A month in Europe… That is probably a dream to most people. Most people would be grateful for this opportunity even during BMW’s lethal cold front.
To those of us with obsessive-compulsive disorder, however; Europe is graffiti, public urination (or semi-public if we have to get technical), litter, unflushed public toilets, spitting, cold, uneven pavement, bizarre taxation, lax criminal justice systems, and wholly weird languages that aren’t English.
Honestly, if I didn’t have a good reason to leave Piastów’s permanent grey- I think I would’ve snapped.
Thankfully, I did.
I had two of them
Reason the first, I had a reason to be in Singapore
Reason the second: I never managed to fly Jet Airways when they were running their 77Ws on BOM-PVG-SFO and I always wanted to try their F-suite. Well, I found a way.
What follows is the story of the best 22 hours of flying I have had in a long, long, time.
(Operated by Cityline)
Class: Business (C)
Reason for delay: Late aircraft arrival
So, back to WAW’s lounge.
I’m sorry that I have pretty much run out of things to show you, even the food. As usual, I ingested a couple Prince Polo’s and countless Milanówek. Things were going smoothly.
I even had time whilst we walked towards the gate to get a photo of the airport authority advertisement that had been bothering me every time I saw it.
In my World, you do not simply get away with using a generic A380 image and calling it your airport. They should have used an LO 767, or photoshopped more convincingly.
When we arrived at the gate, Olga overheard the gate agents talking about how the aircraft had not yet arrived and would be there “soon.”
When soon came, and the radio informed her that we were ready for boarding already- she replied with a startled equivalent of “Really? How?”
Regardless, we bussed to the gate; the load was bloody near zero- and I sauntered on board.
To the standard LH economy seat, with one blocked out next to it. For an hour and thirty-four minute flight, this is fine.
The interesting feature is that since 2D is a bulkhead seat, both seats in the row are fitted with airbags.
Unfortunately, I realized that should this deploy, it would not only crack a couple ribs, but also break my arm. In all but the most severe off-road incidents (where the odds are that you’d be a statistic that far up)- I think I would come out less hurt than when the G-sensor tripped because we drove over a speed bump. Maybe I am wrong, but I have seen a lot of strange airbag injuries. Next time, I will opt for a seat where I can brace instead. Well, excluding the contours herringbone jobs- no escaping the bag there… Anyway back to my duties for my loyal fans.
Reading material was photographed.
A decent selection for such a short flight. Takeoff was smooth, uneventful, and typically CRJ-quiet. About five minutes after the fasten-seat-belt sign was switched off, service for the entire two people in J commenced.
The food was depressingly good. I have never had food this good on a plane, let alone on a flight this short. More airlines need to learn from the menu designers at Lufthansa and that just feels so counter-intuitive to say.
There’s a bean salad, an ahi poke of a sort, a cheese and tomato pesto salad, cheese bread, and a chocolate cake with whipping cream.
This was accompanied by both a coke and a tea as I was feeling lavish. One complaint. No normal person can consider that teacup to be of reasonable size. Invest in larger teacups, even though the plane is tiny- no one will be confused by the bizarre sense of scale.
Regardless, we landed in FRA- and then the real party started.
At the end of the staircase leading to the Schengen part of Concourse B- there was a small woman with a sign and the TG logo. This sign, upon further inspection had my name on it. She was here to escort us through passport control and to the lounge for our flight. I have not felt this important in a long time- and I must congratulate TG for this. To make my head even more swollen, she ushered us through queues with reckless abandon to the point where I forgot what velvet ropes looked like.
The lounge’s second set of doors.
The lounge is gigantic, photographed for your entertainment are parts of the “city lights” bar- and the work/eating area. I chose to sit in the area with the larger leather chairs.
There are even convenient lounge chairs should you be there in daylight and want to watch the planes.
There are slightly too firm pretzels, cheese tortellini, sweet/spicy chicken sandwiches, carrots, and mocktails.
Anyway, we noticed that the green boarding light was flashing on the FIDS- so we walked to the gate, to be met by the same friendly lady who insisted she would come get us and that we would be delayed another half hour. Not sure what to do, we went back to the lounge.
Sad, I drowned my sorrows in candy and some sort of pepper-strawberry mocktail thing.
Right around the time Olga was going to the bar to look for something a little harder than some cutely named mocktail, the TG lady came to fetch us; I was thrilled.
Boarding was a breeze.
Class: First (F)
Reason for delay: Mai Bpen Rep (aka. I have no idea)
(The one time I hate tailwinds)
Tiny complaint: Dear airlines, people travelling in F still have carry-ons, “airy” cabins are not worth it when you could have overhead bins. Bernie decrees that this needs to happen, please listen to him.
Oh well, the 90” of seat pitch makes up for it for the most part.
So does the fact that TG loads you down with so many items of swag and service that it actually fills the entire railing. Menu, hot towels, headphones, pyjamas, and slippers should all be visible in that photograph.
Above, you can see the pre-take-off drink and pre-take-off chocolates. Which, apparently were unlimited. This is good, as I ate more than I will ever admit.
The seat remote control is proof enough that HS-TKG is indeed a 777-35R/ER. I have done it! I have flown on a leased aircraft without a cabin change. A personal victory!
Regardless, the further we got into the taxi, the darker the cabin got. I will also take this time to mention that the TG video safety demo totally ignores the new business and first seats and the crew doesn’t correct it. Oh well, I read my safety card like a good boy and learned where the exits and life vests actually were.
This is the touch screen one uses to control the various seat functions. It is actually mobile, but not wireless- so I question its utility. I also wish it would control the IFE.
Regardless, it was time for me to move to 2A so I could dine with Olga while she felt like LBJ by sitting in a chair that made her higher above me, and thus more powerful.
There was a foi gras and caramelized onion bruschetta, a crab cake, and a skewer of olive, bocconcini, and tomato. These were all designed to cater to the “upscale” nature of first class; unfortunately- only the foi was really delicious. The crab cake was a little heavy on the mayo- and personal preference, but I hate olives.
Shortly after, it was time for the caviar.
There were a few different kinds of fish-eggs, but I can only recognize non-caspian sturgeon. It was high-quality stuff, but nothing will ever beat the real deal. Nice touch, though. Nice toast points as well.
I have eaten a lot of airline garlic bread in my time; and I can safely say this is the best yet.
The starter was a combination of king prawn, trout, and tenderloin with potato salad so loaded with horseradish that I did not see a single plate come back to the flight crew without it still there.
That’s where the goodness ends. Now, I know a lot of this is personal preference; so bear with me. However, I am one of those annoying people who classify themselves as a foodie. I can’t drink, and most other vices are either far too social or unhealthy for me to truly enjoy. Food is it- so I take it about as seriously as I take aviation and money- if bad food crosses my path; everyone is going to hear about it. So, if you don’t want my critique. Scroll past this and pretend it was delicious.
I saved the menu for down here because the first thought I had when reading it was “Did the chef take the brown acid today?”
Chocolate duck with cherry-jus
Orange Beef with tomato-olive confit and parmagiano polenta.
Some sort of trout dish with equally terrifying sides
A massuman curry that carried a warning of being very spicy
A Chilean seabass (nice touch on the endangered fish), with watercress puree?
I don’t know- this is “haute cuisine” from ten years ago when people were playing around with what Matt Preston would call the “Yum/Yuck” factor and everyone thought it was so innovative that instead of savaging the chefs with baseball bats and verbal beatings they thought it was the next big thing. That is BEFORE you take it up to a cabin altitude of 8000 feet with no moisture. Even perfectly cooked food tastes wonky up there, your drugged out concoctions are just going to taste like someone decided to make a beef flavoured Fanta with rock-hard polenta and… tomato-olive confit? How do you confit an olive? I know you can confit a tomato (to the extent that it has been slow cooked), but an olive? The spinach had almonds, and was somehow too salty.
Okay. Well, this is what it looked like.
It was cold. I don’t think it was meant to be cold but it was. Didn’t matter though, proper temperature wasn’t going to save this pig.
Olga opted for the duck, because she knew I’d want to try it and would order the beef.
Where do I even start?
I know the tradition is “duck with a sweet thing because they go together”. The thing is, that this was not a savory chocolate sauce- or even a molé. This was dessert (if by dessert you mean tastes like duck fat with sugar, not chocolate). It had cherries. Not sour cherries, not quick-pickled cherries for any sense of acidity or umami; just cherries, kind of candied; really. WHAT? Exactly!.
This dish had no sense of balance, no sense of editing, and really no sense of style. It looks like something you would not even think sounded good together. It was just bad. To top it off, either it had not been properly cooked on the ground- or it had been sitting for too long and the skin was soggy. When most people think duck breast- they think crispy skin; not slimy skin. To continue, the fat had not rendered underneath the skin. Unappetizing to say the least. In fact, the smell was a little nauseating.
From my vantage point I could see that some other passengers who had chosen the duck were having similar reactions.
Anyway, when time for dessert came; I opted for the cheesecake but since I was still rather hungry from the abortive dinner, forgot to take a photo.
It was, somehow both too firm and too soft at the same time.
Olga was smarter and opted for something “normal”
A plate of fruit.
By this time, it was getting late. Originally, I had planned to catch up on the Real Housewives, but now I was angry- so I went to bed.
The bed is amazing, the service is amazing, but please Thai- fix your long haul food!
When I woke up, we were somewhere over Burma.
So I took my cabin shot
To find that it was already time for brunch.
Can’t have a flying Thai restaurant (of a sort) without cut fruit, which was delicious as well.
I opted for the chicken crepe with forest mushrooms. I can’t remember what it tasted like other than salt.
It looked nice, though.
After that, we descended and landed.
Before I conclude this part of the TR: I should mention a few little nitpicks.
My coat closet was broken (there was no hangar), the tray table cover was coming unglued, and the light under the jumpseat would never turn on.
Upon deplaning, we were met by another signed lady. Except; this woman was even more awesome. She had a golf cart!
And so we zoomed through the halls of Bangkok’s largest greenhouse towards transfer security. It was awesome. Beyond awesome. You never feel as important as when you are speeding through an empty airport in a golfcart someone else is driving.
We finally arrived here:
The first class lounge.
In which each passenger (assuming there is more than one person on the PNR) gets their own room.
You also get menus as well as massages- but only Olga opted for the latter.
What followed was the feast I was hoping for on the plane.
Thom Yam, Spring Rolls, Garlic Chicken, Marzipan Fruit, and unending Thai Iced Teas!
Flawless, just flawless.
Unfortunately, we had to leave the lounge and realized that there was to be no golf cart to take us through C concourse to our gate.
This is fine, as BKK is very pretty (but also very warm).
Class: Business ( C)
Boarding was uneventful,
The cabin is the classic quasi-spacebed
The pre-takeoff drinks are impeccable.
The reading material was also intriguing. Unfortunately the IFE had no channels other than the map and some Michael Bublé concert. Oh well, only a two-hour flight.
Take off was a long roll due to the 32ºC weather outside, but very smooth.
After take off, it was time for dinner. Unlike the first flight, all of it was amazing.
To start, was a Thai style prawn and scallop lettuce cup with a rolled smoked duck.
Followed by stir-fried chicken with leak and bean sauce. Olga chose the seafood omelet- which I hear was equally outstanding.
Dessert was even better. I was worried when they had told me it was a chocolate orange tart that it would be ruined in the same way a Sachr torte was.
The only orange is what you see on top.
After that was all cleared away, there was only about an hour of uneventful flying left.
Upon landing in Singapore, we were all given orchids.
I was not sure where to put mine, so I just left it on my bag.
Verdict: Other than the bizarre catering on TG923, I can find no faults. Flawless, but maybe only smooth like nylon.
[Edited 2012-02-17 06:28:32]
[Edited 2012-02-17 06:41:35]
[Edited 2012-02-17 06:44:02]
[Edited 2012-02-17 06:45:42]
[Edited 2012-02-17 06:51:14]