It is always nice when an opportunity presents itself in mysterious ways to enjoy flight in a new premium cabin. Having been a devoted SQ
flyer I've never had the opportunity to experience the Emirates premium service. My one and only experience with EK
was in Y a year ago on the ultra long-haul SFO
service which was FAR
from exemplary. Shoddy service, miniscule leg room and a non-loaded meal made it a very below average flight for me. I decided it was time to give EK
a chance again to redeem itself in my eyes.
A business trip to Asia required my presence in BKK
. I was eyeing the ultra cheap ex-MNL
business class fares (thanks to FT
!) for a while now and this trip seemed the perfect opportunity to exercise that. I always take up the challenge to find innovative flight routings to fit my rather miserly company travel policy that only allows Y class unless J can be obtained for a comparable price. My one way onward segments were booked on tried and tested SQ
Y class from SFO
. For the return I utilized the MNL
fare, whilst the short hop from HKG
was handled via LCC Cebu Pacific. The piece de resistance was the BKK
routing in EK
F which thanks to FT
I was able to grab at a throwaway fare! In the end the combo worked out pretty similar to a round trip in Y for the routing.
It was a sweltering morning in Bangkok as I fielded questions from clients and constantly re-assuring them on how good this deal was for them. Then I saw it...my mail icon flickered and I was rather surprised to find a notification from EK
. The incoming flight from DXB
was delayed by almost 2 hours hence notifying me that EK
384's departure from BKK
would be delayed as well. EK
achieved what the Bangkok heat couldn't - made me sweat! I had a very tight connection at HKG
and I had to clear immigration, get my baggage and re-checkin for my Cebu Pacific flight to MNL
. This was not a good start to the day!
I made a quick call to EK
's call center and after explaining my situation to the friendly agent I was asked to hold. 4 minutes later she came back and assured me that EK
would take care of my onward connection and if could please go to the airport a bit early to sort it out. ^ to EK
Bidding adieu to my friendly clients (who always seem to turn a bit "un-friendly" the moment I say I need to return back ) I headed to the BKK
airport on the ever reliable AOT
taxi. *Start digression* I must say that BKK
has done a great job in implementing this taxi service to and from the city. It is moderately priced and the quality of service is above par. Wish most other Asian cities adopt this. *End digression*
Suvarnabhumi is a world class airport. Period. Outstanding facilities, wonderful architecture and a place that occupies my higher echelons of aviation stardom. Changi is always first in my books (for now!) but BKK
comes a close 2nd. It has come a long way from the shanty town that was Don Muang (my wife will attest to the horror of transiting via Don Muang at midnight :p) Someday I hope to show her how progress is a good thing at BKK
check in areas are the far end of the terminal and can be accessed by Entrance 8. The usual 1 desk with red carpet for F and 1 for J followed be 4-5 desks for the Y class souls.
Here's a shot of the welcome area :
Main departure area :
As I gave the agent my passport and explained my connection situation, he immediately got on the phone and within minutes the station manager arrived. He mentioned that the reservations office had intimated them about my situation. He assured me that they would find me a solution prior to departure. Having taken a copy of my onward itinerary to MNL
he asked me to proceed to the lounge.
The check-in agent in the meantime had processed my checkin. I had initially been assigned Suite 1K but just for kicks I asked if 1A was available (which it had not been previously) and lo and behold it was! Armed with my boarding pass I proceeded to clear the FastTrack security - another great innovation at BKK
which affords premium travellers a seperate security screening and immigration control desk. Unlike the namesake "priority lanes" in US airports this is TRULY priority. Security and passport control take less than 5 minutes and I was in the airside transit area! Full marks BKK
Boarding pass :
Airside at BKK
I love the facades of some of the airside stores
's lounge at Suvarnabhumi is located in the lower level of D concourse. Signs are clearly marked and the lounge itself is situated in an alcove overlooking a garden.
Main Seating area
View from the lounge
There is no seperate F class lounge here - it's a mixed configuration. First appearance is that of an above average lounge with plenty of space and light. It is a bit dated and the wear shows however it's well maintained.
The real star is the food! Hot food selection was available with soups, and an assortment of finger food such as satay, samosas & puffs. Additionally fresh made to order sandwiches are also provided. I savoured the veg puffs and sandwich which were quite exemplary.
Food choices :
By this time the lounge dragon came to find me with a call from the station manager. He mentioned that while they did not have the authority to issue another carrier ticket outside of BKK
he offered to reimburse the cost of changing my HKG
flight to a later one or the cost of a new ticket (whichever was cheaper). I think EK
really stood out in this situation. Most airlines would not bother with any compensation for delays especially if the onward journey was a seperate ticket on an un-connected carrier. Very impressive customer service from EK
here! I wonder if the same courtesy would have been extended to me had I flown in economy! Nonetheless, credit to EK
Flight : EK
EQP : A380-800
Aircraft : A6-EDK
Seat : 1A
STD : 13:45
ATD : 15:35
ATA : 19:07
A couple of hours of doodling in the lounge and it was almost time for the incoming flight to arrive from DXB
. I wanted to take some shots of the whalejet taxiing so I made my way to gate E4
- this is a somewhat isolated gate area at the end of the pier, obviously to accommodate the super jumbo.
384 arrived from DXB
. Today's flight was operated on aircraft A6-EDK about a year old. I am constantly amazed by the beauty of this aircraft everytime I see it. There are few iconic planes in the history of aviation - 747 is one of them and now it's the A380.
A6-EDK taxiing to the gate :
Boarding was soon called and as with all A380 boardings this also had a direct aerobridge link to the top deck. The first word that comes to mind when you enter the EK
A380 is "bling"! A quick left took me deeper into the Land of Bling - the EK
F cabin. The suites are set up in a 1-2-1 configuration. If anything it did seem a bit claustrophobic with so much hardware packed into the small cabin. I was in Suite 1A at the nose of the plane. First impressions were that of a very comfortable seat with a lot of "bling" around it (sorry but you are going to hear this word a lot after this!) I couldn't help but compare the width of the seat to the SQ
F (or for that matter SQ
J) seats which are gargantuan! This one was more modest and if anything probably about the same width as SQ
's regional J class product. The seat itself is VERY comfortable with plenty of features like massage, multi position adjustment and ofcourse goes back full flat at the touch of a button.
Suite 1A :
A friendly Filipino stewardess offered to take my picture
Welcome screen on the IFE :
The Seat :
Mini Bar :
IFE displaying the route map :
I could go at length about the features in the suite but it's been very well documented in other posts. Suffice it to say that it took me a good part of the 2 hour flight to figure out all the features! One stand out feature are the 3 cameras. Outstanding images can be obtained from these cameras especially during take off and landing (see the landing section for the images taken during approach)
Tail camera shot at the gate :
Forward camera :
Downward camera :
The real attraction on the EK
A380 are the showers. There are 2 showers (1 for ladies and 1 for men) on either side of the main stairwell. The showers are spacious with a large dressing area and plenty of 5 star bath amenities. I smelled reasonably good so did not indulge myself in a shower
The Shower :
Full sink with amenities :
If you are too tired you can sit and shower
The gauge on the wall tells you how many more minutes of water you get. I believe you get only 8 minutes of showering at any given time..so be quick!
Marble shower floor :
Bath Amenities :
Just incase you forgot where you are when showeing you have your very own personal airshow!
We taxied for good 10 minutes around the airfield. Gave me a chance to get some good views from the camera
Beginning the take off roll :
Almost at V1 :
View of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya river
The enormous Rolls Royce engine. Despite having 4 of these giant power houses the aircraft is 50% quieter than a conventional 747 Jumbo.
Auto shades. Touch of a button brings the blinds down and another touch blacks them out. No more pulling blinds up and down. Very nice feature!
The crew sprung to action on this short 2 hr 10 min flight. EK
prides itself in it's truly international crew. The F cabin that day was serviced by 3 Australian stewardesses (who automatically thought I was into rugby) 1 Filipino stewardess and a male Indian steward (who assumed I knew Hindi [which I don't] ). They were a motley bunch very lively and with a constant smile. EK
does have an edge over SQ
on the crew as SQ
crew tend to get very robotic at times and it's nice to see some imperfection and human-ness from time to time- makes them feel more real.
Pre-takeoff service included drinks and mejdool dates with almonds (Land of Bling again!)
The Meal :
The meal service was a 3 course affair with 4 main course offerings to choose from. I chose the vegetable lasagna which was the best lasagna I've eaten at or above sea-level! Excellent catering from EK
Vegetable Salad with cheese flakes and 1000 Island dressing :
Main Course : Vegetable lasagna :
Dessert - Coconut Mousse with raspberry coulis :
F Cabin after meal service. Most of the privacy screens are closed :
's entertainment system - ICE is also top notch and a definite edge over SQ
's KrisWorld. System itself is very responsive (unlike KrisWorld where you sometimes need to have a finger fight with the controller ) and choices are aplenty.
Watching TRON Legacy
Pretty soon we were coming in for landing. And the special shots from the camera made it a very interesting night landing at HKG
Runway lights just visible :
Green marks the start of the runway threshold :
Last minute banking just before touch down :
Wheels down! :
Parked at the gate in HKG
Overall I think EK
has excelled in making the A380 it's flagship. They have certainly done something special with the marketing opportunity of the aircraft (SQ needs to learn from this) and its F product is truly world class. Bottom line this was a remarkable first flight for me on EK
Many more pictures of the flight are on my photo stream so feel free to peruse :