Asiana Airlines, First Class – Boeing B 747-400: Seoul to Frankfurt

Welcome! This is the last report in the series covering my trip to Okinawa early in the summer of 2012. I‘d completely forgotten to post this last part and figured I’d do so now for the sake of completion.

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Date: 02 June 2012
From: Seoul
To: Frankfurt
Airline: Asiana Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing B 747-400
Cabin: First Class
Seat: 2K

The Lounge

The story begins as I make my way to the Asiana Airlines First Class lounge. Seoul airport is not too busy and neither is the lounge. In fact I have the place nearly all to myself.

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The lounge is well stocked with amenities, food and drink. Even so, I must admit I am not the greatest fan of the interior design. It is hard to describe really. It reminds me a bit of one of those old chalet hotels you still find in the Alps in some of the less popular resorts. Still, it serves its purpose and even has free wifi.

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The shelves in the lounge are stacked with books. Strangely enough though, although the books have titles on the covers, they are in fact empty.

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The food selection is rather limited, particularly when compared to what other airlines have on offer for their First Class passengers. But they do have dim sum, which I’m rather partial to.

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Boarding

As the departure time approaches, I start to get that nice fuzzy feeling one gets before getting on a Jumbo. At least I get that every time. So I decide to step out of the lounge and go for a walk-about for some distraction and to take some pictures of my bird.

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This bird was parked at the next gate.

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Not sure how many IL-62 they see these days in Seoul, unless Air Koryo is about to start a direct link to Pjöngjang…

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And they have funky public toilets at the airport too!

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When eventually they do call the flight, I make my way to gate 45 and queue up at the back of the line for Business Class and First Class. An Asiana ground attendant is surreptitiously glancing at the boarding passes of the passengers in my queue. As she spots mine, she asks me to follow her to the front of the line and butts in just as the gate agent is about to scan the boarding card of the first passenger – he is only travelling in Business Class – at the front of the line. Sorry about that!

The attendant then escorts me to the entrance of the plane. As we walk she explains to me how she went to the lounge to pick me up and could not find me. And I start to feel guilty – just a wee bit. Before the plane she bows and bids me a safe and pleasant journey.

The Crew

As I enter the First Class cabin I am greeted by one of the flight attendants working in First Class today and we have a good laugh as we recognise each other from the outbound flight from Frankfurt to Seoul the previous week. We have a nice little natter and I ask her where she has been in the intervening days, while she inquires how I liked Korea and if I also visited other countries. What a charming young woman!

Service is the same as on the outbound. First the newspaper, amenity kits, earphones, pjs and slippers are delivered.

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Amenities

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Then come the drinks with warm nuts. This time I have a Perrier with lemon and ice.

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And I also receive the first in a whole series of refreshing towels.

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Departure is to the north and by the circuitous route we’re flying it’s quite apparent that we must avoid North Korean airspace at all costs.

Pushing back.
Pushing back.
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The Meal

First up, the table is set for the meal. To drink I have another Perrier and a Chardonnay.

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Olive oil with Balsamico and butter for the bread:

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Amuse Bouche

Mousse of Foie Gras with truffle, ginger and mixed herbs on blinis

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The Caviar Service

Onions
Onions
Egg
Egg
Crème Fraîche
Crème Fraîche
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First Course

Grilled tuna in a pepper corn crust, with chives and carrot julienne

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The Salad

Pickled mushrooms with chickpeas and mixed greens

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The Soup

Cream of chicken soup with a ball of risotto. It tasted alright but it had a strange texture

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The Main Course

Tenderloin of veal stuffed with lobster, with a horseradish sauce, mushroom ragout and wilted cabbage

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A pause to take in the view.
A pause to take in the view.

The Cheese

Cheese with an apricot and grape chutney and crackers:

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Dessert

Puff pastry filled with vanilla cream on a blackberries sauce

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And to finish that, a cup of Earl Grey tea.

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And now I am full, for the time being at least, and so I change into my pjs and have a nap.

Not really my colours, but what will you?
Not really my colours, but what will you?

The Snack

Around five hours before we arrive in Frankfurt I start to feel peckish again. That – together with my curiosity about the kind of ‘snack’ Asiana has on offer in First Class – entices me to try their ramen noodles in chicken broth.

And here it is: ramen and shitake mushrooms in a spicy chicken broth with kimchi and pickled turnip. It really is divine, but it’s so spicy I have to keep running to the loo to blow my nose (The Koreans and Japanese find it tremendously rude to blow your nose in public).

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Fire exstinguisher
Fire exstinguisher

The Second Service

About two hours before arrival the lights go on and the second service begins. Oh I now I shouldn’t, but it all sounded so nice on the menu!

First comes another hot towel, which is followed by a glass of fresh orange juice.

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First Course

The meal consists of a salad of grilled beetroot, with heirloom tomatoes (I do not think I’ve ever encountered such a strange looking and tasting tomato before in my live…), greens and boiled quail’s eggs.

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Main Course

This is followed by a Korean dish with spare ribs in a spicy soup, which turns out to be indeed very spicy but extremely tasty!

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Sauce for dipping.

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Korean veg.

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Dried shrimps.

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Not sure…but tasty.

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Two different kimchis.

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Rice.

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The ribs.

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Dessert

And then comes dessert. It should be some sort of vanilla parfait with coconut shavings. But it just looks strange really…

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And another tea to finish.

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After the meal I sit back and relax. I start to watch Thor and end up asking myself what on earth has happened to good cinema and good movies. And to think that such a great actor as Anthony Hopkins should sink so low as to play Odin is simply tragic.

The view outside is far more attractive!

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Arrival

But I digress. The flight attendant from the outbound flight comes to bid me goodbye and wish me a safe onward journey. On this flight passengers can choose between a CD, a handbag and an iPhone holder as a farewell gift. I am now the proud owner of an iPhone holder with ‘Asiana Airlines’ written on the inside cover.

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And then we land, and my delightful Asiana experience comes to an end. I bid my goodbyes and disembark. Outside the Asiana rep is already expecting me with a Lufthansa branded reprint of my boarding pass to make sure I get into the lounge.

Frankfurt is nearly pleasant when I arrive, I head for the Senator lounge and wait for my onward flight to Basel. I spend my time in the lounge catching up on emails and talking to my mum on the phone. At around 19h00 I leave the lounge for the long trek back to gate A02 for my flight to Basel. Just as I stand up to leave the lounge, I spot the Asiana flight pushing back for the return trip to Seoul. Farewell and safe journey – it was a fun trip!

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This brings to an end this series of my trip to South Korea and Japan.

Cheers,
William

Hawaiian Air, First Class – A 330-200: San Francisco to Kahului via Honolulu

Introduction

Yesterday I arrived in San Francisco on a United Airlines flight from Las Vegas. I spent the night at the Hyatt Regency close to the airport and today I am finally on my way Hawaii.

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Date: 29 January 2013
From: San Francisco
To: Honolulu
Airline: Hawaiian Air
Aircraft: Airbus A 330-200
Cabin: First Class
Seat: 1A

Getting to the Airport

It’s gone six and I am standing outside the entrance to the Hyatt, waiting for my shuttle to arrive to take me back to San Francisco airport.

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The shuttle makes a stop at the Marriott on its way to the Hyatt and is already quite full when it arrives. Most of the passengers are flight crews about to start another working day. There’s one guy who looks like the caricature of a pilot, complete with leather jacket and Frisbee cap.

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All of the passengers descend at the domestic terminal, except for me. Although the flight to Honolulu is a domestic service, it departs from the international terminal.

San Francisco International.
San Francisco International.

Check-in

The facility is fairly deserted when I arrive. There is already a small queue forming for the Hawaiian Air counters. Apparently they’re having trouble of sorts with their check-in system. The ground crew apologise for the inconvenience and tell us they shan’t be long. And indeed, a few minutes later the ATB printer is happily printing a test boarding pass.

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There is a separate line and counter for passengers in First Class and passengers with status in Hawaiian’s frequent flyer programme. When it’s my turn the check-in agent welcomes me to the flight and thanks me for flying Hawaiian. She then proceeds to print my boarding passes for the flight to Honolulu as well as the onward connection to Kahului on Maui. She also directs me to the priority lane for security, not that it makes a difference with so few passengers around this morning.

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Airside

The terminal is only just opening and most of the shops are still closed. Which is a bit unfortunate as Hawaiian doesn’t have a lounge in San Francisco and I’m dying for a coffee. Eventually I find a place towards the end of the concourse that is already open and is very close to A8, my departure gate for this flight.

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A cappuccino, fresh orange juice and a toasted bagel later and I’m feeling much more alive than I did when I first reached the airport. I switch on the complimentary wifi and give my mum a quick call on Facetime to report on my progress thus far – it’s cold and rainy in Switzerland, the usual. In contrast, the view from where I’m sitting is just fine.

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After I ring off I cross to the other side of the facility to take a closer look at my bird for today. And I am truly smitten. She’s simply gorgeous and I can barely take my eyes off her!

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Boarding

Boarding starts right on time with a call for passengers with reduced mobility and special needs. Once the passengers with kids and wheelchairs have passed the gate, the ground crew halt the boarding process to give the special needs passengers enough time to settle in. I like that, very sensible. Next it’s the boarding call for the premium passengers. There are two airbridges attached to the aircraft, premium passengers should use the left one.

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The Crew

I am the first to board the aircraft. I am greeted by a friendly ‘aloha’ and I am struck by how much better looking and, well…happy…the cabin crew look than those I encountered on United. They’re smiles all round and give the impression of actually looking forward to having you on board as their guest! I am mesmerized; thank God I didn’t choose United for this flight!

The Cabin

The cabin on this bird is either very new or very well kept. The First Class seat is not state of the art and only offers limited recline. The seat controls are mechanical rather than electrical. Still, the seat is comfortable enough for the journey of five hours across the Pacific to Hawaii. The First Class cabin comprises three rows of seats in a 2 + 2 + 2 configuration, making for a total of 18 seats. Twelve seats will be occupied on today’s flight.

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A blanket and pillow are already at my set when I arrive.

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I stow away my things and take my seat on 1A. Immediately a flight attendant appears, places a napkin on the armrest and asks me if I’d like a glass of champagne, guava juice or a combination of both. I ask for the guava juice and have to make an effort to stop my jaw from dropping as the flight attendant actually brings me just what I’d asked for: a glass of juice, not a plastic cup!

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A short while later the same flight attendant brings me the menu for today’s flight. She points out that all the items on the menu will be served.

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And shortly after that we’re ready for departure. The ground crew make an announcement wishing all the passengers a pleasant journey and officially hand us over to the cabin crew. Then the doors are closed, the airbridges are removed and we push back. The journey begins!

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Take-off is surprisingly sluggish, considering it’s an A 330. I’m sitting on the left side, so I’m hoping to get a view of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. But as my luck will have it, we begin a left turn towards the open Pacific before we reach the bridge.

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Amenities

After take-off service begins with the distribution of earphones. I haven’t tried them yet, but I think they’re rather cool to look at. After that the crew come to ask what we’d like to drink and I have another guava juice, which is brought to me with a small dish of mixed nuts and berries.

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The Meal

From my seat I have a good view of what’s going on in the galley, the curtains have not been drawn. I am particularly impressed and quite surprised to find that the plates with the hot meal have not been prepared beforehand. Instead, the flight attendant doing the galley is preparing and decorating every plate individually. The meal consists of:

  1. a warm muffin with orange zest
  2. a selection of fresh fruit – pineapple, melon, grapes, strawberries and mint
  3. a lomi lomi salmon omelette
  4. steamed rice with chicken, taro and shitake mushrooms
  5. a slice of carrot cake for dessert
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And very tasty the meal is too, in particular the omelette is nice and fluffy and full of flavour.

Once I finish the meal, the tray is removed. I take out my Kindle and read until we start our descent into Honolulu. Throughout the flight the crew pass through the cabin a number of times, asking passengers if there’s anything they need or if they’d like to have a drink.

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Just before we leave our flight level, the crew distribute hot towels. They’re not scented, but that’s okay.

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Arrival

After a flying time of five hours our flight draws to an end and we make a lovely approach into Honolulu. Honolulu is a nice airport, a lot of the terminal is open air and it feels good to be able to walk around without a jacket.

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Last turn onto finals.
Last turn onto finals.
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Transit area.
Transit area.

Transfer in Honolulu

From Honolulu I have an onward connection with Hawaiian Air to Kahului. So I find a nice place to sit outside, take some pictures and wait for my flight to board. There is First Class lounge for the intra-island flights, but to be honest it’s not really that nice.

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There isn’t really anything much to say about the onward connection to Kahului, after all it’s only a 20 minute hop. About thirty minutes before departure I head for the gate and take a seat to whatch all sorts of birds flying around.

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A short while later I see my aircraft pulling onto stand.

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Date: 29 January 2013
From: Honolulu
To: Kahului
Airline: Hawaiian Air
Aircraft: B 717
Cabin: First Class
Seat: 1C

Boarding

My plane arrives at the gate 20 minutes before departure and I start to think that we’re probably not going to make an on time departure. Little do I know how hard they work those little B 717s.

My plane.
My plane.
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The Cabin

Boarding starts on time.

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Waiting by the entrance.
Waiting by the entrance.
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Even on these short hops Hawaiian have a dedicated First Class cabin in a 2 + 2 configuration. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that this is quite an amazing little airline. Little of course only by American standards.

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The bulkhead.
The bulkhead.
Don't forget your manners just because you on holiday, so don't put your feet up against the bulkhead.
Don’t forget your manners just because you on holiday, so don’t put your feet up against the bulkhead.
The front office.
The front office.

The Crew

Despite the short flying time, in Business Class Hawaiian still serve a pre-departure drink and another drink with a packet of nuts inflight. But they’re expecting quite some chop on today’s flight so the flight attendant distributes the nuts on the ground.

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I didn’t take any further pictures of the flight. It was quite turbulent and with the shaking it was impossible to take any decent pictures.

Conclusion

Hawaiian Air really impressed me. Their service is truly excellent and the crew are just so nice and friendly. I don’t think I’d want to do the direct flight from JFK to Honolulu in that seat – it’s a ten hours flight – but for the journey from San Francisco it was certainly more than adequate.

Epilogue

On Maui I call the Makena Beach Resort home. As I sit here on the balcony of my room writing this up and occasionally looking out to sea, I can actually see and even hear whales breaching in the distance – beautiful!

This concludes the series of reports on my American vacation. America is such a vast country, full of contrast and with so much to see and do. It has been a memorable trip and I certainly hope to return to Hawaii some day. I leave you with some pictures of Hawaii.

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United Airlines, Domestic First Class – Boeing B 737-800: Las Vegas to San Francisco

Introduction

I spend three blissful days at the Amangiri. The hotel is beautifully laid out. The simple, clean lines of the hotel contrast dramatically with the striking and ragged landscape that surrounds it.

My room at the Amangiri.
My room at the Amangiri.
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The bath and shower room is large and has a spectacular view.
The bath and shower room is large and has a spectacular view.
The view from the room.
The view from the room.
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Getting to the Airport

I leave the Amangiri just after ten in the morning. My flight to San Francisco will not be leaving until 19h40, so I’ve still got loads of time to do some last minute sightseeing. Only, if you’ve ever been to Page then you’re probably quite rightly wondering ‘what sightseeing?’ Admittedly, the town is not exactly fun city central but the Colorado River’s Horseshoe Bend is very close by and definitely worth visiting.

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The journey by car from Page to McCarran airport takes five hours to complete by car. I arrive at the car rental facility just before 16h30 and hand back the car keys. From the rental car facility on the south side of the airport there is a free shuttle that takes approximately five minutes to make the journey to Terminal 3, from where United operates. I’ve already checked in on my mobile, so I can head straight for security.

Made it back safe and sound!
Made it back safe and sound!
The rental centre is like a huge railway station.
The rental centre is like a huge railway station.
Shuttle to the terminal.
Shuttle to the terminal.
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Date: 28 January 2013
From: Las Vegas
To: San Francisco
Airline: United
Aircraft: Boeing B 737-800
Cabin: Domestic First Class
Seat: 1A

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Right behind security are the signs for the D concourse. To get there, you must take the escalators two floors down into the basement, from where you catch the tram that runs underground across to the D satellite. The airport is not very busy this time of day.

Departures, still landside.
Departures, still landside.
Airside.
Airside.
Not much happening outside.
Not much happening outside.
Tram.
Tram.
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There are no proper restaurants on the D concourse, so eventually I settle for a cheese sandwich from Port of Subs, which tastes pretty much like a cheese sandwich from Subway’s, but I’m guessing that’s the big idea.

The United Club Lounge

The United Airlines lounge is located on the third floor. The lift to access the lounge is between gates D33 and D35. Access to the lounge is restricted to Star Gold passengers, either that or for some other reason my First Class boarding pass does not appear to be sufficient to grant me access and the receptionist wants to see my Senator card as well.

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As I approach the lift, I notice a Cinnabon take away. There is a lovely smell of cinnamon rolls wafting through the terminal. I cannot resist and get myself a pecan and caramel cinnamon roll. The only problem is that when I reach the lounge, there is a big sign saying that no food is allowed in the lounge. So I have no other choice but to stuff the greasy and delectable corpus delicti in my bag and smuggle it into the lounge, hoping that nobody will see or smell it. Once inside the lounge, I surreptitiously take it out of the bag and try to demolish it as quickly as possible without being seen and, moreover, without making a complete mess.

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The lounge itself is a nice surprise. I was expecting another one of those horrible old-fashioned and dark lounges with ugly furniture. But instead, I am surprised to find the lounge is very bright, relatively modern and nearly empty.

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The Cabin

Boarding starts exactly on time. There is a separate lane for First Class passengers and frequent flyers with status and they are invited to board first. The friendly gate agent scans my mobile and wishes me a good flight.

My chariot awaits.
My chariot awaits.

The aircraft is obviously an ex Continental aircraft and fitted with the new cabin interior that includes newly devised overhead bins and mood lighting. Contrary to my expectations, the general impression is that the cabin looks somewhat cramped. However, that may have something to do with the rather bulky looking First Class seats installed in the forward cabin. Unlike the European Business Class model, where basically you have a standard row of Economy seating with a slightly greater pitch and an empty middle seat, United has proper Business Class seats in a 2 + 2 configuration in its domestic First Class.

My only shot of the seat. The passenger behind me was rather impatient...
My only shot of the seat. The passenger behind me was rather impatient…
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The view on the ground.
The view on the ground.

The inflight entertainment has live TV and there is a wide selection of feature films. In First Class, the use of the inflight entertainment appears to be complimentary, while in Economy Class it is only available for a fee.

The Crew

Alas, there is not really much good I can say about the crew on this United flight. Quite evidently, they are trying to start a new trend whereby frumpy is the new chic. But to be honest, I wouldn’t hold my breath that this will catch on, even if it seems to be quite common among the United staff. One of the crew is behaving as though she’s never actually seen a B 737 in the new cabin interior. She keeps asking her colleague up front how this works and where that is. I suspect she is probably unaware of the type of aircraft she’s on!

Service on the ground consists of a free choice of drinks, served in plastic cups. I take a cup of still water.

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I’m not sure which of the runways we use for take-off. But my impression is that it runs parallel to The Strip. As we accelerate, a line of gaudy hotels with flashy lights and ridiculous names fly past. And then shortly after we become airborne, we execute a wide left turn, passing right over central Las Vegas as the pilot points the aircraft in the direction of San Francisco.

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The Meal

This is where United Airlines thwarts my plans of writing a trip review with some decent pictures. The crew seem to be having fun fiddling with the mood lighting and keep the cabin in a dimmed blue light throughout the flight. I feel reluctant go flashing away with my camera and eventually I just give up.

Once we’re airborne the crew do another drinks round, serving every passenger individually, rather than from a trolley. This time they also use proper glasses and not plastic. With the drink, the cabin crew pass through the cabin with a basket with a selection of snacks. I choose a packet of almonds and peanuts coated in an apple and cinnamon powder. And I really must say they are an abomination. The taste is absolutely vile and completely artificial.

My botched attempt at taking a picture of the food.
My botched attempt at taking a picture of the food.

Before I manage to finish my drink, I start to nod off. It’s been a long day. I am awoken a short while later when the crew switch on all the cabin lights to fully bright white to prepare the cabin for landing.

Arrival

We arrive in San Francisco after a flying time of only one hour and fifteen minutes. As we taxi in, we pass the Lufthansa flight to Munich I’ll be taking later on in the week, but it’s too dark to take any pictures anyway.

I disembark and head for the exit marked ‘Hotel Shuttle’. I’ll be spending the night at the Hyatt Regency close to the airport. Fortunately the shuttle arrives just as I reach the boarding area. The trip form the airport to the Hyatt takes approximately ten minutes, the shuttle stops at one of the many Marriotts littered around the airport on the way.

Conclusion

Flying domestic with United is certainly not much fun, I must say. Trying to get any decent pictures is a difficult thing to do and from what I understand there are basically two options: either you wait until the initial scrum for the aircraft is over, at the risk of there being no more room in the overhead bins for your things, or you try to board with the first group of passengers, in which case you are met with the collective wrath of all the passengers waiting behind you while you attempt to get a few good cabin shots.

The service on this short flight is nothing special, but given the duration of the flight, I think there isn’t really much else one can expect. But still the cabin crew were simply beyond belief. Apart from the fact that they all look frumpy – at the end of the day they can’t really help that, can they? – you get the impression that most of them really hate their job or at least have the greatest disdain for the passengers, their customers, who pay their salary at the end of the day, and ‘service’ is a term that seems conspicuously absent from their vocabulary. Having said that, I’m assuming their salary has a lot to do with their apparent ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude.

Lufthansa, First Class – Boeing B 747-400: Frankfurt to San Francisco

Introduction

I arrived back home from a business trip to Montreal yesterday afternoon. I should have arrived in the morning but I was travelling via Heathrow and with the snow there and the fog in Zürich the flight was delayed by more than two hours and I ended up reaching Zürich in the early afternoon. But it doesn’t matter, the important thing is that I made it back to Switzerland on time because today, finally, I’m off on holiday.

First of all, courtesy of the great circle mapper, here’s the itinerary:

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This review is about the first part of my journey from Basel via Frankfurt to San Francisco in Lufthansa First Class.

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Date: 24 January 2013
From: Frankfurt
To: San Francisco
Airline: Lufthansa
Aircraft: Boeing B 747-400
Cabin: First Class
Seat: 81H, first row, right hand side

Transfer in Frankfurt

Our story begins with me emerging from a Canadair Regional Jet. It’s just gone nine o’clock. It’s a lovely winter’s morning with a slight nip in the air here in Frankfurt. I disembark from the aircraft to find the Porsche Cayenne First Class pick up already expecting me.

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No matter where your connecting flight will be leaving from, the First Class pick will always drop you off at Terminal B arrivals, if you’re coming from a Schengen country. From there it’s quite a trek to the new A+ dock and the Z gates on the upper level of the dock.

The Lufthansa First Class Lounge

The First Class lounge is inconveniently located on the Schengen level and passengers are not taken to the aircraft by car if their flight is departing from one of the Z gates. So if you visit the First Class lounge, make sure you plan ahead. You will still need to go through passport control so better make sure you have enough time. At least there is no further security check to reach the Z gates.

Foyer of the First Class lounge.
Foyer of the First Class lounge.
The staircase to heaven has made way for the more convenient lift.
The staircase to heaven has made way for the more convenient lift.
My chariot as seen through the tremendously spotter-unfriendly lounge window.
My chariot as seen through the tremendously spotter-unfriendly lounge window.

Boarding

I arrive at the gate at 09h40 and boarding has already begun for our 10:15 departure. First Class passengers may board at their leisure through an automatic gate. In my case however, there is a slight hiccup to get on the plane because my visa details were not complete. But the issue is soon sorted.

My chariot as seen through tremendously dirty windows on Z gates level of the A+ dock.
My chariot as seen through tremendously dirty windows on Z gates level of the A+ dock.

There are two airbridges attached to the aircraft. The left one is marked First and Business Class while the right is for all Economy Class passengers. Lufthansa has its First Class on the upper deck of the B 747-400. The stairs leading you to the upper deck are located right by the second boarding door. Therefore, it actually makes more sense to use the Economy Class airbridge, even if it means standing in the queue. Otherwise, if you use the First and Business Class airbridge, you will still need to pass through half the Business Class cabin to reach the stairs.

My chariot through the airbridge. I should have taken the Economy lane instead!
My chariot through the airbridge. I should have taken the Economy lane instead!

There is a further security check in the airbridge, where all passengers have the name on their passport checked against the one on their boarding pass.

The Cabin

As I climb up the stairs and turn the corner, I am delighted to find that I shall be travelling today on an aircraft with the new First Class cabin.

The view when I reach my seat.
The view when I reach my seat.

The first thing that strikes you upon reaching the upper deck and doing a u turn into the cabin, is the large bed that has replaced what used to be the window seat. This also means that there are only aisle seats to give you more privacy when lying in bed. The B 747-400 is the only type of the Lufthansa fleet to have this feature, which is essentially a compromise between revamping the First Class product to make it more competitive but without having to move it downstairs as on the B 747-8i.

Surprisingly, apart from the most obvious feature – the bed – there are quite a few subtle differences between the seat I’m sitting in and the one installed on the A 380: the seat controls are slightly different and so is the little tray table mounted on the armrest.

And the stowage space is not as ample as on the A 380, but Lufthansa has obviously put a lot of effort into maximising passenger space. Apart form the overhead bin there is further stowage space in one of the armrests and there is even a drawer under the bed.

A separate bed.
A separate bed.
And a separate seat.
And a separate seat.
IFE screen.
IFE screen.
Bulkhead.
Bulkhead.
Just to avoid any misunderstandings.
Just to avoid any misunderstandings.
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Holder for the Lufthansa rose.
Left armrest.
Left armrest.
Right armrest with the open lid for the seat controls.
Right armrest with the open lid for the IFE controls.
Holder for the bottle of water.
Holder for the bottle of water.
Small tray table mounted on the right armrest.
Small tray table mounted on the right armrest.
The drawer under the bed.
The drawer under the bed.
More stowage in the armrest.
More stowage in the armrest.
Bedside lamp.
Bedside lamp.

The Crew

The flight attendant comes to welcome me aboard and asks me what I’d like to drink. I ask for a glass of sparkling water, which she brings me with a bowl of nuts.

The crew on this flight are friendly and professional in their attitude. They do an excellent job of making passengers feel at home and give the impression that no request is ever too much.

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Amenities

She then returns with the pyjamas, earphones and slippers.

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Very comfortable slippers.
Very comfortable slippers.

Our departure is to the east and judging by the long take-off roll we must be rather heavy. From Frankfurt our course takes us on a northerly course for Bremen, from where we turn in a northwesterly direction and out to the open sea.

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Once the seatbelt sign goes off, service continues with the distributions of the scented hot towels and the menu. The purser comes to introduce herself. She’d wanted to before but I was still on the phone to my dear old mum. The purser wishes me a pleasant flight and hopes I’ll enjoy my stay on board.

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Hot towel.
The menu. As I rarely ever drink alcohol on a plane, I didn't bother with the wine list.
The menu. As I rarely ever drink alcohol on a plane, I didn’t bother with the wine list.

The Meal

After my last experience with Lufthansa to Tokyo in First Class I am not really quite sure what to expect in terms of food on this flight. But I must say the sequence of the meal and the quality and quantity of the food are rather good.

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Toast and garlic bread.
Toast and garlic bread.
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Amuse Bouche

To start we have an amuse bouche, served with a glass of sparkling water. Unfortunately I forget to ask what the dish is and I can’t make out all the flavours. It’s veal with some creamy filling. The green stuff on the side tastes like some kind of kiwi jelly.

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The Caviar Service

The first course is the caviar with traditional garnishes.

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The First Course

For the second course I have an étagère with three different dishes:

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Salmon confit and egg salad with Belgian vinaigrette. Very good, especially the vinaigrette.

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Creamy chicken salad with sweet potato and tarragon crème fraîche. This is a bit strange and there is gelatine in it. I don’t finish it.

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Vegetable terrine with avocado salad and cherry tomato confit.

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The Salad

After that comes the salad of mixed leaf with grilled bell pepper and zucchini, bleu d’auvergne cheese and asparagus with walnuts and a vinaigrette dressing.

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The Main Course

And then for the main course I have the cod on lemon verbena with braised chicory and brandade. This is a very tasty dish, the sauce is well balanced and complements the fish perfectly.

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Fishknife.
Fish knife.

Dessert

I skip the cheese and just have dessert, which today is an outstanding Tarte Tatin with Tahiti vanilla sauce and ice cream.

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The dessert is accompanied with Earl Grey tea, which is served in a small porcelain teapot. And as usual, I demolish the two pralines before I remember to take a picture of them.

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And then I decide to lie down and have a nap. The bed is tremendously comfortable, for the simple reasons that it feels like real bed and not a chair cunningly disguised as a bed, which is what most First Class seats are today.

Lazing about in bed.
Lazing about in bed.
The view I.
The view.
The moon.
The moon.
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Just under two hours out of San Francisco a piping hot refreshing towel is placed before me, and the crew start preparing the cabin for the second service. There is a separate menu for this service.

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The Second Service

For the first course there is a selection of dishes to choose from and which are served from a trolley. I have the pasta with spinach and garlic, some coleslaw and a cold crab cake with guacamole and a mango and ginger chutney. It’s an interesting and tasty meal, with a combination of unusual flavours and tastes. Especially the crab cake is quite excellent.

Apfelschorle.
Apfelschorle.
Table setting.
Table setting.
Pretzel.
Pretzel.
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Crab cake with avocado and marinated watermelon.
Crab cake with avocado and marinated watermelon.
Orechiette pasta.
Orechiette pasta.
Coleslaw.
Coleslaw.

There are two choices for the main course. I go with the red snapper with grilled bell peppers and mini zucchini and sweet potato purée, with a drizzle of olive oil and a black olive tapenade. This dish impresses me. It’s a nice piece of fish and it has remained juicy and flavourful.

Where's the fishy?
Where’s the fishy?
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And then for dessert I have a slice of white brownie with figs and dates with whipped cream and some mango on the side. An espresso completes the meal.

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After that I change back into my normal clothes and start collecting and repacking my things ahead of our arrival into San Francisco.

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A last glimpse of my chariot on my way to the United lounge for my connection to Las Vegas.
A last glimpse of my chariot on my way to the United lounge for my connection to Las Vegas.

Conclusion

Lufthansa certainly redeemed itself on this flight. Perhaps the most obvious point to start with is the new cabin and seat. As I already mentioned above, I think it’s quite apparent that Lufthansa has put a lot of thought into designing a cabin that is both comfortable and functional. I think that is quite apparent from the fact that on the new B 747-8i they have taken the very wise decision to move First Class downstairs into the nose and use the upper deck for more Business Class seats instead.

The seat and bed are tremendously comfortable. I could have spent hours in that bed with my iTunes, Kindle and the spectacular vista outside.

The food is also much improved over my last experience in December. The selection of dishes was very good and all the dishes were quite tasty, except for the chicken salad. But that was not because it was badly prepared but because I don’t like gelatine. The red snapper I had for the second service is worth mentioning. It was simply excellent.

As for the crew, I thought they were nice. They obviously take their job seriously and made a point of keeping all the passengers happy. Of course it helped that only five of the eight seats were occupied.

Epilogue

From San Francisco I continue my journey with United Airlines to Las Vegas in domestic First Class. The experience is certainly interesting, shall we say. I spend the night in Las Vegas at the Hotel Bellagio, which, in my personal view, is the epitome of bad taste. The next day I pick up a car and head out of the city towards the Amangiri, a hotel located about 20 minutes out of Page, Utah. From Las Vegas it’s a five hours drive through some of the most spectacular landscapes I have ever seen, including the Zion National Park.

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Big sky.
Big sky.
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