Departure Airport: London Gatwick (LGW)
Destination Airport: Hong Kong (HKG)
Airline & Flight Number: Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, O8 707
Aircraft Type: Boeing B747-400
Date: 12 November 2007
Photo Â© Jerry pang
Check In, the lounge and boarding
We got to Gatwick by train and headed straight to the South Terminal, where we checked in at one of the Oasis business class desks. Check-in was handled by Swissport, and was very quick and efficient. Bags were Priority tagged, we were given complimentary passes to the Servisair lounge as well as the landing card required for Hong Kong. Seats were as expected, 13A and 13C, on the upper deck and just in front of the emergency exit.
After clearing security (we were taken away from the main queue and upstairs to what looked like a new, incomplete screening area), we headed straight to the Servisair lounge, which can only be summed up in one word: disappointing! There was one member of staff working, who clearly had her hands full. The lounge was crowded, the furniture was stained and all tables were covered in empty glasses and wrappers, as there seemed to be no bins. After a quick drink and some crisps, we left and went for a walk around the departure lounge.
Eventually our gate appeared on the screen, which was going to be 32. We walked down to the gate, to see B-LFA waiting for us outside. There were quite a few passengers stood waiting, and eventually we were called to board. The boarding process seemed smooth, and was conducted by seat rows, with a separate line for businessOasis passengers. Those who joined the business queue 'in error' were promptly sent to the correct queue.
All passengers boarding through door 2, and we were greeted by several friendly crew members who directed us upstairs. Once we were in our seats, the crew offered to take our jackets and handed out amenity items such as socks, toothbrush, eye shade and earplugs. Orange juice and water were brought around to all passengers, followed by hot towels. Menus were also handed out with the dinner and breakfast options. The crew all seemed to be very attentive and eager to please passengers, and boarding did not take too long to complete. The English Captain introduced himself and his three colleagues, all Senior First Officers, and told us we were expecting a generally smooth flight, with some possible slight turbulence around three hours into the flight. I stowed my hand baggage in the useful side bins beside my seat, much more convenient than the overhead locker in flight!
Seats 13A and C on the upper deck, taken on arrival in HKG
Showing the storage lockers viewed from seat 13A
After the cabin crew had collected in the glasses, the safety video was shown on an old-fashioned screen pulled out of the ceiling at the front of the cabin, and we soon pushed back on time to begin our taxi to the active runway. Taxi time was in the region of 10-15 minutes, and we were soon airborne. Shortly after take off, the IFE was started, which in business class on this aircraft took the form of screens which were stored in the arm rest. A total of 19 video channels were available. Almost all were movies, except for a destination channel, and the ever important moving map. I don't remember what the movie offerings all were, but the selection was quite mixed, with more recent films, as well as Disney classics such as 'The Jungle Book'. I started watching something or other, but soon opted to follow our progress on the moving map instead. Champagne and canapes were served by the crew, or a non-alcoholic option for those who declined the bubbly. The two canapes were salmon and beef with sesame seeds.
Around an hour or so into the flight, dinner was served. I opted for the chicken with wholegrain mustard. The meal was served all together on a tray, much as I expect was done in economy class. However, all the containers (which were made of china) had their lids removed, there was a small tablecloth on the tray, as well as cloth napkins. The food didn't taste bad at all really, although the dessert (chocolate marble cake) was rather dry and uninspiring.
Once the dinner trays had been collected, I decided to try and make myself comfortable. The seats are, I believe, the old Singapore Airlines Raffles class seats, and despite its age, I found my seat to be very comfortable. They are electronically operated and, although they do not recline fully, they are very comfortable - definitely more comfortable than the seats back in economy! I watched our progress on the map, and we passed Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Helsinki before heading towards St Petersburg. Water bottles were handed out, the cabin lights were dimmed and people got themselves ready for the night. I continued to watch progress on the map, listening to my iPod. Although most people were asleep, around 3-4 hours into the flight the cabin crew came around and, seeing that I wasn't asleep, offered me some goodies from a basket of snacks. Very attentive, I thought, seeing that everybody else that I could see around me was fast asleep! Eventually I dozed off for a few hours, initially quite confused as to where I was when I woke up.
We were still somewhere over Russia when I woke up, and continued to listen to my iPod and read a little. As we passed over northern China, there were some impressive mountain views to be seen far down below us. I am always fascinated seeing these sparse landscapes from above.
Somewhere over northern China
Showing our progress
Around 2.5 hours before arrival, people began to wake up and the cabin lights were switched back on. Hot towels were offered, along with orange juice and not long after, breakfast was served. I opted for the western breakfast option, which tasted pretty good.
Breakfast is served
Once breakfast had been cleared away, I took a look out of the windows towards the back of the aircraft, and was quite surprised to see the wing and engines 1 and 2 - not surprised that they were there (always a good thing when they are...), but because this was my first upper deck experience!
As we began to near Hong Kong, I saw a Lufthansa A340-600 pretty much going parallel to us, presumably heading to the same destination as us.
One of the Senior First Officers spoke to us and told us about the approach we would be taking into HKG. Unfortunately, I can't remember too much about what he said, but he did give us quite a bit of detailed information, and apologised for our late arrival, but said that the headwinds we had experienced were particularly strong. We began our descent and various coastlines and islands could be seen which, not being familiar with the area, I was not able to identify - maybe somebody else can!
Not that long before landing
After quite some time in the air, the buildings gradually got larger and larger, and we made a smooth landing at HKG after 12 hours 54 minutes in the air. Taxi time was around 10 minutes, and we passed sister ship B-LFB parked on a remote stand on the way, with all its doors open, presumably getting a bit of air in. We left the aircraft via door 2 and thanked the cabin crew. An rep was on hand outside the aircraft, telling passengers bags would be on belt 2 - imagine being given that sort of information at LHR! Immigration was quick, friendly and painless, and the bags were soon off. First impressions of Chek Lap Kok were very good, a nice light, airy and modern airport that we would hopefully explore a little on our return.
B-LFA viewed from the terminal
So in conclusion...
As somebody who normally travels in economy, I was very impressed with my businessOasis experience - particularly considering I paid very little more than for a discounted economy ticket. Oasis crew really are very attentive and interested in their passengers. They seemed like they enjoyed their work immensely, and came across as very professional - so full marks to them. The cabin and seats were obviously not the most modern, but everything was clean and functional, and made for a comfortable flight. The cabin and amenities probably don't compare that well to carriers such as BA and Virgin, but ultimately it is possible to still have a very comfortable flight for the price of a premium economy ticket on more traditional airlines.
Return trip report to follow at some stage soon...
[Edited 2007-11-26 12:46:36]