based flight attendant working on the upper deck. Also, the ISM came to say hi, nice touch but quite surprising since I only had my regular Asiamiles number in the booking.
Puchback was on time, and there were three other passengers on the upper deck. We took off from 21R as usual for the short 2-hour flight down to Singapore. Cocktails and nice warm nuts in a bowl were first served, and the main service would follow. Lunch would be served on this flight, here’s the menu.
Bangkok – Singapore
Carpaccio of Marinated Salmon with Italian Basil
and Mesculin Salad
Sliced Beef and Eggplant with Gravy
Steamed Rice and Braised Pak Choy
Steamed Tap Tim Fish with Mushroom Onion Sauce
Fried Rice with Vegetables, Sautéed Asparagus and Carrot
Assorted Bread and Rolls
Tea and Coffee
Champagne: Billecart Salmon Brut Champagne
I was somehow expecting the usual lousy fruit appetizer and some noodles, so this menu was a very nice surprise. Also, the drink list has the usual stuff including JW Gold Label. Appetizers were served first with bread – the hot garlic bread was excellent as usual. I had the beef as main course, quite tasty but nothing out of this world. The dessert was absolutely mouth watering, and served separately after the trays were cleared.
Service was what I expect from one of my favourite carriers – very attentive and friendly, and the champagne kept flowing. I just wish Cathay would replace the cattle-class like casserole used for business class main courses. Otherwise the tableware is extremely nice. The ladies serving us on the upper deck cracked a few jokes how the immigration desks might be far for us at SIN after such a good try to finish the bubbly they had loaded for the flight.
The NBC seat is definitely nice to relax after the meal – unfortunately we were about to start approach to Changi at this point. Also, the schedules show a B777-367 back for CX 713 starting next month, and those of course have uninspiring regional business class seats and no privacy of the upper deck. No AVOD and those nice CX noise canceling headsets either. But since F and C were just about totally empty, that really comes as no surprise as the 773 seats more pax than CX 744.
We landed on time, quickly cleared immigration, and took a cab to the Marriott.
18 September 2005
Singapore Changi (SIN/WSSS) – Bangkok Don Muang (BKK/VTBD)
Finnair AY 098
McDonnell Douglas MD-11
2150-2315 – On Time
Business Class, Seat 1A (Bulkhead)
Photo © Jaakko Ypyä
Photo © Weimeng
We arrived early at Changi, better to hang out in the lounge than the city after having checked out of the hotel. Finnair offers early check-in, but the process took an eternity, the agent was clueless, and refused to put in our frequent flier numbers although I reminded that they were in for the Cathay segment only. Somebody care to educate her and Bangkok travel agents about how to input FF info correctly? It has never happened at a BKK travel agent yet…
Immigration was quick as usual, and we headed to the new Skyview Lounge, operated by Cathay Pacific and SATS. It’s also used by at least Finnair, Garuda Indonesia and Emirates. The number of Garuda departures out of SIN is quite amazing really. This lounge is so much nicer than the old CX lounge, same style as the Hong Kong lounges, and has great views of the tarmac. Snacks included dim sum, sushi, fried rice, sandwiches etc. The stardard assortment of liquor was naturally available as well. The lounge also has showers, and I guess computers somewhere.
Boarding & Flight
Finnair AY 098 to Helsinki via Bangkok boarded via gate D36 that night, and as usual at SIN, being at the gate 30 minutes before departure, we were the last passengers to board. Luckily the agents at the gate added our frequent flyer numbers, so we were all set to take seats 1A/C in the first row. Just as we sat down, “boarding completed” was announced over the PA, and door 1L slid down from the roof. The aircraft today was OH-LGB, one of the original ones fitted with somewhat better seats and big PTVs. LGE/F have those totally pathetic old CityBird seats. Having said that, the difference from CX NBC was still huge.
Newspapers and magazines were handed out, as were menus, hot towels and Sennheiser noise-canceling headsets. Also, the pre-departure drinks were served, and I chose champagne as usual. Finnair now serves Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale 1999, very nice indeed. Meanwhile, we were taxiing out, glasses were soon collected, and the good old tri-jet rocketed into the dark Singaporean sky. Business was surprisingly full, perhaps about 60% load.
Finnair serves full dinner on this flight, with three main course choices and a choice of appetizers. Here’s the menu:
Hong Kong/Singapore – Bangkok
Smoked Breast of Chicken, Apple and Celery Salad
* * *
Fried Red Snapper with Stir-Fried Bamee Noodles
Panaeng Chicken Curry with Steamed Rice
Fillet of Beef with Chive Cream Sauce
* * *
Apple Tart with Custard
Coffee, cappuccino, espresso and tea available during the flight
I had the smoked salmon as appetizer, and some Finnish rye bread. Unfortunately garlic bread was not available during this flight. The fillet of beef was excellent, more or less perfectly cooked which is rare for airline beef based on my experience. The apple tart was nothing special, but not bad either, and there was also a Chinese mooncake as an extra dessert. Service was very good, but then again I don’t expect European service to reach the levels of CX or SQ premium cabins.
The nice meal took the better part of the flight, and was rounded off with a cup of coffee and some Martell Cordon Bleu cognac. Finnair’s wine/drink list is really excellent in my opinion. Landing was a few minutes early, and immigration was of course a non-issue as usual in Bangkok.
Overall, the service was from a different planet compared to the Lufthansa flights to Jakarta in August. And LH charges 30000 Baht for their pathetic excuse of C class on the BKK-CGK-BKK route. Next is Kenya Airways Premier World to Hong Kong, and this time I won’t be forgetting the camera. Hopefully this report was enjoyable nevertheless.