TLV-HKG LY 075 Wednesday 18th October (21:25-14:15) First Class
My mother has wanted to visit China for many years, but it never quite worked out for her. Last year she discovered a group organising kosher tours of China, which would be going in October for 3 weeks. As it would be her 80th birthday during the tour, we decided to come with (she does need a little assistance, although pretty independant). I found a bargain fare with EL AL in First for the three of us, and paid for the tickets well in advance to prevent last minute fare changes.
As we were on paid First Class tickets (as opposed to points upgrades) we were entitled to limousine transfers to/from the airports, so we arranged a pickup time and waited for the limo. The children had their cameras at the ready, but were greatly disappointed when a pretty ordinary (but brand new and clean) Mercedes taxi arrived to take us to the airport!
My mother was picked up from her home, and we met at the airport. As is usual for EL AL's First Class, the checkin was very quick, and we proceeded to the lounge. I have already described the EL AL First Class lounge at TLV in previous trip reports, so I will not go into much detail, other than to say that there was plenty of good, fresh, cold food, and some hot soup (in addition to the usual espresso/cappuccino and tea). Considering that the First Class food on board is usually excellent, there was no need to stuff ourselves, although it was tempting!
On to the aircraft, a 777 in which EL AL has just one 2-2-2 row of First Class seats. As I have written before, the seats may not be state of the art, and they may not be 'private suites', but they do their job eminently well. We were, effdectively half of the cabin - seats A,C,D!
The usual pre-flight drinks were offered (Israeli 'Champagne style' wine, orange juice, water, and the option of a variety of cocktails which none of us tried, but which are reputed to be very good).
Soon after takeoff we were asked if we wanted to eat now, to which we replied in the affirmative. Tables were laid and menu cards presented. Here is a transcript of the menu:
Aperitif served with
Kalamata Olives, "Pringles" and Salsa Dip
Warm Bread Selection
Grilled Chicken Breast with Pesto Sauce and Antipasti
Smoked Norwegian Salmon
Vegetable Antipasti Tower
Soup of the Day
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
Chicken Thigh with Stewed Vegetables
Lamb Stew with Lentils
Fillet of Salmon in Vinaigrette Sauce
All served with wild and basmati rice and vegetables
Lettuce and Assorted Baby Leaves
Balsamic Vinaigrette or Olive Oil & Lemon
Lemon Sorbet with Fresh Fruit
Baked-on-Board Hot Chocolate Fudge Cake served with Vanilla Ice Cream
Regular and Decaffeinated Coffee, Espresso, Assorted Teas
EL AL are very liberal with their menu selections in First Class, and always seem to carry ample extras. Between the three of us we managed to get through most of the menu! My mother took the Grilled Chicken Breast to start, whilst myself and my wife took the smoked salmon and the Vegetable Antipasti Tower. We all had soup (I had an extra portion, as it really was good). We took the salad before the main course, which was excellent. The breads offered were very tasty and varied. Both of the spreads offered with the bread were tasty, and further supplies were brought out when we ran out.
For the main course, my mother took the lamb, and we both took the salmon. EL AL serve the vegetable side dish in a sort of 'mini-saucepan', which is quite cute (and I have posted a photo of it in some previous trip report).
For dessert, we all took the Hot Chocolate cake, which EL AL offer on all of their TLV and NYC flights in First, and which is really good. I also took the lemon sorbet with fresh fruit, which was very refreshing.
Everything we took was delicious, and the wines offered were also excellent. As I have reported before, EL AL now carry 'Castel' wines in First, which are about the best Israel has to offer, and really are good. We took the Castel 'C' Chardonnay 2004 with the starters and the Grand Vin 2003 with the main course. With the dessert we had the excellent Yarden Heightswine, which is similar to 'Icewein', except being made with artificially frozen grapes rather than naturally frozen ones (there is no frost to speak of in late autumn in Israel ...).
Next we had our beds made, and settled down to sleep. We all slept pretty well, and next on the list was going to be breakfast!
The initial tray was tastefully arranged with a cheese plate with fresh vegetables, a rather cute china 'bread basket', some smoked salmon and a bowl of fruit. The fresh breads on offer were just delicious, and if I were not planning on having more to eat I would have taken far more. Whilst I was moving through this, the flight attendant offered more fresh vegetables (there was a seemingly endless supply of this wonderful healthy stuff!) and a variety of soft cheeses and yoghurts. Then came the hot part. On offer was a quiche or a freshly prepared omelette. I took the omelette which I had enjoyed in the past, whereas I was not that impressed with the quiche last time. All manner of extras were offered with the omelette, and I chose fried onions, cheese and fresh herbs. I asked for the omelette to be made soft inside, repeated the request twice (Israelis seem to like their omelettes with the texture of rubber) and waited. It arrived pretty quickly, soft inside, and very good indeed. Having finished the hot part, I completed the meal with croissants, some more fresh bread with jam and the bowl of fruit with yoghurt and granola. All this was rounded off with fresh cappuccino.
At HKG we were met at the door of the aircraft and escorted to Passport Control and baggage collection. From there we were taken to the limo desk where our details were verified and we proceeded to the limo - well, in fact TWO limos, as we had a lot of baggage and we were entitled to more than one anyway. This time I am please to report that the limo lived up to its name, and from there we were taken to our hotel, the newly refurbished Mandarin Oriental.