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Tag-Archive for "Boeing 747"

Thai Airways First class–tried & tested Aug 08

IMG_7533I have had the great privilege of trying Thai Airways first class a couple of times and it is no doubt that if you fly a lot, this is a real treat! It all depends on which routing you fly, which plane you get, which crew you have etc but this review is based on experience on first class on an older Boeing 747 and a newer Boeing 777-300ER (leased from Jet Airways). First of all – if you check in at Suvanabhumi airport in Bangkok when flying Thai Airways first class, life could not be any simpler. You just go to the Royal First class check in and they will take your suitcases, your passport and then seat you in HUGE chairs and while you are enjoying a cold drink and a cold cloth, P1000111they will check you in and make sure that you get your boarding pass. After this you get guided through airport priority security check and a separate immigration control and once you are through it leads you straight to the Royal Orchid lounge. But for first class passengers it is not enough with a business lounge – you get picked up by a small “car” and driven through the business lounge and into the first class lounge next door. As a relative young and healthy person I could easily have walked this but I guess this is a part of the special treatment Winking smile

P1000116The First class lounge has been voted the best first class lounge in the world but I’m sorry Thai Airways…I have to object and say that this is not correct. The best first class lounge is in Frankfurt (Lufthansa First Class Terminal) but that is a different story that you can read about here (XXX). But the first class lounge in Bangkok is great –you have lots of good chairs, separate rooms if you are traveling in a group, lots of good free drinks (but only Moet and Chandon champagne) and a good selection of food. You can also take showers, get a PC to get online, the wifi is free etc. But there is also a Royal Orchid Spa where you can get a massage complimentary! There is no better way of starting a long flight than having 1 hour full body massage! Smile

IMG_7534When traveling in June 2012 there was a bit of fuzz as we were supposed to travel through London but when we checked in we got another routing via Frankfurt. Luckily the two flights had take-off at approximately the same time and the advantage was that we got a Boeing 777 leased from Jet Airways instead of an old Boeing 747. Due to this we got a first class with separate compartments like you can find on Emirates first class and Singapore first class. There are only 8 first class seats on the 777 (in a 1+2+1 configuration) and we got first class treatment the moment we got in there. The headset was already in the seat together with the duvet, menus etc. It didn’t take long before we got offered some drinks to start with and it is hard to say no when they ask you if you want a glass of Dom Perignon champagne Winking smile

IMG_7554I was seated in 2A and I got a HUGE seat by the window. It resembles the seat that you find on Swiss airlines first class where you have a big seat and an ottoman in front and when reclining you form one bed. The difference between Swiss and this Thai flight was that the Thai flight included a small compartment where you can close the door to get more privacy around your seat.  Like on Swiss the table is HUGE and it is so large that you can actually invite a guest to come and sit with you so that you can dine together and face each other while you are eating –how great is that? The remote on the Boeing 777 were a bit confusing as there is one large remote just to cover the seat adjustments and then there is one regular remote to control the multimedia. The Thai AVOD system is quite good and it was displayed on a large 17” (or is it 20”?) screen so seeing movies etc was not a problem.

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IMG_7550It was a bit scary to look behind the seat of the first class seat btw – there was lots of trash there so I’m not sure there are routines in place to handle this – it could have needed a round of vacuuming! The toiletry bag that we got was OK and the TUMI bag included stuff that you normally need: lip balm, mouth freshener, brush, tooth brush etc.  When the service started we started getting hot and wet cloths and I can honestly say that I have never gotten that many in my life before! We got these lovely warm and scented clothes both before and after meals!

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IMG_7546When the table was set for two it was beautiful with the Thai logo stamped into the butter and fresh bread served. We got real caviar to start with (with garniture), followed but a salmon dish and topped up with a slow cooked beef cheek. One of the pieces of the beef cheeks was quite tough but the rest of the pieces were delicious. We also got an ENORMOUS cheese platter – me and my friend could have easily have shared this and not been able to eat it all but instead we got two large portions of cheese each! The dessert was a bit of a disappointment – I got a small chocolate cream and a pretty dry “muffin” with custard and berries on top.

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IMG_7541The great thing about having a small compartment is that it is easy to get some privacy to be able to slip into the pajama that was handed out. The seat with the huge table in front is also perfect for pulling out the PC and working a bit. The only problem in my seat was that someone had stuck something into the power socket so I wasn’t able to get power to my PC and they didn’t have a plug adapter either. The table was a bit hard to move back and forth – so hard in fact that my friend and I had to really put our muscles into moving it. In the process of moving the table I managed to get my finger sliced but the flight attendant was there to patch me up.

IMG_7577The flight time from Bangkok to Frankfurt is about 10-11 hours so there was time for another food serving before landing. This time I started with breasola served with a mix of mozzarella and tomato and it was delicious. After this we got a tom kha gai (a typical Thai chicken soup which is creamy, a bit spicy and a bit sour) and the main dish was a chicken breast served with garlic mashed potatoes. Having chicken breast on flights is normally not a good idea as it normally becomes quite dry but this chicken was actually quite good. Once again the dessert was nothing special and I was a bit disappointed by that. But you can enjoy some very good cognac if you are into that – they served Otard Extra 1795.

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The service onboard was great and we were mainly served by two flight attendants and towards the end of the flight they came to say goodbye with a traditional wai. I tried to talk a bit with the one flight attendant to hear what her work schedule was like etc. but she seemed to be very professional and didn’t seem to be interested in getting into personal details which is fine.

IMG_7587All in all this was a great experience. The spa treatment at Bangkok airport is great before going on a long flight and the small suites on board the flight is perfect if you want a bit of privacy for working or for sleeping. As they provide a pajama you can slip into a comfortable outfit while enjoying the great food and drinks served. Thai Airways might not have the same modern layout as you can find on Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa these days but this will change soon when they introduce the new A380 (see presentation here ). I had a great flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt on Royal First Class and I look forward to flying with them again. If you want to read about a previous experience on Thai Airway first class (on a Boeing 747) you can read this blog entry:

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Boeing’s first 747-8 Intercontinental takes shape Sep 09

If you have been to a larger airport around the world it is very likely that you have seen a Boeing 747 or taken a flight with the plane. This iconic plane came into service already in 1969 (before I was born!!) and has gone through developments ever since and it was THE plane until Airbus A380 came into service. And in these days they (Boeing) are putting together the first 747-8 Intercontinental. The saying goes “Never change a winning team” and I guess that goes for the 747 or the jumbojet as it is also called. The new 747 will have the traditional look but it will be a bit longer, it will take a few more passengers, it will be more fuel efficient (mandatory buzz words these days), the windows will be larger, the lighting inside will be better (in line with the 787 version I guess), it will be quieter etc. Here is an article from Boeing with a video of the building of the plane. Coming to an airport near you in the future :-)

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Experience with Thai First Class – Bangkok to Frankfurt Oct 04

The flight from Bangkok was supposed to leave at 11.55 am but it was a bit delayed. In the beginning I was informed that it was delayed by one hour so when we got to that stage I started asking the staff in the lounge when boarding would start. They just told me to relax and they would let me know :-). So all of a sudden I was told that my flight was ready and one of the lounge staff took me over to C6 and I went on board. I think I must have been the last person on board as as soon as I sat down it seemed like we were closing the door and were pushed back.

I had seat 2A on this TG922 flight and the seat was located in the very nose of this 747 and on my flight and of the 10 first class seats I think 7 were taken. The configuration here is not bad at all as the seats are big and with an ottoman. But there are only 4 seats that are connected so make sure you get one of these if you are traveling as a couple. The headset and toiletry bag was already handed out to the seat and the toiletry bag includes stuff as mouth freshener (good idea), Evian face spray??, lip balm, tooth brush, eye shades, socks etc but no ear plugs. Slippers were also handed out already to start with. A pajama was handed out and it was in a pretty funky purple Thai color…I think I prefer the dark blue Lufthansa one.

When I first sat down I was of course offered champagne and it was Dom Perignon vintage 2000 and it was not bad at all. Takeoff from Bangkok was pretty uneventful even if it was raining pretty badly and soon after we got more champagne and some large nuts. What was a bit strange was after a while in the air it felt like drops of water were dripping from the ceiling. But when closer it seemed like it was small pieces of ice – I guess it was condense water which got frozen but it was weird seeing this fall into the cabin.

The menus were handed out in a big folder and included both the food menu and the drink list. There were two servings on this 11 hour flight and I’ll get back to that later on. The drink list included wines such as Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume 2006, Rully 1er Cru 2000, Chateau Haut-Sarpe Grand Cru Classé St. Emilion 2004 and Pommard 2002. I didn’t mind that the serving didn’t start right away as I had to check out my seat and take pictures of the details there. As I mentioned, the seats come with an ottoman which can be used to keep your feet on. But it also acts as a chair if you want to dine with someone – quite clever. The table was huge so it was not a problem serving two people on it. The TV came up from a hatch in the side panel and was a medium size TV…I would still like to see something like the Emirates TV. But the selection of TV and movies were quite good and I enjoyed several movies during the flight.

A bit less than an hour after takeoff the food services started. The FA came over to me and took my order and it started with a mixed chicken with Chinese sausage as an appetizer. From there we moved over to caviar with garniture – the garlic bread that was served on the side was way too hard. And the small butter that was handed out had the Thai Airways logo on it but it was brick hard. On the Lufthansa flight the butter had been left out a bit so it was easier to spread on the bread – details, details.

Next dish was something called Lobster bellvue and it was cold lobster served with mozzarella and tomatoes on the side and some balsamic mayonnaise– I have to admit that I’m not that crazy about lobster….this lobster was too tough in my opinion.
For the main dish there were various options . lamb chops, stuffed chicken breast,  beef in green curry, tiger prawns in chili sauce etc. I went for the lamb chops served with vegetable and mashed potatoes on the side and it was a great dish – I enjoyed it with some red wine of course.

When I had finished the main course the FA came around with the cheese trolley and asked if I wanted some cheese. I’m a sucker for cheese so I accepted this of course…but I think that I got the world’s largest portions as I got big pieces of brie, blue cheese etc. Served with port wine it was excellent but there was no way I was able to finish all of it.
The meal was rounded off with a simple dessert…some candy and a choice of coffee and drinks. I have to admit that I like to round of a meal with coffee and Baileys but they did not have any Baileys on this flight so I went for some Otard 1795 instead. Back home this bottle will cost you close to 400 USD – too bad that I don’t have a clue about cognac so that I could really appreciate it.

After the meal the lights were turned off and I was watching the rest of Monsters vs. Aliens before I slipped into the pajamas and had some sleep. There seemed to be two toilets for the first class passengers and they were always clean. But when I went back to the toilet I had to “squeeze” past one of the seats and a curtain that was separating the First and Business class section I guess. The seat was not bad for sleeping in but I think I would have to say that the Lufthansa seat was a bit more comfortable but maybe it is not fair to compare as the Lufthansa flight was a night flight and the Thai flight was a day flight.

After about 5 hours after the last meal the lights came on partially in the cabin again and it was time for second serving. I guess I should have been full after the previous meal but strangely enough I was ready for more food. After a couple of canapés we got the first dish which was marinated beef served on vermicelli (glass noodles thai style) and served with smoked salmon with a shrimp mascarpone and apple filling. This dish didn’t really work for me. Then I got a large portion of lobster soup which was very good but once again the portion was a bit too generous. There were several options for main meal: sliced veal Zurich style, cider braised pork chops, chicken curry Pa-naeng and wok fried stuffed prawn mousse. I went for the boring option…sliced veal. The veal was served with a great thick sauce and it was excellent. The meal was rounded off with a Lemon almond tart which was not that good.

After this meal the lights were turned off again and I’m not sure why this was done – were we expected to sleep again? I guess that is the challenge of long day flights. But after close to 12 hours and 9000 km it was time for landing in Frankfurt
It was not a problem having such a long flight when seated on First class of course. I had lots of great food and drinks and the entertainment options were not bad at all. So the big question is…which was better: Lufthansa First Class (see ) or Thai First Class? I’m not sure I’m able to pick a winner here. Even if Thai has newer seats, the Lufthansa seats did feel very comfortable. And the food serving on both flights were very nice. But if I also include the lounges in advance I would have to say that Lufthansa is the winner.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Flight to Hong Kong – Lufthansa First Class Sep 28

At about 5.30 PM one of the staff came over to me in the lounge and said ”Mr. Karlsen. The flight to Hong Kong is ready for boarding”. So I packed my stuff together and went with him downstairs where I got my passport back from the First Class lounge tiny little passport control and then I was handed over to a driver that took me to her Mercedes S400 Hybrid…she told me that they had only had the car for about 2 weeks so it was brand new. The Lufthansa First class lounge experience was great – the service was impeccable and both food and drink selection impressive – going to a SAS lounge after this will never be the same.

My driver took me to the Lufthansa 747-400 plane and she walked me to the door of the plane before she said goodbye and I was handed over to the staff on board. It has been a long time since I had the pleasure of walking up the stairs to the top floor of a 747. The Lufthansa first class is located on the upper deck of the 747 and there are about 16 seats there. They seem to be a bit old and I understand that an upgrade is being planned in the end of this year. I had seat 83 K which is by the emergency exit so there was lots of space. But note that there is a permanent “trolley” here where they store drinks. Some have mentioned this as a problem but I didn’t think this was an issue.

My FA asked me right away if I wanted something to drink…so I went for the Champagne, The champagne of the day was Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Rare. I have to say that after being through Bollinger, Taittinger, Taittinger Rose and several types of red wines in the lounge, I was not really capable to tasting the fine qualities of the Piper-Heidsieck – but it seemed pretty good. When I asked my FA what kind of champagne I was drinking he informed me and then he asked “Why? You didn’t like it?” – not sure why he assumed that. After about 40 minutes we were pushed back and rolled across their airport to get ready for takeoff. Takeoff feels different when seated on the upper floor that’s for sure. Before takeoff we got slippers, a toiletry bag and pajamas. The FA asked about my size and I was like “I don’t know…what do you think?” He seemed a bit bothered by this – I guess he have heard it before. But I ended up with Large to extra large that was a bit too big for me.   The toiletry bag was pretty big but didn’t really contain that much. Ear plugs in a holder, a tooth brush and tooth paste, a comb, a face mask, a moisturizer and a shoe horn.

After takeoff we got a warm cloth soaked in water. I’m not sure what fragrance that was used but the scent was great :-) After about 30 minutes in the air the first class started their service  by putting a cloth on the table and handing out an appetizer…tuna fish with orange or something like that, I even got a real rose stuck in a hole next to my table. It was a nice touch I guess but it is not something I will miss if they remove it from the service. The tuna fish was great but it would have been great if they staff had informed me about what was being served. I also got menus by the way explaining what kind of drinks and food that I could expect

For starter I had the option of Caviar, crawfish, watermelon with goat cheese and tartar of goose breast. Next course was the option between a salad or spicy lemongrass soup and main course options were prawn, mushroom and pancetta stew, swordfish with beans, pumpkin ravioli and sugar or spice duck breast.
My FA took my order and while I was waiting I watched a bit of Angels & Demons on the TV screen. And this is one area where Lufthansa scores pretty low. The screen for each seat is TINY and can’t be compared to the Emirates option at all. When I flew Emirates A380 on business class I had a 17” screen or something  like that and on Lufthansa it is like 10”. But it is video on demand so you can pause it and stuff but the screen is jus t too tiny. About 1 hour into the flight the start was served and I got a nice portion of caviar. I think caviar is a bit like fois gras….it is great but only in small quantities :-)

I guess the FA had seen that I was taking a lot of photos so she kindly offered to take a photo of me ;.) The female FA did a good job by the way but I’m not sure I understand why she kept on addressing me in German to start with every time she spoke to me. Yes, I know that you would all like people to talk German but it is not really going to happen just because you start your conversation in German ;-)
The caviar was served with lemon, onion and some kind of sour cream on the side. From there we moved on to the salad which was a bit on the boring side but still pretty good.  For main course I chose the duck breast with polenta and spinach. Not bad at all and the duck has a lot more character than e.g. chicken.  But the combination of a chunk of meat, a scoop of polenta and a heap of spinach doesn’t really scream fine dining.

When dessert came around my female FA just skipped me for some reason…I guess she looked at me and thought “You’ve had enough” or maybe it was just a slip of the mind ;-) But I grabbed my male FA and asked him if I could get the pear tart with brown butter ice cream which tasted great with some decaf coffee and some Baileys. So after a loooong day it was time to call it the night. I went to bathroom and brushed my teeth and slipped into the pajamas and went to sleep. The chair was actually very comfortable as a bed and it felt like it was possible to recline it all the way back to a proper bed. I did sleep until I was woken up for breakfast ;-)

When I was woken I had a slight hang over from the drinks last night but that’s how the cookie crumbles right? ;-) Once again we were handed the cloth that smelled excellent and I also used the opportunity to slip into normal clothing again. The breakfast was a bit strange…the female FA asked if I wanted muesli but what I got was some sort of sour cream mix…and then I got honni corn on the side. I was not sure that that was it…but all of a sudden I was also asked if I wanted some scrambled eggs and bacon. All in all not a bad breakfast but it would have been great to get some information about the options…or maybe I didn’t read the breakfast menu well enough.

All good things come to an end right? And after about a 10 hour and 30 minute flight it was time to land in Hong Kong. After a steep descend we landed at Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong. If I were to give a conclusion of this flight I would say that Lufthansa delivers a very good product from the lounge to the flight experience. The service on board was good and even with their old layout, the seat was very comfortable and gave me a good night sleep. The food amd drink selection was also very nice. One area where there is room for a lot of improvement is of course when it comes to personal entertainment. The screen today is just too small compared to the competitors and even if “Size doesn’t matter” it was still just too tiny. When I checked the price of a round class ticket on first to HK, I think it was like 75000 Kroner (about 13.000 USD). I wouldn’t mind flying first class every time I travel but I’m not willing to spend that much on the ticket ;-) So I guess I have to save up some SAS points again so I can try out first class on a different airline.

Get in touch if you have any questions or comments :-)

Flight to Dubai with Lufthansa Jul 18

This is a trip report from a trip to Dubai with Lufthansa. We bought these tickets when we came across a great Lufthansa offer a few months back and the price was just to good to turn down. We got the tickets for 2800 kroner (about 420 USD) per person for a round trip from Stavanger in Norway and that is almost half the price of what you normally see. We did go to Dubai in 2002 and you can read that trip report here. I’m also planning on making a new proper trip report…this trip report will focus on the flight to and from Dubai.